Sir, I did not want to use anyone to make a request
of you that I have long considered. It affects me enough for me to take
charge of it myself; and, without further ado, I will say to you that the
honor of being your son-in-law is a glorious favor that I beg you to grant
Before giving you a reply, sir, I beg to ask if you
are a gentleman.
Sir, most people don't hesitate much over this question.
They use the word carelessly. They take the name without scruple, and the
usage of today seems to validate the theft. As for me, I confess to you,
I have a little more delicate feelings on this matter. I find all imposture
undignified for an honest man, and that there is cowardice in disguising
what Heaven made us at birth; to present ourselves to the eyes of the world
with a stolen title; to wish to give a false impression. I was born of
parents who, without doubt, held honorable positions. I have six years
of service in the army, and I find myself established well enough to maintain
a tolerable rank in the world; but despite all that I certainly have no
wish to give myself a name to which others in my place might believe they
could pretend, and I will tell you frankly that I am not a gentleman.
Shake hands, Sir! My daughter is not for you.
And wasn't your father a merchant just like mine?
Plague take the woman! She never fails to do this!
If your father was a merchant, so much the worse for him! But, as for mine,
those who say that are misinformed. All that I have to say to you is, that
I want a gentleman for a son-in-law.
It's necessary for your daughter to have a husband
who is worthy of her, and it's better for her to have an honest rich man
who is well made than an impoverished gentleman who is badly built.
That's true. We have the son of a gentleman in our village who
is the most ill formed and the greatest fool I have ever seen.
Hold your impertinent tongue! You always butt into
the conversation. I have enough money for my daughter, I need only honor,
and I want to make her a marchioness.
As for me, it's a thing I'll never consent to. Marriages
above one's station are always subject to great inconveniences. I have
absolutely no wish for a son-in-law who can reproach her parents to my
daughter, and I don't want her to have children who will be ashamed to
call me their grandmother. If she arrives to visit me in the equipage of
a great lady and if she fails, by mischance, to greet someone of the neighborhood,
they wouldn't fail immediately to say a hundred stupidities. "Do you see,"
they would say, "this madam marchioness who gives herself such glorious
airs? It's the daughter of Monsieur Jourdain, who was all too glad, when
she was little, to play house with us; she's not always been so haughty
as she now is; and her two grandfathers sold cloth near St. Innocent's
Gate. They amassed wealth for their children, they're paying dearly perhaps
for it now in the other world, and one can scarcely get that rich by being
honest." I certainly don't want all that gossip, and I want, in a word,
a man who will be obliged to me for my daughter and to whom I can say,
"Sit down there, my son-in-law, and have dinner with me."
Surely those are the sentiments of a little spirit,
to want to remain always in a base condition. Don't talk back to me: my
daughter will be a marchioness in spite of everyone. And, if you make me
angrier, I'll make a duchess of her.
Cléonte, don't lose courage yet. Follow me,
my daughter, and tell your father resolutely that, if you can't have him,
you don't want to marry anyone.