Item of the Day: Moliere in French and English (1732)

Full Title:

Select Comedies of Mr. de Moliere. French and English. In Eight Volumes. With Frontispiece to each Comeddy. To which is Prefix’d a curious Print of the Author, with his Life in French and English. Vol. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8.

Written by Moliere, 1622-1673. French and English on facing pages. Each play has individual title page and pagination. Imprint information and contents from individual title pages. Contents: v. 1. L’avare. The miser. Sganarell, ou le cocu imaginaire. The cuckold in conceit. — v. 2. Le bourgeois gentilhomme. The cit turned gentleman. Le Médecin malgré lui. A doctor and no doctor. — v. 3. L’étourdi, ou les contre-tems. The blunderer, or the counter-plots. Les précieuses ridicules. The conceited ladies. — v. 4. L’école des maris. The school for husbands. L’école des femmes. The school for wives. — v. 5. Tartuffe, ou l’imposteur. Tartuffe, or the imposter. George Dandin, ou le mari confondu. George Dandin, or the husband defeated. — v. 6. Le misantrope. The man-hater. Mondsieur de Pourceaugnac. Squire Lubberly. — v. 7. Amphitrion. Amphitryon. Le mariage forcé. The forc’d marriage. Le Sicilien, ou l’amour peintre. The Sicilian, or love makes a painter. — v. 8. Le malade imaginaire. The hypochondriack. Les fascheux. The impertinents. Printed in London for John Watts at the printing-office in Wild Court near Lincoln’s Inn Fields, 1732.

Dedication:

TO THE QUEEN.

MADAM,
WHen MAJESTY vouchsafes to Patronize the WISE and the LEARNED, and a QUEEN Recommends KNOWLEDGE and VERTUE to her People, what Blessings may we not promise our selves in such happy Circumstances? That this is the great Intention and Business of Your MAJESTY’S Life, witness the Reception, which the Labours of a Clark, a Newton, a Locke, and a Wollaston have met with from Your MAJESTY, and the immortal Honours You have paid their Names. Whatever therefore can any ways conduce to those glorious Ends, need not question Your Royal Approbation and Favour; and upon this presumption MOLIERE casts himself at Your MAJESTY’s Feet for Protection.

This merry Philosopher, MADAM, hath taken as much Pains to laugh Ignorance and Immorality out of the World, as the other great Sages did to reason ’em out; and as the generality of Mankind can stand an Argument better than a Jest, and bear to be told how good they ought to be, with less Concern than to be shewn how ridiculous they are, his Success, we conceive, has not been much inferior.

Your MAJESTY need not be informed how much the Manners and Conduct of a People are dependent on their Diversions; and You are therefore convinced how necessary it is (since Diversions are necessary) to give ’em such as may serve to polish and reform ’em. With this View, MADAM, was the following Translation undertaken. By a Perusal of these Scenes every Reader will plainly perceive, that Obscenities and Immoralities are no ways necessary to make a diverting Comedy; they’ll learn to distinguish betwixt honest Satire, and scurrilous Invective; betwixt decent Repartee, and tasteless Ribaldry; in short, between vicious Satisfactions and rational Pleasures. And if these Plays should come to be read by the generality of People (as Your MAJESTY’s Approbation will unquestionably make ’em) they’ll by degrees get a more just and refined Taste in their Diversions, be better acquainted, and grow more in love with the true Excellencies of Dramatick Writings. By this means our Poets will be encouraged to aim at those Excellencies, and blush to find themselves so much outdone in Manners and Vertue by their Neighbours. Nay, there’s no Reason can possibly be given, MADAM, why these very Pieces should not most of ’em be brought upon the English Stage. For tho’ our Translation of ’em, as it now stands, may be thought too literal and close for that Purpose, yet the Dramatick Writers might, with very little Pains, so model and adapt them to our Theatre and Age, as to procure ’em all the Success could be wish’d; and we may venture to affirm, that ‘twould turn more to their own Account, and the Satisfaction of their Audiences, than any thing they are able to produce themselves. This too they ought to be the more earnest to attempt, as the most probable Means of drawing down a larger Share of Royal Influence on the Stage, which has been too justly forfeited by the licentious Practice of modern Play-wrights.

We might here, MADAM, take occasion to particularize our Author’s Perfections and Excellencies, but those Your MAJESTY wants no Information of. All we shall therefore observe to Your MAJESTY is, that wherever Learning, Wit, and Politeness flourish, MOLIERE has always has an extraordinary Reputation, and his Plays, which are translated into so many Languages, and acted in so many Nations, will gain him Admission as long as the Stage shall endure. But what will contribute more than all to his Glory and Happiness, will be the Patronage of a British PRINCESS, and the Applause of a British Audience.

We dare not think, MADAM, of offering any thing in this Address that might look like Panegyrick, lest the World should condemn us for meddling with a Task above our Talents, and saying too little — Your MAJESTY, for presuming to say any thing at all. There are many Vertues and Perfections, so very peculiar in Your MAJESTY’s Character, and so rarely found amongst the Politicks of Princes, that they require a masterly and deliberate Hand to do ’em Justice —- Such a Zeal for Religion so moderated by Reason, such a benevolent Study for composing all Factions and Dissensions, such a laudable Ambition, which aims at Power only in order to benefit Mankind, and yet such a glorious Contempt, even of Empire it self, when inconsistent with those Principles whose Truth You were satisfy’d of —— These are such elevated and shining Vertues, as even the vicious themselves must have a secret Veneration for —— But as Your MAJESTY’s great Pleasure is privately to merit Applause, not publickly to receive it; for fear we should interrupt you in that noble Delight, we’ll beg Leave to subscribe Our Selves,

May it please Your Majesty,

YOUR MAJESTY’s

Most Obedient,

and most Devoted

Humble Servants,

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Filed under 1730's, Posted by Carrie Shanafelt, Theater

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