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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.
What! would you have a man bind himself to the first girl he falls in love with, say farewell to the world for her sake, and have no eyes for anyone else? A fine thing, to be sure, to pride oneself upon the false honour of being faithful,
to lose oneself in one passion for ever, and to be blind from our youth up to all the other beautiful women who can captivate our gaze! No, no; constancy is the share of fools.
Every beautiful woman has a right to charm us, and the privilege of having been the first to be loved should not deprive the others of the just pretensions which the whole sex has over our hearts.
As for me, beauty delights me wherever I meet with it, and I am easily overcome by the gentle violence with which it hurries us along. It matters not if I am already engaged:
the love I have for a fair one cannot make me unjust towards the others; my eyes are always open to merit, and I pay the homage and tribute nature claims. Whatever may have taken place before,
I cannot refuse my love to any of the lovely women I behold; and, as soon as a handsome face asks it of me, if I had ten thousand hearts I would give them all away.
The first beginnings of love have, besides, indescribable charms, and the true pleasure of love consists in its variety. It is a most captivating delight to reduce by a hundred means the heart of a young beauty;
to see day by day the gradual progress one makes; to combat with transport, tears, and sighs, the shrinking modesty of a heart unwilling to yield; and to force, inch by inch,
all the little obstacles she opposes to our passion; to overcome the scruples upon which she prides herself, and to lead her, step by step, where we would bring her.
But, once we have succeeded, there is nothing more to wish for; all the attraction of love is over, and we should fall asleep in the tameness of such a passion, unless some new object came to awake our desires and present to us the attractive perspective of a new conquest.
In short, nothing can surpass the pleasure of triumphing over the resistance of a beautiful maiden; and I have in this the ambition of conquerors, who go from victory to victory, and cannot bring themselves to put limits to their longings.
There is nothing that can restrain my impetuous yearnings. I have a heart big enough to be in love with the whole world; and, like Alexander, I could wish for other spheres to which I could extend my conquests.