THE MAGNIFICENT LOVERS
THE MAGNIFICENT LOVERS
TRANSLATED INTO ENGLISH PROSE.
_WITH SHORT INTRODUCTIONS AND EXPLANATORY NOTES_.
CHARLES HERON WALL
The subject of this play was given by Louis XIV. It was acted before
him at Saint-Germain-en-Laye on February 4 1670 but was never
represented in Paris and was only printed after Moliere's death. It
is one of the weakest plays of Moliere upon whom unfortunately now
rested the whole responsibility of the court entertainments. His
attack upon astrology is the most interesting part.
Moliere acted the part of Clitidas.
PREFACE BY THE AUTHOR.
The King who will have nothing but what is magnificent in all he
undertakes wished to give his court an entertainment which should
comprise all that the stage can furnish. To facilitate the execution
of so vast an idea and to link together so many different things his
Majesty chose for the subject two rival princes who in the lovely
vale of Tempe where the Pythian Games were to be celebrated vie with
each other in feting a young princess and her mother with all
IPHICRATES & TIMOCLES _princes in love with_ ERIPHYLE.
SOSTRATUS _a general also in love with_ ERIPHYLE.
ANAXARCHUS _an astrologer_.
CLEON _his son_.
CHOROEBUS _in the suit of_ ARISTIONE.
CLITIDAS _a court jester one of the attendants of_ ERIPHYLE.
ARISTIONE _a princess mother to_ ERIPHYLE.
ERIPHYLE _a princess daughter to_ ARISTIONE.
CLEONICE _confidante to_ ERIPHYLE.
_A sham_ VENUS _acting in concert with_ ANAXARCHUS.
THE MAGNIFICENT LOVERS.
_The scene opens with the pleasant sound of a great many
instruments and represents a vast sea bordered on each side by four
large rocks. On the summit of each is a river god leaning on the
insignia usual to those deities. At the foot of these rocks are twelve
Tritons on each side and in the middle of the sea four Cupids on
dolphins; behind them the god AEOLUS floating on a small cloud above
the waves. AEOLUS commands the winds to withdraw; and whilst four
Cupids twelve Tritons and eight river gods answer him the sea
becomes calm and an island rises from the waves. Eight fishermen come
out of the sea with mother-of-pearl and branches of coral in their
hands and after a charming dance seat themselves each on a rock above
one of the river gods. The music announces the advent of NEPTUNE and
while this god is dancing with his suite the fishermen Tritons and
river gods accompany his steps with various movements and the
clattering of the pearl shells. The spectacle is a magnificent
compliment paid by one of the princes to the princesses during their
Ye winds that cloud the fairest skies
Retire within your darkest caves
And leave the realm of waves
To Zephyr Love and sighs.
What lovely eyes these moist abodes have pierced?
Ye mighty Tritons come; ye Nereids hide.
ALL THE TRITONS.
Then rise we all these deities fair to meet;
With softest strains and homage let us greet
Their beauty rare.
How dazzling are these ladies' charms!
What heart but seeing them must yield?
The fairest of th' Immortals--arms
So keen hath none to wield.
Then rise we all these deities fair to meet;
With softest strains and homage let us greet
Their beauty rare.
What would this noble train that meets our view?
'Tis Neptune! He and all his mighty crew!
He comes to honour with his presence fair
These lovely scenes and charm the silent air.
Then strike again
And raise your strain
And let your homes around
With joyous songs resound!
I rank among the gods of greatest might;
'Tis Jove himself hath placed me on this height!
Alone as king I sway the azure wave;
In all this world there's none my power to brave.
There are no lands on earth my might that know
But trembling dread that o'er their meads I flow;
No states o'er which the boisterous waves I tread
In one short moment's space I cannot spread.
There's nought the raging billows' force can stay
No triple dike but e'en it easily
My waves can crush
When rolls along their mass with wildest rush.
And yet these billows fierce I force to yield
Beneath the wisdom of the power I wield;
And everywhere I let the sailors bold
Where'er they list their trading courses hold.
Yet rocks sometimes are found within my states
Where ships do perish so doomed by fates;
Yet 'gainst my power none murmurs aye
For Virtue knows no wreck where'er I sway.
A SEA GOD.
Within this realm are many treasures bright;
All mortals crowd its pleasant shores to view.
And would you climb of fame the dazzling height
Then seek nought else but Neptune's countenance sue.
SECOND SEA GOD.
Then trust the god of this vast billowy realm
And shielded from all storms you'll guide the helm;
The waves would fain inconstant often be
But ever constant Neptune you will see.
THIRD SEA GOD.
Launch then with dauntless zeal and plough the deep;
Thus shall you Neptune's kindly favour reap.
SCENE I.--SOSTRATUS CLITIDAS.
CLI. (_aside_). He is buried in thought.
SOS. (_believing himself alone_). No Sostratus I do not see
where you can look for help and your troubles are of a kind to leave
you no hope.
CLI. (_aside_). He is talking to himself.
SOS. (_believing himself alone_). Alas!
CLI. These sighs must mean something and my surmise will prove
SOS. (_believing himself alone_). Upon what fancies can you build
any hope? And what else can you expect but the protracted length of a
miserable existence and sorrow to end only with life itself.
CLI. (_aside_). His head is more perplexed than mine.
SOS. (_believing himself alone_). My heart! my heart! to what
have you brought me?
CLI. Your servant my Lord Sostratus!
SOS. Where are you going Clitidas?
CLI. Rather tell me what you are doing here? And what secret
melancholy what gloomy sorrow can keep you in these woods when all
are gone in crowds to the magnificent festival which the Prince
Iphicrates has just given upon the sea to the princesses. There they
are treated to wonderful music and dancing and even the rocks and the
waves deck themselves with divinities to do homage to their beauty.
SOS. I can fancy all this magnificence and as there are generally so
many people to cause confusion at these festivals I did not care to
increase the number of unwelcome guests.
CLI. You know that your presence never spoils anything and that you
are never in the way wherever you go. Your face is welcome everywhere
and is not one of those ill-favoured countenances which are never well
received by sovereigns. You are equally in favour with both
princesses and the mother and the daughter show plainly enough the
regard they have for you; so that you need not fear to be accounted
troublesome. In short it was not this fear that kept you away.
SOS. I acknowledge that I have no inclination for such things.
CLI. Oh indeed! Yet although we may not care to see things we like
to go where we find everybody else; and whatever you may say people
do not during a festival stop all alone among the trees to dream
moodily as you do unless they have something to disturb their minds.
SOS. Why? What do you think could disturb my mind?
CLI. Well I can't say; but there is a strong scent of love about
here and I am sure it does not come from me and it must come from
SOS. How absurd you are Clitidas!
CLI. Not so absurd as you would make out. You are in love; I have a
delicate nose and I smelt it directly.
SOS. What can possibly make you think so?
CLI. What? I daresay you would be very much surprised if I were to
tell you besides with whom you are in love.
CLI. Yes; I wager that I will guess presently whom you love. I have
some secrets as well as our astrologer with whom the Princess
Aristione is so infatuated; and if his science makes him read in the
stars the fate of men I have the science of reading in the eyes of
people the names of those they love. Hold up your head a little and
open your eyes wide. _E_ by itself _E; r i ri Eri; p h
y phy Eriphy; l e le Eriphyle_. You are in love with the
SOS. Ah! Clitidas I cannot conceal my trouble from you and you crush
me with this blow.
CLI. You see how clever I am!
SOS. Alas! if anything has revealed to you the secret of my heart I
beseech you to tell it to no one; and above all things to keep it
secret from the fair princess whose name you have just mentioned.
CLI. But to speak seriously if for awhile I have read in your
actions the love you wish to keep secret do you think that the
Princess Eriphyle has been blind enough not to see it? Believe me
ladies are always very quick to discover the love they inspire and
the language of the eyes and of sighs is understood by those to whom
it is addressed sooner than by anybody else.
SOS. Leave her Clitidas leave her to read if she can in my sighs
and looks the love with which her beauty has inspired me; but let us
be careful not to let her find it out in any other way.
CLI. And what is it you dread? Is it possible that this same
Sostratus who feared neither Brennus nor all the Gauls and whose arm
has been so gloriously successful in ridding us of that swarm of
barbarians which ravaged Greece; is it possible I say that a man so
dauntless in war should be so fearful as to tremble at the very
mention of his being in love?
SOS. Ah! Clitidas I do not tremble without a cause; and all the Gauls
in the world would seem to me less to be feared than those two
beautiful eyes full of charms.
CLI. I am not of the same opinion and I know as far as I am
concerned that one single Gaul sword in hand would frighten me much
more than fifty of the most beautiful eyes in the world put together.
But tell me what do you intend to do?
SOS. To die without telling my love.
CLI. A fine prospect! Nonsense you are joking; you know that a
little boldness always succeeds with lovers; it is only the bashful
and timid who are losers; and were I to fall in love with a goddess I
would tell her of my passion at once.
SOS. Alas! too many things condemn my love to an eternal silence.
CLI. But what?
SOS. The lowness of my birth by which it pleased heaven to humble the
ambition of my love; the princess's rank which puts between her and
my desires such an impassable barrier. The rivalry of two princes who
can back the offer of their heart by the highest titles; two princes
who offer the most magnificent entertainments by turn to her whose
heart they strive to win and between whom it is expected every moment
that she will make a choice. Besides all this Clitidas there is the
inviolable respect to which she subjugates the violence of my love.
CLI. Respect is not always as welcome as love; and if I am not greatly
mistaken the young princess knows of your affection and is not
insensible to it.
SOS. Ah! pray do not out of pity flatter the heart of a miserable
CLI. I do not say it without good reasons. She is a long time
postponing the choice of a husband and I must try and discover a
little more about all this. You know that I enjoy a kind of favour
with her that I have free access to her and that by dint of trying
all kinds of ways I have gained the privilege of saying a word now
and then and of speaking at random on any subject. Sometimes I do not
succeed as I should like but at others I succeed very well. Leave it
to me then; I am your friend I love men of merit and I will choose
my time to speak to the princess of....
SOS. Oh! for heaven's sake however much you may pity my misfortune
Clitidas he careful not to tell her anything of my love. I had
rather die than to be accused by her of the least temerity and this
deep respect in which her divine charms....
CLI. Hush! they are all Coming.
SCENE II.--ARISTIONE IPHICRATES TIMOCLES SOSTRATUS ANAXARCHUS CLEON CLITIDAS.
ARI. (_to_ IPHICRATES). Prince I cannot say too much there is
no spectacle in the world which can vie in magnificence with this one
you have just given us. This entertainment had wonderful attractions
which will make it surpass all that can ever be seen. We have
witnessed something so noble so grand and glorious that heaven itself
could do no more; and I feel sure there is nothing in the world that
could be compared to it.
TIM. This is a display that cannot he expected in all entertainments
and I greatly fear Madam for the simplicity of the little festival
which I am preparing to give you in the wood of Diana.
ARI. I feel sure that we shall see nothing there but what is
delightful; and we must acknowledge that the country ought to appear
very beautiful to us and that we have no time left for dulness in
this charming place which all poets have celebrated under the name of
Tempe. For not to mention the pleasures of hunting which we can
enjoy at any hour and the solemnity of the Pythian Games which are
about to be celebrated you both take care to supply us with pleasures
that would charm away the sorrows of the most melancholy. How is it
Sostratus that we did not meet you in our walks?
SOS. A slight indisposition Madam prevented me from going there.
IPH. Sostratus is one of those men who think it unbecoming to be
curious like others and who esteem it better to affect not to go
where everybody is anxious to be.
SOS. My Lord affectation has little share in anything I do and
without paying you a compliment there were things to be seen in this
festival which would have attracted me if some other motive had not
ARI. And has Clitidas seen it all?
CLI. Yes Madam but from the shore.
ARI. And why from the shore?
CLI. Well Madam I feared one of those accidents which generally
happen in such large crowds. Last night I dreamt of dead fish and
broken eggs and I have learnt from Anaxarchus that broken eggs and
dead fish forebode ill luck.
ANA. I observe one thing that Clitidas would have nothing to say if
he did not speak of me.
CLI. It is because there are so many things that can be said of you
that one can never say too much.
ANA. You might choose some other subject of conversation
particularly since I have asked you to do so.
CLI. How can I? Do you not say that destiny is stronger than
everything? And if it is written in the stars that I shall speak of
you how can I resist my fate?
ANA. With all the respect due to you Madam allow me to say that
there is one thing in your court which it is sad to find there. It is
that everybody takes the liberty of talking and that the most
honourable man is exposed to the scoffing of the first buffoon he
CLI. I thank you for the honour you do me.
ARI. (_to_ ANAXARCHUS). Why be put out by what he says?
CLI. With all due respect to you Madam there is one thing which
amazes me in astrology; it is that people who know the secrets of the
gods and who have such knowledge as to place themselves above all
other men should have need of paying court and of asking for
ANA. This is a paltry joke and you should earn your money by giving
your mistress wittier and better ones.
CLI. Upon my word I give what I have. You speak most comfortably
about it; the trade of a buffoon is not like that of an astrologer. To
tell lies well and to joke well are things altogether different and
it is far easier to deceive people than to make them laugh.
ARI. Ha! what is the meaning of that?
CLI. (_speaking to himself_). Peace fool that you are! Do you
not know that astrology is an affair of state and that you must not
play upon that string? I have often told you that you are getting a
great deal too bold and that you take certain liberties which will
bring trouble upon you. You will see that some day you will be kicked
out like a knave. Hold your peace if you be wise.
ARI. Where is my daughter?
TIM. She is gone away Madam. I offered her my arm which she refused
ARI. Princes since in your love for Eriphyle you have consented to
submit to the laws I had imposed upon you since it has been possible
for me to obtain that you should be rivals without being enemies and
that with a full submission to my daughter's feelings you are
waiting for her choice speak to me openly and tell me what progress
you each think you have made on her heart.
TIM. Madam I do not mean to flatter myself; but I have done all that