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.

FILERIN: Are you not ashamed, gentlemen, to have shown so little prudence for people of your age, and to have quarrelled like two young madcaps? Do you not see What harm such disputes do us in the world, and is it not enough that learned men should see the want of agreement and difference of opinions which exist between the authors of our time and our ancient masters, without our showing by our quarrels the knavery of our art? For my part, I understand nothing of the mischievous policy of some of our brethren, and we must acknowledge that all these contentions have of late done us a great deal of harm, and if we are not more careful we shall bring about our own ruin. I do not speak for myself, for, thank Heaven, I have managed my own affairs pretty well; let the wind blow, let the rain or hail come down, those who are dead are dead, and I have enough money now to be independant of the living; but, to say the least, all these disputes do no good to our calling. Since it is the will of Heaven that for so many centuries men should have been infatuated with us, let us not ourselves destroy their illusions with our noisy cabals, but profit as much as we can by their foolishness. You know that we are not the only people who try to build on the weaknesses of mankind. It is the study of half the world, and everyone tries to take their fellow-men by their weak side, and to extract some profit from them. Flatterers, for instance, seek to profit by the love men have of praise, by giving them all the vain incense they wish for; and it is an art by the help of which, as we can see every day, large fortunes are made. Alchemists try to profit by the passion men have for riches, by promising mountains of gold to those who listen to them. Fortune-tellers, with deceitful predictions, profit by the vanity and ambition of credulous minds. But the greatest weakness men are subject to, is the love they have for life; and we profit by it. With our pompous jargon we know how to take advantage of the veneration for our trade the fear of death impresses on them. Let us keep ourselves, then, in the place of respect which their weakness has given us, and let us agree before our patients so as to ascribe to ourselves whatever happy termination their illnesses may have had, and throw upon Nature all the blunders of our science. Let us not foolishly destroy their fortunate fondness for an error which provides bread for so many people, and which, with the money of those we kill, allows us to raise noble heritages for ourselves.

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