Home  »  Tartuffe  »  Act V Scene VI

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

Act V Scene VI

’Tis with regret, sir, that I bring bad news;

But urgent danger forces me to do so.

A close and intimate friend of mine, who knows

The interest I take in what concerns you,

Has gone so far, for my sake, as to break

The secrecy that’s due to state affairs,

And sent me word but now, that leaves you only

The one expedient of sudden flight.

The villain who so long imposed upon you,

Found means, an hour ago, to see the prince,

And to accuse you (among other things)

By putting in his hands the private strong-box

Of a state-criminal, whose guilty secret,

You, failing in your duty as a subject,

(He says) have kept. I know no more of it

Save that a warrant’s drawn against you, sir,

And for the greater surety, that same rascal

Comes with the officer who must arrest you.

His rights are armed; and this is how the scoundrel

Seeks to secure the property he claims.

Man is a wicked animal, I’ll own it!

The least delay may still be fatal, sir.

I have my carriage, and a thousand louis,

Provided for your journey, at the door.

Let’s lose no time; the bolt is swift to strike,

And such as only flight can save you from.

I’ll be your guide to seek a place of safety,

And stay with you until you reach it, sir.

How much I owe to your obliging care!

Another time must serve to thank you fitly;

And I pray Heaven to grant me so much favour

That I may some day recompense your service.

Good-bye; see to it, all of you…

Come hurry;

We’ll see to everything that’s needful, brother.