the old song and dance
[Monsieur Jourdain’s house. In the middle of the
stage is a pupil of the Music Master seated at a
table, composing a melody that Monsieur Jourdain
has commissioned for a concert.]
Dancing Master: Our work, yours and mine, is
not trivial at present.
Music Master: This is true. We’ve found here
such a man as we both need. This is a nice
source of income for us—this Monsieur Jourdain, with the visions of nobility and gallantry
that he has gotten into his head. You and I
should hope that everyone resembled him.
Dancing Master: Not entirely. I could wish that
he understood better the things that we give him.
Music Master: It’s true that he understands
them poorly, but he pays well, and that’s what
our art needs now more than anything else.
Dancing Master: As for me, I admit, I feed a
little on glory. Applause touches me, and I hold
that, in all the fine arts, it is painful to produce for dolts, to endure the barbarous opinions of a fool about my choreography. It is a
pleasure, don’t tell me otherwise, to work for
people who can appreciate the fine points of an
art, who know how to give a sweet reception
to the beauties of a work and, by pleasurable
approbations, gratify us for our labor. Yes, the
most agreeable recompense we can receive for
the things we do is to see them recognized and
flattered by an applause that honors us. There is
nothing, in my opinion, that pays us better for
all our fatigue, and it is an exquisite delight to
receive the praises of the well-informed.
Music Master: I agree, and I enjoy them as you
do. There is surely nothing more agreeable than
the applause you speak of, but that incense does
not provide a living. Pure praises do not pro-
vide a comfortable existence. It is necessary to
add something solid, and the best way to praise
is to praise with cash in hand. He’s a man, it’s
true, whose insight is very slight, who talks non-
sense about everything and applauds only for
the wrong reasons, but his money makes up for
his judgments. He has discernment in his purse.
His praises are in cash, and this ignorant bour-
geois is worth more to us, as you see, than the
educated nobleman who introduced us here.
Dancing Master: Here he comes.
Monsieur Jourdain: Well gentlemen? What’s
this? Are you going to show me your little skit?
Dancing Master: How? What little skit?
Monsieur Jourdain: Well, the…what do you
call it? Your prologue or dialogue of songs and
Dancing Master: Ha ha!
Music Master: You ought to learn music, sir, as
you are learning dancing. They are two arts that
have a close connection.
Dancing Master: And that open the mind of a
man to fine things.
Monsieur Jourdain: And do people of quality
learn music, too?
Music Master: Yes, sir.
Monsieur Jourdain: I’ll learn it then. But I don’t
know when I can find time, for besides the
fencing master who’s teaching me, I have also
engaged a master of philosophy who is to begin
Music Master: Philosophy is something, but
music, sir, music…
Dancing Master: Music and dancing, music and
dancing, that’s all that’s necessary.
Music Master: There’s nothing so useful in a
state as music.