The School for Husbands
SCENE I.--SGANARELLE, ARISTE.
SGAN. Pray, brother, let us talk less, and let each of us live as he likes. Though you have
the advantage of me in years, and are old enough to be wise, yet I tell you that I mean to
receive none of your reproofs; that my fancy is the only counsellor I shall follow, and that
I am quite satisfied with my way of living.
AR. But every one condemns it.
SGAN. Yes, fools like yourself, brother.
AR. Thank you very much. It is a pleasant compliment.
SGAN. I should like to know, since one ought to hear everything, what these fine critics
blame in me.
AR. That surly and austere temper which shuns all the charms of society, gives a
whimsical appearance to all your actions, and makes everything peculiar in you, even
SGAN. I ought then to make myself a slave in fashion, and not to put on clothes for my
own sake? Would you not, my dear elder brother--for, Heaven be thanked, so you are, to
tell you plainly, by a matter of twenty years; and that is not worth the trouble of
mentioning--would you not, I say, by your precious nonsense, persuade me to adopt the
fashions of those young sparks of yours?
[Footnote: The original has vos jeunes muguets, literally "your young lilies of the valley,"
because in former times, according to some annotators, the courtiers wore natural or
artificial lilies of the valley in their buttonholes, and perfumed themselves with the
essence of that flower. I think that muguet is connected with the old French word
musguet, smelling of musk. In Molière's time muguet had become rather antiquated;
hence it was rightly placed in the mouth of Sganarelle, who likes to use such words and
phrases. Rabelais employs it in the eighth chapter of Gargantua, un tas de muguets, and it
has been translated by Sir Thomas Urquhart as "some fond wooers and wench-courters."
The fashion of calling dandies after the name of perfumes is not rare in France. Thus
Regnier speaks of them as marjolets, from marjolaine, sweet marjoram; and Agrippa
d'Aubigné calls them muscadins (a word also connected with the old French musguet),
which name was renewed at the beginning of the first French revolution, and bestowed
on elegants, because they always smelled of musk.]