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A monologue from the play by Molière
NOTE: This monologue is reprinted from The Dramatic Works of Molière, Vol. II. Ed. Charles Heron Wall. London: George Bell & Sons, 1898.
Who goes there? [Listens] My fear increases every minute! Gentlemen, you see in me a friend of the whole world. Ah! what boldness in me to walk about at this time of the night!
My master, all covered with glory as he is, plays me here but a wretched trick. What! if he had any regard for his neighbor, would he have made me set out on such a dark night as this,
and would he not have waited till daybreak, before sending me to announce his return and the particulars of his victory? Ah! Sosia, to what slavery are not your days given up!
How much harder is our life with the great than with humbler folk! Everything in nature must be sacrificed to them; day and night, through hail, wind, heat, cold, and danger, at any time and in all kinds of weather, we must fly at their bidding.
Twenty years of most devoted service fail to obtain for us the slightest privilege, and at the first whim their wrath comes down upon us. Yet we are so infatuated that we cling to the false honour of belonging to them,
and try to feed on the thought, entertained by people about us, that we are happy to bear such chains. In vain does reason call us to retire; in vain, in our vexation, do we at times consent to listen to it;
their presence has too great an ascendency over our zeal, and the small favour of a kind look fastens our chain anew. — But in spite of the darkness, I see our house at last, and my fear is vanishing.
I ought to have some ready speech for my embassy. I owe to Alcmena a military sketch of the great fight which drove our enemies away? — But how shall I do it, considering that I was not there?
Never mind, let us speak of cut and thrust like an ocular witness. How many people describe battles from which they have kept at a safe distance! To play my part properly, I must just rehearse it a little.
Here is the room where I am brought as messenger, and this lantern is Alcmena to whom I have to address myself. [He puts his lantern on the ground.]
“Madam, Amphitryon my master and your consort,” (good! a fine beginning!) “whose mind is always dwelling on your charms, has selected me from amongst all others, to inform you of the success of our arms, and of the longing he has to be near you.” —
“Ah! truly, my good Sosia, I am delighted to see you again.” — “Madam, you do me too much honour, and men will envy my destiny.” (Well answered!) — “How fares Amphitryon?” —
“Madam, like a man of courage in all engagements where glory calls him.” (Very well! a fine thought!) — “When will he make my heart happy by his dear return?” — “As soon as he can, madam; but much later than his heart wishes.”
(Ah!) — “But in what state has war left him? What does he say? What does he do? Satisfy my heart a little.” — “He says less than he does, madam, and makes the enemy tremble.” (Dear me! where does my mind find all these pretty sayings!) —
“What are the rebels doing? Tell me what has befallen them?” — “They could not resist our shock, madam: we have cut them all to pieces; put Pteralas, their chief, to death; taken Telebos by storm;
and already the whole port rings with the news of our valiant deeds.” — “Ah! what success! O gods, who would ever have believed it? Tell me, Sosia, how it all happened.” —
“Willingly, madam; for without boasting I can speak with knowledge of this victory. Fancy then that Telebos, madam, is on this side [SOSIA marks the place on his hand or on the ground];
it is a town really almost as big as Thebes. The river is so to speak there, and here are our people encamped; and that place yonder our enemies occupied. Their infantry was upon an eminence there, and yonder on the right was their cavalry.
Prayers were offered to the gods, orders were passed, the signal given. The enemy, thinking to put us to rout, formed their horse into three platoons; but their courage was soon subdued.
You shall see why. Here is our vanguard quite ready for the fight. There the archers of Creon, our king, and here is the body of the army [a slight noise is heard] which, first ….”
Wait, the body of the army is frightened; I believe I hear some noise.