Rostand's hero has become a figure of theatrical legend: Cyrano, with the nose of a clown and the soul of a poet, is by turns comic and sad, as reckless in love as in war, and never at a loss for words. Audiences immediately took him to their hearts, and since the triumphant opening night in December 1897 - at the height of the Dreyfus Affair - the play has never lost its appeal.
This etext was prepared by Sue AsscherA Play in Five Acts
Translated from the French by Gladys Thomas and Mary F. GuillemardCYRANO DE BERGERAC
CHRISTIAN DE NEUVILLETTE
COUNT DE GUICHE
CARBON DE CASTEL-JALOUX
A SECOND LACKEY
A SPANISH OFFICER
BERTRAND THE FIFER
THE PASTRY COOKS
The crowd, troopers, burghers (male and female), marquises, musketeers, pickpockets, pastry-cooks, poets, Gascons cadets, actors (male and female), violinists, pages, children, soldiers, Spaniards, spectators (male and female), precieuses, nuns, etc.A Representation at the Hotel de Bourgogne.
The hall of the Hotel de Bourgogne, in 1640. A sort of tennis-court arranged and decorated for a theatrical performance.
The hall is oblong and seen obliquely, so that one of its sides forms the back of the right foreground, and meeting the left background makes an angle with the stage, which is partly visible.
On both sides of the stage are benches. The curtain is composed of two tapestries which can be drawn aside. Above a harlequin's mantle are the royal arms. There are broad steps from the stage to the hall; on either side of these steps are the places for the violinists. Footlights.
Two rows, one over the other, of side galleries: the highest divided into boxes. No seats in the pit of the hall, which is the real stage of the theater; at the back of the pit, i.e., on the right foreground, some benches forming steps, and underneath, a staircase which leads to the upper seats. An improvised buffet ornamented with little lusters, vases, glasses, plates of tarts, cakes, bottles, etc.
The entrance to the theater is in the center of the background, under the gallery of the boxes. A large door, half open to let in the spectators. On the panels of this door, in different corners, and over the buffet, red placards bearing the words, 'La Clorise.'
At the rising of the curtain the hall is in semi-darkness, and still empty. The lusters are lowered in the middle of the pit ready to be lighted.The public, arriving by degrees. Troopers, burghers, lackeys, pages, a pickpocket, the doorkeeper, etc., followed by the marquises. Cuigy, Brissaille, the buffet-girl, the violinists, etc.
(A confusion of loud voices is heard outside the door. A trooper enters hastily.)THE DOORKEEPER (following him):
Hollo! You there! Your money!
THE TROOPER:I enter gratis.
THE TROOPER:Why? I am of the King's Household Cavalry, 'faith!
THE DOORKEEPER (to another trooper who enters):And you?
SECOND TROOPER:I pay nothing.
THE DOORKEEPER:How so?
SECOND TROOPER:I am a musketeer.
FIRST TROOPER (to the second):The play will not begin till two. The pit is empty. Come, a bout with thefoils to pass the time.
(They fence with the foils they have brought.)
A LACKEY (entering):Pst. . .Flanquin. . .!
ANOTHER (already there):Champagne?. . .
THE FIRST (showing him cards and dice which he takes from his doublet):See, here be cards and dice.(He seats himself on the floor):Let's play.
THE SECOND (doing the same):Good; I am with you, villain!
FIRST LACKEY (taking from his pocket a candle-end, which he lights, and sticks on the floor):I made free to provide myself with light at my master's expense!
A GUARDSMAN (to a shop-girl who advances):'Twas prettily done to come before the lights were lit!
(He takes her round the waist.)
ONE OF THE FENCERS (receiving a thrust):A hit!
ONE OF THE CARD-PLAYERS:Clubs!
THE GUARDSMAN (following the girl):A kiss!
THE SHOP-GIRL (struggling to free herself):They're looking!
THE GUARDSMAN (drawing her to a dark corner):No fear! No one can see!
A MAN (sitting on the ground with others, who have brought their provisions):By coming early, one can eat in comfort.
A BURGHER (conducting his son):Let us sit here, son.
A CARD-PLAYER:Triple ace!
A MAN (taking a bottle from under his cloak,and also seating himself on the floor):A tippler may well quaff his Burgundy(he drinks):in the Burgundy Hotel!
THE BURGHER (to his son):'Faith! A man might think he had fallen in a bad house here!(He points with his cane to the drunkard):What with topers!(One of the fencers in breaking off, jostles him):brawlers!(He stumbles into the midst of the card-players):gamblers!
THE GUARDSMAN (behind him, still teasing the shop-girl):Come, one kiss!
THE BURGHER (hurriedly pulling his son away):By all the holies! And this, my boy, is the theater where they playedRotrou erewhile.
THE YOUNG MAN:Ay, and Corneille!
A TROOP OF PAGES (hand-in-hand, enter dancing the farandole, and singing):Tra' a la, la, la, la, la, la, la, lere. . .
THE DOORKEEPER (sternly, to the pages):You pages there, none of your tricks!. . .
FIRST PAGE (with an air of wounded dignity):Oh, sir!--such a suspicion!. . .(Briskly, to the second page, the moment the doorkeeper's back is turned):Have you string?
THE SECOND:Ay, and a fish-hook with it.
FIRST PAGE:We can angle for wigs, then, up there i' th' gallery.
A PICKPOCKET (gathering about him some evil-looking youths):Hark ye, young cut-purses, lend an ear, while I give you your first lessonin thieving.
SECOND PAGE (calling up to others in the top galleries):You there! Have you peashooters?
THIRD PAGE (from above):Ay, have we, and peas withal!
(He blows, and peppers them with peas.)
THE YOUNG MAN (to his father):What piece do they give us?
THE YOUNG MAN:Who may the author be?
THE BURGHER:Master Balthazar Baro. It is a play!. . .
(He goes arm-in-arm with his son.)
THE PICKPOCKET (to his pupils):Have a care, above all, of the lace knee-ruffles--cut them off!
A SPECTATOR (to another, showing him a corner in the gallery):I was up there, the first night of the 'Cid.'
THE PICKPOCKET (making with his fingers the gesture of filching):Thus for watches--
THE BURGHER (coming down again with his son):Ah! You shall presently see some renowned actors. . .
THE PICKPOCKET (making the gestures of one who pulls something stealthily, with little jerks):Thus for handkerchiefs--
THE BURGHER:Montfleury. . .
SOME ONE (shouting from the upper gallery):Light up, below there!
THE BURGHER:. . .Bellerose, L'Epy, La Beaupre, Jodelet!
A PAGE (in the pit):Here comes the buffet-girl!
THE BUFFET-GIRL (taking her place behind the buffet):Oranges, milk, raspberry-water, cedar bitters!
(A hubbub outside the door is heard.)
A FALSETTO VOICE:Make place, brutes!
A LACKEY (astonished):The Marquises!--in the pit?. . .
ANOTHER LACKEY:Oh! only for a minute or two!
(Enter a band of young marquises.)
A MARQUIS (seeing that the hall is half empty):What now! So we make our entrance like a pack of woolen-drapers!Peaceably, without disturbing the folk, or treading on their toes!--Oh, fie!Fie!(Recognizing some other gentlemen who have entered a little before him):Cuigy! Brissaille!
(Greetings and embraces.)
CUIGY:True to our word!. . .Troth, we are here before the candles are lit.
THE MARQUIS:Ay, indeed! Enough! I am of an ill humor.
ANOTHER:Nay, nay, Marquis! see, for your consolation, they are coming to light up!
ALL THE AUDIENCE (welcoming the entrance of the lighter):Ah!. . .
(They form in groups round the lusters as they are lit. Some people have taken their seats in the galleries. Ligniere, a distinguished-looking roue, with disordered shirt-front arm-in-arm with christian de Neuvillette. Christian, who is dressed elegantly, but rather behind the fashion, seems preoccupied, and keeps looking at the boxes.)The same. Christian, Ligniere, then Ragueneau and Le Bret.
BRISSAILLE (laughing):Not drunk as yet?
LIGNIERE (aside to Christian):I may introduce you?(Christian nods in assent):Baron de Neuvillette.
THE AUDIENCE (applauding as the first luster is lighted and drawn up):Ah!
CUIGY (to Brissaille, looking at Christian):'Tis a pretty fellow!
FIRST MARQUIS (who has overheard):Pooh!
LIGNIERE (introducing them to Christian):My lords De Cuigy. De Brissaille. . .
CHRISTIAN (bowing):Delighted!. . .
FIRST MARQUIS (to second):He is not ill to look at, but certes, he is not costumed in the latest mode.
LIGNIERE (to Cuigy):This gentleman comes from Touraine.
CHRISTIAN:Yes, I have scarce been twenty days in Paris; tomorrow I join the Guards, inthe Cadets.
FIRST MARQUIS (watching the people who are coming into the boxes):There is the wife of the Chief-Justice.
THE BUFFET-GIRL:Oranges, milk. . .
THE VIOLINISTS (tuning up):La--la--
CUIGY (to Christian, pointing to the hall, which is filling fast):'Tis crowded.
FIRST MARQUIS:All the great world!
(They recognize and name the different elegantly dressed ladies who enter the boxes, bowing low to them. The ladies send smiles in answer.)SECOND MARQUIS:
Madame de Guemenee.
CUIGY:Madame de Bois-Dauphin.
FIRST MARQUIS:Adored by us all!
BRISSAILLE:Madame de Chavigny. . .
SECOND MARQUIS:Who sports with our poor hearts!. . .
LIGNIERE:Ha! so Monsieur de Corneille has come back from Rouen!
THE YOUNG MAN (to his father):Is the Academy here?
THE BURGHER:Oh, ay, I see several of them. There is Boudu, Boissat,and Cureau de la Chambre, Porcheres, Colomby, Bourzeys,Bourdon, Arbaud. . .all names that will live! 'Tis fine!
FIRST MARQUIS:Attention! Here come our precieuses; Barthenoide, Urimedonte, Cassandace,Felixerie. . .
SECOND MARQUIS:Ah! How exquisite their fancy names are! Do you know them all, Marquis?
FIRST MARQUIS:Ay, Marquis, I do, every one!
LIGNIERE (drawing Christian aside):Friend, I but came here to give you pleasure. The lady comes not. I willbetake me again to my pet vice.
CHRISTIAN (persuasively):No, no! You, who are ballad-maker to Court and City alike, can tell mebetter than any who the lady is for whom I die of love. Stay yet awhile.
THE FIRST VIOLIN (striking his bow on the desk):Gentlemen violinists!
(He raises his bow.)
THE BUFFET-GIRL:Macaroons, lemon-drink. . .
(The violins begin to play.)
CHRISTIAN:Ah! I fear me she is coquettish, and over nice and fastidious!I, who am so poor of wit, how dare I speak to her--how address her?This language that they speak to-day--ay, and write--confounds me;I am but an honest soldier, and timid withal. She has ever her place,there, on the right--the empty box, see you!
LIGNIERE (making as if to go):I must go.
CHRISTIAN (detaining him):Nay, stay.
LIGNIERE:I cannot. D'Assoucy waits me at the tavern, and here one dies of thirst.
THE BUFFET-GIRL (passing before him with a tray):Orange drink?
LIGNIERE:Stay.(To Christian):I will remain awhile.--Let me taste this rivesalte.
(He sits by the buffet; the girl pours some out for him.)
CRIES (from all the audience, at the entrance of a plump little man, joyously excited):Ah! Ragueneau!
LIGNIERE (to Christian):'Tis the famous tavern-keeper Ragueneau.
RAGUENEAU (dressed in the Sunday clothes of a pastry-cook, going up quickly to Ligniere):Sir, have you seen Monsieur de Cyrano?
LIGNIERE (introducing him to Christian):The pastry-cook of the actors and the poets!
RAGUENEAU (overcome):You do me too great honor. . .
LIGNIERE:Nay, hold your peace, Maecenas that you are!
RAGUENEAU:True, these gentlemen employ me. . .
LIGNIERE:On credit!He is himself a poet of a pretty talent. . .
RAGUENEAU:So they tell me.
LIGNIERE:--Mad after poetry!
RAGUENEAU:'Tis true that, for a little ode. . .
LIGNIERE:You give a tart. . .
LIGNIERE:Brave fellow! He would fain fain excuse himself!--And for a triolet, now, did you not give in exchange. . .
RAGUENEAU:Some little rolls!
LIGNIERE (severely):They were milk-rolls! And as for the theater, which you love?
RAGUENEAU:Oh! to distraction!
LIGNIERE:How pay you your tickets, ha?--with cakes.Your place, to-night, come tell me in my ear, what did it cost you?
RAGUENEAU:Four custards, and fifteen cream-puffs.(He looks around on all sides):Monsieur de Cyrano is not here? 'Tis strange.
LIGNIERE:Ay, 'tis true that that old wine-barrel is to take Phedon's part to-night;but what matter is that to Cyrano?
RAGUENEAU:How? Know you not? He has got a hot hate for Montfleury, and so!--hasforbid him strictly to show his face on the stage for one whole month.
LIGNIERE (drinking his fourth glass):Well?
RAGUENEAU:Montfleury will play!
CUIGY:He can not hinder that.
RAGUENEAU:Oh! oh! that I have come to see!
FIRST MARQUIS:Who is this Cyrano?
CUIGY:A fellow well skilled in all tricks of fence.
SECOND MARQUIS:Is he of noble birth?
CUIGY:Ay, noble enough. He is a cadet in the Guards.(Pointing to a gentleman who is going up and down the hall as if searching for some one):But 'tis his friend Le Bret, yonder, who can best tell you.(He calls him):Le Bret!(Le Bret comes towards them):Seek you for De Bergerac?
LE BRET:Ay, I am uneasy. . .
CUIGY:Is it not true that he is the strangest of men?
LE BRET (tenderly):True, that he is the choicest of earthly beings!
LIGNIERE:And of how fantastic a presence!
RAGENEAU:Marry, 'twould puzzle even our grim painter Philippe de Champaigne toportray him! Methinks, whimsical, wild, comical as he is, only JacquesCallot, now dead and gone, had succeeded better, and had made of him themaddest fighter of all his visored crew--with his triple-plumed beaver andsix-pointed doublet--the sword-point sticking up 'neath his mantle like aninsolent cocktail! He's prouder than all the fierce Artabans of whom Gasconyhas ever been and will ever be the prolific Alma Mater! Above his Toby ruffhe carries a nose!--ah, good my lords, what a nose is his! When one sees itone is fain to cry aloud, 'Nay! 'tis too much! He plays a joke on us!' Thenone laughs, says 'He will anon take it off.' But no!--Monsieur de Bergeracalways keeps it on.
LE BRET (throwing back his head):He keeps it on--and cleaves in two any man who dares remark on it!
RAGUENEAU (proudly):His sword--'tis one half of the Fates' shears!
FIRST MARQUIS (shrugging his shoulders):He will not come!
RAGUENEAU:I say he will! and I wager a fowl--a la Ragueneau.
THE MARQUIS (laughing):Good!
(Murmurs of admiration in hall. Roxane has just appeared in her box. She seats herself in front, the duenna at the back. Christian, who is paying the buffet-girl, does not see her entrance.)SECOND MARQUIS (with little cries of joy):
Ah, gentlemen! she is fearfully--terribly--ravishing!
FIRST MARQUIS:When one looks at her one thinks of a peach smiling at a strawberry!
SECOND MARQUIS:And what freshness! A man approaching her too near might chance to get abad chill at the heart!
CHRISTIAN (raising his head, sees Roxane, and catches Ligniere by the arm):'Tis she!
LIGNIERE:Ah! is it she?
CHRISTIAN:Ay, tell me quick--I am afraid.
LIGNIERE (tasting his rivesalte in sips):Magdaleine Robin--Roxane, so called! A subtle wit--a precieuse.
CHRISTIAN:Woe is me!
LIGNIERE:Free. An orphan. The cousin of Cyrano, of whom we were now speaking.
(At this moment an elegant nobleman, with blue ribbon across his breast, enters the box, and talks with Roxane, standing.)CHRISTIAN (starting):
Who is yonder man?
LIGNIERE (who is becoming tipsy, winking at him):Ha! ha! Count de Guiche. Enamored of her. But wedded to the niece ofArmand de Richelieu. Would fain marry Roxane to a certain sorry fellow, oneMonsieur de Valvert, a viscount--and--accommodating! She will none of thatbargain; but De Guiche is powerful, and can persecute the daughter of a plainuntitled gentleman. More by token, I myself have exposed this cunning plan ofhis to the world, in a song which. . .Ho! he must rage at me! The end hithome. . .Listen!
(He gets up staggering, and raises his glass, ready to sing.)
LIGNIERE:Where go you?
CHRISTIAN:To Monsieur de Valvert!
LIGNIERE:Have a care! It is he who will kill you(showing him Roxane by a look):Stay where you are--she is looking at you.
CHRISTIAN:It is true!
(He stands looking at her. The group of pickpockets seeing him thus, head in air and open-mouthed, draw near to him.)LIGNIERE:
'Tis I who am going. I am athirst! And they expect me--in the taverns!
(He goes out, reeling.)
LE BRET (who has been all round the hall, coming back to Ragueneau reassured):No sign of Cyrano.
RAGUENEAU (incredulously):All the same. . .
LE BRET:A hope is left to me--that he has not seen the playbill!
THE AUDIENCE:Begin, begin!The same, all but Ligniere. De Guiche, Valvert, then Montfleury.
A marquis (watching De Guiche, who comes down from Roxane's box, and crosses the pit surrounded by obsequious noblemen, among them the Viscount de Valvert):He pays a fine court, your De Guiche!
ANOTHER:Faugh!. . .Another Gascon!
THE FIRST:Ay, but the cold, supple Gascon--that is the stuff success is made of!Believe me, we had best make our bow to him.
(They go toward De Guiche.)
SECOND MARQUIS:What fine ribbons! How call you the color, Count de Guiche? 'Kiss me, mydarling,' or 'Timid Fawn?'
DE GUICHE:'Tis the color called 'Sick Spaniard.'
FIRST MARQUIS:'Faith! The color speaks truth, for, thanks to your valor, things will soongo ill for Spain in Flanders.
DE GUICHE:I go on the stage! Will you come?(He goes toward the stage, followed by the marquises and gentlemen. Turning, he calls):Come you Valvert!
CHRISTIAN (who is watching and listening, starts on hearing this name):The Viscount! Ah! I will throw full in his face my. . .(He puts his hand in his pocket, and finds there the hand of a pickpocket who is about to rob him. He turns round):Hey?
CHRISTIAN (holding him tightly):I was looking for a glove.
THE PICKPOCKET (smiling piteously):And you find a hand.(Changing his tone, quickly and in a whisper):Let me but go, and I will deliver you a secret.
CHRISTIAN (still holding him):What is it?
THE PICKPOCKET:Ligniere. . .he who has just left you. . .
CHRISTIAN (same play):Well?
THE PICKPOCKET:His life is in peril. A song writ by him has given offense in high places--and a hundred men--I am of them--are posted to-night. . .
CHRISTIAN:A hundred men! By whom posted?
THE PICKPOCKET:I may not say--a secret. . .
CHRISTIAN (shrugging his shoulders):Oh!
THE PICKPOCKET (with great dignity):. . .Of the profession.
CHRISTIAN:Where are they posted?
THE PICKPOCKET:At the Porte de Nesle. On his way homeward. Warn him.
CHRISTIAN (letting go of his wrists):But where can I find him?
THE PICKPOCKET:Run round to all the taverns--The Golden Wine Press, the Pine Cone, The Beltthat Bursts, The Two Torches, The Three Funnels, and at each leave a word thatshall put him on his guard.
CHRISTIAN:Good--I fly! Ah, the scoundrels! A hundred men 'gainst one!(Looking lovingly at Roxane):Ah, to leave her!. . .(looking with rage at Valvert):and him!. . .But save Ligniere I must!
(He hurries out. De Guiche, the viscount, the marquises, have all disappeared behind the curtain to take their places on the benches placed on the stage. The pit is quite full; the galleries and boxes are also crowded.)THE AUDIENCE:
A BURGHER (whose wig is drawn up on the end of a string by a page in the upper gallery):My wig!
CRIES OF DELIGHT:He is bald! Bravo, pages--ha! ha! ha!. . .
THE BURGHER (furious, shaking his fist):Young villain!
LAUGHTER AND CRIES (beginning very loud, and dying gradually away):Ha! ha! ha! ha! ha! ha!
LE BRET (astonished):What means this sudden silence?. . .(A spectator says something to him in a low voice):Is't true?
THE SPECTATOR:I have just heard it on good authority.
MURMURS (spreading through the hall):Hush! Is it he? No! Ay, I say!In the box with the bars in front!The Cardinal! The Cardinal! The Cardinal!
A PAGE:The devil! We shall have to behave ourselves. . .
(A knock is heard upon the stage. Every one is motionless. A pause.)
THE VOICE OF A MARQUIS (in the silence, behind the curtain):Snuff that candle!
ANOTHER MARQUIS (putting his head through the opening in the curtain):A chair!
(A chair is passed from hand to hand, over the heads of the spectators. The marquis takes it and disappears, after blowing some kisses to the boxes.)A SPECTATOR:
(Three knocks are heard on the stage. The curtain opens in the centre Tableau. The marquises in insolent attitudes seated on each side of the stage. The scene represents a pastoral landscape. Four little lusters light the stage; the violins play softly.)LE BRET (in a low voice to Ragueneau):
Montfleury comes on the scene?
RAGUENEAU (also in a low voice):Ay, 'tis he who begins.
LE BRET:Cyrano is not here.
RAGUENEAU:I have lost my wager.
LE BRET:'Tis all the better!
(An air on the drone-pipes is heard, and Montfleury enters, enormously stout, in an Arcadian shepherd's dress, a hat wreathed with roses drooping over one ear, blowing into a ribboned drone pipe.)THE PIT (applauding):
Bravo, Montfleury! Montfleury!
MONTFLEURY (after bowing low, begins the part of Phedon):'Heureux qui loin des cours, dans un lieu solitaire,Se prescrit a soi-meme un exil volontaire,Et qui, lorsque Zephire a souffle sur les bois. . .'
A VOICE (from the middle of the pit):Villain! Did I not forbid you to show your face here for month?
(General stupor. Every one turns round. Murmurs.)
DIFFERENT VOICES:Hey?--What?--What is't?. . .
(The people stand up in the boxes to look.)
LE BRET (terrified):Cyrano!
THE VOICE:King of clowns! Leave the stage this instant!
ALL THE AUDIENCE (indignantly):Oh!
MONTFLEURY:But. . .
THE VOICE:Do you dare defy me?
DIFFERENT VOICES (from the pit and the boxes):Peace! Enough!--Play on, Montfleury--fear nothing!
MONTFLEURY (in a trembling voice):'Heureux qui loin des cours, dans un lieu sol--'
THE VOICE (more fiercely):Well! Chief of all the blackguards, must I come and give you a taste of my cane?
(A hand holding a cane starts up over the heads of the spectators.)
MONTFLEURY (in a voice that trembles more and more):'Heureux qui. . .'
(The cane is shaken.)
THE VOICE:Off the stage!
MONTFLEURY (choking):'Heureux qui loin des cours. . .'
CYRANO (appearing suddenly in the pit, standing on a chair, his arms crossed, his beaver cocked fiercely, his mustache bristling, his nose terrible to see):Ah! I shall be angry in a minute!. . .
(Sensation.)The same. Cyrano, then Bellerose, Jodelet.
MONTFLEURY (to the marquises):Come to my help, my lords!
A MARQUIS (carelessly):Go on! Go on!
CYRANO:Fat man, take warning! If you go on, IShall feel myself constrained to cuff your face!
THE MARQUIS:Have done!
CYRANO:And if these lords hold not their tongueShall feel constrained to make them taste my cane!
ALL THE MARQUISES (rising):Enough!. . .Montfleury. . .
CYRANO:If he goes not quickI will cut off his ears and slit him up!
A VOICE:But. . .
CYRANO:Out he goes!
ANOTHER VOICE:Yet. . .
CYRANO:Is he not gone yet?(He makes the gesture of turning up his cuffs):Good! I shall mount the stage now, buffet-wise,To carve this fine Italian sausage--thus!
MONTFLEURY (trying to be dignified):You outrage Thalia in insulting me!
CYRANO (very politely):If that Muse, Sir, who knows you not at all,Could claim acquaintance with you--oh, believe(Seeing how urn-like, fat, and slow you are)That she would make you taste her buskin's sole!
THE PIT:Montfleury! Montfleury! Come--Baro's play!
CYRANO (to those who are calling out):I pray you have a care! If you go onMy scabbard soon will render up its blade!
(The circle round him widens.)
THE CROWD (drawing back):Take care!
CYRANO (to Montfleury):Leave the stage!
THE CROWD (coming near and grumbling):Oh!--
CYRANO:Did some one speak?
(They draw back again.)
A VOICE (singing at the back):Monsieur de CyranoDisplays his tyrannies:A fig for tyrants! What, ho!Come! Play us 'La Clorise!'
ALL THE PIT (singing):'La Clorise!' 'La Clorise!'. . .
CYRANO:Let me but hear once more that foolish rhyme,I slaughter every man of you.
A BURGHER:Oh! Samson?
CYRANO:Yes Samson! Will you lend your jawbone, Sir?
A LADY (in the boxes):Outrageous!
A BURGHER:'Tis most annoying!
A PAGE:Fair good sport!
THE PIT:Kss!--Montfleury. . .Cyrano!
THE PIT (wildly excited):Ho-o-o-o-h! Quack! Cock-a-doodle-doo!
CYRANO:I order silence, all!And challenge the whole pit collectively!--I write your names!--Approach, young heroes, here!Each in his turn! I cry the numbers out!--Now which of you will come to ope the lists?You, Sir? No! You? No! The first duellistShall be dispatched by me with honors due!Let all who long for death hold up their hands!(A silence):Modest? You fear to see my naked blade?Not one name?--Not one hand?--Good, I proceed!(Turning toward the stage, where Montfleury waits in an agony):The theater's too full, congested,--IWould clear it out. . .If not. . .(Puts his hand on his sword):The knife must act!
MONTFLEURY:I. . .
CYRANO (leaves his chair, and settles himself in the middle of the circle which has formed):I will clap my hands thrice, thus--full moon! At the third clap, eclipse yourself!
THE PIT (amused):Ah!
CYRANO (clapping his hands):One!
MONTFLEURY:I. . .
A VOICE (in the boxes):Stay!
THE PIT:He stays. . .he goes. . .he stays. . .
MONTFLEURY:I think. . .Gentlemen,. . .
MONTFLEURY:I think 'twere wisest. . .
(Montfleury disappears as through a trap. Tempest of laughs, whistling cries, etc.)
THE WHOLE HOUSE:Coward. . .come back!
CYRANO (delighted, sits back in his chair, arms crossed):Come back an if you dare!
A BURGHER:Call for the orator!
(Bellerose comes forward and bows.)
THE BOXES:Ah! here's Bellerose!
BELLEROSE (elegantly):My noble lords. . .
THE PIT:No! no! Jodelet!
JODELET (advancing, speaking through his nose):Calves!
THE PIT:Ah! bravo! good! go on!
JODELET:No bravos, Sirs!The fat tragedian whom you all loveFelt. . .
JODELET:. . .was obliged to go.
THE PIT:Come back!
A YOUNG MAN (to Cyrano):But pray, Sir, for what reason, say,Hate you Montfleury?
CYRANO (graciously, still seated):Youthful gander, knowI have two reasons--either will suffice.Primo. An actor villainous! who mouths,And heaves up like a bucket from a wellThe verses that should, bird-like, fly! Secundo--That is my secret. . .
THE OLD BURGHER (behind him):Shameful! You deprive usOf the 'Clorise!' I must insist. . .
CYRANO (turning his chair toward the burgher, respectfully):Old mule!The verses of old Baro are not worthA doit! I'm glad to interrupt. . .
THE PRECIEUSES (in the boxes):Our Baro!--My dear! How dares he venture!. . .
CYRANO (turning his chair toward the boxes gallantly):Fairest ones,Radiate, bloom, hold to our lips the cupOf dreams intoxicating, Hebe-like!Or, when death strikes, charm death with your sweet smiles;Inspire our verse, but--criticise it not!
BELLEROSE:We must give back the entrance fees!
CYRANO (turning his chair toward the stage):Bellerose,You make the first intelligent remark!Would I rend Thespis' sacred mantle? Nay!(He rises and throws a bag on the stage):Catch then the purse I throw, and hold your peace!
THE HOUSE (dazzled):Ah! Oh!
JODELET (catching the purse dexterously and weighing it):At this price, you've authorityTo come each night, and stop 'Clorise,' Sir!
THE PIT:Ho!. . .Ho! Ho!. . .
JODELET:E'en if you chase us in a pack!. . .
BELLEROSE:Clear out the hall!. . .
JODELET:Get you all gone at once!
(The people begin to go out, while Cyrano looks on with satisfaction. But the crowd soon stop on hearing the following scene, and remain where they are. The women, who, with their mantles on, are already standing up in the boxes, stop to listen, and finally reseat themselves.)LE BRET (to Cyrano):
'Tis mad!. . .
A BORE (coming up to Cyrano):The actor Montfleury! 'Tis shameful!Why, he's protected by the Duke of Candal!Have you a patron?
THE BORE:No patron?. . .
THE BORE:What! no great lord to shield you with his name?
CYRANO (irritated):No, I have told you twice! Must I repeat?No! no protector. . .(His hand on his sword):A protectress. . .here!
THE BORE:But you must leave the town?
CYRANO:Well, that depends!
THE BORE:The Duke has a long arm!
CYRANO:But not so longAs mine, when it is lengthened out. . .(Shows his sword):As thus!
THE BORE:You think not to contend?
CYRANO:'Tis my idea!
THE BORE:But. . .
CYRANO:Show your heels! now!
THE BORE:But I. . .
CYRANO:Or tell me why you stare so at my nose!
THE BORE (staggered):I. . .
CYRANO (walking straight up to him):Well, what is there strange?
THE BORE (drawing back):Your Grace mistakes!
CYRANO:How now? Is't soft and dangling, like a trunk?. . .
THE BORE (same play):I never. . .
CYRANO:Is it crook'd, like an owl's beak?
THE BORE:I. . .
CYRANO:Do you see a wart upon the tip?
THE BORE:Nay. . .
CYRANO:Or a fly, that takes the air there? WhatIs there to stare at?
THE BORE:Oh. . .
CYRANO:What do you see?
THE BORE:But I was careful not to look--knew better.
CYRANO:And why not look at it, an if you please?
THE BORE:I was. . .
CYRANO:Oh! it disgusts you!
CYRANO:Its hueUnwholesome seems to you?
CYRANO:Or its shape?
THE BORE:No, on the contrary!. . .
CYRANO:Why then that airDisparaging?--perchance you think it large?
THE BORE (stammering):No, small, quite small--minute!
CYRANO:Minute! What now?Accuse me of a thing ridiculous!Small--my nose?
THE BORE:Heaven help me!
CYRANO:'Tis enormous!Old Flathead, empty-headed meddler, knowThat I am proud possessing such appendice.'Tis well known, a big nose is indicativeOf a soul affable, and kind, and courteous,Liberal, brave, just like myself, and suchAs you can never dare to dream yourself,Rascal contemptible! For that witless faceThat my hand soon will come to cuff--is allAs empty. . .
(He cuffs him.)
CYRANO:--of pride, of aspiration,Of feeling, poetry--of godlike sparkOf all that appertains to my big nose,(He turns him by the shoulders, suiting the action to the word):As. . .what my boot will shortly come and kick!
THE BORE (running away):Help! Call the Guard!
CYRANO:Take notice, boobies all,Who find my visage's center ornamentA thing to jest at--that it is my wont--An if the jester's noble--ere we partTo let him taste my steel, and not my boot!
DE GUICHE (who, with the marquises, has come down from the stage):But he becomes a nuisance!
THE VISCOUNT DE VALVERT (shrugging his shoulders):Swaggerer!
DE GUICHE:Will no one put him down?. . .
THE VISCOUNT:No one? But wait!I'll treat him to. . .one of my quips!. . .See here!. . .(He goes up to Cyrano, who is watching him, and with a conceited air):Sir, your nose is. . .hmm. . .it is. . .very big!
THE VISCOUNT (laughing):Ha!
CYRANO (imperturbably):Is that all?. . .
THE VISCOUNT:What do you mean?
CYRANO:Ah no! young blade! That was a trifle short!You might have said at least a hundred thingsBy varying the tone. . .like this, suppose,. . .Aggressive: 'Sir, if I had such a noseI'd amputate it!' Friendly: 'When you supIt must annoy you, dipping in your cup;You need a drinking-bowl of special shape!'Descriptive: ''Tis a rock!. . .a peak!. . .a cape!--A cape, forsooth! 'Tis a peninsular!'Curious: 'How serves that oblong capsular?For scissor-sheath? Or pot to hold your ink?'Gracious: 'You love the little birds, I think?I see you've managed with a fond researchTo find their tiny claws a roomy perch!'Truculent: 'When you smoke your pipe. . .supposeThat the tobacco-smoke spouts from your nose--Do not the neighbors, as the fumes rise higher,Cry terror-struck: "The chimney is afire"?'Considerate: 'Take care,. . .your head bowed lowBy such a weight. . .lest head o'er heels you go!'Tender: 'Pray get a small umbrella made,Lest its bright color in the sun should fade!'Pedantic: 'That beast AristophanesNames HippocamelelephantolesMust have possessed just such a solid lumpOf flesh and bone, beneath his forehead's bump!'Cavalier: 'The last fashion, friend, that hook?To hang your hat on? 'Tis a useful crook!'Emphatic: 'No wind, O majestic nose,Can give THEE cold!--save when the mistral blows!'Dramatic: 'When it bleeds, what a Red Sea!'Admiring: 'Sign for a perfumery!'Lyric: 'Is this a conch?. . .a Triton you?'Simple: 'When is the monument on view?'Rustic: 'That thing a nose? Marry-come-up!'Tis a dwarf pumpkin, or a prize turnip!'Military: 'Point against cavalry!'Practical: 'Put it in a lottery!Assuredly 'twould be the biggest prize!'Or. . .parodying Pyramus' sighs. . .'Behold the nose that mars the harmonyOf its master's phiz! blushing its treachery!'--Such, my dear sir, is what you might have said,Had you of wit or letters the least jot:But, O most lamentable man!--of witYou never had an atom, and of lettersYou have three letters only!--they spell Ass!And--had you had the necessary wit,To serve me all the pleasantries I quoteBefore this noble audience. . .e'en so,You would not have been let to utter one--Nay, not the half or quarter of such jest!I take them from myself all in good part,But not from any other man that breathes!
DE GUICHE (trying to draw away the dismayed viscount):Come away, Viscount!
THE VISCOUNT (choking with rage):Hear his arrogance!A country lout who. . .who. . .has got no gloves!Who goes out without sleeve-knots, ribbons, lace!
CYRANO:True; all my elegances are within.I do not prank myself out, puppy-like;My toilet is more thorough, if less gay;I would not sally forth--a half-washed-outAffront upon my cheek--a conscienceYellow-eyed, bilious, from its sodden sleep,A ruffled honor,. . .scruples grimed and dull!I show no bravery of shining gems.Truth, Independence, are my fluttering plumes.'Tis not my form I lace to make me slim,But brace my soul with efforts as with stays,Covered with exploits, not with ribbon-knots,My spirit bristling high like your mustaches,I, traversing the crowds and chattering groupsMake Truth ring bravely out like clash of spurs!
THE VISCOUNT:But, Sir. . .
CYRANO:I wear no gloves? And what of that?I had one,. . .remnant of an old worn pair,And, knowing not what else to do with it,I threw it in the face of. . .some young fool.
THE VISCOUNT:Base scoundrel! Rascally flat-footed lout!
CYRANO (taking off his hat, and bowing as if the viscount had introduced himself):Ah?. . .and I, Cyrano SavinienHercule de Bergerac
THE VISCOUNT (angrily):Buffoon!
CYRANO (calling out as if he had been seized with the cramp):Aie! Aie!
THE VISCOUNT (who was going away, turns back):What on earth is the fellow saying now?
CYRANO (with grimaces of pain):It must be moved--it's getting stiff, I vow,--This comes of leaving it in idleness!Aie!. . .
THE VISCOUNT:What ails you?
CYRANO:The cramp! cramp in my sword!
THE VISCOUNT (drawing his sword):Good!
CYRANO:You shall feel a charming little stroke!
THE VISCOUNT (contemptuously):Poet!. . .
CYRANO:Ay, poet, Sir! In proof of which,While we fence, presto! all extemporeI will compose a ballade.
THE VISCOUNT:A ballade?
CYRANO:Belike you know not what a ballade is.
THE VISCOUNT:But. . .
CYRANO (reciting, as if repeating a lesson):Know then that the ballade should containThree eight-versed couplets. . .
THE VISCOUNT (stamping):Oh!
CYRANO (still reciting):And an envoiOf four lines. . .
THE VISCOUNT:You. . .
CYRANO:I'll make one while we fight;And touch you at the final line.
CYRANO:No?(declaiming):The duel in Hotel of Burgundy--foughtBy De Bergerac and a good-for-naught!
THE VISCOUNT:What may that be, an if you please?
THE HOUSE (in great excitement):Give room!--Good sport!--Make place!--Fair play!--No noise!
(Tableau. A circle of curious spectators in the pit; the marquises and officers mingled with the common people; the pages climbing on each other's shoulders to see better. All the women standing up in the boxes. To the right, De Guiche and his retinue. Left, Le Bret, Ragueneau, Cyrano, etc.)CYRANO (shutting his eyes for a second):
Wait while I choose my rhymes. . .I have them now!
(He suits the action to each word):
I gayly doff my beaver low,
And, freeing hand and heel,
My heavy mantle off I throw,
And I draw my polished steel;
Graceful as Phoebus, round I wheel,
Alert as Scaramouch,
A word in your ear, Sir Spark, I steal--
At the envoi's end, I touch!
Better for you had you lain low;
Where skewer my cock? In the heel?--
In the heart, your ribbon blue below?--
In the hip, and make you kneel?
Ho for the music of clashing steel!
--What now?--A hit? Not much!
'Twill be in the paunch the stroke I steal,
When, at the envoi, I touch.
Oh, for a rhyme, a rhyme in o?--You wriggle, starch-white, my eel?A rhyme! a rhyme! The white feather you SHOW!Tac! I parry the point of your steel;--The point you hoped to make me feel;I open the line, now clutchYour spit, Sir Scullion--slow your zeal!At the envoi's end, I touch.(He declaims solemnly):Envoi.Prince, pray Heaven for your soul's weal!I move a pace--lo, such! and such!Cut over--feint!(Thrusting):What ho! You reel?(The viscount staggers. Cyrano salutes):At the envoi's end, I touch!
(Acclamations. Applause in the boxes. Flowers and handkerchiefs are thrown down. The officers surround Cyrano, congratulating him. Ragueneau dances for joy. Le Bret is happy, but anxious. The viscount's friends hold him up and bear him away.)THE CROWD (with one long shout):
A TROOPER:'Tis superb!
A WOMAN:A pretty stroke!
A MARQUIS:A novelty!
LE BRET:O madman!
THE CROWD (presses round Cyrano. Chorus of):Compliments!Bravo! Let me congratulate!. . .Quite unsurpassed!. . .
A WOMAN'S VOICE:There is a hero for you!. . .
A MUSKETEER (advancing to Cyrano with outstretched hand):Sir, permit;Naught could be finer--I'm a judge I think;I stamped, i' faith!--to show my admiration!
(He goes away.)
CYRANO (to Cuigy):Who is that gentleman?
LE BRET (to Cyrano, taking his arm):A word with you!. . .
CYRANO:Wait; let the rabble go!. . .(To Bellerose):May I stay?
BELLEROSE (respectfully):Without doubt!
(Cries are heard outside.)
JODELET (who has looked out):They hoot Montfleury!
BELLEROSE (solemnly):Sic transit!. . .(To the porters):Sweep--close all, but leave the lights.We sup, but later on we must return,For a rehearsal of to-morrow's farce.
(Jodelet and Bellerose go out, bowing low to Cyrano.)
THE PORTER (to Cyrano):You do not dine, Sir?
(The porter goes out.)
CYRANO (proudly):Because. . .(Changing his tone as the porter goes away):I have no money!. . .
LE BRET (with the action of throwing a bag):How! The bag of crowns?. . .
CYRANO:Paternal bounty, in a day, thou'rt sped!
LE BRET:How live the next month?. . .
CYRANO:I have nothing left.
CYRANO:But what a graceful action! Think!
THE BUFFET-GIRL (coughing, behind her counter):Hum!(Cyrano and Le Bret turn. She comes timidly forward):Sir, my heart mislikes to know you fast.(Showing the buffet):See, all you need. Serve yourself!
CYRANO (taking off his hat):Gentle child,Although my Gascon pride would else forbidTo take the least bestowal from your hands,My fear of wounding you outweighs that pride,And bids accept. . .(He goes to the buffet):A trifle!. . .These few grapes.(She offers him the whole bunch. He takes a few):Nay, but this bunch!. . .(She tries to give him wine, but he stops her):A glass of water fair!. . .And half a macaroon!
(He gives back the other half.)
LE BRET:What foolery!
THE BUFFET-GIRL:Take something else!
CYRANO:I take your hand to kiss.
(He kisses her hand as though she were a princess.)
THE BUFFET-GIRL:Thank you, kind Sir!(She courtesies):Good-night.
(She goes out.)