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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 Fate of Don Juan
By Molière (1622–1673)
 
        
From ‘Don Juan: or, The Feast of the Statue’: Translation of Charles Heron Wall
  
  [The stage represents a solitary country spot in Sicily, not remote from the tomb (crowned by a statue) of the commandant whom Don Juan has slain in a duel. Don Juan and his servant Sganarelle enter, with Don Louis, the father of the dissolute hero. Don Louis has heard that his son has decided on a complete moral reformation.]

LOUIS—What! my son, is it possible that merciful Heaven has heard my prayers? Is what you tell me true? Are you not deceiving me with false hopes? And may I trust the surprising news of such a conversion?  1
  Juan—Yes, you see me reclaimed from all my sins; I am no longer the same man I was yesterday, and Heaven has suddenly wrought in me a change which will be the wonder of every one. It has touched my heart and opened my eyes, and I look back with horror on my long time of blindness, and on the criminal disorders of the life I have led. My mind dwells upon all its abominations; and I am astonished that Heaven has borne them so long, and has not made me feel its vengeance. I feel the mercy that has been shown me in my not being punished for my crimes, and I am ready to profit by it as I ought; to show to the world the sudden change in my life; thus to make up for the scandal of my past actions, and try to obtain a full pardon. Towards this will all my endeavors tend in future; and in order to help me in the new life I have chosen, I beseech you, sir, to choose for me a person who can help me, and under whose guidance I may be enabled to walk safely in the new path opened before me.  2
  Louis—Ah! how easily the love of a father is recalled, and how quickly forgotten are the faults of a son at the mention of the word repentance! After what I have just heard, I remember no more all the sorrow you have caused me; everything is obliterated from my memory. My happiness is extreme; I weep for joy; all my dearest wishes are granted, and I have nothing else to ask of Heaven. Let us embrace each other, my son. Persist, I beseech you, in this praiseworthy resolution. I will go at once and carry this good news to your mother, share with her my joy, and thank Heaven for the holy thoughts with which it has inspired you.  [Exit.]  3
  Sganarelle—Ah, sir, how happy I am to see you converted! I have been a long time looking forward for this; and thank Heaven, all my wishes are satisfied.  4
  Juan—Plague take the booby!  5
  Sganarelle—How, the booby?  6
  Juan—What! you take for ready money what I have just said, and fancy that my lips agree with my heart?  7
  Sganarelle—Why! it is not—you do not—your—  [Aside.]  Oh, what a man! what a man! what a man!  8
  Juan—Oh dear, no; I am not changed in the least, and all my thoughts are the same.  9
  Sganarelle—You do not yield, after the marvelous miracle of that moving and speaking statue?  10
  Juan—There certainly is something about it which I do not understand; but whatever it may be, it can neither convince my judgment nor stagger my heart: and if I said that I wanted to reform my conduct and to lead an exemplary life, it is because of a plan I have formed out of pure policy, a useful stratagem, a necessary grimace to which I am willing to submit, in order not to give offense to a father I have need of, and to screen myself in respect to men from a hundred troublesome adventures which might happen to me. I am glad to take you into my confidence, Sganarelle, for I like to have a witness of what I feel, and of the real motives which oblige me to act as I do.  11
  Sganarelle—What! you believe in nothing, and yet you mean to pass for a God-fearing man?  12
  Juan—And why not? There are plenty of others besides me who borrow the same feathers, and who use the same mask to deceive the world.  13
  Sganarelle  [aside]—Ah, what a man! what a man!  14
  Juan—There is no longer any shame in hypocrisy: it is a fashionable vice, and all fashionable vices pass for virtues. To act the part of a good man is the best part one can act. The profession of hypocrisy has wonderful advantages. It is an art the imposture of which is always looked upon with respect; and although the world may see through the deceit, it dares say nothing against it. All the other vices of mankind are open to censure, and every one is at liberty to attack them boldly; but hypocrisy is a privileged vice, which closes the mouth of every one, and enjoys in peace a sovereign impunity. By dint of cant we enter into a kind of league with those of the same party, and whoever falls out with one of us has the whole set against him; whilst those who are really sincere, and who are known to be in earnest, are always the dupes of the others, are caught in the net of the hypocrites, and blindly lend their support to those who ape their conduct. You could hardly believe what a number of these people I know, who with the help of such stratagem have put a decent veil over the disorders of their youth, have sought shelter under the cloak of religion, and under its venerated dress are allowed to be as wicked as they please. Although people are aware of their intrigues, and know them for what they are, their influence is none the less real. They are well received everywhere; and a low bending of the head, deep sighs, and rolling eyes, make up for all they can be guilty of. It is under this convenient dress that I mean to take refuge and put my affairs to rights. I shall not give up my dear habits, but will carefully hide them, and avoid all show in my pleasures. If I am discovered, the whole cabal will take up my interests of their own accord, and will defend me against everybody. In short, it is the only safe way of doing all I like with impunity. I shall set up for a censor of other people’s actions. I shall speak evil of everybody. If I am but ever so slightly offended, I shall never forgive, but bear an irreconcilable hatred. I shall make myself the avenger of the interests of Heaven; and under this convenient shelter I will pursue my enemies, will accuse them of impiety, and know how to let loose against them the officious zealots who, without understanding how the truth stands, will heap abuse upon them and damn them boldly on their own private authority. It is thus that we can profit by the weaknesses of men, and that a wise man can accommodate himself to the vices of his age.  15
  Sganarelle—Oh, heavens! what do I hear? You only lacked hypocrisy to make you perfectly bad; and this is the height of abomination. Sir, this last thing is too much for me, and I cannot help speaking. Do to me all you please; beat me, break every bone in my body, kill me if you like: but I must speak out my thoughts, and like a faithful servant say what I ought. Know, sir, that the pitcher goes once too often to the well: and as that author, whose name I do not recollect, truly said, man is in this world like the bird on the branch; the branch is attached to the tree; whoever is attached to the tree follows good precepts; good precepts are better than fine words; fine words are found at court; at court are the courtiers; courtiers are followers of fashion; fashion comes from fancy; fancy is a faculty of the mind; the mind is life to us; life ends in death; death makes us think of heaven; the sky is above the earth; the earth is not the sea; the sea is subject to tempests; tempests endanger ships; ships require pilots; a good pilot has prudence; prudence is not the gift of young men; young men ought to obey their elders; old men love riches; riches make people rich; the rich are not poor; the poor know what want is; necessity has no law; those who have no law live like the brute; and consequently you will be damned with all the devils.  16
  Juan—A noble argument.  17
  Sganarelle—After this if you do not change, so much the worse for you.  18
Enter Don Carlos
  Carlos—Don Juan, I meet with you opportunely; and I am glad to ask you in this place rather than in your house what resolutions you have taken. You know that this duty belongs to me, that I took it upon myself in your presence. I cannot hide from you that I should like the difficulty to be settled by gentle means; there is nothing I would not do to prevail upon you to choose the right path, and to see you publicly confirm your marriage with my sister.
  19
  Juan  [in a hypocritical tone]—Alas! I wish with all my heart that I could give you the satisfaction you ask for: but Heaven is directly opposed to it; it has inspired me with the design of reforming my mode of life, and I have now no other thoughts than to leave all earthly engagements, to forsake all vanities, to atone by an austere life for all the criminal disorders into which the heat of passion and blind youth have carried me.  20
  Carlos—Your intentions, Don Juan, do not clash with what I propose: the company of a legitimate wife and the laudable thoughts Heaven has inspired you with, can well agree.  21
  Juan—Alas! no. It is a decision which your sister herself has taken, for she has retired to a convent. Both our hearts were touched at the same time.  22
  Carlos—Her retreat cannot satisfy us, for it might be imputed to the contempt you had thrown on her and her family: our honor requires that she should live openly with you.  23
  Juan—I assure you that the thing is not possible. I had the greatest wish to do so, and even to-day I asked advice of Heaven about it; but when I consulted it, I heard a voice saying that I was not to think of your sister, and that with her for my companion I should certainly not work out my salvation.  24
  Carlos—Do you think you will impose upon me with those fine excuses?  25
  Juan—I obey Heaven’s voice.  26
  Carlos—What! you imagine that I can be satisfied with such stories as these?  27
  Juan—Such is the will of Heaven.  28
  Carlos—You make my sister leave her convent, and abandon her afterwards?  29
  Juan—Heaven orders it should be so.  30
  Carlos—We must bear such a disgrace?  31
  Juan—Seek redress from Heaven.  32
  Carlos—What! always Heaven?  33
  Juan—It is the will of Heaven.  34
  Carlos—Enough, Don Juan: I understand you. It is not here that I will attack you,—the place will not admit of it,—but I will soon find you out.  35
  Juan—You will do as you please. You know that I do not lack courage, and that I can use my sword when it is necessary. I will go in a few minutes through this narrow lane by the side of the convent: but I declare to you that I do not wish to fight; Heaven forbid I should think of such a thing: but if you attack me, we will see what will ensue.  36
  Carlos—We shall indeed see.  [Exit.]  37
  Sganarelle—Sir, what is this new style you adopt? This is worse than all the rest put together; I had much rather see you as you were before. I always looked forward to your salvation before; but from henceforth I give up all hope, and I believe that Heaven, which has borne with you to this day, will never tolerate this last abomination.  38
  Juan—Come, come: Heaven is not so strict as you think, and if each time that men—  39
Enter a Spectre in the form of a veiled woman
  Sganarelle  [seeing the Spectre]—Ah, sir, Heaven speaks to and warns you!
  40
  Juan—This may be a warning from Heaven; but it must be expressed more clearly if I am to understand it.  41
  Spectre—Don Juan has but a moment longer to profit by the mercy of Heaven; if he does not repent now, his destruction is certain.  42
  Sganarelle—Sir, do you hear?  43
  Juan—Who dares speak such words to me? I think I know this voice.  44
  Sganarelle—Ah, sir, it is a ghost! I know it by its way of walking.  45
  Juan—Ghost, phantom, or devil, I will see what it is.
[The Spectre changes shape, and represents Time with his scythe in his hand.]
  46
  Sganarelle—Oh, heavens! Do you see, sir, this change of shape?  47
  Juan—No, no: nothing can terrify me, and my sword will tell me whether this is body or spirit.
[The Spectre disappears when Don Juan tries to strike it.]
  48
  Sganarelle—Ah, sir, yield to such repeated proofs!  49
  Juan—No: whatever may happen, it shall never be said that I could repent. Come, follow me.  50
Enter The Statue of the Commandant
  Statue—Stop, Don Juan: you promised me yesterday to come and have supper with me.
  51
  Juan—Yes: where shall we go?  52
  Sganarelle—Give me your hand.  53
  Juan—Here it is.  54
  Statue—Don Juan, obstinacy in sin brings after it a fearful death, and by rejecting the mercy of Heaven we open a way for its wrath.  55
  Juan—Oh, heavens! what do I feel? An invisible fire consumes me! I can bear it no longer. My whole body is one ardent flame—Oh!—Oh!—
[The lightning flashes around Don Juan, and loud claps oj thunder are heard.  The earth opens and swallows him up.  From the spot where he has disappeared burst forth flames of fire.]
  56
  Sganarelle—Ah! my wages! my wages! His death is a reparation to all. Heaven offended, laws violated, families dishonored, girls ruined, wives led astray, husbands driven to despair, everybody is satisfied. I am the only one to suffer. My wages, my wages, my wages!
[The curtain falls.]
  57
 
 
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