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The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes. 1906.

Carlo Goldoni (1707–1793)

Forcing a Match

From “The Beneficent Bear”

GERONTE, alone.
Ger.Yes, Martuccia is right. I sometimes allow my temper to get the better of me. But I must treat my niece with the gentleness she deserves.

Enter ANGELICA, who remains standing at the door.
Ger.Come closer, niece.

Ang.(advancing timidly).Sir——

Ger.How do you expect me to hear you if you remain three miles away?

Ang.(comes nearer, trembling).Sir—I beg your pardon—I——

Ger.Well, what have you to say?

Ang.Has Martuccia told you nothing?

Ger.Yes, she spoke of you, and then of your brother—that erratic fellow—that idiot, who is letting a harebrained woman lead him by the nose, who has ruined himself, who is done for, for whom I have lost all respect!(ANGELICA turns to go.)

Ger.(excitedly).Where are you going?

Ang.Sir, you seem to be angry——

Ger.Well, what business is that of yours? If I get angry with a fool, how can that affect you? Come here, and speak to me. Never mind my being put out.

Ang.My dear uncle, I shall never dare to speak until you are in a calmer frame of mind.

Ger.(aside).This is unendurable! Well, I am calm now. Speak.

Ang.Martuccia may have told you——

Ger.I don’t care a straw what Martuccia told me. I want to hear it from yourself.

Ang.(timorously).My brother——

Ger.(mocking her).Your brother——

Ang.Wants to shut me up in a convent.

Ger.Do you want to go to a convent?

Ang.Why, sir——

Ger.Answer at once!

Ang.It is not for me to decide.

Ger.I never asked you to decide!(Furiously.)I want to know what you think about it!

Ang.Oh, sir, you frighten me!

Ger.(aside).I am dying with rage!(Restraining himself).Come here; I am listening. So the convent does not suit you?


Ger.What would you prefer to do?

Ang.Sir, I——

Ger.Don’t be afraid. I am perfectly calm. Speak freely.

Ang.Oh, I have not the courage!

Ger.Come here! Do you want to marry?


Ger.Yes or no.

Ang.If you would only——

Ger.Yes or no.

Ang.Why, yes, I——

Ger.Yes, do you say? You want to marry? You want to throw away your liberty, your peace of mind? Very well, so much the worse for you. Yes, you shall marry.

Ang.(aside).He is really very kind in spite of his bad temper.

Ger.Have you any particular choice?

Ang.(aside).Oh! if I only had the courage to tell him about Valerio!

Ger.What! Do you mean to say you already have some lover?

Ang.(aside).I am sure this is not the right moment. I shall ask Martuccia to interview him.

Ger.Now, this is enough. Let us settle the question. The house where you live, the people you see, may perhaps have led you to form some attachment? Out with the truth!(Angrily).Yes, I am going to do something for you, but only on condition that you deserve it. Do you hear?

Ang.(very much frightened).Ye-e-s.

Ger.Now, then, answer me openly, frankly: Is it the case that you have any preference?

Ang.Oh, no, sir—I—I have none.

Ger.So much the better. I will engage to find a husband for you.

Ang.Oh—sir—uncle—I had not——

Ger.What’s the matter now?

Ang.You know how timid I am.

Ger.Yes, yes, I know all about your timidity. I know what women are. You are a turtle-dove now, but after you are married you will be a dragon.

Ang.Well, then, my dear uncle, as you are so kind——

Ger.Yes, too kind——

Ang.Let me confess to you——

Ger.Confound it, that fellow Dorval is not here yet!

Ang.Listen, my dear uncle——

Ger.Leave me alone!(Turns to a chess-board with pieces standing on it.)

Ang.Only a word!

Ger.No, that’s enough!

Ang.(aside).Heavens! Here I am, unhappier than ever! But my dear Martuccia will not forsake me.(Exit.)


Ger.Let us finish our game of chess, and say no more about that affair.

Dor.But it is about your nephew——

Ger.About an idiot, a miserable creature who is the slave of his wife and the victim of his vanity!

Dor.Not so excited, my dear friend—not so excited!

Ger.Oh, you with your coolness, you drive me mad!

Dor.I am speaking to you with the best of intentions.

Ger.Sit down.

Dor.(aside).I am sorry for his poor nephew.

Ger.Now, let us see about this game we left off yesterday——

Dor.You will lose——

Ger.Perhaps not. Let us see.

Dor.I repeat, you will lose——

Ger.No, I feel quite sure——

Dor.If you do not come to his assistance, you will lose him altogether.

Ger.Lose what?

Dor.Your nephew.

Ger.Confound it! I was talking about the game. Sit down, I tell you!

Dor.I shall be very glad to play, only I want you to listen to me first.

Ger.Are you going to talk about that young Dalancour?

Dor.Perhaps I may.

Ger.Then I will not listen.

Dor.So you hate him?

Ger.No, sir, I hate no one.

Dor.But, if you will not——

Ger.That’s enough. Play! If the game is not to be continued I shall go away.

Dor.Only a word, and I shall have done.

Ger.Heavens, how patient I am!

Dor.You have a considerable fortune.

Ger.Yes, the Lord be praised!

Dor.More than enough for your own wants——

Ger.Yes, enough to help my friends if necessary.

Dor.And still you decline to give anything to your nephew?

Ger.Not a farthing shall he have!



Dor.You hate him.

Ger.Consequently, you don’t know what you are talking about. I detest, I loathe his way of thinking, his abominable conduct. To give him money would simply be to encourage his vanity, his extravagance, and his folly. Let him change his system, and I will change as soon as he does. I want to see beneficence deserved through repentance, and not repentance hindered by beneficence.

Dor.Very well, then. Let us go on with the game.

Ger.Yes, let us play.

Dor.(makes a move).I am very sorry for him——

Ger.(makes a move).Check to your king.

Dor.(makes a move).And that poor girl——

Ger.What girl?

Dor.Your niece, Angelica.

Ger.Oh! as for her—that is another question. Tell me about her.

Dor.She must be suffering a great deal.

Ger.Yes, I have thought of that. I am going to see about that. I am going to find her a husband.

Dor.Well done! She certainly deserves one.

Ger.She is a charming young woman—is she not?


Ger.Lucky the man who gets her.(After a moment’s reflection).By the way, Dorval——

Dor.Well, my friend?


Dor.What have you to say?

Ger.You are my friend?

Dor.Do you doubt it?

Ger.If you want her, I will give her to you.

Dor.Whom do you mean?

Ger.Why, my niece.


Ger.You ask what? Are you deaf? Don’t you understand? Surely I am plain enough. If you want her, I will give her to you.

Dor.Goodness gracious!

Ger.If you take her, besides her marriage portion she shall have a hundred thousand out of my pocket. Well, what do you say to that?

Dor.My dear friend, you honor me highly——

Ger.I know who and what you are, and I am certain that by this means I shall insure my niece’s happiness.



Dor.Her brother might object.

Ger.Her brother? Her brother has nothing to do with it. It is my affair to dispose of her hand. I am master here. Come, make haste; decide at once!

Dor.What you propose is not a matter upon which a man can make up his mind in a moment. You are too impetuous.

Ger.I see no difficulty about it. If you like her, if you respect her, if she suits you, then it’s all settled.


Ger.But! But! What is this but of yours?

Dor.Do you see no disproportion in our ages—sixteen and forty-five?

Ger.None at all. You are still young, and I know Angelica; she is not a silly, frivolous creature.

Dor.Supposing, however, that she had a preference for some one else?

Ger.She has none.

Dor.Are you quite sure?

Ger.Quite sure. So let us come to an agreement at once. I will go to my notary’s, I will make him draw up the settlements, and she is yours.

Dor.Gently, my dear friend, gently!

Ger.(very angrily).Eh? What do you say? Do you intend to worry me any longer with your dilatoriness, your beastly indifference?

Dor.So, then, you want to——

Ger.Yes, of course—give you a good, virtuous, careful wife, with a hundred thousand as marriage portion and another hundred thousand for a wedding present. Do you consider that an offense, by any chance?

Dor.By no means. You do me an honor which I scarcely deserve.

Ger.(in a fury).Your confounded diffidence is just about enough to make me want to give her to the devil!

Dor.Do not be so angry. Do you really wish me to accept?


Dor.Very well, then; I accept——

Ger.(delighted).Do you?

Dor.But only provided——


Dor.That Angelica herself consents.

Ger.Is that the only difficulty?

Dor.That is all.

Ger.Then I am satisfied. I will answer for her.

Dor.All the better, if you are sure.

Ger.Quite certain, quite sure! Embrace me, my dear nephew-in-law!

Dor.Yes, let us embrace, my dear uncle-in-law!