theirs with too much talent. What, I go and saddle myself with an intellectual woman, who talks of nothing but of her assembly and ruelle; who writes tender things in prose and in verse, and is visited by Marquises and wits, whilst, as “Mrs. So-and-so’s husband, ” I should be like a saint, whom no one calls upon! No, no, I will have none of your lofty minds. A woman who writes knows more than she ought to do. I intend that my wife shall not even be clever enough to know what a rhyme is. If one plays at corbillon with her, and asks her in her turn “What is put into the basket, ” I will have her answer, “A cream tart. ” In a word, let her be very ignorant; and to tell you the plain truth, it is enough for her that she can say her prayers, love me, saw and spin.

Chrysalde. A stupid wife, then, is your fancy?

Arnolphe. So much so that I should prefer a very stupid and ugly woman to a very beautiful one with a great deal of wit.

Chrysalde. Wit and beauty …

Arnolphe. Virtue is quite enough.

Chrysalde. But how can you expect, after, all, that a mere simpleton can ever know what it is to be virtuous? Besides, to my mind, it must be very wearisome for a man to have a stupid creature perpetually with him. Do you think you act rightly, and that, by reliance on your plan, a man’s brow is saved from danger? A woman of sense may fail in her duty; but she must at least do so knowingly; a stupid woman may at any time fail in hers, without desiring or thinking of it.

Arnolphe. To this fine argument, this deep discourse, I reply as Pantagruel did to Panurge: Urge me to marry any other woman than a stupid one; preach and lecture till Whitsuntide, you shall be amazed to find, when you have done, that you have not persuaded me in the very slightest.

Chrysalde. I do not want to say another word.

Arnolphe. Every man has his own way. With my wife, as in everything, I mean to follow my fashion. I think I am rich enough to take a partner who shall owe all to me, and whose humble station and complete dependence cannot reproach me either with her poverty or her birth. A sweet and staid look made me love Agnès, amongst other children, when she was only four. It came into my mind to ask her from her mother, who was very poor; the good country-woman, learning my wish, was delighted to rid herself of the charge. I had her brought up, according to my own notions, in a little solitary convent; that is to say, directing them what means to adopt in order to make her as idiotic as possible. Thank Heaven, success has crowned my efforts; and I am very thankful to say, I have found her so innocent that I have blessed Heaven for having done what I wished, in giving me a wife according to my desire. Then I brought her away; and as my house is continually open to a hundred different people, and as we must be on our guard against everything, I have kept her in another house where no one comes to see me; and where her good disposition cannot be spoiled, as she meets none but people as simple as herself. You will say, “Wherefore this long story? ” It is to let you see the care I have taken. To crown all, and as you are a trusty friend, I ask you to sup with her to-night. I wish you would examine her a little, and see if I am to be condemned for my choice.

Chrysalde. With all my heart.

Arnolphe. You can judge of her looks and her innocence when you converse with her.

Chrysalde. As to that, what you have told me cannot …

Arnolphe. What I have told you falls even short of the truth:

  By PanEris using Melati.

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