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

Act V Scene IV

Good day, good sister. Pray you, let me see

The master of the house.

He’s occupied;

I think he can see nobody at present.

Mr. Loyal
I’m not by way of being unwelcome here.

My coming can, I think, nowise displease him;

My errand will be found to his advantage.

Your name, then?

Mr. Loyal
Tell him simply that his friend

Mr. Tartuffe has sent me, for his goods…

Dorine(to ORGON)
It is a man who comes, with civil manners,

Sent by Tartuffe, he says, upon an errand

That you’ll be pleased with.

Cléante(to ORGON)
Surely you must see him,

And find out who he is, and what he wants.

Orgon(to CLÉANTE)
Perhaps he’s come to make it up between us:

How shall I treat him?

You must not get angry;

And if he talks of reconciliation

Accept it.

Mr. Loyal(to ORGON)
Sir, good-day. And Heaven send

Harm to your enemies, favour to you.

Orgon(aside to CLÉANTE)
This mild beginning suits with my conjectures

And promises some compromise already.

Mr. Loyal
All of your house has long been dear to me;

I had the honour, sir, to serve your father.

Sir, I am much ashamed, and ask your pardon

For not recalling now your face or name.

Mr. Loyal
My name is Loyal. I’m from Normandy.

My office is court-bailiff, in despite

Of envy; and for forty years, thank Heaven,

It’s been my fortune to perform that office

With honour. So I’ve come, sir, by your leave

To render service of a certain writ…

What, you are here to…

Mr. Loyal
Pray, sir, don’t be angry.

’Tis nothing, sir, but just a little summons:—

Order to vacate, you and yours, this house,

Move out your furniture, make room for others,

And that without delay or putting off,

As needs must be…

I? Leave this house?

Mr. Loyal
Yes, please, sir

The house is now, as you well know, of course,

Mr. Tartuffe’s. And he, beyond dispute,

Of all your goods is henceforth lord and master

By virtue of a contract here attached,

Drawn in due form, and unassailable.

Damis(to MR. LOYAL)
Your insolence is monstrous, and astounding!

Mr. Loyal(to DAMIS)
I have no business, sir, that touches you;

(Pointing to ORGON)
This is the gentleman. He’s fair and courteous,

And knows too well a gentleman’s behaviour

To wish in any wise to question justice.


Mr. Loyal
Sir, I know you would not for a million

Wish to rebel; like a good citizen

You’ll let me put in force the court’s decree.

Your long black gown may well, before you know it,

Mister Court-bailiff, get a thorough beating.

Mr. Loyal(to ORGON)
Sir, make your son be silent or withdraw.

I should be loath to have to set things down,

And see your names inscribed in my report.

This Mr. Loyal’s looks are most disloyal.

Mr. Loyal
I have much feeling for respectable

And honest folk like you, sir, and consented

To serve these papers, only to oblige you,

And thus prevent the choice of any other

Who, less possessed of zeal for you than I am

Might order matters in less gentle fashion.

And how could one do worse than order people

Out of their house?

Mr. Loyal
Why, we allow you time;

And even will suspend until to-morrow

The execution of the order, sir.

I’ll merely, without scandal, quietly,

Come here and spend the night, with half a score

Of officers; and just for form’s sake, please,

You’ll bring your keys to me, before retiring.

I will take care not to disturb your rest,

And see there’s no unseemly conduct here.

But by to-morrow, and at early morning,

You must make haste to move your least belongings;

My men will help you—I have chosen strong ones

To serve you, sir, in clearing out the house.

No one could act more generously, I fancy,

And, since I’m treating you with great indulgence,

I beg you’ll do as well by me, and see

I’m not disturbed in my discharge of duty.

I’d give this very minute, and not grudge it,

The hundred best gold louis I have left,

If I could just indulge myself, and land

My fist, for one good square one, on his snout.

Cléante(aside to ORGON)
Careful!—don’t make things worse.

Such insolence!

I hardly can restrain myself. My hands

Are itching to be at him.

By my faith,

With such a fine broad back, good Mr. Loyal,

A little beating would become you well.

Mr. Loyal
My girl, such infamous words are actionable.

And warrants can be issued against women.

Cléante(to MR. LOYAL)
Enough of this discussion, sir; have done.

Give us the paper, and then leave us, pray.

Mr. Loyal
Then au revoir. Heaven keep you from disaster!

May Heaven confound you both, you and your master!