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Full Online Book HomePlaysThe Magnificent Lovers - Act 3
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The Magnificent Lovers - Act 3 Post by :emb582 Category :Plays Author :Moliere Date :May 2012 Read :3828

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The Magnificent Lovers - Act 3

ACT III

(ARISTIONE, IPHICRATES, TIMOCLES, ERIPHYLE, ANAXARCHUS, SOSTRATUS, CLITIDAS.)

ARI. We must always repeat the same words. We have always to exclaim: This is admirable! Wonderful! It is beyond all that has ever been seen.

TIM. You bestow too much praise on these trifles, Madam.

ARI. Such trifles may agreeably engage the thoughts of the most serious people. Indeed, my daughter, you have cause to be thankful to these princes, and you can never repay all the trouble they take for you.

ERI. I am deeply grateful for it, Madam.

ARI. And yet you make them languish a long time for what they expect from you. I have promised not to constrain you; but their love claims from you a declaration that you should not put off any longer the reward of their attentions. I had asked Sostratus to sound your heart, but I do not know if he has begun to acquit himself of his commission.

ERI. Yes, Madam, he has. But it seems to me that I cannot put off too long the decision which is asked of me, and that I could not give it without incurring some blame. I feel equally thankful for the love, attentions, and homage of these two princes, and I think it a great injustice to show myself ungrateful either to the one or to the other by the refusal I must make of one in preference to his rival.

IPH. We should call this, Madam, a very pretty way of refusing us both.

ARI. This scruple, daughter, should not stop you; and those two princes have both long since agreed to submit to the preference you show.

ERI. Our inclinations easily deceive us, Madam, and disinterested hearts are more able to make a right choice.

ARI. You know that I have engaged my word to give no opinion upon this matter, and you cannot make a bad choice when you have to choose between these two princes.

ERI. In order not to do violence either to your promise or to my scruples, Madam, pray agree to what I shall propose.

ARI. And what is that, my daughter?

ERI. I should like Sostratus to decide for me. You chose him to try to discover the secret of my heart; suffer me to choose him to end the perplexity I am in.

ARI. I have such a high regard for Sostratus that, whether you mean to employ him to explain your feelings or to leave him entirely to decide for you, I consent heartily to this proposition.

IPH. Which means, Madam, that we must pay our court to Sostratus.

SOS. No, my Lord, you will have no court to pay to me; and with all the respect due to the princesses, I refuse the glory to which they would raise me.

ARI. How is that, Sostratus?

SOS. I have reasons, Madam, which do not allow me to accept the honour you would do me.

IPH. Are you afraid, Sostratus, of making yourself an enemy?

SOS. I should have but little fear for the enemies I might make in obeying the will of my sovereigns.

TIM. Why, then, do you refuse to accept the power which is entrusted to you, and to acquire to yourself the friendship of a prince who would owe all his happiness to you?

SOS. Because it is not in my power to grant to that prince what he would wish from me.

IPH. What reason can you have?

SOS. Why should you so insist upon this? Perhaps I may have, my Lord, some secret interest opposed to the pretensions of your love. Perhaps I may have a friend who burns with a respectful flame for the divine charms with which you are in love. Perhaps that friend makes me the daily confidant of his sufferings, that he complains to me of the rigour of his fate, and is looking upon the marriage of the princess as the dreadful sentence which is to send him to his grave. Supposing it were so, my Lord, would it be right that he should receive his death-wound from my hands?

IPH. You seem to me, Sostratus, very likely to be that friend whose interests you have so much at heart.

SOS. I beg of you, my Lord, not to render me odious tote persons who hear you. I know what I am, and unfortunate people like me are not ignorant of the limits which fortune assigned to their desires.

ARI. Let us drop this subject; we will find means for overcoming my daughter's irresolution.

ANA. Are there better means of arriving at a conclusion that would satisfy everybody than to consult the light which heaven can give us on that marriage? I have already begun, as I told you, to cast the mysterious figures which our art teaches us; and I hope soon to be able to show you what the future has in reserve regarding this longed for union. After that, who can still hesitate? Will not the glory or the prosperity which will be promised to one or the other be choice sufficient to decide it, and can he who is rejected be offended when heaven itself decides who is to be preferred?

IPH. For my part, I submit to it altogether, and I declare that this way seems the most reasonable.

TIM. I am entirely of the same opinion, and whatever heaven may decide, I yield to it without reluctance.

ERI. But, my Lord Anaxarchus, do you really read so clearly destiny that you can never be deceived? And pray, who will give us security for this prosperity, this glory which you say heaven promises us?

ARI. My daughter, you have a little incredulity which never leaves you.

ANA. The proofs, Madam, which everybody has seen, of the infallibility of my predictions are sufficient security for the promises I make. But, in short, when I have shown you what heaven has in reserve for you, you may act as you please, and choose one or the other destiny.

ERI. Heaven, you say, Anaxarchus, will show me the good or bad destiny that is in reserve for me?

ANA. Yes, Madam; the felicity with which you will be blessed if you marry the one, and the misery that will accompany you if you marry the other.

ERI. But since it is impossible for me to marry them both at once, it seems that we find written in the heavens not only what is to happen, but also what is not to happen.

CLI. (_aside_). Here is a puzzler for our astrologer!

ANA. I should have to give you, Madam, a long dissertation on the principles of astrology to make you understand this.

CLI. Well answered. I have no harm, Madam, to say of astrology; astrology is a fine thing. My Lord Anaxarchus is a great man.

IPH. The truth of astrology is an incontestable fact, and no one can dispute the certainty of its predictions.

CLI. Certainly not.

TIM. I am incredulous enough in many things, but as regards astrology, there is nothing more sure or constant than the certainty of the horoscopes it draws.

CLI. The things are as clear as daylight.

IPH. A hundred accidents happen every day which convince the greatest unbelievers.

CLI. Quite true.

TIM. Who could contradict the many famous incidents which are related to us in books?

CLI. Only people devoid of common sense can do so; how can anything in print be doubted?

ARI. Sostratus has not said a word yet. What is your opinion about it?

SOS. Madam, all minds are not gifted with the necessary qualities which the delicacy of those fine sciences called abstruse require. There are some so material that they cannot conceive what others understand most easily. There is nothing more agreeable, Madam, than all the great promises of these sublime sciences. To transform everything into gold; to cause people to live for ever; to cure with words; to make ourselves loved by whomsoever we please; to know all the secrets of futurity; to bring down from heaven, according to one's will, on metals, impressions of happiness; to command demons, to raise invisible armies and invulnerable soldiers--all this is delightful, no doubt; and there are people who experience no difficulty whatever in believing all this to be possible; it is the easiest thing for them to conceive. But for me, I acknowledge that my coarse, gross mind can hardly understand and refuses to believe it; that, in fact, it thinks it all too good ever to be true. All those beautiful arguments of sympathy, magnetic power, and occult virtue, are so subtle and delicate that they escape my material understanding; and, without speaking of anything else, it has never been in my power to conceive how there is to be found in the heavens even the smallest particulars of the fortune of the least of men. What relation, what connection, what reciprocity, can there be between us and globes so immeasurably distant from our earth? And how, besides, can this sublime science have come to man? What god revealed it? or what experience can have been formed from the observation of that immense number of stars which have never as yet been seen twice in the same order?

ANA. It would not be hard to make you conceive it.

SOS. You would be more clever than all the others.

CLI. (_to SOSTRATUS). He will deliver you a long discussion about all this whenever you please.

IPH. If you do not understand such things, you can at least believe what is seen every day.

SOS. As my understanding is so gross that I never could understand anything, my eyes also are unfortunate enough never to have witnessed anything relating to it.

IPH. For my part, I have seen things altogether convincing.

TIM. So have I.

SOS. Since you have seen, you do well to believe; and your eyes must be differently made from mine.

IPH. But, in short, the princess believes in astrology; and I think we may well, after her example, believe in it also. Would you say that Madam has not intelligence and sense, Sostratus?

SOS. My Lord, your question is rather unfair. The mind of the princess is no rule for mine, and her understanding may raise her to light, which I, in my meaner sense, cannot reach.

ARI. No, Sostratus; I shall say nothing to you about many things to which I give no more credence than you do; but as for astrology, I have been told and been shown things so positive that I cannot doubt them.

SOS. Madam, I have nothing to answer to that.

ARI. We will say no more about this; leave us a moment. We will, my daughter and myself, go towards that fine grotto where I have promised to go. Ha! something gallant at every step.

 

FOURTH INTERLUDE.

The stage represents a grotto, where the PRINCESSES go to take a walk. As they enter it, eight statues, each bearing two torches, come down from their recesses, and execute a varied dance of different figures and several fine attitudes in which they place themselves at intervals.

BALLET.

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