Phil. Never was seen a man so hard to manage,
Or compromise so difficult to make;
In vain they tried to move him every way,
They could n't drag him from his fixed opinion;
And never did so strange an altercation,
Methinks, employ the wisdom of the Marshals.
"No, gentlemen," he said, "I 'll not retract;
I will agree to all you please, except
This one point. What is he offended at?
What does he want of me? Does it reflect
Upon his honour, if he can't write well?
What odds to him is my opinion, which
He took so much amiss; a man may be
A perfect gentleman, and write poor verse.
These matters do not raise the point of honour.
I hold him a true man in all respects,
Brave, worthy, noble, anything you will,
But still, a wretched writer. I will praise,
If you desire, his lavish style of living,
His skill in horsemanship, in arms, in dancing;
But for his verse, I beg to be excused;
And if a man has not the luck to write
Better than that, he ought to give up rhyming,
Unless condemned to it on pain of death."
In short, the only favour or concession
He could with effort bring himself to grant,
Was saying (as he thought, in gentler style):
"I'm sorry, sir, that I'm so hard to please,
And for your sake I wish with all my heart
I could have liked your recent sonnet better."
Whereon the Marshals forced them to embrace,
And hastily hushed up the whole affair.
Elia. His ways are very strange; yet I must own
That I esteem him above other men;
And this sincerity he makes a point of
Has something noble and heroic in it.
'T is a rare virtue now-a-days. I wish
That everyone took pattern after him.
Phil. The more I see of him, the more amazed
I am to see this passion he 's enslaved to.
With such a character as heaven gave him,
I don't know how he ever came to love
At all; and even less how it could be
Your cousin that his fancy fixed upon.
Elia. This only goes to show love does n't always
Depend on harmony of humours; all
Their theories of sympathetic souls
Are pretty, but the present case belies them.
Phil. But do you think he 's loved, from what we see?
Elia. That is a point not easy to determine.
Does she love him or not?--how can we judge,
When her own heart's not sure of what it feels?
She loves sometimes without quite knowing it,
And thinks she loves, too, sometimes, when she does n't.
Phil. I think our friend is very like to have
More trouble than he looks for, with your cousin;
And, to be frank, if he but felt as I do,
He'd look in quite a different direction,
And by a fitter choice would take advantage,
Madam, of that kind favour you accord him.
Elia. For my part, I don't try to hide my feelings,
And think, in such things, we should be straight- forward.
I don't oppose his ardent love for her,
But rather do my best to forward it;
And if the matter could depend on me,
I should unite him with the one he loves.
But if (since anything is possible)
The fates should thwart him in his choice, and if
Another's love be crowned with more success,
I could be glad, then, to receive his homage;
His having been refused, in such a case,
Would cause me no aversion.
Phil. For my part,
I likewise don't oppose your kindness, madam.
For him; and he can tell you, if he will,
What I have said to him upon that point.
But if their marriage once for all prevented
His suit to you, then I should do my utmost
To win that favour which your generous heart
Now grants to him; and count myself most happy
If what he misses might descend to me.
Elia. Philinte, you 're jesting.
Phil. Madam, I am speaking
Now from my inmost heart. I wait the chance
To make this offer unreservedly,
And all my hopes are eager for that moment.
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Book title: Poetic Drama:An Anthology of Plays in Verse from the Ancient Greek to the Modern American. Contributors: Alfred Kreymborg - Editor. Publisher: Modern Age Books. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1941. Page number: 514.
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