The Imaginary Invalid

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The Imaginary Invalid (1673)
by Molière, translated by Charles Heron Wall
Molière116671The Imaginary Invalid1673Charles Heron Wall









This is the last comedy written by Molière. He was very ill, nearly dying, at the time he wrote it. It was first acted at the Palais Royal Theatre, on February 10, 1673.

Molière acted the part of Argan.


ARGAN, _an imaginary invalid_.

BÉLINE, _second wife to_ ARGAN.

ANGÉLIQUE, _daughter to_ ARGAN, _in love with_ CLÉANTE.

LOUISON; ARGAN'S _young daughter, sister to_ ANGÉLIQUE.

BÉRALDE, _brother to_ ARGAN.


MR. DIAFOIRUS, _a physician_.

THOMAS DIAFOIRUS, _his son, in love with_ ANGÉLIQUE.

MR. PURGON, _physician to_ ARGAN.

MR. FLEURANT, _an apothecary_.

MR. DE BONNEFOI, _a notary_.

TOINETTE, _maid-servant to_ ARGAN.


SCENE I.--ARGAN (_sitting at a table, adding up his apothecary's
bill with counters_).

ARG. 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 Mr. Argan." What
I like about Mr. Fleurant, my apothecary, is that his bills are always
civil. "The bowels of Mr. Argan." All the same, Mr. 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 Mr. Argan, thirty sons." 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 Mr. 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 Mr. Purgon, to expel Mr.
Argan's bile, four francs." You are joking, Mr. Fleurant; you must
learn to be reasonable with patients; Mr. Purgon never ordered you to
put four francs. Tut! put three francs, if you please. Twenty; thirty
sous. [Footnote: As usual, Argan only counts half; even after he has
reduced the charge.] "Item, on the said day, a dose, anodyne and
astringent, to make Mr. Argan sleep, thirty sous." Ten sous, Mr.
Fleurant. "Item, on the 26th, a carminative clyster to cure the
flatulence of Mr. Argan, thirty sous." "Item, the clyster repeated in
the evening, as above, thirty sous." Ten sous, Mr. Fleurant. "Item, on
the 27th, a good mixture composed for the purpose of driving out the
bad humours of Mr. Argan, three francs." Good; twenty and thirty sous;
I am glad that you are reasonable. "Item, on the 28th, a dose of
clarified and edulcorated whey, to soften, lenify, temper, and refresh
the blood of Mr. Argan, twenty sous." Good; ten sous. "Item, a potion,
cordial and preservative, composed of twelve grains of bezoar, syrup
of citrons and pomegranates, and other ingredients, according to the
prescription, five francs." Ah! Mr. 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
Mr. Purgon about it, so that he may set the matter right. Come, let
all this be taken away. (_He sees that no one comes, and that he is
alone._) Nobody. It's no use, I am always left alone; there's no
way of keeping them here. (_He rings a hand-bell._) They don't
hear, and my bell doesn't make enough noise. (_He rings again._)
No one. (_He rings again._) Toinette! (_He rings again._) It's just
as if I didn't ring at all. You hussy! you jade! (_He rings again._)
Confound it all! (_He rings and shouts._) Deuce take you, you


TOI. Coming, coming.

ARG. Ah! you jade, you wretch!

TOI. (_pretending to have knocked her head_). Bother your
impatience! You hurry me so much that I have knocked my head against
the window-shutter.

ARG. (_angry_). You vixen!

TOI. (_interrupting_ ARGAN). Oh!

ARG. There is....

TOI. Oh!

ARG. For the last hour I....

TOI. Oh!

ARG. You have left me....

TOI. Oh!

ARG. Be silent! you baggage, and let me scold you.

TOI. Well! that's too bad after what I have done to myself.

ARG. You make me bawl till my throat is sore, you jade!

TOI. And you, you made me break my head open; one is just as bad as
the other; so, with your leave, we are quits.

ARG. What! you hussy....

TOI. If you go on scolding me, I shall cry.

ARG. To leave me, you....

TOI. (_again interrupting_ ARGAN.) Oh!

ARG. You would....

TOI. (_still interrupting him_). Oh!

ARG. What! shall I have also to give up the pleasure of scolding her?

TOI. Well, scold as much as you please; do as you like.

ARG. You prevent me, you hussy, by interrupting me every moment.

TOI. If you have the pleasure of scolding, I surely can have that of
crying. Let every one have his fancy; 'tis but right. Oh! oh!

ARG. I must give it up, I suppose. Take this away, take this away, you
jade. Be careful to have some broth ready, for the other that I am to
take soon.

TOI. This Mr. Fleurant and Mr. Purgon amuse themselves finely with
your body. They have a rare milch-cow in you, I must say; and I should
like them to tell me what disease it is you have for them to physic
you so.

ARG. Hold your tongue, simpleton; it is not for you to control the
decrees of the faculty. Ask my daughter Angélique to come to me. I
have something to tell her.

TOI. Here she is, coming of her own accord; she must have guessed your


ARG. You come just in time; I want to speak to you.

ANG. I am quite ready to hear you.

ARG. Wait a moment. (_To_ TOINETTE) Give me my walking-stick;
I'll come back directly.

TOI. Go, Sir, go quickly; Mr. Fleurant gives us plenty to do.


ANG. Toinette!

TOI. Well! what?

ANG. Look at me a little.

TOI. Well, I am looking at you.

ANG. Toinette!

TOI. Well! what, Toinette?

ANG. Don't you guess what I want to speak about?

TOI. Oh! yes, I have some slight idea that you want to speak of our
young lover, for it is of him we have been speaking for the last six
days, and you are not well unless you mention him at every turn.

ANG. Since you know what it is I want, why are you not the first to
speak to me of him? and why do you not spare me the trouble of being
the one to start the conversation?

TOI. You don't give me time, and you are so eager that it is difficult
to be beforehand with you on the subject.

ANG. I acknowledge that I am never weary of speaking of him, and that
my heart takes eager advantage of every moment I have to open my heart
to you. But tell me, Toinette, do you blame the feelings I have
towards him?

TOI. I am far from doing so.

ANG. Am I wrong in giving way to these sweet impressions?

TOI. I don't say that you are.

ANG. And would you have me insensible to the tender protestations of
ardent love which he shows me?

TOI. Heaven forbid!

ANG. Tell me, do you not see, as I do, Something providential, some
act of destiny in the unexpected adventure from which our acquaintance

TOI. Yes.

ANG. That it is impossible to act more generously?

TOI. Agreed.

ANG. And that he did all this with the greatest possible grace?

TOI. Oh! yes.

ANG. Do you not think, Toinette, that he is very handsome?

TOI. Certainly.

ANG. That he has the best manners in the world?

TOI. No doubt about it.

ANG. That there is always something noble in what he says and what he

TOI. Most certainly.

ANG. That there never was anything more tender than all he says to me?

TOI. True.

ARG. And that there can be nothing more painful than the restraint
under which I am kept? for it prevents all sweet intercourse, and puts
an end to that mutual love with which Heaven has inspired us.

TOI. You are right.

ANG. But, dear Toinette, tell me, do you think that he loves me as
much as he says he does?

TOI. Hum! That's a thing hardly to be trusted at any time. A show of
love is sadly like the real thing, and I have met with very good
actors in that line.

ANG. Ah! Toinette, what are you saying there? Alas! judging by the
manner in which he speaks, is it possible that he is not telling the

TOI. At any rate, you will soon be satisfied on this point, and the
resolution which he says he has taken of asking you in marriage, is a
sure and ready way of showing you if what he says is true or not. That
is the all-sufficient proof.

ANG. Ah! Toinette, if he deceives me, I shall never in all my life
believe in any man.

TOI. Here is your father coming back.


ARG. I say, Angélique, I have a piece of news for yon which, perhaps,
you did not expect. You have been asked of me in marriage. Halloa! how
is that? You are smiling. It is pleasant, is it not, that word
marriage? there is nothing so funny to young girls. Ah! nature!
nature! So, from what I see, daughter, there is no need of my asking
you if you are willing to marry.

ANG. I ought to obey you in everything, father.

ARG. I am very glad to possess such an obedient daughter; the thing is
settled then, and I have promised you.

ANG. It is my duty, father, blindly to follow all you determine upon
for me.

ARG. My wife, your mother-in-law, wanted me to make a nun of you and
of your little sister Louison also. She has always been bent upon

TOI. (_aside_). The excellent creature has her reasons.

ARG. She would not consent to this marriage; but I carried the day,
and my word is given.

TOI. (_to_ ARGAN). Really, I am pleased with you for that, and it
is the wisest thing you ever did in your life.

ARG. I have not seen the person in question; but I am told that I
shall be satisfied with him, and that you too will be satisfied.

ANG. Most certainly, father.

ARG. How! have you seen him then?

ANG. Since your consent to our marriage authorises me to open my heart
to you, I will not hide from you that chance made us acquainted six
days ago, and that the request which has been made to you is the
result of the sympathy we felt for one another at first sight.

ARG. They did not tell me that; but I am glad of it; it is much better
that things should be so. They say that he is a tall, well-made young

ANG. Yes, father.

ARG. Of a fine build.

ANG. Yes, indeed.

ARG. Pleasant.

ANG. Certainly.

ARG. A good face.

ANG. Very good.

ARG. Steady and of good family.

ANG. Quite.

ARG. With very good manners.

ANG. The best possible.

ARG. And speaks both Latin and Greek.

ANG. Ah! that I don't know anything about.

ARG. And that he will in three days be made a doctor.

ANG. He, father?

ARG. Yes; did he not tell you?

ANG. No, indeed! who told you?

ARG. Mr. Purgon.

ANG. Does Mr. Purgon know him?

ARG. What a question! Of course he knows him, since he is his nephew.

ANG. Cléante is the nephew of Mr. Purgon?

ARG. What Cléante? We are speaking about him who has asked you in

ANG. Yes, of course.

ARG. Well, he is the nephew of Mr. Purgon, and the son of his
brother-in-law, Mr. Diafoirus; and this son is called Thomas Diafoirus,
and not Cléante. Mr. Fleurant and I decided upon this match this
morning, and to-morrow this future son-in-law will be brought to me by
his father ...What is the matter, you look all scared?

ANG. It is because, father, I see that you have been speaking of one
person, and I of another.

TOI. What! Sir, you have formed such a queer project as that, and,
with all the wealth you possess, you want to marry your daughter to a

ARG. What business is it of yours, you impudent jade?

TOI. Gently, gently. You always begin by abuse. Can we not reason
together without getting into a rage? Come, let us speak quietly. What
reason have you, if you please, for such a marriage?

ARG. My reason is, that seeing myself infirm and sick, I wish to have
a son-in-law and relatives who are doctors, in order to secure their
kind assistance in my illness, to have in my family the fountain-head
of those remedies which are necessary to me, and to be within reach of
consultations and prescriptions.

TOI. Very well; at least that is giving a reason, and there is a
certain pleasure in answering one another calmly. But now, Sir, on
your conscience, do you really and truly believe that you are ill?

ARG. Believe that I am ill, you jade? Believe that I am ill, you
impudent hussy?

TOI. Very well, then, Sir, you are ill; don't let us quarrel about
that. Yes, you are very ill, I agree with you upon that point, more
ill even than you think. Now, is that settled? But your daughter is to
marry a husband for herself, and as she is not ill, what is the use of
giving her a doctor?

ARG. It is for my sake that I give her this doctor, and a good
daughter ought to be delighted to marry for the sake of her father's

TOI. In good troth, Sir, shall I, as a friend, give you a piece of

ARG. What is this advice?

TOI. Not to think of this match.

ARG. And your reason?

TOI. The reason is that your daughter will never consent to it.

ARG. My daughter will not consent to it?

TOI. No.

ARG. My daughter?

TOI. Your daughter. She will tell you that she has no need of Mr.
Diafoirus, nor of his son, Mr. Thomas Diafoirus, nor all the
Diafoiruses in the world.

ARG. But I have need of them. Besides, the match is more advantageous
than you think. Mr. Diafoirus has only this son for his heir; and,
moreover, Mr. Purgon, who has neither wife nor child, gives all he has
in favour of this marriage; and Mr. Purgon is a man worth eight
thousand francs a year.

TOI. What a lot of people he must have killed to have become so rich!

ARG. Eight thousand francs is something, without counting the property
of the father.

TOI. That is very well, Sir, but, all the same, I advise you, between
ourselves, to choose another husband for her; she is not of a make to
become a Mrs. Diafoirus.

ARG. But I will have it so.

TOI. Fie! nonsense! Don't speak like that.

ARG. Don't speak like that? Why not?

TOI. Dear me, no, don't.

ARG. And why should I not speak like that?

TOI. People will say that you don't know what you are talking about.

ARG. People will say all they like, but I tell you that I will have
her make my promise good.

TOI. I feel sure that she won't.

ARG. Then I will force her to do it.

TOI. She will not do it, I tell you.

ARG. She will, or I will shut her up in a convent

TOI. You?


TOI. Good!

ARG. How good?

TOI. You will not shut her up in a convent.

ARG. I shall not shut her up in a convent?

TOI. No.

ARG. No?

TOI. No.

ARG. Well, this is cool! I shall not put my daughter in a convent if I

TOI. No, I tell you.

ARG. And who will hinder me?

TOI. You yourself.

ARG. Myself?

TOI. You will never have the heart to do it.

ARG. I shall.

TOI. You are joking.

ARG. I am not joking.

TOI. Fatherly love will hinder you.

ARG. It will not hinder me.

TOI. A little tear or two, her arms thrown round your neck, Or "My
darling little papa," said very tenderly, will be enough to touch your

ARG. All that will be useless.

TOI. Oh yes!

ARG. I tell you that nothing will move me.

TOI. Rubbish!

ARG. You have no business to say "Rubbish."

TOI. I know you well enough; you are naturally kind-hearted.

ARG. (_angrily_). I am not kind-hearted, and I am ill-natured
when I like.

TOI. Gently, Sir, you forget that you are ill.

ARG. I command her to prepare herself to take the husband I have fixed

TOI. And I decidedly forbid her to do anything of the kind.

ARG. What have we come to? And what boldness is this for a scrub of a
servant to speak in such a way before her master?

TOI. When a master does not consider what he is doing, a sensible
servant should set him right.

ARG. (_running after_ TOINETTE). Ah, impudent girl, I will kill

TOI. (_avoiding_ ARGAN, _and putting the chair between her and
him_). It is my duty to oppose what would be a dishonour to you.

ARG. (_running after_ TOINETTE _with his cane in his hand_).
Come here, come here, let me teach you how to speak.

TOI. (_running to the opposite side of the chair_). I interest
myself in your affairs as I ought to do, and I don't wish to see you
commit any folly.

ARG. (_as before_). Jade!

TOI. (_as before_). No, I will never consent to this marriage.

ARG. (_as before_). Worthless hussy!

TOI. (_as before_). I won't have her marry your Thomas Diafoirus.

ARG. (_as before_). Vixen!

TOI. (_as before_). She will obey me sooner than you.

ARG. (_stopping_). Angélique, won't you stop that jade for me?

ANG. Ah! father, don't make yourself ill.

ARG. (_to_ ANGÉLIQUE). If you don't stop her, I will refuse you
my blessing.

TOI. (_going away_). And I will disinherit her if she obeys you.

ARG. (_throwing himself into his chair_). Ah! I am done for. It
is enough to kill me!


ARG. Ah! come near, my wife.

BEL. What ails you, my poor, dear husband?

ARG. Come to my help.

BEL. What is the matter, my little darling child?

ARG. My love.

BEL. My love.

ARG. They have just put me in a rage.

BEL. Alas! my poor little husband! How was that, my own dear pet?

ARG. That jade of yours, Toinette, has grown more insolent than ever.

BEL. Don't excite yourself.

ARG. She has put me in a rage, my dove.

BEL. Gently, my child.

ARG. She has been thwarting me for the last hour about everything I
want to do.

BEL. There, there; never mind.

ARG. And has had the impudence to say that I am not ill.

BEL. She is an impertinent hussy.

ARG. You know, my soul, what the truth is?

BEL. Yes, my darling, she is wrong.

ARG. My own dear, that jade will be the death of me.

BEL. Now, don't, don't.

ARG. She is the cause of all my bile.

BEL. Don't be so angry.

ARG. And I have asked you ever so many times to send her away.

BEL. Alas! my child, there is no servant without defects. We are
obliged to put up at times with their bad qualities on account of
their good ones. The girl is skilful, careful, diligent, and, above
all, honest; and you know that in our days we must be very careful
what people we take into our house. I say, Toinette.


TOI. Madam.

BEL. How is this? Why do you put my husband in a passion?

TOI. (_in a soft tone_). I, Madam? Alas! I don't know what you
mean, and my only aim is to please master in everything.

ARG. Ah! the deceitful girl!

TOI. He said to us that he wished to marry his daughter to the son of
Mr. Diafoirus. I told him that I thought the match very advantageous
for her, but that I believed he would do better to put her in a

BEL. There is not much harm in that, and I think that she is right.

ARG. Ah! deary, do you believe her? She is a vile girl, and has said a
hundred insolent things to me.

BEL. Well, I believe you, my dear. Come, compose yourself; and you,
Toinette, listen to me. If ever you make my husband angry again, I
will send you away. Come, give me his fur cloak and some pillows, that
I may make him comfortable in his arm-chair. You are all anyhow. Pull
your night-cap right down over your ears; there is nothing that gives
people such bad colds as letting in the air through the ears.

ARG. Ah, deary! how much obliged I am to you for all the care you take
of me.

BEL. (_adjusting the pillows, which she puts round him_). Raise
yourself a little for me to put this under you. Let us put this one
for you to lean upon, and this one on the other side; this one behind
your back, and this other to support your head.

TOI. (_clapping a pillow rudely on his head_). And this other to
keep you from the evening damp.

ARG. (_rising angrily, and throwing the pillows after_ TOINETTE,
_who runs away_). Ah, wretch! you want to smother me.


BEL. Now, now; what is it again?

ARG. (_throwing himself in his chair_). Ah! I can hold out no

BEL. But why do you fly into such a passion? she thought she was doing

ARG. You don't know, darling, the wickedness of that villainous
baggage. She has altogether upset me, and I shall want more than eight
different mixtures and twelve injections to remedy the evil.

BEL. Come, come, my dearie, compose yourself a little.

ARG. Lovey, you are my only consolation.

BEL. Poor little pet!

ARG. To repay you for all the love you have for me, my darling, I
will, as I told you, make my will.

BEL. Ah, my soul I do not let us speak of that, I beseech you. I
cannot bear to think of it, and the very word "will" makes me die of

ARG. I had asked you to speak to our notary about it.

BEL. There he is, close at hand; I have brought him with me.

ARG. Make him come in then, my life!

BEL. Alas! my darling, when a woman loves her husband so much, she
finds it almost impossible to think of these things.


ARG. Come here, Mr. de Bonnefoi, come here. Take a seat, if you
please. My wife tells me, Sir, that you are a very honest man, and
altogether one of her friends; I have therefore asked her to speak to
you about a will which I wish to make.

BEL. Alas! I cannot speak of those things.

MR. DE BON. She has fully explained to me your intentions, Sir, and
what you mean to do for her. But I have to tell you that you can give
nothing to your wife by will.

ARG. But why so?

MR. DE BON. It is against custom. If you were in a district where
statute law prevailed, the thing could he done; but in Paris, and in
almost all places governed by custom, it cannot be done; and the will
would be held void. The only settlement that man and wife can make on
each other is by mutual donation while they are alive, and even then
there must be no children from either that marriage or from any
previous marriage at the decease of the first who dies.

ARG. It's a very impertinent custom that a husband can leave nothing
to a wife whom he loves, by whom he is tenderly loved, and who takes
so much care of him. I should like to consult my own advocate to see
what I can do.

MR. DE BON. It is not to an advocate that you must apply; for they are
very particular on this point and think it a great crime to bestow
one's property contrary to the law. They are people to make
difficulties, and are ignorant of the bylaws of conscience. There are
others whom you may consult with advantage on that point, and who have
expedients for gently overriding the law, and for rendering just that
which is not allowed. These know how to smooth over the difficulties
of an affair, and to find the means of eluding custom by some indirect
advantage. Without that, what would become of us every day? We must
make things easy; otherwise we should do nothing, and I wouldn't give
a penny for our business.

ARG. My wife had rightly told me, Sir, that you were a very clever and
honest man. What can I do, pray, to give her my fortune and deprive my
children of it?

MR. DE BON. What you can do? You can discreetly choose a friend of
your wife, to whom you will give all you own in due form by your will,
and that friend will give it up to her afterwards; or else you can
sign a great many safe bonds in favour of various creditors who will
lend their names to your wife, and in whose hands they will leave a
declaration that what was done was only to serve her. You can also in
your lifetime put in her hands ready money and bills which you can
make payable to bearer.

BEL. Alas! you must not trouble yourself about all that. If I lose
you, my child, I will stay no longer in the world.

ARG. My darling!

BEL. Yes, my pet, if I were unfortunate enough to lose you....

ARG. My dear wifey!

BEL. Life would be nothing to me.

ARG. My love!

BEL. And I would follow you to the grave, to show you all the
tenderness I feel for you.

ARG. You will break my heart, deary; comfort yourself, I beseech you.

MR. DE BON. (_to_ BÉLINE). These tears are unseasonable; things
have not come to that yet.

BEL. Ah, Sir! you don't know what it is to have a husband one loves

ARG. All the regret I shall have, if I die, my darling, will be to
have no child from you. Mr. Purgon told me he would make me have one.

MR. DE BON. That may come still.

ARG. I must make my will, deary, according to what this gentleman
advises; but, out of precaution, I will give you the twenty thousand
francs in gold which I have in the wainscoting of the recess of my
room, and two bills payable to bearer which are due to me, one from
Mr. Damon, the other from Mr. Géronte.

BEL. No, no! I will have nothing to do with all that. Ah! How much do
you say there is in the recess?

ARG. Twenty thousand francs, darling.

BEL. Don't speak to me of your money, I beseech you. Ah! How much are
the two bills for?

ARG. One, my love, is for four thousand francs, and the other for six

BEL. All the wealth in the world, my soul, is nothing to me compared
to you.

MR. DE BON. (_to_ ARGAN). Shall we draw up the will?

ARG. Yes, Sir. But we shall be more comfortable in my own little
study. Help me, my love.

BEL. Come, my poor, dear child.


TOI. They are shut up with the notary, and I heard something about a
will; your mother-in-law doesn't go to sleep; it is, no doubt, some
conspiracy of hers against your interests to which she is urging your

ANG. Let him dispose of his money as he likes, as long as be does not
dispose of my heart in the same way. You see, Toinette, to what
violence it is subjected. Do not forsake me, I beseech you, in this my

TOI. I forsake you! I had rather die. In vain does your stepmother try
to take me into her confidence, and make me espouse her interests. I
never could like her, and I have always been on your side. Trust me, I
will do every thing to serve you. But, in order to serve you more
effectually, I shall change my tactics, hide my wish to help you, and
affect to enter into the feelings of your father and your stepmother.

ANG. Try, I beseech you, to let Cléante know about the marriage they
have decided upon.

TOI. I have nobody to employ for that duty but the old usurer
Punchinello, my lover; it will cost me a few honeyed words, which I
am most willing to spend for you. To-day it is too late for that, but
to-morrow morning early I will send for him, and he will be delighted


BEL. Toinette.

TOI. (_to_ ANGÉLIQUE). I am called away. Good night. Trust me.




TOI. (_not recognising_ CLÉANTE). What is it you want, Sir?

CLE. What do I want?

TOI. Ah! ah! is it you? What a surprise! What are you coming here for?

CLE. To learn my destiny, to speak to the lovely Angélique, to consult
the feelings of her heart, and to ask her what she means to do about
this fatal marriage of which I have been told.

TOI. Very well; but no one speaks so easily as all that to Angélique;
you must take precautions, and you have been told how narrowly she is
watched. She never goes out, nor does she see anybody. It was through
the curiosity of an old aunt that we obtained leave to go to the play
where your love began, and we have taken good care not to say anything
about it.

CLE. Therefore am I not here as Cléante, nor as her lover, but as the
friend of her music-master, from whom I have obtained leave to say
that I have come in his stead.

TOI. Here is her father; withdraw a little, and let me tell him who
you are.


ARG. (_thinking himself alone_). Mr. Purgon told me that I was to
walk twelve times to and fro in my room every morning, but I forgot to
ask him whether it should be lengthways or across.

TOI. Sir, here is a gentleman....

ARG. Speak in a lower tone, you jade; you split my head open; and you
forget that we should never speak so loud to sick people.

TOI. I wanted to tell you, Sir....

ARG. Speak low, I tell you.

TOI. Sir...(_She moves her lips as if she were speaking._)

ARG. What?

TOI. I tell you that...(_As before_.)

ARG. What is it you say?

TOI. (_aloud_). I say that there is a gentleman here who wants to
speak to you.

ARG. Let him come in.


CLE. Sir.

TOI. (_to_ CLÉANTE). Do not speak so loud, for fear of splitting
open the head of Mr. Argan.

CLE. Sir, I am delighted to find you up, and to see you better.

TOI. (_affecting to be angry_). How! better? It is false; master
is always ill.

CLE. I had heard that your master was better, and I think that he
looks well in the face.

TOI. What do you mean by his looking well in the face? He looks very
bad, and it is only impertinent folks who say that he is better; he
never was so ill in his life.

ARG. She is right.

TOI. He walks, sleeps, eats, and drinks, like other folks, but that
does not hinder him from being very ill.

ARG. Quite true.

CLE. I am heartily sorry for it, Sir. I am sent by your daughter's
music-master; he was obliged to go into the country for a few days,
and as I am his intimate friend, he has asked me to come here in his
place, to go on with the lessons, for fear that, if they were
discontinued, she should forget what she has already learnt.

ARG. Very well. (To TOINETTE) Call Angélique.

TOI. I think, Sir, It would be better to take the gentleman to her

ARG. No, make her come here.

TOI. He cannot give her a good lesson if they are not left alone.

ARG. Oh! yes, he can.

TOI. Sir, it will stun you; and you should have nothing to disturb you
in the state of health you are in.

ARG. No, no; I like music, and I should be glad to...Ah! here she is.
(_To_ TOINETTE) Go and see if my wife is dressed.


ARG. Come, my daughter, your music-master is gone into the country,
and here is a person whom he sends instead, to give you your lesson.

ANG. (_recognising_ CLÉANTE). O heavens!

ARG. What is the matter? Why this surprise?

ANG. It is....

ARG. What can disturb you in that manner?

ANG. It is such a strange coincidence.

ARG. How so?

ANG. I dreamt last night that I was in the greatest trouble
imaginable, and that some one exactly like this gentleman came to me.
I asked him to help me, and presently he saved me from the great
trouble I was in. My surprise was very great to meet unexpectedly, on
my coming here, him of whom I had been dreaming all night.

CLE. It is no small happiness to occupy your thoughts whether sleeping
or waking, and my delight would be great indeed if you were in any
trouble out of which you would think me worthy of delivering you.
There is nothing that I would not do for....


TOI. (_to_ ARGAN). Indeed, Sir, I am of your opinion now, and I
unsay all that I said yesterday. Here are Mr. Diafoirus the father,
and Mr. Diafoirus the son, who are coming to visit you. How well
provided with a son-in-law you will be! You will see the best-made
young fellow in the world, and the most intellectual. He said but two
words to me, it is true, but I was struck with them, and your daughter
will be delighted with him.

ARG. (_to_ CLÉANTE, _who moves as if to go_). Do not go,
Sir. I am about, as you see, to marry my daughter, and they have just
brought her future husband, whom she has not as yet seen.

CLE. You do me great honour, Sir, in wishing me to be witness of such
a pleasant interview.

ARG. He is the son of a clever doctor, and the marriage will take
place in four days.

CLE. Indeed!

ARG. Please inform her music-master of it, that he may be at the

CLE. I will not fail to do so.

ARG. And I invite you also.

CLE. You do me too much honour.

TOI. Come, make room; here they are.


ARG. (_putting up his hand to his night-cap without taking it
off_). Mr. Purgon has forbidden me to uncover my head. You belong
to the profession, and know what would be the consequence if I did so.

MR. DIA. We are bound in all our visits to bring relief to invalids,
and not to injure them.

(MR. ARGAN _and_ MR. DIAFOIRUS _speak at the same time_.)

ARG. I receive, Sir....

MR. DIA. We come here, Sir....

ARG. With great joy....

MR. DIA. My son Thomas and myself....

ARG. The honour you do me....

MR. DIA. To declare to you, Sir....

ARG. And I wish....

MR. DIA. The delight we are in....

ARG. I could have gone to your house....

MR. DIA. At the favour you do us....

ARG. To assure you of it....

MR. DIA. In so kindly admitting us....

ARG. But you know, Sir....

MR. DIA. To the honour, Sir....

ARG. What it is to be a poor invalid....

MR. DIA. Of your alliance....

ARG. Who can only....

MR. DIA. And assure you....

ARG. Tell you here....

MR. DIA. That in all that depends on our knowledge....

ARG. That he will seize every opportunity....

MR. DIA. As well as in any other way....

ARG. To show you, Sir....

MR. DIA: That we shall ever be ready, Sir....

ARG. That he is entirely at your service....

MR. DIA. To show you our zeal. (_To his son_) Now, Thomas, come
forward, and pay your respects.

T. DIA. (_to_ MR. DIAFOIRUS). Ought I not to begin with the

MR. DIA. Yes.

T. DIA. (_to_ ARGAN). Sir, I come to salute, acknowledge,
cherish, and revere in you a second father; but a second father to
whom I owe more, I make bold to say, than to the first. The first gave
me birth; but you have chosen me. He received me by necessity, but you
have accepted me by choice. What I have from him is of the body,
corporal; what I hold from you is of the will, voluntary; and in so
much the more as the mental faculties are above the corporal, in so
much the more do I hold precious this future affiliation, for which I
come beforehand to-day to render you my most humble and most
respectful homage.

TOI. Long life to the colleges which send such clever people into the

T. DIA. (_to_ MR. DIAFOIRUS). Has this been said to your
satisfaction, father?

MR. DIA. _Optime_.

ARG. (_to_ ANGÉLIQUE). Come, bow to this gentleman.

T DIA. (_to_ MR. DIAFOIRUS). Shall I kiss?

MR. DIA. Yes, yes.

T. DIA. (_to_ ANGÉLIQUE). Madam, it is with justice that heaven
has given you the name of stepmother, since we see in you steps
towards the perfect beauty which....[Footnote: Thomas Diafoirus is
evidently going to base some compliment on the _belle-mère_. The
only way out of the difficulty in English seems to be to complete the
sentence somewhat.]

ARG. (_to_ THOMAS DIAFOIRUS). It is not to my wife, but to my
daughter, that you are speaking.

T. DIA. Where is she?

ARG. She will soon come.

T. DIA. Shall I wait, father, till she comes?

MR. DIA. No; go through your compliments to the young lady in the

T. DIA. Madam, as the statue of Memnon gave forth a harmonious sound
when it was struck by the first rays of the sun, in like manner do I
experience a sweet rapture at the apparition of this sun of your
beauty. As the naturalists remark that the flower styled heliotrope
always turns towards the star of day, so will my heart for ever turn
towards the resplendent stars of your adorable eyes as to its only
pole. Suffer me, then, Madam, to make to-day on the altar of your
charms the offering of a heart which longs for and is ambitious of no
greater glory than to be till death, Madam, your most humble, most
obedient, most faithful servant and husband.

TOI. Ah! See what it is to study, and how one learns to say fine

ARG. (_to_ CLÉANTE). Well! what do you say to that?

CLE. The gentleman does wonders, and if he is as good a doctor as he
is an orator, it will be most pleasant to be one of his patients.

TOI. Certainly, it will be something admirable if his cures are as
wonderful as his speeches.

ARG. Now, quick, my chair; and seats for everybody. (_Servants bring
chairs._) Sit down here, my daughter. (_To_ MR. DIAFOIRUS) You
see, Sir, that everybody admires your son; and I think you very
fortunate in being the father of such a fine young man.

MR. DIA. Sir, it is not because I am his father, but I can boast that
I have reason to be satisfied with him, and that all those who see him
speak of him as of a youth without guile. He has not a very lively
imagination, nor that sparkling wit which is found in some others; but
it is this which has always made me augur well of his judgment, a
quality required for the exercise of our art. As a child he never was
what is called sharp or lively. He was always gentle, peaceful,
taciturn, never saying a word, and never playing at any of those
little pastimes that we call children's games. It was found most
difficult to teach him to read, and he was nine years old before he
knew his letters. A good omen, I used to say to myself; trees slow of
growth bear the best fruit. We engrave on marble with much more
difficulty than on sand, but the result is more lasting; and that
dulness of apprehension, that heaviness of imagination, is a mark of a
sound judgment in the future. When I sent him to college, he found it
hard work, but he stuck to his duty, and bore up with obstinacy
against all difficulties. His tutors always praised him for his
assiduity and the trouble he took. In short, by dint of continual
hammering, he at last succeeded gloriously in obtaining his degree;
and I can say, without vanity, that from that time till now there has
been no candidate who has made more noise than he in all the
disputations of our school. There he has rendered himself formidable,
and no debate passes but be goes and argues loudly and to the last
extreme on the opposite side. He is firm in dispute, strong as a Turk
in his principles, never changes his opinion, and pursues an argument
to the last recesses of logic. But, above all things, what pleases me
in him, and what I am glad to see him follow my example in, is that he
is blindly attached to the opinions of the ancients, and that he would
never understand nor listen to the reasons and the experiences of the
pretended discoveries of our century concerning the circulation of the
blood and other opinions of the same stamp. [Footnote: Harvey's
treatise on the circulation of the blood was published in 1628. His
discovery was violently opposed for a long time afterwards.]

T. DIA. (_pulling out of his pocket a long paper rolled up, and
presenting it to_ ANGÉLIQUE). I have upheld against these
circulators a thesis which, with the permission (_bowing to_
ARGAN) of this gentleman, I venture to present to the young lady as
the first-fruits of my genius.

ANG. Sir, it is a useless piece of furniture to me; I do not
understand these things.

TOI. (_taking the paper_). Never mind; give it all the same; the
picture will be of use, and we will adorn our attic with it.

T. DIA. (_again bowing to_ ANGÉLIQUE). With the permission of
this gentleman, I invite you to come one of these days to amuse
yourself by assisting at the dissection of a woman upon whose body I
am to give lectures.

TOI. The treat will be most welcome. There are some who give the
pleasure of seeing a play to their lady-love; but a dissection is much
more gallant.

MR. DIA. Moreover, in respect to the qualities required for marriage,
I assure you that he is all you could wish, and that his children will
be strong and healthy.

ARG. Do you not intend, Sir, to push his way at court, and obtain for
him the post of physician there?

MR. DIA. To tell you the truth, I have never had any predilection to
practice with the great; it never seemed pleasant to me, and I have
found that it is better for us to confine ourselves to the ordinary
public. Ordinary people are more convenient; you are accountable to
nobody for your actions, and as long as you follow the common rules
laid down by the faculty, there is no necessity to trouble yourself
about the result. What is vexatious among people of rank is that, when
they are ill, they positively expect their doctor to cure them.

TOI. How very absurd! How impertinent of them to ask of you doctors to
cure them! You are not placed near them for that, but only to receive
your fees and to prescribe remedies. It is their own look-out to get
well if they can.

MR. DIA. Quite so. We are only bound to treat people according to

ARG. (_to_ CLÉANTE). Sir, please make my daughter sing before the

CLE. I was waiting for your commands, Sir; and I propose, in order to
amuse the company, to sing with the young lady an operetta which has
lately come out. (_To_ ANGÉLIQUE, _giving her a paper_) There is
your part.

ANG. Mine?

CLE. (_aside to_ ANGÉLIQUE). Don't refuse, pray; but let me
explain to you what is the scene we must sing. (_Aloud_) I have
no voice; but in this case it is sufficient if I make myself
understood; and you must have the goodness to excuse me, because I am
under the necessity of making the young lady sing.

ARG. Are the verses pretty?

CLE. It is really nothing but a small extempore opera, and what you
will hear is only rhythmical prose or a kind of irregular verse, such
as passion and necessity make two people utter.

ARG. Very well; let us hear.

CLE. The subject of the scene is as follows. A shepherd was paying
every attention to the beauties of a play, when he was disturbed by a
noise close to him, and on turning round he saw a scoundrel who, with
insolent language, was annoying a young shepherdess. He immediately
espoused the cause of a sex to which all men owe homage; and after
having chastised the brute for his insolence, he came near the
shepherdess to comfort her. He sees a young girl with the most
beautiful eyes he has ever beheld, who is shedding tears which he
thinks the most precious in the world. Alas! says he to himself, can
any one be capable of insulting such charms? Where is the unfeeling
wretch, the barbarous man to be found who will not feel touched by
such tears? He endeavours to stop those beautiful tears, and the
lovely shepherdess takes the opportunity of thanking him for the
slight service he has rendered her. But she does it in a manner so
touching, so tender, and so passionate that the shepherd cannot resist
it, and each word, each look is a burning shaft which penetrates his
heart. Is there anything in the world worthy of such thanks? and what
will not one do, what service and what danger will not one be
delighted to run to attract upon oneself even for a moment the
touching sweetness of so grateful a heart? The whole play was acted
without his paying any more attention to it; yet he complains that it
was too short, since the end separates him from his lovely
shepherdess. From that moment, from that first sight, he carries away
with him a love which has the strength of a passion of many years. He
now feels all the pangs of absence, and is tormented in no longer
seeing what he beheld for so short a time. He tries every means to
meet again with a sight so dear to him, and the remembrance of which
pursues him day and night. But the great watch which is kept over his
shepherdess deprives him of all the power of doing so. The violence of
his passion urges him to ask in marriage the adorable beauty without
whom he can no longer live, and he obtains from her the permission of
doing so, by means of a note that he has succeeded in sending to her.
But he is told in the meantime that the father of her whom he loves
has decided upon marrying her to another, and that everything is being
got ready to celebrate the wedding. Judge what a cruel wound for the
heart of that poor shepherd! Behold him suffering from this mortal
blow; he cannot bear the dreadful idea of seeing her he loves in the
arms of another; and in his despair he finds the means of introducing
himself into the house of his shepherdess, in order to learn her
feelings and to hear from her the fate he must expect. There he sees
everything ready for what he fears; he sees the unworthy rival whom
the caprice of a father opposes to the tenderness of his love; he sees
that ridiculous rival triumphant near the lovely shepherdess, as if
already assured of his conquest. Such a sight fills him with a wrath
he can hardly master. He looks despairingly at her whom he adores, but
the respect he has for her and the presence of her father prevent him
from speaking except with his eyes. At last he breaks through all
restraint, and the greatness of his love forces him to speak as

(_He sings_.)

  Phyllis, too sharp a pain you bid me bear;
  Break this stern silence, tell me what to fear;
  Disclose your thoughts, and bid them open lie
  To tell me if I live or die.

  The marriage preparations sadden me.
  O'erwhelmed with sorrow,
  My eyes I lift to heaven; I strive to pray,
  Then gaze on you and sigh. No more I say.

  Tircis, who fain would woo,
  Tell him, Phyllis, is it true,
  Is he so blest by your sweet grace
  As in your heart to find a place?

  I may not hide it, in this dire extreme,
  Tircis, I own for you my love....

  O blessed words! am I indeed so blest?
  Repeat them, Phyllis; set my doubts at rest.

  I love you, Tircis!

                     Ah! Phyllis, once again.

  I love you, Tircis!

                       Alas! I fain
  A hundred times would hearken to that strain.

  I love you! I love you!
  Tircis, I love you!

  Ye kings and gods who, from your eternal seat,
  Behold the world of men beneath your feet,
  Can you possess a happiness more sweet?
      My Phyllis! one dark haunting fear
      Our peaceful joy disturbs unsought;
      A rival may my homage share.

  Ah! worse than death is such a thought!
  Its presence equal torment is
  To both, and mars my bliss.

CLE. Your father to his vow would subject you.

ANG. Ah! welcome death before I prove untrue.

ARG. And what does the father say to all that?

CLE. Nothing.

ARG. Then that father is a fool to put up with those silly things,
without saying a word!

CLE. (_trying to go on singing_).
  Ah! my love....

ARG. No; no; that will do. An opera like that is in very bad taste.
The shepherd Tircis is an impertinent fellow, and the shepherdess
Phyllis an impudent girl to speak in that way in the presence of her
father. (_To_ ANGÉLIQUE) Show me that paper. Ah! ah! and where
are the words that you have just sung? This is only the music.

CLE. Are you not aware, Sir, that the way of writing the words with
the notes themselves has been lately discovered?

ARG. Has it? Good-bye for the present. We could have done very well
without your impertinent opera.

CLE. I thought I should amuse you.

ARG. Foolish things do not amuse, Sir. Ah! here is my wife.


ARG. My love, here is the son of Mr. Diafoirus.

T. DIA. Madam, it is with justice that heaven has given you the title
of stepmother, since we see in you steps....

BEL. Sir, I am delighted to have come here just in time to see you.

T. DIA. Since we see in you...since we see in you ...Madam, you have
interrupted me in the middle of my period, and have troubled my

MR. DIA. Keep it for another time.

ARG. I wish, my dear, that you had been here just now.

TOI. Ah! Madam, how much you have lost by not being at the second
father, the statue of Memnon, and the flower styled heliotrope.

ARG. Come, my daughter, shake hands with this gentleman, and pledge
him your troth.

ANG. Father!

ARG. Well? What do you mean by "Father"?

ANG. I beseech you not to be in such a hurry; give us time to become
acquainted with each other, and to see grow in us that sympathy so
necessary to a perfect union.

T. DIA. As far as I am concerned, Madam, it is already full-grown
within me, and there is no occasion for me to wait.

ANG. I am not so quick as you are, Sir, and I must confess that your
merit has not yet made enough impression on my heart.

ARG. Oh! nonsense! There will be time enough for the impression to be
made after you are married.

ANG. Ah! my father, give me time, I beseech you! Marriage is a chain
which should never be imposed by force. And if this gentleman is a man
of honour, he ought not to accept a person who would be his only by

T. DIA. _Nego consequentiam._ I can be a man of honour, Madam,
and at the same time accept you from the hands of your father.

ANG. To do violence to any one is a strange way of setting about
inspiring love.

T. DIA. We read in the ancients, Madam, that it was their custom to
carry off by main force from their father's house the maiden they
wished to marry, so that the latter might not seem to fly of her own
accord into the arms of a man.

ANG. The ancients, Sir, are the ancients; but we are the moderns.
Pretences are not necessary in our age; and when a marriage pleases
us, we know very well how to go to it without being dragged by force.
Have a little patience; if you love me, Sir, you ought to do what I

T. DIA. Certainly, Madam, but without prejudice to the interest of my

ANG. But the greatest mark of love is to submit to the will of her who
is loved.

T. DIA. _Distinguo_, Madam. In what does not regard the
possession of her, _concedo_; but in what regards it,

TOI. (to ANGÉLIQUE). It is in vain for you to argue. This gentleman is
bran new from college, and will be more than a match for you. Why
resist, and refuse the glory of belonging to the faculty?

BEL. She may have some other inclination in her head.

ANG. If I had, Madam, it would be such as reason and honour allow.

ARG. Heyday! I am acting a pleasant part here!

BEL. If I were you, my child, I would not force her to marry; I know
very well what I should do.

ANG. I know what you mean, Madam, and how kind you are to me; but it
may be hoped that your advice may not be fortunate enough to be

BEL. That is because well-brought-up and good children, like you,
scorn to be obedient to the will of their fathers. Obedience was all
very well in former times.

ANG. The duty of a daughter has its limits, Madam, and neither reason
nor law extend it to all things.

BEL. Which means that your thoughts are all in favour of marriage, but
that you will choose a husband for yourself.

ANG. If my father will not give me a husband I like, at least I
beseech him not to force me to marry one I can never love.

ARG. Gentlemen, I beg your pardon for all this.

ANG. We all have our own end in marrying. For my part, as I only want
a husband that I can love sincerely, and as I intend to consecrate my
whole life to him, I feel bound, I confess, to be cautious. There are
some who marry simply to free themselves from the yoke of their
parents, and to be at liberty to do all they like. There are others,
Madam, who see in marriage only a matter of mere interest; who marry
only to get a settlement, and to enrich themselves by the death of
those they marry. They pass without scruple from husband to husband,
with an eye to their possessions. These, no doubt, Madam, are not so
difficult to satisfy, and care little what the husband is like.

BEL. You are very full of reasoning to-day. I wonder what you mean by

ANG. I, Madam? What can I mean but what I say?

BEL. You are such a simpleton, my dear, that one can hardly bear with

ANG. You would like to extract from me some rude answer; but I warn
you that you will not have the pleasure of doing so.

BEL. Nothing can equal your impertinence.

ANG. It is of no use, Madam; you will not.

BEL. And you have a ridiculous pride, an impertinent presumption,
which makes you the scorn of everybody.

ANG. All this will be useless, Madam. I shall be quiet in spite of
you; and to take away from you all hope of succeeding in what you
wish, I will withdraw from your presence.


ARG. (_to_ ANGÉLIQUE, _as she goes away_). Listen to me! Of
two things, one. Either you will marry this gentleman or you will go
into a convent. I give you four days to consider. (_To_ BÉLINE)
Don't be anxious; I will bring her to reason.

BEL. I am sorry to leave you, my child; but I have some important
business which calls me to town. I shall soon be back.

ARG. Go, my darling; call upon the notary, and tell him to be quick
about you know what.

BEL. Good-bye, my child.

ARG. Good-bye, deary.


ARG. How much this woman loves me; it is perfectly incredible.

MR. DIA. We shall now take our leave of you, Sir.

ARG. I beg of you, Sir, to tell me how I am.

MR. DIA. (_feeling_ ARGAN'S _pulse_). Now, Thomas, take the
other arm of the gentleman, so that I may see whether you can form a
right judgment on his pulse. _Quid dicis?_

T. DIA. _Dico_ that the pulse of this gentleman is the pulse of a
man who is not well.

MR. DIA. Good.

T. DIA. That it is _duriusculus_, not to say _durus_.

MR. DIA. Very well.

T. DIA. Irregular.

MR. DIA. _Bene_.

T. DIA. And even a little caprizant.

MR. DIA. _Optime_.

T. DIA. Which speaks of an intemperance in the splenetic
_parenchyma_; that is to say, the spleen.

MR. DIA. Quite right.

ARG. It cannot be, for Mr. Purgon says that it is my liver which is
out of order.

MR. DIA. Certainly; he who says _parenchyma_ says both one and
the other, because of the great sympathy which exists between them
through the means of the _vas breve_, of the _pylorus_, and
often of the _meatus choledici_. He no doubt orders you to eat
plenty of roast-meat.

ARG. No; nothing but boiled meat.

MR. DIA. Yes, yes; roast or boiled, it is all the same; he orders very
wisely, and you could not have fallen into better hands.

ARG. Sir, tell me how many grains of salt I ought to put to an egg?

MR. DIA. Six, eight, ten, by even numbers; just as in medicines by odd

ARG. Good-bye, Sir; I hope soon to have the pleasure of seeing you


BEL. Before I go out, I must inform you of one thing you must be
careful about. While passing before Angélique's door, I saw with her a
young man, who ran away as soon as he noticed me.

ARG. A young man with my daughter!

BEL. Yes; your little girl Louison, who was with them, will tell you
all about it.

ARG. Send her here, my love, send her here at once. Ah! the brazen-faced
girl! (_Alone_.) I no longer wonder at the resistance she showed.


LOU. What do you want, papa? My step-mamma told me to come to you.

ARG. Yes; come here. Come nearer. Turn round, and hold up your head.
Look straight at me. Well?

LOU. What, papa?

ARG. So?

LOU. What?

ARG. Have you nothing to say to me?

LOU. Yes. I will, to amuse you, tell you, if you like, the story of
the Ass's Skin or the fable of the Fox and the Crow, which I have
learnt lately.

ARG. That is not what I want of you.

LOU. What is it then?

ARG. Ah! cunning little girl, you know very well what I mean.

LOU. No indeed, papa.

ARG. Is that the way you obey me?

LOU. What, papa?

ARG. Have I not asked you to tell me at once all you see?

LOU. Yes, papa.

ARG. Have you done so?

LOU. Yes, papa. I always come and tell you all I see.

ARG. And have you seen nothing to-day?

LOU. No, papa.

ARG. No?

LOU. No, papa.

ARG. Quite sure?

LOU. Quite sure.

ARG. Ah! indeed! I will make you see something soon.

LOU. (_seeing_ ARGAN _take a rod_). Ah! papa!

ARG. Ah! ah! false little girl; you do not tell me that you saw a man
in your sister's room!

LOU. (_crying_). Papa!

ARG. (_taking_ LOUISON _by the arm_). This will teach you to
tell falsehoods.

LOU. (_throwing herself on her knees_). Ah! my dear papa! pray
forgive me. My sister had asked me not to say anything to you, but I
will tell you everything.

ARG. First you must have a flogging for having told an untruth, then
we will see to the rest.

LOU. Forgive me, papa, forgive me!

ARG. No, no!

LOU. My dear papa, don't whip me.

ARG. Yes, you shall be whipped.

LOU. For pity's sake! don't whip me, papa.

ARG. (_going to whip her_). Come, come.

LOU. Ah! papa, you have hurt me; I am dead! (_She feigns to be

ARG. How, now! What does this mean? Louison! Louison! Ah! heaven!
Louison! My child! Ah! wretched father! My poor child is dead! What
have I done? Ah! villainous rod! A curse on the rod! Ah! my poor
child! My dear little Louison!

LOU. Come, come, dear papa; don't weep so. I am not quite dead yet.

ARG. Just see the cunning little wench. Well! I forgive you this once,
but you must tell me everything.

LOU. Oh yes, dear papa.

ARG. Be sure you take great care, for here is my little finger that
knows everything, and it will tell me if you don't speak the truth.

LOU. But, papa, you won't tell sister that I told you.

ARG. No, no.

LOU. (_after having listened to see if any one can hear_). Papa,
a young man came into sister's room while I was there.

ARG. Well?

LOU. I asked him what he wanted; he said that he was her music-master.

ARG. (_aside_). Hm! hm! I see. (_To_ LOUISON) Well?

LOU. Then sister came.

ARG. Well?

LOU. She said to him, "Go away, go away, go. Good heavens! you will
drive me to despair."

ARG. Well?

LOU. But he would not go away.

ARG. What did he say to her?

LOU. Oh! ever so many things.

ARG. But what?

LOU. He told her this, and that, and the other; that he loved her
dearly; that she was the most beautiful person in the world.

ARG. And then, after?

LOU. Then he knelt down before her.

ARG. And then?

LOU. Then he kept on kissing her hands.

ARG. And then?

LOU. Then my mamma came to the door, and, he escaped.

ARG. Nothing else?

LOU. No, dear papa.

ARG. Here is my little finger, which says something though.
(_Putting his finger up to his ear_.) Wait. Stay, eh? ah! ah!
Yes? oh! oh! here is my little finger, which says that there is
something you saw, and which you do not tell me.

LOU. Ah! papa, your little finger is a story-teller.

ARG. Take care.

LOU. No, don't believe him; he tells a story, I assure you.

ARG. Oh! Well, well; we will see to that. Go away now, and pay great
attention to what you see. (_Alone_.) Ah! children are no longer
children nowadays! What trouble! I have not even enough leisure to
attend to my illness. I am quite done up. (_He falls down into his


BER. Well, brother! What is the matter? How are you?

ARG. Ah! very bad, brother; very bad.

BER. How is that?

ARG. No one would believe how very feeble I am.

BER. That's a sad thing, indeed.

ARG. I have hardly enough strength to speak.

BER. I came here, brother, to propose a match for my niece, Angélique.

ARG. (_in a rage, speaking with great fury, and starting up from his
chair_). Brother, don't speak to me of that wicked, good-for-nothing,
insolent, brazen-faced girl. I will put her in a convent before two days
are over.

BER. Ah! all right! I am glad to see that you have a little strength
still left, and that my visit does you good. Well, well, we will talk
of business by-and-by. I have brought you an entertainment, which will
dissipate your melancholy, and will dispose you better for what we
have to talk about. They are gipsies dressed in Moorish clothes. They
perform some dances mixed with songs, which, I am sure, you will like,
and which will be as good as a prescription from Mr. Purgon. Come


MEN _and_ WOMEN (_dressed as Moors_).

  When blooms the spring of life,
    The golden harvest reap.
  Waste not your years in bootless strife,
    Till age upon your bodies creep.
  But now, when shines the kindly light,
  Give up your soul to love's delight.

  No touch of sweetest joy
    This longing heart can know,
  No bliss without alloy
    When love does silent show.

  Then up, ye lads and lasses gay!
    The spring of life is fair;
    Cloud not these hours with care,
  For love must win the day.

    Beauty fades,
      Years roll by,
    Lowering shades
      Obscure the sky.
  And joys so sweet of yore
  Shall charm us then no more.

  Then up, ye lads and lasses gay!
    The spring of life is fair;
    Cloud not these hours with care,
  For love must win the day.

_First Entry of the_ BALLET.

  They bid us love, they bid us woo,
    Why seek delay?
  To tender sighs and kisses too
    In youth's fair day,
  Our hearts are but too true.

  The sweetest charms has Cupid's spell.
    No sooner felt, the ready heart
  His conquered self would yield him well
    Ere yet the god had winged his dart.
  But yet the tale we often hear
    Of tears and sorrows keen,
    To share in them, I ween,
  Though sweet, would make us fear!

  To love a lover true,
    In youth's kind day, I trow,
    Is pleasant task enow;
  But think how we must rue
    If he inconstant show!

  The loss of lover false to me
    But trifling grief would be,
  Yet this is far the keenest smart
    That he had stol'n away our heart.

  What then shall we do
  Whose hearts are so young?

  Though cruel his laws,
    Attended by woes,
  Away with your arms,
    Submit to his charms!

  His whims ye must follow,
    His transports though fleet,
    His pinings too sweet
  Though often comes sorrow,
  The thousand delights
    The wounds of his darts
    Still charm all the hearts.

       * * * * *



BER. Well, brother, what do you say to that? Isn't it as good as a
dose of cassia?

TOI. Oh! good cassia is a very good thing, Sir.

BER. Now, shall we have a little chat together.

ARG. Wait a moment, brother, I'll be back directly.

TOI. Here, Sir; you forget that you cannot get about without a stick.

ARG. Ay, to be sure.


TOI. Pray, do not give up the interest of your niece.

BER. No, I shall do all in my power to forward her wishes.

TOI. We must prevent this foolish marriage which he has got into his
head, from taking place. And I thought to myself that it would be a
good thing to introduce a doctor here, having a full understanding of
our wishes, to disgust him with his Mr. Purgon, and abuse his mode of
treating him. But as we have nobody to act that part for us, I have
decided upon playing him a trick of my own.

BER. In what way?

TOI. It is rather an absurd idea, and it may be more fortunate than
good. But act your own part. Here is our man.


BER. Let me ask you, brother, above all things not to excite yourself
during our conversation.

ARG. I agree.

BER. To answer without anger to anything I may mention.

ARG. Very well.

BER. And to reason together upon the business I want to discuss with
you without any irritation.

ARG. Dear me! Yes. What a preamble!

BER. How is it, brother, that, with all the wealth you possess, and
with only one daughter--for I do not count the little one--you speak
of sending her to a convent?

ARG. How is it, brother, that I am master of my family, and that I can
do all I think fit?

BER. Your wife doesn't fail to advise you to get rid, in that way, of
your two daughters; and I have no doubt that, through a spirit of
charity, she would be charmed to see them both good nuns.

ARG. Oh, I see! My poor wife again! It is she who does all the harm,
and everybody is against her.

BER. No, brother; let us leave that alone. She is a woman with the
best intentions in the world for the good of your family, and is free
from all interested motives. She expresses for you the most
extraordinary tenderness, and shows towards your children an
inconceivable goodness. No, don't let us speak of her, but only of
your daughter. What can be your reason for wishing to give her in
marriage to the sort of a doctor?

ARG. My reason is that I wish to have a son-in-law who will suit my

BER. But it is not what your daughter requires, and we have a more
suitable match for her.

ARG. Yes; but this one is more suitable for me.

BER. But does she marry a husband for herself or for you, brother?

ARG. He must do both for her and for me, brother; and I wish to take
into my family people of whom I have need.

BER. So that, if your little girl were old enough, you would give her
to an apothecary?

ARG. Why not?

BER. Is it possible that you should always be so infatuated with your
apothecaries and doctors, and be so determined to be ill, in spite of
men and nature?

ARG. What do you mean by that, brother?

BER. I mean, brother, that I know of no man less sick than you, and
that I should be quite satisfied with a constitution no worse than
yours. One great proof that you are well, and that you have a body
perfectly well made, is that with all the pains you have taken, you
have failed as yet in injuring the soundness of your constitution, and
that you have not died of all the medicine they have made you swallow.

ARG. But are you aware, brother, that it is these medicines which keep
me in good health? Mr. Purgon says that I should go off if he were but
three days without taking care of me.

BER. If you are not careful, he will take such care of you that he
will soon send you into the next world.

ARG. But let us reason together, brother; don't you believe at all in

BER. No, brother; and I do not see that it is necessary for our
salvation to believe in it.

ARG. What! Do you not hold true a thing acknowledged by everybody, and
revered throughout all ages?

BER. Between ourselves, far from thinking it true, I look upon it as
one of the greatest follies which exist among men; and to consider
things from a philosophical point of view, I don't know of a more
absurd piece of mummery, of anything more ridiculous, than a man who
takes upon himself to cure another man.

ARG. Why will you not believe that a man can cure another?

BER. For the simple reason, brother, that the springs of our machines
are mysteries about which men are as yet completely in the dark, and
nature has put too thick a veil before our eyes for us to know
anything about it.

ARG. Then, according to you, the doctors know nothing at all.

BER. Oh yes, brother. Most of them have some knowledge of the best
classics, can talk fine Latin, can give a Greek name to every disease,
can define and distinguish them; but as to curing these diseases,
that's out of the question.

ARG. Still, you must agree to this, that doctors know more than

BER. They know, brother, what I have told you; and that does not
effect many cures. All the excellency of their art consists in pompous
gibberish, in a specious babbling, which gives you words instead of
reasons, and promises instead Of results.

ARG. Still, brother, there exist men as wise and clever as you, and we
see that in cases of illness every one has recourse to the doctor.

BER. It is a proof of human weakness, and not of the truth of their

ARG. Still, doctors must believe in their art, since they make use of
it for themselves.

BER. It is because some of them share the popular error by which they
themselves profit, while others profit by it without sharing it. Your
Mr. Purgon has no wish to deceive; he is a thorough doctor from head
to foot, a man who believes in his rules more than in all the
demonstrations of mathematics, and who would think it a crime to
question them. He sees nothing obscure in physic, nothing doubtful,
nothing difficult, and through an impetuous prepossession, an
obstinate confidence, a coarse common sense and reason, orders right
and left purgatives and bleedings, and hesitates at nothing. We must
bear him no ill-will for the harm he does us; it is with the best
intentions in the world that he will send you into the next world, and
in killing you he will do no more than he has done to his wife and
children, and than he would do to himself, if need be. [Footnote:
Molière seems to refer to Dr. Guenaut, who was said to have killed
with antimony (his favourite remedy) his wife, his daughter, his
nephew, and two of his sons-in-law.--AIMÉ MARTIN.]

ARG. It is because you have a spite against him. But let us come to
the point. What is to be done when one is ill?

BER. Nothing, brother.

ARG. Nothing?

BER. Nothing. Only rest. Nature, when we leave her free, will herself
gently recover from the disorder into which she has fallen. It is our
anxiety, our impatience, which does the mischief, and most men die of
their remedies, and not of their diseases.

ARG. Still you must acknowledge, brother, that we can in certain
things help nature.

BER. Alas! brother; these are pure fancies, with which we deceive
ourselves. At all times, there have crept among men brilliant fancies
in which we believe, because they flatter us, and because it would be
well if they were true. When a doctor speaks to us of assisting,
succouring nature, of removing what is injurious to it, of giving it
what it is defective in, of restoring it, and giving back to it the
full exercise of its functions, when he speaks of purifying the blood,
of refreshing the bowels and the brain, of correcting the spleen, of
rebuilding the lungs, of renovating the liver, of fortifying the
heart, of re-establishing and keeping up the natural heat, and of
possessing secrets wherewith to lengthen life of many years--he
repeats to you the romance of physic. But when you test the truth of
what he has promised to you, you find that it all ends in nothing; it
is like those beautiful dreams which only leave you in the morning the
regret of having believed in them.

ARG. Which means that all the knowledge of the world is contained in
your brain, and that you think you know more than all the great
doctors of our age put together.

BER. When you weigh words and actions, your great doctors are two
different kinds of people. Listen to their talk, they are the
cleverest people in the world; see them at work, and they are the most

ARG. Heyday! You are a great doctor, I see, and I wish that some one
of those gentlemen were here to take up your arguments and to check
your babble.

BER. I do not take upon myself, brother, to fight against physic; and
every one at their own risk and peril may believe what he likes. What
I say is only between ourselves; and I should have liked, in order to
deliver you from the error into which you have fallen, and in order to
amuse you, to take you to see some of Molière's comedies on this

ARG. Your Molière is a fine impertinent fellow with his comedies! I
think it mightily pleasant of him to go and take off honest people
like the doctors.

BER. It is not the doctors themselves that he takes off, but the
absurdity of medicine.

ARG. It becomes him well, truly, to control the faculty! He's a nice
simpleton, and a nice impertinent fellow to laugh at consultations and
prescriptions, to attack the body of physicians, and to bring on his
stage such venerable people as those gentlemen.

BER. What would you have him bring there but the different professions
of men? Princes and kings are brought there every day, and they are of
as good a stock as your physicians.

ARG. No, by all the devils! if I were a physician, I would be revenged
of his impertinence, and when he falls ill, I would let him die
without relief. In vain would he beg and pray. I would not prescribe
for him the least little bleeding, the least little injection, and I
would tell him, "Die, die, like a dog; it will teach you to laugh at
us doctors."

BER. You are terribly angry with him.

ARG. Yes, he is an ill-advised fellow, and if the doctors are wise,
they will do what I say.

BER. He will be wiser than the doctors, for he will not go and ask
their help.

ARG. So much the worse for him, if he has not recourse to their

BER. He has his reasons for not wishing to have anything to do with
them; he is certain that only strong and robust constitutions can bear
their remedies in addition to the illness, and he has only just enough
strength for his sickness.

ARG. What absurd reasons. Here, brother, don't speak to me anymore
about that man; for it makes me savage, and you will give me his

BAR. I will willingly cease, brother; and, to change the subject,
allow me to tell you that, because your daughter shows a slight
repugnance to the match you propose, it is no reason why you should
shut her up in a convent. In your choice of a son-in-law you should
not blindly follow the anger which masters you. We should in such a
matter yield a little to the inclinations of a daughter, since it is
for all her life, and the whole happiness of her married life depends
on it.


ARG. Ah! brother, with your leave.

BER. Eh? What are you going to do?

ARG. To take this little clyster; it will soon be done.

BER. Are you joking? Can you not spend one moment without clysters or
physic? Put it off to another time, and be quiet.

ARG. Mr. Fleurant, let it be for to-night or to-morrow morning.

MR. FLEU. (to BÉRALDE). What right have you to interfere? How dare you
oppose yourself to the prescription of the doctors, and prevent the
gentleman from taking my clyster? You are a nice fellow to show such

BER. Go, Sir, go; it is easy to see that you are not accustomed to
speak face to face with men.

MR. FLEU. You ought not thus to sneer at physic, and make me lose my
precious time. I came here for a good prescription, and I will go and
tell Mr. Purgon that I have been prevented from executing his orders,
and that I have been stopped in the performance of my duty. You'll
see, you'll see....


ARG. Brother, you'll be the cause that some misfortune will happen

BER. What a misfortune not to take a clyster prescribed by Mr. Purgon!
Once more, brother, is it possible that you can't be cured of this
doctor disease, and that you will thus bring yourself under their

ARG. Ah! brother. You speak like a man who is quite well, but if you
were in my place, you would soon change your way of speaking. It is
easy to speak against medicine when one is in perfect health.

BER. But what disease do you suffer from?

ARG. You will drive me to desperation. I should like you to have my
disease, and then we should see if you would prate as you do. Ah! here
is Mr. Purgon.


MR. PUR. I have just heard nice news downstairs! You laugh at my
prescriptions, and refuse to take the remedy which I ordered.

ARG. Sir, it is not....

MR. PUR. What daring boldness, what a strange revolt of a patient
against his doctor!

TOI. It is frightful.

MR. PUR. A clyster which I have had the pleasure of composing myself.

ARG. It was not I....

MR. PUR. Invented and made up according to all the rules of art.

TOI. He was wrong.

MR. PUR. And which was to work a marvellous effect on the intestines.

ARG. My brother....

MR. PUR. To send it back with contempt!

ARG. (_showing_ BÉRALDE). It was he....

MR. PUR. Such conduct is monstrous.

TOI. So it is.

MR. PUR. It is a fearful outrage against medicine.

ARG. (_showing_ BÉRALDE). He is the cause....

MR. PUR. A crime of high-treason against the faculty, and one which
cannot be too severely punished.

TOI. You are quite right.

MR. PUR. I declare to you that I break off all intercourse with you.

ARG. It is my brother....

MR. PUR. That I will have no more connection with you.

TOI. You will do quite right.

MR. PUR. And to end all association with you, here is the deed of gift
which I made to my nephew in favour of the marriage. (_He tears the
document, and throws the pieces about furiously._)

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

MR. PUR. To despise my clyster!

ARG. Let it be brought, I will take it directly.

MR. PUR. I would have cured you in a very short time.

TOI. He doesn't deserve it.

MR. PUR. I was about to cleanse your body, and to clear it of its bad

ARG. Ah! my brother

MR. PUR. And it wanted only a dozen purgatives to cleanse it entirely.

TOI. He is unworthy of your care.

MR. PUR. But since you would not be cured by me....

ARG. It was not my fault.

MR. PUR. Since you have forsaken the obedience you owe to your

TOI. It cries for vengeance.

MR. PUR. Since you have declared yourself a rebel against the remedies
I had prescribed for you....

ARG. No, no, certainly not.

MR. PUR. I must now tell you that I give you up to your bad
constitution, to the imtemperament of your intestines, to the
corruption of your blood, to the acrimony of your bile, and to the
feculence of your humours.

TOI. It serves you right.

ARG. Alas!

MR. PUR. And I will have you before four days in an incurable state.

ARG. Ah! mercy on me!

MR. PUR. You shall fall into bradypepsia.

ARG. Mr. Purgon!

MR. PUR. From bradypepsia into dyspepsia.

ARG. Mr. Purgon!

MR: PUR. From dyspepsia into apepsy.

ARG. Mr. Purgon!

MR. PUR. From apepsy into lientery.

ARG. Mr. Purgon!

MR. PUR. From lientery into dysentery.

ARG. Mr. Purgon!

MR. PUR. From dysentery into dropsy.

ARG. Mr. Purgon!

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


ARG. Ah heaven! I am dead. Brother, you have undone me.

BER. Why? What is the matter?

ARG. I am undone. I feel already that the faculty is avenging itself.

BER. Really, brother, you are crazy, and I would not for a great deal
that you should be seen acting as you are doing. Shake yourself a
little, I beg, recover yourself, and do not give way so much to your

ARG. You hear, brother, with what strange diseases he has threatened

BER. What a foolish fellow you are!

ARG. He says that I shall become incurable within four days.

BER. And what does it signify what he says? Is it an oracle that has
spoken? To hear you, anyone would think that Mr. Purgon holds in his
hands the thread of your life, and that he has supreme authority to
prolong it or to cut it short at his will. Remember that the springs
of your life are in yourself, and that all the wrath of Mr. Purgon can
do as little towards making you die, as his remedies can do to make
you live. This is an opportunity, if you like to take it, of getting
rid of your doctors; and if you are so constituted that you cannot do
without them, it is easy for you, brother, to have another with whom
you run less risk.

ARG. Ah, brother! he knows all about my constitution, and the way to
treat me.

BER. I must acknowledge that you are greatly infatuated, and that you
look at things with strange eyes.


TOI. (_to_ ARGAN). There is a doctor, here, Sir, who desires to
see you.

ARG. What doctor?

TOI. A doctor of medicine.

ARG. I ask you who he is?

TOI. I don't know who he is, but he is as much like me as two peas,
and if I was not sure that my mother was an honest woman, I should say
that this is a little brother she has given me since my father's


BER. You are served according to your wish. One doctor leaves you,
another comes to replace him.

ARG. I greatly fear that you will cause some misfortune.

BER. Oh! You are harping upon that string again?

ARG. Ah! I have on my mind all those diseases that I don't understand,

SCENE X.--ARGAN, BÉRALDE, TOINETTE (_dressed as a doctor_).

TOI. Allow me, Sir, to come and pay my respects to you, and to offer
you my small services for all the bleedings and purging you may

ARG. I am much obliged to you, Sir. (_To_ BÉRALDE) Toinette
herself, I declare!

TOI. I beg you will excuse me one moment, Sir. I forgot to give a
small order to my servant.


ARG. Would you not say that this is really Toinette?

BER. It is true that the resemblance is very striking. But it is not
the first time that we have seen this kind of thing, and history is
full of those freaks of nature.

ARG. For my part, I am astonished, and....


TOI. What do you want, Sir?

ARG. What?

TOI. Did you not call me?

ARG. I? No.

TOI. My ears must have tingled then.

ARG. Just stop here one moment and see how much that doctor is like

TOI. Ah! yes, indeed, I have plenty of time to waste! Besides, I have
seen enough of him already.


ARG. Had I not seen them both together, I should have believed it was
one and the same person.

BER. I have read wonderful stories about such resemblances; and we
have seen some in our day that have taken in everybody.

ARG. For my part, I should have been deceived this time, and sworn
that the two were but one.


TOI. Sir, I beg your pardon with all my heart.

ARG. (_to_ BÉRALDE). It is wonderful.

TOI. You will not take amiss, I hope, the curiosity I feel to see such
an illustrious patient; and your reputation, which reaches the
farthest ends of the world, must be my excuse for the liberty I am

ARG. Sir, I am your servant.

TOI. I see, Sir, that you are looking earnestly at me. What age do you
think I am?

ARG. I should think twenty-six or twenty-seven at the utmost.

TOI. Ah! ah! ah! ah! ah! I am ninety years old.

ARG. Ninety years old!

TOI. Yes; this is what the secrets of my art have done for me to
preserve me fresh and vigorous as you see.

ARG. Upon my word, a fine youthful old fellow of ninety!

TOI. I am an itinerant doctor, and go from town to town, from province
to province, from kingdom to kingdom, to seek out illustrious material
for my abilities; to find patients worthy of my attention, capable of
exercising the great and noble secrets which I have discovered in
medicine. I disdain to amuse myself with the small rubbish of common
diseases, with the trifles of rheumatism, coughs, fevers, vapours,
and headaches. I require diseases of importance, such as good
non-intermittent fevers with delirium, good scarlet-fevers, good plagues,
good confirmed dropsies, good pleurisies with inflammations of the
lungs. These are what I like, what I triumph in, and I wish, Sir, that
you had all those diseases combined, that you had been given up,
despaired of by all the doctors, and at the point of death, so that I
might have the pleasure of showing you the excellency of my remedies,
and the desire I have of doing you service!

ARG. I am greatly obliged to you, Sir, for the kind intentions you
have towards me.

TOI. Let me feel your pulse. Come, come, beat properly, please. Ah! I
will soon make you beat as you should. This pulse is trifling with me;
I see that it does not know me yet. Who is your doctor?

ARG. Mr. Purgon.

TOI. That man is not noted in my books among the great doctors. What
does he say you are ill of?

ARG. He says it is the liver, and others say it is the spleen.

TOI. They are a pack of ignorant blockheads; you are suffering from
the lungs.

ARG. The lungs?

TOI. Yes; what do you feel?

ARG. From time to time great pains in my head.

TOI. Just so; the lungs.

ARG. At times it seems as if I had a mist before my eyes.

TOI. The lungs.

ARG: I feel sick now and then.

TOI. The lungs.

ARG. And I feel sometimes a weariness in all my limbs.

TOI. The lungs.

ARG. And sometimes I have sharp pains in the stomach, as if I had the

TOI. The lungs. Do you eat your food with appetite?

ARG. Yes, Sir.

TOI. The lungs. Do you like to drink a little wine?

ARG. Yes, Sir.

TOI. The lungs. You feel sleepy after your meals, and willingly enjoy
a nap?

ARG. Yes, Sir.

TOI. The lungs, the lungs, I tell you. What does your doctor order you
for food?

ARG. He orders me soup.

TOI. Ignoramus!

ARG. Fowl.

TOI. Ignoramus!

ARG. Veal.

TOI. Ignoramus!

ARG. Broth.

TOI. Ignoramus!

ARG. New-laid eggs.

TOI. Ignoramus!

ARG. And at night a few prunes to relax the bowels.

TOI. Ignoramus!

ARG. And, above all, to drink my wine well diluted with water.

TOI. _Ignorantus, ignoranta, ignorantum_. You must drink your
wine pure; and to thicken your blood, which is too thin, you must eat
good fat beef, good fat pork, good Dutch cheese, some gruel, rice
puddings, chestnuts, and thin cakes [Footnote: _Oubliés_; now called
_plaisirs_. "Wafers" would perhaps have been the right rendering
in Molière's time], to make all adhere and conglutinate. Your doctor
is an ass. I will send you one of my own school, and will come and
examine you from time to time during my stay in this town.

ARG. You will oblige me greatly.

TOI. What the deuce do you want with this arm?

ARG. What?

TOI. If I were you, I should have it cut off on the spot.

ARG. Why?

TOI. Don't you see that it attracts all the nourishment to itself, and
hinders this side from growing?

ARG. May be; but I have need of my arm.

TOI. You have also a right eye that I would have plucked out if I were
in your place.

ARG. My right eye plucked out?

TOI. Don't you see that it interferes with the other, and robs it of
its nourishment? Believe me; have it plucked out as soon as possible;
you will see all the clearer with the left eye.

ARG. There is no need to hurry.

TOI. Good-bye. I am sorry to leave you so soon, but I must assist at a
grand consultation which is to take place about a man who died

ARG. About a man who died yesterday?

TOI. Yes, that we may consider and see what ought to have been done to
cure him. Good-bye.

ARG. You know that patients do not use ceremony.


BER. Upon my word, this doctor seems to be a very clever man.

ARG. Yes, but he goes a little too fast.

BER. All great doctors do so.

ARG. Cut off my arm and pluck out my eye, so that the other may be
better. I had rather that it were not better. A nice operation indeed,
to make me at once one-eyed and one-armed.


TOI. (_pretending to speak to somebody_). Come, come, I am your
servant; I'm in no joking humour.

ARG. What is the matter?

TOI. Your doctor, forsooth, who wanted to feel my pulse!

ARG. Just imagine; and that, too, at fourscore and ten years of age.

BER. Now, I say, brother, since you have quarrelled with Mr. Purgon,
won't you give me leave to speak of the match which is proposed for my

ARG. No, brother; I will put her in a convent, since she has rebelled
against me. I see plainly that there is some love business at the
bottom of it all, and I have discovered a certain secret interview
which they don't suspect me to know anything about.

BER. Well, brother, and suppose there were some little inclination,
where could the harm be? Would it be so criminal when it all tends to
what is honourable--marriage?

ARG. Be that as it may, she will be a nun. I have made up my mind.

BER. You intend to please somebody by so doing.

ARG. I understand what you mean. You always come back to that, and my
wife is very much in your way.

BER. Well, yes, brother; since I must speak out, it is your wife I
mean; for I can no more bear with your infatuation about doctors than
with your infatuation about your wife, and see you run headlong into
every snare she lays for you.

TOI. Ah! Sir, don't talk so of mistress. She is a person against whom
there is nothing to be said; a woman without deceit, and who loves
master--ah! who loves him...I can't express how much.

ARG. (_to_ BÉRALDE). Just ask her all the caresses she lavishes
for me.

TOI. Yes, indeed!

ARG. And all the uneasiness my sickness causes her.

TOI. Certainly.

ARG. And the care and trouble she takes about me.

TOI. Quite right. (_To_ BÉRALDE) Will you let me convince you;
and to show you at once how my mistress loves my master. (_To
ARGAN_) Sir, allow me to undeceive him, and to show him his

ARG. How?

TOI. My mistress will soon come back. Stretch yourself full-length in
this arm-chair, and pretend to be dead. You will see what grief she
will be in when I tell her the news.

ARG. Very well, I consent.

TOI. Yes; but don't leave her too long in despair, for she might die
of it.

ARG. Trust me for that.

TOI. (_to_ BÉRALDE). Hide yourself in that corner.


ARG. Is there no danger in counterfeiting death?

TOI. No, no. What danger can there be? Only stretch yourself there. It
will be so pleasant to put your brother to confusion. Here is my
mistress. Mind you keep still.

SCENE XVIII.--BÉLINE, ARGAN (_stretched out in his chair_),

TOI. (_pretending not to see_ BÉLINE). Ah heavens! Ah! what a
misfortune! What a strange accident!

BEL. What is the matter, Toinette?

TOI. Ah! Madam!

BEL. What ails you?

TOI. Your husband is dead.

BEL. My husband is dead?

TOI. Alas! yes; the poor soul is gone.

BEL. Are you quite certain?

TOI. Quite certain. Nobody knows of it yet. I was all alone here when
it happened. He has just breathed his last in my arms. Here, just look
at him, full-length in his chair.

BEL. Heaven be praised. I am delivered from a most grievous burden.
How silly of you, Toinette, to be so afflicted at his death.

TOI. Ah! Ma'am, I thought I ought to cry.

BEL. Pooh! it is not worth the trouble. What loss is it to anybody,
and what good did he do in this world? A wretch, unpleasant to
everybody; of nauseous, dirty habits; always a clyster or a dose of
physic in his body. Always snivelling, coughing, spitting; a stupid,
tedious, ill-natured fellow, who was for ever fatiguing people and
scolding night and day at his maids and servants.

TOI. An excellent funeral oration!

BEL. Toinette, you must help me to carry out my design; and you may
depend upon it that I will make it worth your while if you serve me.
Since, by good luck, nobody is aware of his death, let us put him into
his bed, and keep the secret until I have done what I want. There are
some papers and some money I must possess myself of. It is not right
that I should have passed the best years of my life with him without
any kind of advantage. Come along, Toinette, first of all, let us take
all the keys.

ARG. (_getting up hastily_). Softly.

BEL. Ah!

ARG. So, my wife, it is thus you love me?

TOI. Ah! the dead man is not dead.

ARG. (_to_ BÉLINE, _who goes away_) I am very glad to see
how you love me, and to have heard the noble panegyric you made upon
me. This is a good warning, which will make me wise for the future,
and prevent me from doing many things.

SCENE XIX.--BÉRALDE (_coming out of the place where he was
hiding_), ARGAN, TOINETTE.

BER. Well, brother, you see....

TOI. Now, really, I could never have believed such a thing. But I hear
your daughter coming, place yourself as you were just now, and let us
see how she will receive the news. It is not a bad thing to try; and
since you have begun, you will be able by this means to know the
sentiments of your family towards you.


TOI. (_pretending not to see_ ANGÉLIQUE). O heavens! what a sad
accident! What an unhappy day!

ANG. What ails you, Toinette, and why do you cry?

TOI. Alas! I have such sad news for you.

ANG. What is it?

TOI. Your father is dead.

ANG. My father is dead, Toinette?

TOI. Yes, just look at him there; he died only a moment ago of a
fainting fit that came over him.

ANG. O heavens! what a misfortune! What a cruel grief! Alas I why must
I lose my father, the only being left me in the world? and why should
I lose him, too, at a time when he was angry with me? What will become
of me, unhappy girl that I am? What consolation can I find after so
great a loss?


CLE. What is the matter with you, dear Angélique, and what misfortune
makes you weep?

ANG. Alas! I weep for what was most dear and most precious to me. I
weep for the death of my father.

CLE. O heaven! what a misfortune! What an unforeseen stroke of
fortune! Alas! after I had asked your uncle to ask you in marriage, I
was coming to see him, in order to try by my respect and entreaties to
incline his heart to grant you to my wishes.

ANG. Ah! Cléante, let us talk no more of this. Let us give up all
hopes of marriage. Now my father is dead, I will have nothing to do
with the world, and will renounce it for ever. Yes, my dear father, if
I resisted your will, I will at least follow out one of your
intentions, and will by that make amends for the sorrow I have caused
you. (_Kneeling_) Let me, father, make you this promise here, and
kiss you as a proof of my repentance.

ARG. (_kissing_ ANGÉLIQUE). Ah! my daughter!

ANG. Ah!

ARG. Come; do not be afraid. I am not dead. Ah! you are my true flesh
and blood and my real daughter; I am delighted to have discovered your
good heart.


ANG. Ah! what a delightful surprise! Father, since heaven has given
you back to our love, let me here throw myself at your feet to implore
one favour of you. If you do not approve of what my heart feels, if
you refuse to give me Cléante for a husband, I conjure you, at least,
not to force me to marry another. It is all I have to ask of you.

CLE. (_throwing himself at_ ARGAN'S _feet_). Ah! Sir, allow
your heart to be touched by her entreaties and by mine, and do not
oppose our mutual love.

BER. Brother, how can you resist all this?

TOI. Will you remain insensible before such affection?

ARG. Well, let him become a doctor, and I will consent to the
marriage. (_To_ CLÉANTE) Yes, turn doctor, Sir, and I will give
you my daughter.

CLE. Very willingly, Sir, if it is all that is required to become your
son-in-law. I will turn doctor; apothecary also, if you like. It is
not such a difficult thing after all, and I would do much more to
obtain from you the fair Angélique.

BER. But, brother, it just strikes me; why don't you turn doctor
yourself? It would be much more convenient to have all you want within

TOI. Quite true. That is the very way to cure yourself. There is no
disease bold enough to dare to attack the person of a doctor.

ARG. I imagine, brother, that you are laughing at me. Can I study at
my age?

BER. Study! What need is there? You are clever enough for that; there
are a great many who are not a bit more clever than you are.

ARG. But one must be able to speak Latin well, and know the different
diseases and the remedies they require.

BER. When you put on the cap and gown of a doctor, all that will come
of itself, and you will afterwards be much more clever than you care
to be.

ARG. What! We understand how to discourse upon diseases when we have
that dress?

BER. Yes; you have only to hold forth; when you have a cap and gown,
any stuff becomes learned, and all rubbish good sense.

TOI. Look you, Sir; a beard is something in itself; a beard is half
the doctor.

CLE. Anyhow, I am ready for everything.

BER. (_to_ ARGAN). Shall we have the thing done immediately?

ARG. How, immediately?

BER. Yes, in your house.

ARG. In my house?

BER. Yes, I know a body of physicians, friends of mine, who will come
presently, and will perform the ceremony in your hall. It will cost
you nothing.

ARG. But what can I say, what can I answer?

BER. You will be instructed in a few words, and they will give you in
writing all you have to say. Go and dress yourself directly, and I
will send for them.

ARG. Very well; let it be done.


CLE. What is it yon intend to do, and what do you mean by this body of

TOI. What is it you are going to do?

BER. To amuse ourselves a little to-night. The players have made a
doctor's admission the subject of an interlude, with dances and music.
I want everyone to enjoy it, and my brother to act the principal part
in it.

ANG. But, uncle, it seems to me that you are making fun of my father.

BER. But, niece, it is not making too much fun of him to fall in with
his fancies. We may each of us take part in it ourselves, and thus
perform the comedy for each other's amusement. Carnival time
authorises it. Let us go quickly and get everything ready.

CLE. (_to_ ANGÉLIQUE). Do you consent to it?

ANG. Yes; since my uncle takes the lead.


BURLESQUE CEREMONY -representing the Admission of- MR. GERONTE –to the
Degree of Doctor of Medicine-.

-First Entry of the- BALLET


     Most learned doctors,

     professors of medicine,

     who are assembled here;

     and you other gentlemen,

     dependable executors

     of the faculty’s decisions,

     surgeons and apothecaries

     and the entire company as well,

     health, honor and wealth

     and a good appetite.

     Learned confreres, I am unable

     personally to have sufficient admiration for what a fine invention

     the medical profession is;

     what a fine thing it is and a good discovery.

     such is that blessed medicine,

     which, by its name alone,

     a surprising miracle,

     for so long a time

     has made so many different sorts

     of people live a long life.

     Throughout the entire world we see

     the great interest present where we are;

     and that well-to-do and insignificant

     people are infatuated with us.

     The whole world, rushing for our remedies,

     considers us deities,

     and you see the princes and kings submitting to our orders.

     So it is our wisdom,

     good sense and prudence

     to work hard

     to keep us well

     credited, wanted, and honored;

     and to be careful not to admit

     into our learned group

     anybody except qualified individuals

     who are fully deserving of occupying

     such honorable positions.

     That is why you are now summoned here

     and I do believe you will find deserving qualities

     in the learned man who is present here;

     and whom I am giving to you

     to question about whatever you want,

     and to use your capabilities to

     examine him in depth.


     Sir, you are in charge. If you and so many doctors

     and illustrious assistants

     who are learned and have a baccalaureate,

     and whom I honor and esteem,

     grant me permission,

     I will ask the cause and reason why

     opium induces sleep.


     An educated doctor is asking me

     the cause and reason why

     opium induces sleep.

     My answer to that

     is because there is in it

     a sleep-inducing power

     which by its very nature

     relaxes the senses.


     A really, really, really good answer.

     You really deserve to enter

     into our learned group.

     A really good answer.


     Sir, you are in chrge. Provided it isn’t displeasing

     which it actually isbn’t

     kindly allow, along with all the learned doctors,

     and well-intended assistants,

     that he explain to me a little, the

     a priori and evident reason why rhubarb

     and senna are prescribed to purge both biles from us.

     If he answers this, he will be very capable.


     I, who am here providing explanations,

     have been asked by an educated doctor

     for an a priori and evident reason

     why rhubarb and senna are always

     prescribed for us to purge both biles.

     My answer to you is that

     it is because there is in them

     a purgative power

     which naturally empties out those two biles.


     A really, really, really good answer.

     You really deserve to enter

     into our learned group.


     From the answers, it seems

     clearer than sunlight

     that this brainy

     baccalaureate holder didn’t spend his life

     playing hippity-hop nor smoking

     cigarettes; but let him explain why a heap

     of bran and a little milk

     with phlebotomy and purging of the humors

     are called doctor’s idols by those who are naysayers

     and also an asses’ bridge.

     If, first off, our freedom to

     question is acceptable to the gentleman in charge

     as well as to the gentlemanly doctors and

     all the ranks of kind listeners.


     Mister Chrysologos, that is, he who talks of gold, the doctor, asks
     me why a little milk and a heap of bran, phlebotomy and purging of
     humors are called doctor’s idols and asses’ bridge by naysayers. My
     answer is that prescribing such things doesn’t require a lot of
     knowledge and out of those four things doctors make louis, pistoles,
     and fourths of ecus.


     You answered really, really well.

     You really deserve to enter

     into our learned group.


     With the permission of you, sir, who are in charge, and of the entire
     faculty, and of the company attending these activities of ours, I
     will ask you learned baccalaureate holder, what are the remedies to
     be given both to a man and to a woman suffering from the illness
     called hydropsy, from bodily issues such as apoplexy, convulsion, and


     Give a clyster,

     Afterwards purify,

     Then purge.


     You answered really, really well.

     You really deserve to enter

     into our learned group.


     If it seems okay to you sir, who are in charge,

     to the very learned faculty, and to the company that is listening to

     I will ask you, learned baccalaureate holder, to return one day to a
     house full of illnesses. What are the remedies to come up with for
     colicosis, febrosis, for maniacs, nephretics, frenetics,
     melancholics, demoniacs, asthmatics and pulmonics, for catharrosics,
     tussicolisics, guttosics, lepers and gallosics, for apostemasis,
     plague and ulcers, for every broken or fractured member?


     Give a clyster,

     Afterwards purify,

     Then purge.


     You answered really, really well,

     You really deserve to enter

     into our learned group


     With the kind allowance of the respected gentleman in charge, of the
     successors of Hippocrates, and of the whole circle of those with
     their eyes fixed on us, I ask you, oh determined baccalaureate
     holder, a college graduate not unworthy of Montpelier, what are the
     remedies to be given to the blind, the deaf, the mute, to manchotics,
     claudics, and all the estropiatics, for problem feet, toothaches,
     afflictions, rabies, and the overwhelmingly great commotion in every


     Give a clyster,

     Afterwards purify,

     Then purge.


     You answered really, really well,

     You really deserve to enter

     into our learned group


     The baccalaureate gentleman has marvelously addressed all those
     illnesses; but if I do not bore the most learned faculty and the
     entire honorable company present here in body and in mind, I will put
     one question to him; yesterday a sick person fell into my hands, a
     person of rank and rich as Croesus. He has a severe fever that is
     ongoing, a serious headache, with trouble breathing and diarrhea of
     the stomach, along with a serious problem in his side and real
     difficulty and pain breathing. Please tell me, learned baccalaureate
     holder, what to do for him.


     Give a clyster,

     Afterwards purify,

     Then purge.


     You answered really, really well,

     You really deserve to enter

     into our learned group


     But if, holding off from asking why, the illness about which an
     opinion has been furnished, doesn’t want to get well, then what’s to
     be done for it?


     Give a clyster,

     Afterwards purify,

     Then purge.

     Purify, purge, and clysterize repreatedly.


     You answered really, really well,

     You really deserve to enter

     into our learned group


     I beg leave of you, sir, who are in charge, of the select assembly of
     doctors, both practicing and eager to practice, and of the curious
     flock of onlookers.

     Oh so smart Baccalaureate holder, who so far could not be outflanked,
     I shall ask you one important question. Sirs, give us your
     attention. Quite early today, slightly before I had breakfast, a
     once lovely young Italian lady came to me. In fact, I still think of
     her as being somewhat a young girl. She was all pale-fleshed. The
     best doctors call it a white fever. She came complaining of a
     migraine, of shortness of breath, of feeling overburdened, of swollen
     legs and terrible weariness; of a pounding heart, and of a choked
     feeling, also called hysterical inhalation, which, like all illnesses
     ending in –ic, casts a snub on Galen. She appeared worn out and
     looked as green as goose droppings. Judging from her small racing
     heartbeat and the foul urine she brought in a container, she appeared
     not to be free of feverish bouts. Lastly, she was so weak that she
     came from her bed on horseback, actually, it was a mule. She hadn’t
     had her menses since that day that is called the day of lots of
     water. But she told me in my ear that it was a real marvel that she
     wasn’t dead. Because in her line of work there wasn’t much love,
     just too much heartiness. Her gallant guy had gone to Germany to
     serve on a campaign for mister Brandenburg. So far a bunch of
     charlatans, doctors, apothecaries, and surgeons have been working in
     vain to cure her illness, going so far as the new influenzas of that
     dopey Van Helmont, using everything from crab eyes to alchemy.

     Kindly tell me what’s left, in keeping with orthodoxy, to do for her.

Baccalaureate Holder

     Give a clyster,

     Afterwards purify,

     Then purge.


     You answered really, really well,

     You really deserve to enter

     into our learned group


     But if such an enormous and mortally obstinate withering of the
     natural organs cannot be cured by giving a clyster, purifying, and
     purging, over and over again for a hundred times, what would you
     finally come up with to do for her?


     Order her, in the name of blessed Hippocrates, to couple with a good
     young lad.


     Do you swear to observe the statutes

     prescribed by the faculty

     with sense and judgment?


     I do swear


     To have in all consultations

     the age-old advice,

     whether good or bad?


     I do swear.


     Never to resort

     to any remedies

     besides those only of the resourceful faculty

     lest the sick person should wear out

      and die of his illness?


     I do swear.


     With this venerable and learned doctor’s cap, I give and grant you
     the power, might and medical license, plus the approach to take,












     in a word, in keeping with the procedures and of killing without
     penalty, not just for Parisians but anyone in the world; sir, express
     gratitude to these gentlemen.

-Second Entry of the –BALLET.

-All the DOCTORS –and- APOTHECARIES – come- and do him reverence-.


     Great teachers in regard to instruction concerning rhubarb and senna,
     it would undoubtedly be a foolish, inappropriate and ridiculous thing
     for me if I allowed myself to engage in providing you with praises
     and undertake to add light to the sun, stars to the sky, flames to
     hell, waves to the ocean, and roses to the spring.

     Allow me, with just a single word of all my gratitude to say thank
     you to such a learned group. To you, to you, I owe much more than to
     nature and to my father; nature and my father made me a human being.
     But you have made me a doctor (which is much more). Honor, favor, and
     gratitude that will definitely remain as feeling in this heart


     Live a long life, live a long life, live a long life, live a long
     life, a hundred times let the new doctor who speaks so well live a
     long life! For a thousand, thousand years let him eat and drink, and
     cure and kill.

_Third Entry of the_ BALLET.

_All the _DOCTORS _and_ APOTHECARIES _dance to the sound of instruments
and voices, the clapping of hands, and the beating of _APOTHECARIES’


     May he just see his learned stipulations and fill the offices of
     surgeons and apothecaries.


     Live a long life, live a long life, live a long life, live a long
     life, a hundred times let the new doctor who speaks so well live a
     long life! For a thousand, thousand years let him eat and drink, and
     cure and kill.


     May all his years be good and favorable for him and may he never
     grapple with plagues or epidemics that are evil beasts.

     But always pleurisies, pulmonias in the kidneys and vesical lumps,
     one-year rheumatisms, and all kinds of fevers, bloodflows, diabolic
     gouts, St. Joan’s problems, Poitou colics, Dutch scurvy, small and
     large poxes, good cankers and long brain problems.


     Live a long life, live a long life, live a long life, live a long
     life, a hundred times let the new doctor who speaks so well live a
     long life! For a thousand, thousand years let him eat and drink, and
     cure and kill.

_Fourth Entry of the _BALLET.

_ All the_ DOCTORS _and_ APOTHECARIES _go out according to their rank, as
they came in._

 This work is a translation and has a separate copyright status to the applicable copyright protections of the original content.


This work was published before January 1, 1929, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.

Public domainPublic domainfalsefalse


This work was published before January 1, 1929, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.

Public domainPublic domainfalsefalse