SCENE I ORGON, CLEANTE CLEANTE Whither away so fast? ORGON How should I know? CLEANTE Methinks we should begin by taking counsel To see what can be done to meet the case. ORGON I'm all worked up about that wretched box. More than all else it drives me to despair. CLEANTE That box must hide some mighty mystery? ORGON Argas, my friend who is in trouble, brought it Himself, most secretly, and left it with me. He chose me, in his exile, for this trust; And on these documents, from what he said, I judge his life and property depend. CLEANTE How could you trust them to another's hands? ORGON By reason of a conscientious scruple. I went straight to my traitor, to confide In him; his sophistry made me believe That I must give the box to him to keep, So that, in case of search, I might deny My having it at all, and still, by favour Of this evasion, keep my conscience clear Even in taking oath against the truth. CLEANTE Your case is bad, so far as I can see; This deed of gift, this trusting of the secret To him, were both—to state my frank opinion— Steps that you took too lightly; he can lead you To any length, with these for hostages; And since he holds you at such disadvantage, You'd be still more imprudent, to provoke him; So you must go some gentler way about. ORGON What! Can a soul so base, a heart so false, Hide neath the semblance of such touching fervour? I took him in, a vagabond, a beggar! … 'Tis too much! No more pious folk for me! I shall abhor them utterly forever, And henceforth treat them worse than any devil. CLEANTE So! There you go again, quite off the handle! In nothing do you keep an even temper. You never know what reason is, but always Jump first to one extreme, and then the other. You see your error, and you recognise That you've been cozened by a feigned zeal; But to make up for't, in the name of reason, Why should you plunge into a worse mistake, And find no difference in character Between a worthless scamp, and all good people? What! Just because a rascal boldly duped you With pompous show of false austerity, Must you needs have it everybody's like him, And no one's truly pious nowadays? Leave such conclusions to mere infidels; Distinguish virtue from its counterfeit, Don't give esteem too quickly, at a venture, But try to keep, in this, the golden mean. If you can help it, don't uphold imposture; But do not rail at true devoutness, either; And if you must fall into one extreme, Then rather err again the other way. SCENE II DAMIS, ORGON, CLEANTE DAMIS What! father, can the scoundrel threaten you, Forget the many benefits received, And in his base abominable pride Make of your very favours arms against you? ORGON Too true, my son. It tortures me to think on't. DAMIS Let me alone, I'll chop his ears off for him. We must deal roundly with his insolence; 'Tis I must free you from him at a blow; 'Tis I, to set things right, must strike him down. CLEANTE Spoke like a true young man. Now just calm down, And moderate your towering tantrums, will you? We live in such an age, with such a king, That violence can not advance our cause. SCENE III MADAME PERNELLE, ORGON, ELMIRE, CLEANTE, MARIANE, DAMIS, DORINE MADAME PERNELLE What's this? I hear of fearful mysteries! ORGON Strange things indeed, for my own eyes to witness; You see how I'm requited for my kindness, I zealously receive a wretched beggar, I lodge him, entertain him like my brother, Load him with benefactions every day, Give him my daughter, give him all my fortune: And he meanwhile, the villain, rascal, wretch, Tries with black treason to suborn my wife, And not content with such a foul design, He dares to menace me with my own favours, And would make use of those advantages Which my too foolish kindness armed him with, To ruin me, to take my fortune from me, And leave me in the state I saved him from. DORINE Poor man! MADAME PERNELLE My son, I cannot possibly Believe he could intend so black a deed. ORGON What? MADAME PERNELLE Worthy men are still the sport of envy. ORGON Mother, what do you mean by such a speech? MADAME PERNELLE There are strange goings-on about your house, And everybody knows your people hate him. ORGON What's that to do with what I tell you now? MADAME PERNELLE I always said, my son, when you were little: That virtue here below is hated ever; The envious may die, but envy never. ORGON What's that fine speech to do with present facts? MADAME PERNELLE Be sure, they've forged a hundred silly lies … ORGON I've told you once, I saw it all myself. MADAME PERNELLE For slanderers abound in calumnies … ORGON Mother, you'd make me damn my soul. I tell you I saw with my own eyes his shamelessness. MADAME PERNELLE Their tongues for spitting venom never lack, There's nothing here below they'll not attack. ORGON Your speech has not a single grain of sense. I saw it, harkee, saw it, with these eyes I saw—d'ye know what saw means?—must I say it A hundred times, and din it in your ears? MADAME PERNELLE My dear, appearances are oft deceiving, And seeing shouldn't always be believing. ORGON I'll go mad. MADAME PERNELLE False suspicions may delude, And good to evil oft is misconstrued. ORGON Must I construe as Christian charity The wish to kiss my wife! MADAME PERNELLE You must, at least, Have just foundation for accusing people, And wait until you see a thing for sure. ORGON The devil! How could I see any surer? Should I have waited till, before my eyes, He … No, you'll make me say things quite improper. MADAME PERNELLE In short, 'tis known too pure a zeal inflames him; And so, I cannot possibly conceive That he should try to do what's charged against him. ORGON If you were not my mother, I should say Such things! … I know not what, I'm so enraged! DORINE (to Orgon) Fortune has paid you fair, to be so doubted; You flouted our report, now yours is flouted. CLEANTE We're wasting time here in the merest trifling, Which we should rather use in taking measures To guard ourselves against the scoundrel's threats. DAMIS You think his impudence could go far? ELMIRE For one, I can't believe it possible; Why, his ingratitude would be too patent. CLEANTE Don't trust to that; he'll find abundant warrant To give good colour to his acts against you; And for less cause than this, a strong cabal Can make one's life a labyrinth of troubles. I tell you once again: armed as he is You never should have pushed him quite so far. ORGON True; yet what could I do? The rascal's pride Made me lose all control of my resentment. CLEANTE I wish with all my heart that some pretence Of peace could be patched up between you two ELMIRE If I had known what weapons he was armed with, I never should have raised such an alarm, And my … ORGON (to Dorine, seeing Mr. Loyal come in) Who's coming now? Go quick, find out. I'm in a fine state to receive a visit! SCENE IV ORGON, MADAME PERNELLE, ELMIRE, MARIANE, CLEANTE, DAMIS, DORINE, MR. LOYAL MR. LOYAL (to Dorine, at the back of the stage) Good day, good sister. Pray you, let me see The master of the house. DORINE He's occupied; I think he can see nobody at present. MR. LOYAL I'm not by way of being unwelcome here. My coming can, I think, nowise displease him; My errand will be found to his advantage. DORINE Your name, then? MR. LOYAL Tell him simply that his friend Mr. Tartuffe has sent me, for his goods … DORINE (to Orgon) It is a man who comes, with civil manners, Sent by Tartuffe, he says, upon an errand That you'll be pleased with. CLEANTE (to Orgon) Surely you must see him, And find out who he is, and what he wants. ORGON (to Cleante) Perhaps he's come to make it up between us: How shall I treat him? CLEANTE You must not get angry; And if he talks of reconciliation Accept it. MR. LOYAL (to Orgon) Sir, good-day. And Heaven send Harm to your enemies, favour to you. ORGON (aside to Cleante) This mild beginning suits with my conjectures And promises some compromise already. MR. LOYAL All of your house has long been dear to me; I had the honour, sir, to serve your father. ORGON Sir, I am much ashamed, and ask your pardon For not recalling now your face or name. MR. LOYAL My name is Loyal. I'm from Normandy. My office is court-bailiff, in despite Of envy; and for forty years, thank Heaven, It's been my fortune to perform that office With honour. So I've come, sir, by your leave To render service of a certain writ … ORGON What, you are here to … MR. LOYAL Pray, sir, don't be angry. 'Tis nothing, sir, but just a little summons:— Order to vacate, you and yours, this house, Move out your furniture, make room for others, And that without delay or putting off, As needs must be … ORGON I? Leave this house? MR. LOYAL Yes, please, sir The house is now, as you well know, of course, Mr. Tartuffe's. And he, beyond dispute, Of all your goods is henceforth lord and master By virtue of a contract here attached, Drawn in due form, and unassailable. DAMIS (to Mr. Loyal) Your insolence is monstrous, and astounding! MR. LOYAL (to Damis) I have no business, sir, that touches you; (Pointing to Orgon) This is the gentleman. He's fair and courteous, And knows too well a gentleman's behaviour To wish in any wise to question justice. ORGON But … MR. LOYAL Sir, I know you would not for a million Wish to rebel; like a good citizen You'll let me put in force the court's decree. DAMIS Your long black gown may well, before you know it, Mister Court-bailiff, get a thorough beating. MR. LOYAL (to Orgon) Sir, make your son be silent or withdraw. I should be loath to have to set things down, And see your names inscribed in my report. DORINE (aside) This Mr. Loyal's looks are most disloyal. MR. LOYAL I have much feeling for respectable And honest folk like you, sir, and consented To serve these papers, only to oblige you, And thus prevent the choice of any other Who, less possessed of zeal for you than I am Might order matters in less gentle fashion. ORGON And how could one do worse than order people Out of their house? MR. LOYAL Why, we allow you time; And even will suspend until to-morrow The execution of the order, sir. I'll merely, without scandal, quietly, Come here and spend the night, with half a score Of officers; and just for form's sake, please, You'll bring your keys to me, before retiring. I will take care not to disturb your rest, And see there's no unseemly conduct here. But by to-morrow, and at early morning, You must make haste to move your least belongings; My men will help you—I have chosen strong ones To serve you, sir, in clearing out the house. No one could act more generously, I fancy, And, since I'm treating you with great indulgence, I beg you'll do as well by me, and see I'm not disturbed in my discharge of duty. ORGON I'd give this very minute, and not grudge it, The hundred best gold louis I have left, If I could just indulge myself, and land My fist, for one good square one, on his snout. CLEANTE (aside to Orgon) Careful!—don't make things worse. DAMIS Such insolence! I hardly can restrain myself. My hands Are itching to be at him. DORINE By my faith, With such a fine broad back, good Mr. Loyal, A little beating would become you well. MR. LOYAL My girl, such infamous words are actionable. And warrants can be issued against women. CLEANTE (to Mr. Loyal) Enough of this discussion, sir; have done. Give us the paper, and then leave us, pray. MR. LOYAL Then au revoir. Heaven keep you from disaster! ORGON May Heaven confound you both, you and your master! SCENE V ORGON, MADAME PERNELLE, ELMIRE, CLEANTE, MARIANE, DAMIS, DORINE ORGON Well, mother, am I right or am I not? This writ may help you now to judge the matter. Or don't you see his treason even yet? MADAME PERNELLE I'm all amazed, befuddled, and beflustered! DORINE (to Orgon) You are quite wrong, you have no right to blame him; This action only proves his good intentions. Love for his neighbour makes his virtue perfect; And knowing money is a root of evil, In Christian charity, he'd take away Whatever things may hinder your salvation. ORGON Be still. You always need to have that told you. CLEANTE (to Orgon) Come, let us see what course you are to follow. ELMIRE Go and expose his bold ingratitude. Such action must invalidate the contract; His perfidy must now appear too black To bring him the success that he expects. SCENE VI VALERE, ORGON, MADAME PERNELLE, ELMIRE, CLEANTE, MARIANE, DAMIS, DORINE VALERE 'Tis with regret, sir, that I bring bad news; But urgent danger forces me to do so. A close and intimate friend of mine, who knows The interest I take in what concerns you, Has gone so far, for my sake, as to break The secrecy that's due to state affairs, And sent me word but now, that leaves you only The one expedient of sudden flight. The villain who so long imposed upon you, Found means, an hour ago, to see the prince, And to accuse you (among other things) By putting in his hands the private strong-box Of a state-criminal, whose guilty secret, You, failing in your duty as a subject, (He says) have kept. I know no more of it Save that a warrant's drawn against you, sir, And for the greater surety, that same rascal Comes with the officer who must arrest you. CLEANTE His rights are armed; and this is how the scoundrel Seeks to secure the property he claims. ORGON Man is a wicked animal, I'll own it! VALERE The least delay may still be fatal, sir. I have my carriage, and a thousand louis, Provided for your journey, at the door. Let's lose no time; the bolt is swift to strike, And such as only flight can save you from. I'll be your guide to seek a place of safety, And stay with you until you reach it, sir. ORGON How much I owe to your obliging care! Another time must serve to thank you fitly; And I pray Heaven to grant me so much favour That I may some day recompense your service. Good-bye; see to it, all of you … CLEANTE Come hurry; We'll see to everything that's needful, brother. SCENE VII TARTUFFE, AN OFFICER, MADAME PERNELLE, ORGON, ELMIRE, CLEANTE, MARIANE, VALERE, DAMIS, DORINE TARTUFFE (stopping Orgon) Softly, sir, softly; do not run so fast; You haven't far to go to find your lodging; By order of the prince, we here arrest you. ORGON Traitor! You saved this worst stroke for the last; This crowns your perfidies, and ruins me. TARTUFFE I shall not be embittered by your insults, For Heaven has taught me to endure all things. CLEANTE Your moderation, I must own, is great. DAMIS How shamelessly the wretch makes bold with Heaven! TARTUFFE Your ravings cannot move me; all my thought Is but to do my duty. MARIANE You must claim Great glory from this honourable act. TARTUFFE The act cannot be aught but honourable, Coming from that high power which sends me here. ORGON Ungrateful wretch, do you forget 'twas I That rescued you from utter misery? TARTUFFE I've not forgot some help you may have given; But my first duty now is toward my prince. The higher power of that most sacred claim Must stifle in my heart all gratitude; And to such puissant ties I'd sacrifice My friend, my wife, my kindred, and myself. ELMIRE The hypocrite! DORINE How well he knows the trick Of cloaking him with what we most revere! CLEANTE But if the motive that you make parade of Is perfect as you say, why should it wait To show itself, until the day he caught you Soliciting his wife? How happens it You have not thought to go inform against him Until his honour forces him to drive you Out of his house? And though I need not mention That he'd just given you his whole estate, Still, if you meant to treat him now as guilty, How could you then consent to take his gift? TARTUFFE (to the Officer) Pray, sir, deliver me from all this clamour; Be good enough to carry out your order. THE OFFICER Yes, I've too long delayed its execution; 'Tis very fitting you should urge me to it; So therefore, you must follow me at once To prison, where you'll find your lodging ready. TARTUFFE Who? I, sir? THE OFFICER You. TARTUFFE By why to prison? THE OFFICER You Are not the one to whom I owe account. You, sir (to Orgon), recover from your hot alarm. Our prince is not a friend to double dealing, His eyes can read men's inmost hearts, and all The art of hypocrites cannot deceive him. His sharp discernment sees things clear and true; His mind cannot too easily be swayed, For reason always holds the balance even. He honours and exalts true piety, But knows the false, and views it with disgust. This fellow was by no means apt to fool him, Far subtler snares have failed against his wisdom, And his quick insight pierced immediately The hidden baseness of this tortuous heart. Accusing you, the knave betrayed himself, And by true recompense of Heaven's justice He stood revealed before our monarch's eyes A scoundrel known before by other names, Whose horrid crimes, detailed at length, might fill A long-drawn history of many volumes. Our monarch—to resolve you in a word— Detesting his ingratitude and baseness, Added this horror to his other crimes, And sent me hither under his direction To see his insolence out-top itself, And force him then to give you satisfaction. Your papers, which the traitor says are his, I am to take from him, and give you back; The deed of gift transferring your estate Our monarch's sovereign will makes null and void; And for the secret personal offence Your friend involved you in, he pardons you: Thus he rewards your recent zeal, displayed In helping to maintain his rights, and shows How well his heart, when it is least expected, Knows how to recompense a noble deed, And will not let true merit miss its due, Remembering always rather good than evil. DORINE Now Heaven be praised! MADAME PERNELLE At last I breathe again. ELMIRE A happy outcome! MARIANE Who'd have dared to hope it? ORGON (to Tartuffe, who is being led by the officer) There traitor! Now you're … SCENE VIII MADAME PERNELLE, ORGON, ELMIRE, MARIANE, CLEANTE, VALERE, DAMIS, DORINE CLEANTE Brother, hold!—and don't Descend to such indignities, I beg you. Leave the poor wretch to his unhappy fate, And let remorse oppress him, but not you. Hope rather that his heart may now return To virtue, hate his vice, reform his ways, And win the pardon of our glorious prince; While you must straightway go, and on your knees Repay with thanks his noble generous kindness. ORGON Well said! We'll go, and at his feet kneel down, With joy to thank him for his goodness shown; And this first duty done, with honours due, We'll then attend upon another, too. With wedded happiness reward Valere, And crown a lover noble and sincere.