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Robert Browning (1812–1889). A Blot in the ’Scutcheon.
The Harvard Classics. 1909–14.

Act III Scene I

May lightning strike me dead this very instant,

May I be everywhere proclaimed a scoundrel,

If any reverence or power shall stop me,

And if I don’t do straightway something desperate!

I beg you, moderate this towering passion;

Your father did but merely mention it.

Not all things that are talked of turn to facts;

The road is long, sometimes, from plans to acts.

No, I must end this paltry fellow’s plots,

And he shall hear from me a truth or two.

So ho! Go slow now. Just you leave the fellow—

Your father too—in your step-mother’s hands.

She has some influence with this Tartuffe,

He makes a point of heeding all she says,

And I suspect that he is fond of her.

Would God ’twere true!—’Twould be the height of humour

Now, she has sent for him, in your behalf,

To sound him on this marriage, to find out

What his ideas are, and to show him plainly

What troubles he may cause, if he persists

In giving countenance to this design.

His man says, he’s at prayers, I mustn’t see him,

But likewise says, he’ll presently be down.

So off with you, and let me wait for him.

I may be present at this interview.

No, no! They must be left alone.

I won’t

So much as speak to him.

Go on! We know you

And your high tantrums. Just the way to spoil things!

Be off.

No, I must see—I’ll keep my temper.

Out on you, what a plague! He’s coming. Hide!

(DAMIS goes and hides in the closet at the back of the stage.)