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S.A. Bent, comp. Familiar Short Sayings of Great Men. 1887.


  • [Originally Jean Baptiste Poquelin, a French actor and dramatist; born in Paris, Jan. 15, 1622; adopted the stage, with a change of name, 1644; opened a theatre in Paris under royal patronage, 1658; produced “Les Précieuses Ridicules,” 1659; “Tartuffe,” 1667; “Le Malade Imaginaire,” 1673, in which year he died.]
  • I recover my property wherever I find it.

  • A translation of the principle of the civil law, Ubi rem meam invenio, ibi vindico. Molière applied it to the case of the appropriation by his early friend, Cyrano de Bergerac, of a scene which was confidentially communicated to him, and which he incorporated, during Molière’s absence in the provinces, in the “Pédant Joué,” II. 4. It contains the celebrated question, “Que diable allait-il faire dans cette galère?” (What the devil was he doing in that galley?) asked of the result of any incautious manœuvre. Molière, on his return to Paris, took possession of his stolen property, in writing “Les Fourberies de Scapin,” where Geronte asks several times the question just quoted. To justify his action Molière said, “Je reprends mon bien où je le trouve.” Emerson (“Letters and Social Aims”) refers the mot to Marmontel, and quoting it, “I pounce on what is mine, wherever I find it,” argues in favor of the assimilation by authors of the literary ideas of other people. The word prends (take) has sometimes been used for reprends (recover). Goethe says, “My work is an aggregation of beings taken from the whole of nature: it bears the name of Goethe.” But Molière, instead of giving a right of conquest of others’ property, which would easily become a right of pillage, cried, in effect, “Stop thief!” when he used the expression so singularly transformed by dropping a syllable. One of Voltaire’s literary maxims was, “Originality is nothing but judicious imitation.”
  • We chat together: he gives me his prescriptions; I never follow them, and so I get well.

  • When asked what use he had of a physician, since he was an habitual valetudinarian, who relied on the temperance of his diet. Being asked by his doctor if he had followed his prescription, “Beau” Nash replied, “If I had, I should have broken my neck; for I threw it out of the second-story window.” When Molière had been sick for some days, his servant announced the visit of a physician: “Tell him,” answered the dramatist, “that I am ill, and see no one.”
  • Because it is more difficult to rule a wife than a kingdom.

  • In answer to the question, why in some kingdoms the king was of age at fourteen years, but could not marry until eighteen.