Alexander Griboyedov. Woe from Wit.
A. S. Griboyedov WOE FROM WIT (A Four-Act Comedy) Translated by A.S.Vagapov ------------------------------------------------------------------- C A S T : P a v e l A f a n a s y e v i c h F a m u s o v , head of office S o f i a P a v l o v n a , his daughter L i z i e , maid A l e x e y S t e p a n o v i c h M o l c h a l i n , Famusov's secretary living in his house A l e x a n d r A n d r e y e v i c h C h a t s k y C o l o n e l S k a l o z u b , S e r g e y D m i t r i y e v i c h N a t a l i a D m i t r i y e v n a, young lady } the Goriches P l a t o n M i k h a i l o v i c h , her husband C o u n t T u g o u k h o v s k y C o u n t e s s , his wife with six daughters C o u n t e s s , the g r a n n y } the Khryumins C o u n t e s s , the d a u g h t e r A n t o n A n t o n o v i c h Z a g o r e t s k y O l d K h l y o s t o v a , Famusov's sister-in-law M r. N. M r. D. R e p e t i l o v P e t r u s h k a and some footmen. A large number of guests of all ranks and footmen engaged at departure of guests. Famusov's waiters. The scene is laid in Moscow at Famusov's house. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- A C T 1 Scene 1 A sitting room with a big clock in it, to the right is Sofia's bedroom door, the sound of a piano and a flute come from Sofia's room, and then the music ceases. Lizzie is asleep hanging down from the armchair (It is morning. The day is just about to break) L i z i e (wakes up suddenly, raises from the chair, looks around) It's dawning ! . .. Oh! How fast The night has passed ! They didn't let me go to bed 'In expectation of a friend'. I had to be on the alert, It's only now that I could doze Sitting like this, in such a pose ! I could have fallen from the chair ! It's dawn . . . They must be unaware . . . (knocks at Sofia's door) Sir ! Madame ! What a plight ! You have been chattering all night, Sir, are you deaf ? Ma'am, do you hear ? No, they do not seem to fear. (walks away from the door) Look out, uninvited guest ! The father may appear ! I serve a loving woman, yes ! ( moves to the door again) It's time to part. Stop that conversation ! ( S o f i a ' s v o i c e ) What time is it ? L i z i e The house is all in agitation. S o f i a (from her room) What is the time ? L i z i e It is about seven, eight or nine . . . S o f i a (from the same place) It isn't true. L i z i e ( goes away) Ah, this damn amour ! They do not want to get me right . . . Those shutters keeping out the light ! I'll put the clock a little on, although There'll be a row, I know. (gets on the chair, moves the hour hand; the clock strikes and plays the tune) Scene 2 Lizzie and Famous L i z i e It's you, sir ? F a m u s o v Yes, it's me. ( stops the clock music) You naughty little mischief maker ! I didn't know ! I had just wondered what it could be: Now it's a flute, now it's a piano, It's much too early in the day For Sofia to play. L i z i e No, sir . . . For once . . . I did it quite by chance. F a m u s o v That's it: I must be on the watch indeed, It was intended to be sure. (cuddles up to her) You naughty girl, you mischief maker, you are ! . . L i z i e Naughty yourself ! The words you say Do not befit you, do they ? F a m u s o v You're modest but the frivolous kind, Frivolities and mischief are all you have in mind. L i z i e It's you who's frivolous, let go, will you ? Compose yourself, old man. F a m u s o v I'm not quite old. L i z i e Should somebody come in, what shall we do ? F a m u s o v Who may come here now, uncalled ? Is Sofia asleep ? L i z i e Just gone to bed. F a m u s o v Just now? And what about the night ? L i z i e She read. F a m u s o v The kind of whim she has, you see ? L i z i e She's reading there under lock and key. F a m u s o v You tell her what: she mustn't spoil her sight For reading is of little worth. It's just a fashion. She doesn't sleep from reading French at night, I fall asleep when I read Russian. L i z i e When she gets up I'll tell her so, You'll wake her up, I'm afraid, please go. F a m u s o v I'll wake her up ? Why, it is you not me Who starts the clock and makes it play a symphony. L i z i e (raising her voice) Now stop it, will you ? F a m u s o v (shutting her mouth) Why shout like that ? Are you going mad ? L i z i e There's something wrong about it, I fear. F a m u s o v About what, my dear ? L i z i e You ought to know for you're not a little one: Young women's sleep is light at down, They hear every whisper, a door creak, or a sigh, They hear everything. F a m u s o v No, it's a lie. S o f i a (her voice comes from her room) Ah, Lizzie! F a m u s o v (quickly) Hush ! (Tiptoeing out of the room hurriedly) L i z i e (alone in the room) He's gone. Beware of masters, they Will cause you trouble any day. Of all the woes may God deliver us from both From their love and their wrath. Scene 3 Lizzie, Sofia candle in hand, followed by Molchalin. S o f i a What's up, Liz ? You're making such a noise . . . L i z i e You find it hard to part, of course, Locked up all night - it is enough, my lady. S o f i a My, it's the break of day already ! (puts out the candle) It's light and gloom. The night's so quick to pass ! L i z i e You may be gloomy. And I feel much worse. Your father took me by surprise, I shifted, dodged and told him lies. (to Molchlin) Don't stand like that ! Just take your bow, I see that you are scared, and how ! Look at the clock. Now just look out - People are long up and about, And in the house all is in motion: They're knocking, walking, cleaning, washing. S o f i a Happiness takes no account of time. L i z i e You watch the time or not, it's up to you; I'm in for trouble, I shall get my due. S o f i a (to Molchalin) Now you must go. We'll have another tedious day. L i z i e God bless you ! Take your hands away ! (Separates them; Molchalin runs into Famusov in the doorway) Scene 4 Sofia, Lizzie, Molchalin, Famusov. F a m u s o v What a surprise ! It's you, Molchalin ? M o l c h a l i n Yes. F a m u s o v What brings you here, at this hour ? Do confess. And, Sofia, you, too. Please tell me why You got up early today ? Don't tell a lie. How do you come to be together now ? S o f i a He just came in. M o l c h a l i n I walked around, that is how. F a m u s o v Now tell me please, old bloke: Cannot you choose a better place to walk ? And you, young lady, hardly out of bed - There is a man around! By your side ! You read those silly books at night And that's the fruit of it, I bet. The French! With all their fashion shops and streets, Their books and writers and artists, They break our hearts, they make our money fly, I wonder why God will not save us from their needles, pins, Their bonnets, hats and all the other things. S o f i a I'm sorry, father, I'm feeling ill at ease, I'm so scared, I can hardy breathe. You were so quick to come. My God! I'm confused. F a m u s o v Well, thanks a lot ! I took you by surprise ! I scared and disturbed you! Very nice ! My dear Sofia, I dare say, I'm upset myself. All day I have to run about, full of care and bother. Now one keeps pestering me now another. Could I expect the trouble of being told a lie ? S o f i a (through tears) Whom by? F a m u s o v Well, I may be reproached that I Keep grumbling all the time for nothing. Now don't you cry. I'll tell you something: I've given you support and care. Your mother died. I took on this Madame, Madam Rosiet, your second mere. A granny with a heart of gold I found for you, So quick and wise, and of high morals, too. There is one thing that doesn't do her credit though: For extra half a thousand or so, She had the nerve to leave our house . . . But anyhow it is beyond her powers. Just look at me: I'm no boaster, I'm strong and fresh, although my hair is grey, I'm a widower, I'm free, I'm my own master And of monastic chastity, they say. L i z i e May I ? F a m u s o v No, do shut up! The wretched times! You don't know what to open up ! I see nowadays People grow wise before their years, The daughters do, so do the old good men. Who need the languages we learn ? We hire tutors, resident or not, That teach our daughters everything: To court And give a sigh, to sing and dance, As if they wished to marry them to clowns. You, visitor? Do you want anything ? From a nowhere man in God forsaken Tver I made you an assessor and a secretair. Without me you would have surely been A nobody. You, man without kith and kin ! S o f i a I don't know why you should be angry, father. He's living here, in this house. So what ? He walked to one room and got into another. F a m u s o v He got where he wanted, did he not ? Why is he here, uninvited? S o f i a I'll tell you. Well, it goes like this: When you were here, you and Liz, I heard your voice and was so frightened That I came running like a shot. F a m u s o v She'll put the blame on me, it seems. I came out of time and got them caught ! S o f i a You caught me nodding, I had dreams. I'll tell you and you will understand. F a m u s o v What dreams had you ? S o f i a Shall I tell you ? F a m u s o v (sits down) Yes, if you can. S o f i a Well . . . Listen . . . First I see A fragrant meadow and then me Looking for some kind of grass, I don't remember which, alas. Then comes a gentleman, one of those men That make at once an old good friend. A man so tactful, wise, as well as Shy, you know those poor fellows. F a m u s o v Don't talk to me about the poor. A poor man is not a match for you. S o f i a And then all vanishes: the meadows and the sky - like magic ! We are in a room. It's dark. Then, just imagine: Down goes the floor and you come up. And now the door flies open with a bang, And in burst monstrous creatures, like a gang. They fall upon the man, they tear us apart, I reach for him: he seems so dear to my heart, You hold him back and take away with you, And this to hooting, jeering, whistling - boo ! Then he starts shouting. I woke up there . . . Someone was chatting. It was your voice, yes, it was you. So I rushed out to find that you were two. F a m u s o v Too bad a dream it is indeed. I see there's everything in it: The devil, love and flowers, fright. Too bad ! Well, sir, what do you say to that ? M o l c h a l i n I heard you voice . . . F a m u s o v It's really strange. What's there in my voice? Did they arrange to hear my voice and come around like a clock ? Why did you come on hearing me talk ? M o l c h a l i n The papers, sir. F a m u s o v The papers? Oh what an idea ! What made you care for them, my dear ? Why all this zest ? (raises) Now Sofia, I'll set your mind at rest; Dreams can be strange but I should think Reality is a more frightful thing. You looked for grass but in the end You found a friend. Well, put that out of your head, Forget the miracles - they're all wrong. You'd better go now back to bed. (To Molchalin) Show me your papers, come along. M o l c h a l i n I want to tell you, sir, instead: The papers are in such a mess ! They will be null and void unless They're certified And all put right. F a m u s o v I'm awfully afraid They might pile up, accumulate. I know your kind. You'd keep them all Stuck up for days in a pigeon-hole. I'd rather have a paper signed. Once signed - it's out my mind ! (He and Molchalin go out. He makes way to Molchalin at the door) Scene 5 Sofia and Lizzie. L i z i e The holiday is coming! Time for fun ! To me the day is not a happy one. My eyes are dim, my heart is blue. The sin does not much worry me, the rumours do. S o f i a I do not care for rumours. Let them be ! Though father will keep crying shame on me. He always grumbles, scolds and makes one feel unhappy. You know what he can do now after what happened. L i z i e He'll lock you up. That's what he'll do. I wish he locked up me with you, I'm afraid, he'll go as far as firing us: Molchalin, me and all the others. S o f i a I'm thinking, happiness is so wayward ! A worse thing happens, yet you get away with it, For once all worries seemed to be away, We were lost in music, unaware of time of day, It seems that fate was guarding us: The time just flew. No doubt, no alarm . . . But trouble comes out of the blue. L i z i e That's it ! You never listen to my foolish judgement. I told you many times, and I'll say it again This love of yours is all in vain. You wouldn't find a better profit. Listen, please: Like all the Muscovites your father is like this: He wants a son-in-law with ranks and stars, Not all of them are rich, alas. He wishes he had money into the bargain To live in clover, give a party now and again Take colonel Skalozub, for instance, he isn't bad: A would be general and very rich at that. S o f i a It's nice ! To hear him talk of ranks and lines ! I'd rather take my own life Than marry him and be his wife. L i z i e He isn't bright. He merely talks a lot. Of all the men, civilian or not, There's Chatsky whom I really regard As most considerate, intelligent and smart. It's past and gone, Sofia, hence You shouldn't really take offence. S o f i a What's that ? I must admit He's extremely sensitive and full of wit. He can make fun like no one else, You should have heard the jokes he tells ! L i z i e Oh is that all ? He wept when parting with you, I recall. I tried to comfort him and asked him why he cried, "There is a reason - he replied - For no one knows what I may gain Or lose when I am back again." He seemed to know that in a year or two . . . S o f i a Stop talking liberties, will you ? I may have acted thoughtlessly, I know, I do regret. But who was I unfaithful to ? Can anybody blame me for a breach of faith? Well, no ! Chatsky and I grew up together, that is true. We were friends in childhood days, And then he left, and ever since He rarely visited our place, He found our house dull, it seems, And then again he showed affection, Pretending love, consideration. He's witty, wise, a man of eloquence, And he is good at winning friends, But now he thinks he is too clever . . . He took to travelling, which is not bad, However, if he loved someone, he'd never Go on a lasting trip like that. L i z i e What trip ? Is Chatsky travelling far ? They say, he took a treatment at a spa, It was a cure of idleness among the cripple. S o f i a That's right. He's happy among the queer people. The one I love is of different make, Molchalin does his best for other people's sake. He's modest, shy, polite - beyond compare ! Oh, what a night we spent behind the doors ! Of space and time we were unaware What were we doing there ? L i z i e Well, God knows. It's none of my affair. S o f i a He'd take my hand - his manners most refined - And with a gentle sigh he'd press it to his side. My hand in his, he'd feast his eyes on me, I never knew a person as urbane as he. You're laughing ? Why ? I see no reason To laugh like that. Say, are you teasing ? L i z i e I just recall that gentleman of France That used to live for some time at your aunt's. He left. She tried to hide her grief but failed For she forgot to dye her hair, and it greyed. (continues laughing) S o f i a (regretfully) People will gossip, upon my word ! L i z i e I'm sorry, and I swear to God, I only tried to laugh away your grief, I thought that it might bring you some relief. Scene 6 Sofia, Lizzie, Servant, followed by Chatsky. F o o t m a n Alexander Andreyevich Chatsky. (goes out) Sofia, Lizzie, Chatsky. C h a t s k y It's hardly morning: here I'm down on my knees. (kisses her hand with passion) You didn't expect me, did you ? Give me a kiss. Are you really glad to see me ? Look into my eyes ! For you it's only a surprise. What a reception ! God ! It seems like just the other day, It seems like yesterday, We passed the time till we got bored. No sign of love ! You look so nice, you do ! You'll never know what I went through, I can't get over it. Just think : I covered seven hundred miles at just one bound, Two days and nights I didn't sleep a wink, Just snow and wind, and not a soul around, I'd lose my way and hit the ground, And the result is your reward. S o f i a No, Chatsky, it is nice to see you around. C h a t s k y You're glad to see me ? Very good ! Though I must say, You do not look that way. It seems, I should have spared the horses For the result isn't worth the losses. L i z i e No, sir, you must not think so For just a little while ago We were talking about you. Ma'me, do confirm, it's is true. S o f i a Well, honestly, I don't deserve reproach, You can't reproach me now or ever For when I see someone approach The house - a friend, a stranger or whoever, I run to ask him whether he Has seen you, on a coach, go by. C h a t s k y That I will not deny. Blessed are the credulous for they are carefree. Good gracious ! Am I with you again ? In Moscow ? You have changed! You're not the same. Gone is the time ! Gone are the innocent years ! Remember ? We would run about pushing chairs, We'd disappear then appear again, Your father and Madame playing a table game, Into a hideaway we would then sneak - This very corner I suppose it was - We would be startled by every little creak . . . S o f i a It's childish. C h a t s k y Yes, of course. And now at seventeen you're in the bloom of youth, Inimitable charm - well, I declare! You know that I'm telling you the truth, That's why you're so modest- you don't care What people think of you. Now tell me straight: Are you in love ? Don't be embarrassed nor hesitate. S o f i a Your curious look, your questions would embarrass anyone. C h a t s k y For heaven's sake ! You're the only one That can amaze me. Here in Moscow there is nothing new. There was a party yesterday, tomorrow there'll be two. Someone has managed to get married Another hasn't and is worried. Nothing has changed. Good gracious ! The same old poems, the same old conversations. S o f i a Now that you have seen the world It's Moscow you're up to scold. Well, where is a better place ? C h a t s k y A place where we don't find ourselves. Well, how's your father ? Is the old chap Still loyal, heart and soul, to the English Club ? How's your uncle ? Is his number up ? This man . . . a Turk. a Greek . . .or something of the kind The thin-legged one. His name has slipped my mind. You'd see him anywhere at all - The sitting-room, the kitchen and the hall. How are those three idle gentlemen ? Are they in search of marriage bonds again ? With heaps of relatives, some day, they hope They'll be related with the whole of Europe. And how's our dearest one ? Do you recall his forehead ? With "Stage and Masquerade" inscribed on it ? He has his house painted green. He's fat while all his actresses are thin. Once during a ball - remember ? - we discovered A man that, hidden from the crowd, Was making sounds of a nightingale - A summer bird in winter did so well ! There's a relative of yours, a sickly man, In the science board he got an occupation, An enemy of books, he now demands a ban On literacy and education. And all these people I'm fated now to see, I'll soon be sick and tired of living here. Though after travelling East and West We're find the smoke of Homeland best. S o f i a I'd bring my aunt and you together, so That you might count everyone you know. C h a t s k y Your auntie, is she still a virgin ? Goddess Athene ? And still the fraulein of czarina Catherine ? She had her house full of dogs and girls to breed. Talking of breeding, why should people need To hire crowds of tutors? And one tries To have them at the lowest price ! I mean, with science all is fine, But here in Russia, under the threat of a fine We must acknowledge any creature To be a History or a Science teacher. Do you remember our own mentor ? The cap, the gown that he wore ? He needed some sign of tuition, He filled our humble minds with awe, And we were open to conviction, From early years we would believe: Without the Germans we couldn't live. And Guilloment, the French, the giddy man, Has he got married ? S o f i a He hasn't anyone. C h a t s k y Well, he could marry some nice duchess. Pulkheria Andreyevna he matches. S o f i a A ballet dancer ? No. C h a t s k y Yes, he's grand. One has to have a rank and own some land, Though Guiloment - oh, by the way, Is there still a tendency to day At meetings, public gathering, on stage To mix the Nizhny Novgorod dialect with French ? S o f i a A language mixture ? C h a t s k y Yes, at least of two. S o f i a To mix them into one the way you do ? C h a t s k y It sounds natural at least. My word ! I'm extraordinarily pleased To see you. Thus I'm talkative. Taking my chance. For this Molchalin you have time ! Where is he ? I suppose that I'm No sillier than he. He still keeps A seal of silence on his lips. Or doesn't he ? He used to have a book Where he would write All latest songs that caught his sight. He will get on in life anyway For silent men are highly praised today. S o f i a (to her side) You viper ! (aloud and with ease) May I ask ? Have you by any chance, in sorrow or in joy, Talked favourably of any one of us ? Not now. Perhaps, when you were a boy ? C h a t s k y When all is fragile ? Soft and immature ? Why go that far ? Here is a good deed for you: The jingling of the bell still in my mind, I crossed the snowy desert through the day and night. I hurried here at a neck break pace To find you wearing an austere face. Your coolness, your restraint are tearing me apart, The way you look: The face of a holy praying girl . . . And yet I love you with all my heart. (a minute of silence) Now listen, don't I treat you well ? I never mind a queer man's trick, I have a laugh and then forget it quick. And if it were your desire That I should go into the fire, I'd do it without thinking twice. S o f i a It will be nice If you get burnt, And if you don't ? Scene 8 Sofia, Lizzie, Chatsky, Famusov. F a m u s o v There's another one ! S o f i a A dream of prophecy. (goes out) F a m u s o v (in a low voice, following her with his eyes) Now, damn the dream ! Scene 9 Famusov, Chatsky (looks at the door through which Sofia left) F a m u s o v Oh what a trick you've played ! You see, For three long years we haven't heard from you, And now you're here, out of the blue. (they embrace) Hallo, my friend, come, take your seat, Let's have a chat a little bit. You must have got a lot to say, Tell us your stories without delay. (both sit down) C h a t s k y (absent-mindedly) Well, Sofia Pavlovna has grown so pretty. F a m u s o v It is a pity That all you see is a pretty face. She must have dropped a casual phrase Inspiring you with hopes, enchanting you . . . C h a t s k y I rarely nourish hopes. I hardly ever do. F a m u s o v "A dream of prophecy" the words fell on my ear. You're thinking of . . . C h a t s k y Me ? I have no idea. F a m u s o v What did she dream of ? What is it ? C h a t s k y I don't interpret dreams. F a m u s o v No ! Don't believe her ! Not a bit ! C h a t s k y I do believe my eyes. Upon my word ! She is like no one in the world, A beauty from a fairy tale ! F a m u s o v Stop harping on it ! Tell us in detail, Where have you been ? You travelled many years. Where are you from ? C h a t s k y No time for that. I travelled less Than I had planned. (raises quickly) Excuse me, but I hurried here to see you, I haven't been at home, so I must say good-bye. I'll come again in an hour's time, I'm sorry, Though you will be the first to hear my story. (in the doorway) She's charming ! (goes out) Scene 10 Famusov (alone) Which of the two it is, I wonder ? "A dream of prophecy" - she said. She said it openly, I don't know what she meant. It's all my fault. Oh what a blunder ! Molchalin made me doubt then. And now I Have fallen out of the pan into the fire. One is a pauper, a dandy is the other; Known as a wasteful man, mischievous and haughty. Oh, what a lot to be the father Of a grown-up daughter ! (goes out) End of Act I A C T II Scene 1 Famusov, Footman. F a m u s o v Petrushka, you have always new clothes on. Look at yourself! Your sleeve is torn. Now, take the calendar and try to make it best. Read it expressively, don't mumble like obsessed ! No, wait, just take the pad and write: The next week column. Tuesday night - A trout party. What a temptation ! - It's Praskovya Fyodorovna's invitation. Why is the world so strange ? - I ask myself the question. And when I do, it makes my mind just reel: A fast is followed by a hearty meal, And then three days of indigestion. Write, on that same day , no, Thursday morning There is a burial ceremony. The human race, they all forget That some day all of them shall get Into the box, so small and tight ! The one who'll leave blessed memory behind, A noble chamberlain the late man was, He had the key and let his son have one. He took a wealthy woman, being a wealthy man And married off his children, I suppose, People are mourning now that he has passed away Kuzma Petrovich! May he rest with peace! There are bigwigs in Moscow, I should say! Write down: Thursday, on top of this, Or perhaps on Friday, or on Saturday, I must attend a christening day. The widow hasn't given birth as yet Though she may, any day, as I expect. Scene 2 Famusov, Footman, Chatsky. F a m u s o v Oh, Alexander Andreyevitch! , come, sit down ! C h a t s k y I see you are engaged. F a m u s o v (to the footman) You go. (The footman goes out) It's next week's plan that we're putting down, Something may slip my mind, you know. C h a t s k y I see, you do not look quite happy, Is it inopportunely that I arrived ? Or maybe something wrong has happened To Sofia Pavlovna? Is she all right ? F a m u s o v Oh, what a thing to puzzle brains about ! I'm sad ! Well, do you expect an aged man like me To cry for joy and dance around ? C h a t s k y Nobody wants you to, you see, I just inquired of you If Sofia Pavlovna was feeling well. F a m u s o v Pah ! Got forgive me ! Hell ! A thousand times you told me that ! Now Sofia Pavlovna is feeling bad, Now she's the prettiest one on earth. Are you in love with her ? Oh yes ! You want to marry her, you do. C h a t s k y It's my affair. F a m u s o v You have to reckon with me, too. I am related to her, am I not ? And note: I'm a father. At least they've always called me so. C h a t s k y If I propose to her, will you say no ? F a m u s o v Well, first, I should say this: You don't be reckless. Think of your estate, And what is most important: take up service. C h a t s k y I'd love to serve. Servility is what I hate. F a m u s o v That's it ! You're all puffed up with pride and aspiration ! You'd better ask me what your fathers did And learn from our generation. People like us or late Maxim Petrovich, My uncle, he would drive on a tandem coach, A hundred men on hand, he ate From a gold and from a silver plate. He had awards, lived like a lord, And he attended at the highest court. Those were the days ! So much unlike the present ! He was in service in Catherine's days. And Everybody felt important then, Your bow and scrape they would disdain. A courtier was even better off, He'd eat and drink what others didn't dream of. My uncle, with his haughty temper, serious look, Compared with him, what is a count or a duke ? To please superiors he was happy, He'd creep and crawl like a snake. Once at a reception it so happened That he fell down and nearly broke his neck. The old man groaned in a husky voice Which won him an imperial smile. Now ! Everybody laughed. What did he do ? He rose And straightened up to make a bow. Then suddenly he flopped. This time with aim, Again a laughter. And a fall again. Well, what do you think of it ? I think it's nice. He hurt himself but he was quick to rise. And ever since, like no one else, In the royal house he was a welcome guest. Maxim Petrovich ! A man of high esteem! Maxim Petrovich! The life's mischievous pranks ! Who fixes pensions and gives people ranks ? Maxim Petrovich ! Not one of you is a match for him ! C h a t s k y Exactly ! You may sigh complaining That our society's degrading. But if I look comparing the present With the glorious past, to me it's evident: Fresh is the story, yet it is doubtful to me For glorified and famed was he Who showed the greatest zeal in bending the knee, Who fought and won at peace, not in a war, Hitting his forehead at the floor. And those in need were in the gutter, Those at the top were praised and flattered. It was the age of timidness and fright Under the mask of loyalty to tsarist might. I do not mean your dear uncle, About him I hate to wrangle. But who would want in our days, To sacrifice his neck just for the sake Of fun, or just to make The crowd laugh, as in that case ? It seems to me, some aged man, On seeing that courageous jump, Must have confessed that, to his shame, He was unable to do the same. Although there're rascals everywhere To be a laughing stock they do not dare. And hence no favour of the sovereigns they expect. F a m u s o v My Lord ! Good heavens ! He is a suspect ! C h a t s k y To-day the world is different, really. F a m u s o v He's dangerous. C h a t s k y One can breathe freely. Nobody wants to join the foolish crowd. F a m u s o v He's talking like a book ! What is he talking about ? C h a t s k y They gather at the patron's house to gape and yawn, To sit in silence, dine and dance a waltz, To show their courteously, sit up till dawn. F a m u s o v Now. To preach liberties, that's what he wants. C h a t s k y Some travel. Others live in a country-house. F a m u s o v He doesn't recognize the government of ours. C h a t s k y Well, he who serves a noble cause ... F a m u s o v For such a gentleman I'd close all doors And keep them miles away from our city. C h a t s k y I'll give you rest. Just out of pity . . . F a m I cannot bear it. I'm vexed, impatient. C h a t s k y I have abused your generation; I give you my authority: You may cut off part of my commentary Or, if you want , you may apply It to the present time - I shall not cry. F a m u s o v I've had enough! For you I'll shut the door, I shall not tolerate all this perversion any more ! C h a t s k y I've had my say. F a m u s o v All right. I have my ears shut. C h a t s k y Why should you ? I mean no insult. F a m u s o v (pattering) These idlers! Roam around the world, And on return they order us about. C h a t s k y I've finished now . . . F a m u s o v Have mercy, my patience's running out. C h a t s k y I don't feel like disputing things. F a m u s o v You might as well repent of sins. Scene 3 E n t e r F o o t m a n Colonel Skalozub. F a m u s o v (hears and sees nothing) You will be put to trial, mind. C h a t s k y Somebody wants to see you. A man of note. F a m u s o v I don't hear anything. He must be tried ! C h a t s k y There's a man with a report. F a m u s o v I am not listening. He must be tried, tried, tried ! C h a t s k y There's a man behind. F a m u s o v (he turns round) What's that ? A mutiny ? I should expect so ! F o t m a n Colonel Skalozub. He's here I mean. F a m u s o v (stands up) You stupid asses! I told you a hundred times or more ! Do let him in ! Invite him ! Tell him I'm in ! Tell him I'm glad to see him. Go! be quick ! (The footman goes out) He's coming now, sir. No more of you cheek. He's a man of high respect, Has grabbed a heap of orders, I should say, He has a rank, as high as you would not expect, He may be a general any day. So please be modest when he's there. Too bad, Alexander Andreyich, dear. He often comes to see me - I don't care, You know, I welcome anybody here. In Moscow tongues are wagging. Well, for instance, They say, he wants to marry Sofia. Its nonsense ! At heart he may be overjoyed enough, But I do not intend to marry off My daughter now, tomorrow or today, She's too young. Though it's God's will anyway. Don't argue in his presence, please, And leave off joking, don't be a tease. Where is he ? I presume, He's waiting there in my room. ( hurries away) Scene 4 C h a t s k y He's so fussy. There's so much vim And Sofia? Can she be engaged to him? They've been avoiding me as if I were a stranger. Oh, how I wish that she were here, my angel. Who is this colonel whom he is so infatuated with? And maybe Famusov is not the only one who is? Oh, he who goes for three long years away A fare well to love is doomed to say. Scene 5 Chatsky, Famusov, Skalozub. F a m u s o v Sergey Sergeyich ! You're welcome, dear. You must be cold. Come here, get warm, Please join us, it is warmer here; We'll open up the vent. Just make yourself at home. S k a l o z u b (in a low voice) Don't do it. Let me do it, please. An officer of honour, I'm feeling ill at ease. F a m u s o v Sergey Srgeyevich, my dear, Let me do something for a friend; Your hat, your sword, just put them here, You may stretch out on this bed. S k a l o z u b It doesn't matter where I sit. (all sit down, Chatsky at a distance) F a m u s o v My dear friend, before it slips my mind I'll tell you: we are relatives of a kind. Not close, and no inheritance behind. I didn't know it, nor did you, I learned it from your cousin, dear, Nastasya Nikolaeyevna - is she related to you, too ? S k a l o z u b I'm sorry, I have no idea, We never served together, for all I know. F a m u s o v Sergey Sergeyich ! You don't say so ! Oh no! There's nothing I won't do for relatives, They won't escape me by any means. I have no outsiders working with me, I take on children from my family tree. Exceptions? Well, Molchalin is the only one, He's business-like, that's why I took him on. Now when it comes to offering a vacancy or giving an award. It's natural that for my relatives I should put in a word. Your cousin happened once to mention That he had gained a lot from your protection. S k a l o z u b In 1813 we cut our teeth, First in the 13-th regiment, then in the 45-th. F a m u s o v One should be proud of a son like you. You have an order, haven't you ? S k a l o z u b It's for the August fight. We were in a trench, He got one on a band, I got this for a change. F a m u s o v He's amiable, smart, as for as I can see. A brilliant man your cousin seems to be. S k a l o z u b He follows some new rules he has acquired; He was to get promotion but suddenly retired, He took to reading in his country-house and . . . F a m u s o v The youth! They read, then all of a sudden, bump, the end. You're doing well, you can't be wrong, You're a colonel though you haven't served too long. S k a l o z u b I'm a lucky man, you see ? There's right now a vacancy. Some seniors fall in battle, Others are cast out of saddle. F a m u s o v Yes, God gives everyone his due. S k a l o z u b Some people get on better that I do; In the fifteenth division there's a man, The brigadier general, to mention only one. F a m u s o v You have got everything, haven't you ? S k a l o z u b I can't complain. Though it's two years, my friend, That I have strived for the regiment. F a m u s o v There's no occasion for regret For I should say, in some respect Your rivals you have outdone. S k a l o z u b No, in my corps I'm not the oldest one, I've been in service now for years, I know there are so many ways To be promoted. All I say: I wish I'd be a general some day. F a m u s o v I share your judgement, and I wish you health, I also wish your generalship wealth. And then . . . why should you put it off ? - It's time to think of your better half. S k a l o z u b To marry? I don't care if I do. F a m u s o v People have daughters, sisters, nieces, too; There're many marriageable women here. Indeed, they multiply with every passing year. Of all the capitals, big or small, Moscow is surely best of all. S k a l o z u b A city of tremendous size and space. F a m u s o v Good manners, elegance and grace; Our life is governed by the laws; We judge the children by the parents, "The father makes the son" - the saying goes. He may be bad but if he inherits Two thousand hands, then people say: "He makes a perfect fiancй." And if a man is not of noble birth, However smart and full of self-respect, No blessing from the family he should expect. Or take the bread-and-salt reception, I welcome all without expectation, My doors are open to all. Yes. Especially to foreign guests. No matter, honest or dishonest, a gentleman or lady, I always keep my dinner ready. Look at the people of our city, They have an imprint of peculiarity. Look at our youngsters look at these Boys - our sonnies and grand sonnies, We scold them and we think them green, While they can teach their grannies at fifteen. As for the elders their word is law, Once they start talking, they let it go, They always talk with a knowing air, To contradict them you don't dare, They're old gentry, they make no bones About talking on the government's wrongs. If someone overheard them, they'd be done for. Not that they put forward new ideas, no ! It's mere finding fault. That is the thing ! Making a noise about nothing. They carry their arguments too far, Retired chancellors they think they are. I'll tell you what: the time has not yet come, - Some day quite indispensable they may become. As for the ladies they are hard to win. Don't try to judge them, They will judge everything. When they come out like one at a table game, Have patience! I have myself been married. Wait: They will command an army on the front, they claim, And will attend the senate to debate. Irina Vlasyevna! Lukerya Alexevna! Tatyana Yuryevna! Pulkheria Andryevna ! And if you saw their daughters, you would blush with shame. His majesty the king of Prussia here once came, It wasn't girls and their pretty faces that attracted him, They were well bread and had good manners in his esteem. They can wear a veil and paint the face, They never say a word without a grimace, They sing a French romance Forcing the highest notes, With military men they take a chance Because they say are patriots. Of all the capitals, big or small, Moscow is surely best of all. S k a l o z u b As far as I can judge, To a large extent the fire made it such. F a m u s o v Don't talk about the fire. Don't tease. So much has changed ever since: The roads, the houses, the pavements and all . . . C h a t s k y The houses are new, the prejudices are old. You should be pleased because a prejudice never dies, It will survive the years, the fashions and the fires. F a m u s o v (to Chatsky) Ah you! Just keep your mouth shut, Do me a favour, it isn't hard. (to Skalozub) Well, let me introduce to you this gentleman: The son of Chatsky, of the late friend of mine. He doesn't serve, though if he did, he would succeed. It is a pity, I regret, for he is bright. How well can he translate and write! I can't help feeling sorry for this man. C h a t s k y Can't you feel sorry for some other one ? I am annoyed to hear all your praise. F a m u s o v Well, anybody would condemn you in my place. C h a t s k y I wonder who the judges are ! With age they show hostility to freedom, They read the press that dates as far Back as the Crimean war. They call it wisdom. They're quick to criticize and curse And always sing the same old song, They never think they can be wrong. The older these men are the worse. Where are those fathers of the nation, Good models for our generation, The ones that roll in looted money With influential friends and relatives on hand? The ones that feast away their lives of honey And dwell in houses magnificent and grand? The houses in which the foul features of the past Will never be revived by all this foreign caste. The Moscow they will keep your mouth shut By sending you a dinner party invitation card. Or, maybe, It is the man to whom you used to take me For a bow when I was a baby? The leader of outstanding rascals, he Had a team of loyal servants That during fight-and-drinking rounds Had saved his life and honour, but then once He suddenly exchanged them for three hounds. And then there is the man, as good as all the others, He gathered children for his ballet muse By tearing them away from their mothers. He set his mind on Zephyrs and Amours And let the whole of Moscow admire their beauty, And when it came to setting his accounts He didn't bother about credits. "Out of sense of duty" All his Amours and Zephyrs he sold out. Those are the men that now have grown old and grey, The men enjoying high respect and estimation. "They are indeed our fair judges" - you will say. And if there is a man among the younger generation That never strives for vacancy nor seeks an occupation Who sets his mind on science and shows a thirst for knowledge Or good himself fills him with inspiration To creativity in art, They scream: "Disaster! Fire!" and acknowledge The man to be a dreamer and dangerous at that. The coat! The coat! They wear it still, So beautifully made, it used to hide Their timidness and their flippant mind. And that's the road that we should take at will. The wives and daughters, too, affect the coat And so did I until a while ago. I'm not an infant now, you know, On things like that I shall no longer dote. When some Guard's officers one day Were on a short time visit here The women shouted: "Hurrah!" And threw their bonnets into the air. F a m u s o v (to himself) He'll let me down, I'm sure. (in a loud voice) Sergey Sergeyich, I shall go, There in my room for you I'll wait. (goes out) Scene 6 Chatsky, Skalozub. S k a l o z u b I really appreciate The way you touched upon The fact that Muscovites are fond Of our Guards and Guardsmen, our perfect pets, Their gold embroidery, the cut of coats and shirts. Our First Army has never lagged behind; The waists are narrow. The style is fine, Our officers are spick and span, They can speak French . . . Some of them can. Scene 7 Chatsky, Skalozub, Sofia, Lizzie. S o f i a (runs to the window) My God! He's fallen down ! He's dead ! (faints) C h a t s k y Who's that ? S k a l o z u b Who is in trouble ? C h a t s k y She so scared ! S k a l o z u b Who on earth is it? C h a t s k y He's hurt. Is he in good shape ? S k a l o z u b Is it our old boy who's got into a scrape ? L i z i e (trying to help the lady) "No flying from fate" - the saying goes. As our Molchalin was mounting the horse It reared suddenly as if it were scared, And he fell down bump on his head. S k a l o z u b Poor rider! Must have pulled the reins too tight. Did he fall down on his breast or on his side ? ( goes out) Scene 8 The same people except Skalozub. C h a t s k y How can we help her? Tell me, Liz. L i z i e There's water over there . . . (Chatsky runs to bring water. All speak in a low voice until Sofia regains consciousness) Pour out a glass! C h a t s k y Well, there it is, Let loose the lacing, give her air, Now rub the temples with the vinegar, Now sprinkle water. See? It really Helps. She's breathing freely. Have you a fan? L i z i e Yes, here you are. C h a t s k y Look out! Molchalin has come round ! L i z i e It's idleness that torments her. Well, isn't it a pity, sir ? She cannot bear to see a man Dash to the ground, like we can. C h a t s k y Go on with sprinkling. There ! S o f i a ( with a deep sigh) Who's speaking ? It's like a dream. (speaks fast in a loud voice now) Where is he? What has happened to him ? C h a t s k y Whatever happened, never mind ! He nearly killed you. It serves him right. S o f i a You're killing me with coolness, you ! I cannot bear the sight of you ! C h a t s k y Do you expect me to shed tears ? S o f i a Go there and help him, if you please. C h a t s k y To leave you on your own here ? S o f i a I just don't need you. Do you hear ? It's true: about others you are not worried. If your own dad were killed, you wouldn't care. (to Lizzie) Let's go. L i z i e (taking her a little aside) No, wait. Just don't get flurried. He's safe and sound. Look out there! (Sofia looks out into the window) C h a t s k y The way she took it ! Fright. Confusion. Faint. One only feels that way, I understand. About the loss of a dearest friend. S o f i a They're coming here. He cannot raise his hand. C h a t s k y I wish I had got killed with him. S o f i a Just keep your wishes to yourself, if you have any. Scene 9 Sofia, Lizzie, Chatsky, Skalozub, Molchalin (with his bad arm bandaged) S k a l o z u b He's alive again. He got away with a little pain. It was a false alarm, just a mistake. M o l c h a l i n I frightened you. Forgive me for God's sake. S k a l o z u b I didn't know you would be frightened. As you dashed in we were startled, You fainted suddenly. And now it's clear, There was no reason to feel fear. S o f i a (looking aside) Although I know that all is safe I'm still shaking in my shoes. C h a t s k y (to himself) It seems, Molchalin is excused. S o f i a I never fear for myself. Say, when the coach gets overturned I wait until they put it right, Set it in order. And on I ride. I fear for others, for myself I don't. It doesn't care whom I fear for. C h a t s k y (to himself) She's making her apology For having pitied somebody. S k a l o z u b Now let me tell you something about a dame, A certain countess, Lasova by name. She rides a horse. A widow, she prefers To ride without her admirers. She was so hardly hurt the other day, The jockey must have turned his eyes away. A clumsy woman, now she's lost a rib. So she's looking for a man. In short, She needs a husband for support. S o f i a Andrey Andreyich, take my tip ! You're a generous man. When people are in need, You're a friend indeed. C h a t s k y I've made my every effort now, and I've Succeeded in bringing you back to life. I don't know though Whom I have done it for. (takes his hat and leaves) Scene 10 The same people except Chatsky. S o f i a We have a gathering tonight. Will you join us ? S k a l o z u b What time ? S o f i a Come early, there'll be friends, To piano music we shall dance. We're in mourning. So for a ball there's no chance. S k a l o z u b I'm engaged. Yet I will come tonight. I must be off. S o f i a Good bye. S k a l o z u b ( shaking Molchalin's hands) I'm your man. (goes out) Scene 11 Sofia, Lizzie, Molchalin. S o f i a Molchalin, I have almost lost my mind. Don't risk your life. Be careful if you can. You know how dear you are to me. Now tell me, please, how is your arm ? Shall I give you any kind of remedy ? Or call a doctor? It will do no harm. M o l c h a l i n I've dressed it and it doesn't ache. L i z i e I bet, it's nonsense, just a fake; For dressing there isn't any need, And you will not avoid publicity For Chatsky will make fun of it, And Skalozub will spread it through the city. He'll tell his story carrying it too far, He's fond of making jokes. All people are. S o f i a Which of the two I care for ? It's up to me - I can say "yes" or "no. Molchalin, I restrained my feeling, When I came in my mind was reeling, I couldn't breathe when they were there, To look at you I didn't dare. M o l c h a l i n - No, Sofia Pavlovna, you're too blunt. I wish I could be restraint, I can't. I nearly jumped out of the window then, And I don't care about any one of them, Let people grin or scold me if they want. M o l c h a l i n Well, if you hold you tongue, they won't. S o f i a Will you be challenged to a duel? I hope not. M o l c h a l i n The vicious tongues, they are more frightful than a pistol shot. L i z i e They're sitting there, I presume. You'd better rush into the room With a cheerful look, a happy face, Tell them the words they want to hear, They will believe words of praise. As to Alexander Andreyich he Will be just happy to converse With you about the bygone years. Just give a smile and he will do Anything under the sun for you. M o l c h a l i n I don't advise you anything. (kisses her hand) S o f i a I'll do it against my will. Although I cannot feign pretence, I think. What did God bring this Chatsky here for ? (goes out) Scene 12 Lizzie, Molchalin. M o l c h a l i n You're such a happy creature, you ! L i z i e Leave me alone. Without me you're two M o l c h a l i n You're such a beauty ! I love you so ! L i z i e And Sofia, too ? M o l c h a l i n I love her out of duty, I love you . . . ( wants to embrace her) L i z i e Out of boredom. Be off with you ! M o l c h a l i n I have three things for you: here is A toilet set, it's got two mirrors, One outside and one inside. Nice work. There's carving, gilt. Just have a look. This little thing with a beads ornament. Not bad. Nice little scissors an a needle pad. There's pomade, and here is another set: Two bottles of perfume: jasmine and mignonette. L i z i e You know in things I take no interest. You'd better tell me why You're so dissolute with me while with the mistress You're always modest, shy ? M o l c h a l i n I'm not well. My arm is dressed, you see ? At dinner time, when we're two, I shall confine the truth to you. (goes out through the side door) Scene 13 Lizzie, Sofia. S o f i a There's no one in the father's room. Too bad ! I'll miss the dinner. I'm not well today. Go to Molchalin, tell him that
A.S.Griboyedov WOE FROM WIT (A Four Act Comedy) Translated by A.S.Vagapov @ Translation, A.Vagapov, 1993 All Rights Reserved
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