I am interested in how good things—a comfortable home, physical beauty and riches, for example—influence the human heart. Must they always corrupt? To find out the answer to my question, I shall conduct a little experiment. The peasant Masaniello has twelve daughters and he can barely keep the wolf from his door. I will ask for his youngest, and, in exchange, I’ll give all his daughters a good dowry. The youngest will be raised by me, in absolute privilege, with all the love I can give her. Then we’ll see what kind of heart she has.
Here comes Masaniello now. He’s passing by my forest cave. I’ll frighten him, to be sure, but let’s see if he can get past appearances.