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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
The Family Censor
By Molière (1622–1673)
 
        
From ‘Tartuffe’: Translation of Charles Heron Wall
  
  [Madame Pernelle, a venerable, sharp-tongued, and easily prejudiced lady; her daughter-in-law Elmire; her granddaughter Marianne; M. Cléante, and others of the family connection, including Damis, Dorine, and the maid Flipote, are all in the drawing-room of M. Orgon as the curtain rises.]

MADAME PERNELLE  [about to quit the room in anger]—Come along, Flipote, come along; let me get away from them all.  1
  Elmire—You go so fast that one can hardly keep up with you.  2
  Madame Pernelle  [to Elmire]—Never mind, daughter, never mind; come no farther: I can well dispense with these ceremonies.  3
  Elmire—We acquit ourselves of our duty towards you. But, mother, may I ask why you are in such a hurry to leave us?  4
  Madame Pernelle—For the simple reason that I cannot bear to see what goes on in your house, and that no effort is made to comply with my wishes. Yes, I leave your house very ill edified. Things are done against all my admonitions; there is no respect paid to anything; every one speaks out as he likes, and it is exactly like the court of King Petaud.  5
  Dorine—If—  6
  Madame Pernelle  [to Dorine]—You, a servant, are a great deal too strong in the jaw, most rude, and must have your say about everything.  7
  Damis—But—  8
  Madame Pernelle  [to Damis]—You are, in good round English, a fool, my child! I, your grandmother, tell you so; and I always forewarned your father that you would turn out a worthless fellow, and would never bring him anything but vexation.  9
  Marianne—I think—  10
  Madame Pernelle  [to Marianne]—And you, his sister, are all demureness, and look as if butter would not melt in your mouth! But it is truly said that still waters run deep, and on the sly you lead a life which I thoroughly dislike.  11
  Elmire—But, mother—  12
  Madame Pernelle—I should be sorry to vex you, my daughter, but your conduct is altogether unbecoming: you ought to set them a good example, and their late mother did much better. You spend money too freely; and I am shocked to see you go about dressed like a princess. She who wishes to please her husband only, has no need of such finery.  13
  Cléante—But, madame, after all—  14
  Madame Pernelle  [to Cléante]—As for you, her brother, I esteem you greatly, I love and respect you, sir; but all the same, if I were in my son’s her husband’s place, I would beg of you most earnestly never to enter the house! You always advocate rules of life that honest folks ought not to follow. I am a little outspoken; but such is my disposition, and I never mince matters when I have something on my mind.  15
  Dorine—Your Tartuffe is very fortunate, no doubt, in—  16
  Madame Pernelle—He is a very worthy man, to whom you would do well to listen—and I can’t bear (without getting into a passion) to see him molested by a scapegrace like you!  17
  Damis—What! can I allow a strait-laced bigot to assume a tyrannical authority in this house?—and that we should never think of any pleasure unless we are assured of that fine gentleman’s consent?  18
  Dorine—According to him and his maxims, we can do nothing without committing a sin; for—the zealous critic that he is—he superintends everything.  19
  Madame Pernelle—And whatever he superintends is well superintended. It is the way to heaven he wants to show you, and my son Orgon should make you all love him.  20
  Damis—No, mother, there is no father nor anything in the world which can induce me to wish him well; and I should be false to my own heart if I spoke otherwise. Everything he does excites my wrath; and I foresee that some day or other something will happen, and that I shall be forced to come to an open quarrel with the sneaking scoundrel.  21
  Dorine—Indeed it is most scandalous to see a stranger come and make himself at home here; most scandalous that a beggar who had no shoes to his feet when he first came, and whose coat was not worth three halfpence, should so far forget himself as to interfere with everything and play the master!  22
  Madame Pernelle—Ah, mercy on us! It would be much better if everything were managed according to his pious directions.  23
  Dorine—Yes, he is a saint in your opinion; but depend upon it, he is really nothing but a downright hypocrite.  24
  Madame Pernelle—What backbiting!  25
  Dorine—I should trust neither him nor his Laurent without good security, I can tell you.  26
  Madame Pernelle—I don’t know what the servant may really be; but I’ll answer for the master being a holy man. You hate him and reject him because he tells you of your faults. It is against sin that he is incensed, and there is nothing he has so much at heart as the interest of heaven.  27
  Dorine—Has he? Why, then, and particularly of late, is he angry when any one comes near us? In what does a polite visit offend heaven, that he should make a disturbance enough to drive us mad? Shall I tell you here privately what I think?  [Pointing to Elmire.]  I really believe that he is, in good faith, jealous of madame!  28
  Madame Pernelle—Hold your tongue, and mind what you are saying. He is not the only one who blames these visits. All the confusion which accompanies the people you receive, those carriages always waiting at the gate, the noisy crowd of lackeys, disturb the whole neighborhood. I am most willing to believe that there is really no harm done; but in short, it gives people occasion to talk, and that is not right.  29
  Cléante—Ah, madame, would you hinder people from talking? It would be a sad thing if in this world we had to give up our best friends because of some stupid story in which we may play a part. But even if we could bring ourselves to do such a thing, do you think it would force people to be silent? There is no safeguard against calumny. Let us therefore not mind all that foolish gossip, but only endeavor to lead a virtuous life, and leave full license to the scandal-mongers.  30
 
 
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