José Echegaray.

The son of Don Juan; an original drama in 3 acts inspired by the reading of Ibsen's work entitled Gengangere online

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sprightly little female donkey, which became enam-
oured of a most beautiful genius, who bore on his
forehead a very red little flame, and had very white
wings; and the bright genius, out of pure compassion,
fondled the ears of the little donkey; and she, in
accordance with her nature, began to leap for joy, and
it overthrew the genius, clipped his wings, and he
could fly no more. The blue of the firmament was
cut off from the genius, and there was left to him
nothing more than a very green meadow, a little
female donkey who was very good, but who was, after


all, a donkey. No, mother, I don't wish to be the
heroine of the story. Let us allow the genius to fly.

DOL. (to JAVIER). See what a creature she is !

JAV. A criminal humility.

DOL. But, indeed, if you persist, we shall let him

CAR. Don't you think we might let him have this
room free to himself? Here he has his books of
predilection, and he has more room, and he can walk
about ; he has told me many times that he composes
verses while walking about.

DOL. A good idea ! Let us go to my sitting-room.
(To JAVIER.) Tell him that we abandoned the field
to him, and that he may come without fear.

JAV. (laughing). Noble sacrifice !

DOL. But we'll have to make up the fire ; since we
opened the balcony a while ago the room has become
very cold. (Stirring the fire.}

CAR. It's true. But let him not receive the full
heat. We must place the screen in front so.
(Places it.)

DOL. It is well so.

CAR. (going to the balcony and raising the curtain).
Look look ! The sky has become a little cleared,
and the moon has issued from the clouds. Very
beautiful ! Very beautiful ! We must draw the
curtain back, that Lazarus may see it all and be the
more inspired. I know he likes to work while gazing
towards the heavens from time to time.

DOL. (running to help CARMEN). You are right ;
you think of everything.

JAV. Well, if after so many precautions and such
endearments the inspiration is not responsive, the
inspiration of Lazarus is hard to please.

CAR. Is everything ready now?


DOL. I think so. Wait your portrait is hidden in
the shade. We must place it so that the lamp may
throw light on it, so that he may be inspired by it

CAR. I inspire him ? Yes yes ! Take it away.
( Wishing to remove it.)

DOL. I shall not allow it. Let it remain where I
have put it, and let us go.

CAR. If you insist well, then let him see it. But
there is not much light. (Turning up the light of the

DOL. (to JAVIER). Call him let him come.

CAR. Yes, let him come and write something very
beautiful. Then I shall enter for a moment, to bid
him good-night.

DOL. Until then come, Carmen.

CAR. (to JAVIER). And you, too, leave him alone ;
you must not have any more privileges than we.

DOL. Are you coming to keep us company ?

JAV. Later on.

CAR. Is everything in order? (Looking round.)

DOL. I think so. Adieu.

CAR. Adieu !


[Exeunt to left CARMEN and DOLORES, halj
embracing each other.

JAV. The field is clear. Poor women ! How they
love him ! It is adoration. (Going to right.) Lazarus !
Good-for-nothing ! Now you can come come, if you
can !
Enter LAZARUS, pale, somewhat in disorder, and with

unsteady step ; in short, as the actor may think Jit.

LAZ. (looking about). Are they not here ?

JAV. No ; fortunately it occurred to them that you
would work better alone.


LAZ. Well, whatever you say, I think that I
presentable. Eh ? My head doesn't feel bad a
delicious vagueness. I seem to be encircled by a
mist a very soft mist ; and through its texture there
shine some little stars. In short, peaceful sensations,
very peaceful.

JAV. That's to say, you are better ?

LAZ. Don't I tell you so? My legs indeed give
way, but without pain. I walk in the midst of softness.
(Laughing!) My head among the clouds and the
ground of cotton-wool. Divine ! So ought the
universe to be that is, quilted. Lord ! what a world
has been made of it so rough, so hard, so inconve-
nient. At every step you stumble and injure yourself
rocks, rugged stones, sharp points, peaks, angles,
and little corners and big corners. The world should
be round quite so, and round it is ; roundness is
perfection ; but it should be an immeasurable sphere
of eider-down, so that, if a citizen falls, he may always
fall amid softness thus ! (Letting himself fall in the
arm-chair, or on one of the cushioned stools at the side
of the table.}

JAV. All very well but you really are not strong.

LAZ. I am not strong ? Stronger than you stronger
than you. Stronger.

JAV. I told you that you should not drink. It does
you harm ; your health is broken down.

LAZ. I'm broken down? I? How? I have not
been a saint, but neither have I been a madman. I
am young : I have always thought that I was strong :
and, through drinking two or three glasses, and
smoking a puro and laughing a little here am I
transformed into a stupid being ! Because, now, it is
not that I am broken down, as you say, nor that I am
drunk, as you suppose it is that I feel simply stupjd.


No ; and see, now, it is not so disagreeable to be
stupid : one feels a sort of merriment, as it were.
That's why so many people are merry. (Laughing!)
That's why ! That's why ! Now I am falling into
this same stupidity that's why, just so.

JAV. Attend to me, and understand what I say to
you, if you are in a condition to understand me.

LAZ. If I can understand you ? I understand
everything now. The world is transparent to me :
your head is made of crystal (laughing), and written
in very black and tortuous letters I read your
thought you suppose I am very bad. Poor Javier !

JAV. Don't talk such rubbish : I neither think such
a thing, nor are you really ill. Fatigue, weariness
nothing more. You have lived very fast in Madrid
during the last few years : you have thought much,
you have worked much, you have had a good deal of
pleasure, and you need a few months' rest here in
your father's house, with your mother, with Carmen.

LAZ. Carmen yes look at her. (Pointing to the
photograph!) There she is. How sad, how poetical,
how adorable a countenance. I wish to live for her.
With all the glory that I achieve I shall make a circle
of light for that dear, pretty little head. (Sends a kiss
to the portrait?) We shall live together, you and I,
my sweet little Carmen, and we shall be very happy.
(As if speaking with her.) For I wish to live.
(Growing excited and turning to JAVIER.) If I had
never lived it would never have suggested itself to me
that I should continue to live : but I have commenced,
and I don't wish to break off so soon. No no it
shall not be as God lives.

JAV. Come, Lazarus.

LAZ. I am strong. Why should I not be so?


What right has nature to make of me a feeble creature
whea I wish to be strong? My thought burns, my
heart leaps, my veins abound with the exuberance of
life, my desires are aflame ! To put steam of a thou-
sand atmospheres into an old and rusty boiler ! Oh !
infamous mockery !

JAV. Eh ! There you are, started off ! What
steam, or what boiler ? The little glass of cham-

LAZ. A man like myself cannot be tormented with
impunity. Here you have the world : it is yours :
run merrily through its valleys, mount its summits in
triumph ! But you shall not run, you shall not /
mount, unless rheumatism is planted in your bones.
Here you have the azure firmament : it is yours : fly
among its altitudes, gaze upon its horizons. But you
shall not fly except the plumage of your wings be
wrenched away and you become a worm-eaten car-
cass. What derision ! What satire ! What cruelty!
Accursed wine ! What extravagant things I see,
Javier ! Colossal figures in masks float across the
firmament, and, hung from very long strings, which
are suspended from very long canes, they bear suns
and splendours and stars, and they sweep onward
crying, " Hurrah ! hurrah I" 1 and I wish to reach all
that, and I cannot touch even one little star with my
lips. Grotesque, very grotesque ! Cruel ! very cruel !
Sorrowful, very sorrowful ! My God ! My God !
{He hides his face in his hands.)

JAV. Come, Lazarus, come. You see you cannot
commit even the slightest excess.

LAZ. I ha've uttered many follies, have I not ? No

1 The original "al higui ! al higui ! " is a term of rejoicing
peculiar to children in their games. It is only used in the South
of Spain.


matter : no one hears me but you, and it's a relief to
me. See, now I am more composed. I feel tred,
and I even think I am sleepy.

JAV. That would be best for you : sleep, sleep,
and let neither your mother nor Carmen ste you

LAZ. As for my mother, it would not matter.
(Smiling.') But, Carmen let not Carmen see me
looking ridiculous. The poor girl who imagines that
I am a superior being ! Poor child, what a joke !
(Stretches himself on the sofa.}

JAV. Good ; now don't speak. I shall not speak
either ; and try to sleep. With half an hour of sleep
everything will pass off.

LAZ. /Sleep, too, is ridiculous at times If I am
very ridiculous don't let Carmen see me.

JAV. No ; if you don't look as beautiful as Endy-
mion she shall not enter. /

Pause. JAVIER walks about. LAZARUS begins to

LAZ. Javier, Javier.

JAV. What?

LAZ. Now I am almost asleep. How do I look ?

JAV. Very poetical.

LAZ. Good thank you. Very poetical.

A pause.

"* JAV. No, Lazarus is not well. I shall speak to
his father no, not to Don Juan. To his mother,
\ who is the only person of sense in this house.

LAZ. Javier.

JAV. What do you want ?

LAZ. Put Carmen's picture more to the front.

JAV. So?

LAZ. So. For her the light ; for Lazarus the


JAV. (walking about slowly). Yes, I shall speak to
his mother. And happy coincidence ! I had not
remembered that the celebrated Doctor Bermudez, a
specialist in all that relates to the nervous system, has
arrived within the last few days. Then to him ! let
them consult with him.

LAZ. (now almost asleep). Javier.

JAV. But are you not going to sleepj*

LAZ. Yes but more in the light more in the light.
( With a somewhat sorrowful accent.)

JAV. Come (placing the portrait close to the light)
and silence.

LAZ. Yes . . . Carmen ! . . .

JAV. (contemplating him for a while.) Thank God

DOLORES, CARMEN, DON JUAN, and TmoiEj appear
at the threshold of the door at the back centre.

CAR. May we come in ?

JAV. Silence !

CAR. It was to say good-night.

JAV. He is asleep. He worked a short time, but he
was fatigued.

CAR. Then let us not disturb him. Adieu, Javier.
The light is in his eyes you should lower the shade.
Adieu. (Kissing DOLORES.) Adieu, Don Juan.}

TIM. (to DOL.) Till to-morrow. (To DON J.) Till

JUAN. Nor shall we let to-morrow go by. I shall
pay you a solemn visit and prepare yourself, little
rogue (to CARMEN).


JUAN. Silence, he is asleep.

TIM. Good, good. Ah ! it is late. Good-bye.


DOL. Good-bye, my daughter.

All have spoken in low voices.


DOL. (approaching JAVIER.) Did he work long ?

JAV. A short time, but with great ardour. A great
effort of intellect.

JUAN (approaching also and contemplating LAZA-
RUS). Lord, to think of what this boy is going to be!
The face foretells it. The aureola of talent !

DOL. He is very pale very pale.

JUAN. What would you have him to be ? Fat as a
German, and red as a beetroot ? Then he would not
be a genius.

DOL. However such pallor !

JUAN and DOLORES are bent over LAZARUS contem-
plating him with affectionate care.

JUAN. I am decidedly the father of a genius, and
then (to JAVIER) they come to me with

JAV. With what?

JUAN. With nothing. (Aside.} With moral ser-
mons, and with the law of heredity, and with all that
stale trash. The father a hare-brained fellow, and
the son a wise man.

DOL. But has nothing been amiss with him? Was
it nothing more than fatigue ?

JAV. Nothing more. You may withdraw : I shall
stay until he awakes.

JUAN. I shall not withdraw. I was wanting
nothing better. I shall sit down here (sitting at the
other side of the table), and from here I shall watch
the sleep of Lazarus. You remain on foot, in honour
of the genius. Keep away, keep away from before
him, that you may not prevent me from seeing my


DOL. Yet the sleep is not very restful.

JUAN. How should it be restful, woman, since he
must be busied with great matters in his dreams ?

DOL. My Lazarus.

JAV. (aside.} Poor Lazarus.

JUAN (laughing quietly). Don Juan Tenorio
watching the sleep of the son of Don Juan ! silence
silence let's see if we shall hear anything from the
son of Don Juan. ( With pride and tenderness.)

" SE vT



Same appointments as in first Act. It is day. On
the little table are flowers. DON JUAN discovered
seated close to the tea-table. LAZARUS also dis-
covered. He sometime walks about; again he
sits down : he tries to write, he throws away the<
pen. He opens a book and reads for a few*
moments, closes it irritably and resumes his
walking about. It is evident that he is uneasy
and nervous. All this in the course of the scene
with his father. DON JUAN follows him with
his eyes and smokes a puro.

JUAN. What are you thinking of? Ah ! pardon ! I
must not disturb you.

LAZ. You don't disturb me, father. I was thinking
of nothing important. My imagination was wander-
ing, and I was wandering after it.

JUAN. If you wish to work to write to read and
I trouble you I shall go. Ha, I shall go. (Rising.)
Do you want me to go ? for here I am going.

LAZ. No, father, good gracious ! You disturb me !

JUAN (siting down again). The fact is, as you see,
that which I do can be done anywhere. It is in
substance nothing. Well, for the performance of
nothing any point of space is good. (Laughing.) Of
space ! There are your philosophical offshoots taking
6 4


root in me. The father in space, the son in the fifth
heaven. That's why I say if I disturb

LAZ. No, father, don't go away ; and let us talk of
what you please.

JUAN. Much good you'd get by talking with me.
To your great books, to your papers, to those things
which astound by their greatness and are admired
for their beauty I Continue continue ! I shall see
you at work. I, too, shall busy myself with some-
thing. (Pulls the bell.)

LAZ. As you like. [Sits down and writes fitfully.

JUAN. Little Teresa (looking at his son and cor-
recting himself. ) Teresa, bring me a glass of sherry
and a few biscuits ; I also have to busy myself with
something. And bring me the French newspapers ;
no, nothing but Figaro and Gil Bias. (To his son.)
And so we shall both be at work. (To TERESA.)
Listen by the way, bring me that novel which is
in my room. You can read, can't you ?

TER. Yes, senor.

JUAN. Well, then, a book which says Nana you
understand ?

TER. Yes, senor. Nd-nd. For no is na".

JUAN. It is something, little girl, (aside) something
that you will be in time. [Exit TERESA.

LAZ. (Rises and walks about aside). I have no
ideas. To-day I have no ideas. Yes, I have many ;
but they come like a flight of birds ; they flutter about
and they go.

JUAN. See now I cannot bear immoral novels.

LAZ. You said . . . ?

JUAN. Nothing ! I thought that you said something.
I said that I cannot endure immoral novels. (Assum-


ing airs of austerity?) I read them, I read " Nana," out
of curiosity, as a study, but I can't bear them. Lite-
rature is in a lost condition, my son, in a lost condition.
Nemesio lent me that book and I am anxious to have
done with it.

LAZ. Zola is a great writer. (Aside.) This is the
very thing that I was looking for. (He sits and writes.)

Enter TERESA with a tray, a bottle of sherry, a
glass and the biscuits, " Nana " and the two

TER. Here is everything. The sherry : the news-
papers just come, the tender little biscuits, and the
tender little Nana (baby) as well. (She stands looking
at the two gentlemen.)

JUAN. Bring the sherry closer, Teresa. Work, boy,
work. Take no notice of me. Work, for it is thus
that men attain success. I also in my youth have
worked much. That's the reason I look so old.
(Staring at TERESA who laughs.) (Aside.) What's
that stupid girl laughing at? (To TERESA.) Now,
you may go. I don't want you. The Gil Bias!
(Unfolds it and begins to read it.) Let us have a look
at these wretched little newspapers. . . . (affecting
contempt.) I told you to go. (To TERESA.) Let's
see, let's see. (Reads.)

TER. Yes, senor. (She remains for a while looking
at the two, and turns towards the door in the back

LAZ. (rising). Teresa

TER. Senorito

LAZ. Come here and speak lower : let us not dis-
turb your master, who is reading. Did you take the
letter which I gave you this morning?

TER. Yes, senorito, I took it myself. Whatever
you require me to do, senorito !


LAZ. Good. It was for Senor Bermudez, eh?

TER. Yes, senorito. That doctor who has such a
great name, who has come from Madrid for a few
days to cure Don Luciano Barranco the same who,
they say, is either mad or not mad. (Laughing!)

LAZ. (starting, then restraining himself]. Ah !
Yes. Quite so ; the same. And did you see him ?
Did you hand him the letter? Did he give you the
answer ? Where is it ? Come, quick !

TER. Eh, senorito

LAZ. Come

TER. I gave the letter : he was not in : they

LAZ. Lower (Looking at his father who laughs
while reading the newspaper.}

TER. They said that as soon as he came back they
would give him the letter. Have no fear, senorito.
Whatever little I take charge of ! Well, if I do nothing
worse than

LAZ. It's well thanks. (Dismissing her, then re-
calling her.} Oh ! if they bring the answer here on
the instant eh ?

TER. On the instant : I should think so ! have no
fear, senorito.

LAZ. Enough ! let us not trouble my father.


JUAN. Ha ! ha ! ha ! Facetious, very facetious !
sprightly, very sprightly ! Pungent as a capsicum
from the Rioja I It is the only newspaper that one
can read !

LAZ. Some interesting article ? What is it ? What
does it say ? Let me see ! (Approaching and stretch-
ing out his hand.)

JUAN (keeping back the newspaper}. A very shame-
less little article and quite without point. It must


be put away. (Puts it in a pocket of his dressing-
gown, but in such a way that it may be seen.} May
the devil not so contrive things that Carmen may
come and find the newspaper and read it in all inno-

LAZ. (withdrawing). It is true : you do well !
Walks about nervously.)

JUAN (aside). And I had not finished reading it :
I shall read it afterwards. (Takes up "Nana.") This
also is good. The spring with all its verdure. (Aloud.)
Work, boy, work !

I LAZ. (aside). I shall speak to the Doctor this very
day, that he may set my mind at ease. I know that
nothing is the matter with me ; but I want a specialist
L to assure me on the point. And then, with mind
at peace to my drama, to my critico-historical work,
to my aesthetic theories which are new, completely
new and to Carmen. And with the muse at one
side, recounting marvels in my ear, and with Carmen
on the other side, pressed against my heart to enjoy
life, to inhale the odour of triumphs, to live for love,
to satiate my longings amidst eternal mysteries.

JUAN. Stupendous ! Monumental ! Sufficient to
make one die of laughing. Lord, why does a man
read ? To be amused ; then books that are amusing
for me ! (Laughing.)

LAZ. Is that a nice book ?

JUAN (changing his tone). Pshaw yes pretty
well. But these frivolous things are tiresome after
all. (Sees LAZARUS coming towards him, and puts
" Nana " into the other pocket of the dressing-gown?)
Have you anything solid to read really substan-
tial ?

LAZ. I have many large books. "What class do you


JUAN. Something serious ; something that instructs
you, that makes you think.

LAZ. (going to the bookcase). Would you like
something of Kant ?

JUAN. Of Kant ? Do you say of Kant ? Quite so !
he was my favourite author. When I was young I ~*
went to sleep every night reading Kant. (Aside.) C '
What will that be? It sounds like a dog.

LAZ. (searching out a passage). If you like, I shall
tell you.

JUAN. No, my lad ; any part whatever ! (Taking
the book.) Yes, this may be read at any part. You
shall see. And don't concern yourself with me ; write,
my son, write.

LAZARUS sits and attempts to write. DON JUAN

" Under the aspect of relationship, the third con-
sequence of taste, the beautiful appears to us as the
final form of an object, without representation of
end." The devil ! (holding the book far off", as long-
sighted people do and contemplating it with terror.)
The devil ! " or as a finality without end." Whoever
can understand this ? " Because what is called final
form is the causality of any conception whatever with
relation to the object." Let me see let me see.
(Holding the book still further off.) " Final form the
causality." I believe I am perspiring. (Wipes his " ^H^
forehead.) " The consciousness of this finality without
end is the play of the cognitive forces." How does
he say that? "The play of the forces the play."
Well, I ought to understand this about play. " The
consciousness of this internal causality is that which
constitutes the aesthetic pleasure." If I go on it will
give me a congestion. Jesus, Mary and Joseph !


And to think that Lazarus understands about the
finality without end, the causality and the play of the
cognitive forces! God help me! What a boy!
{continues reading.} " The principle of the formal
convenience of nature is the transcendental principle
of the force of Judgment." (Giving a blow on the
table} I shall be lost if I continue reading. But if
that boy reads these things he will go mad.

LAZ. Does it interest you ?

JUAN. Very much ! What depth ! [(Aside./ For
five minutes I have been falling, and I Iiave not
reached the bottom. (Aloud.} I should think it does
interest me ! But, frankly, I prefer

LAZ. Hegel? /'

JUAN. Exactly; (Aside)* "Nana."' But you, my son,
neither read, nor write : you are fretful. What's the
matter with you ? Did the hunting tire you ? Yet
the exercise of the chase is very healthy for one who
like you wears himself away over his books. Are you

LAZ. No, sefior, I am not ill. And I spent these
three days in the country very pleasantly. But this
morning broke dull and rainy, and I said " Home ! "

JUAN. And you arrived when I was getting up.
I told you the great news ; immediately you showed
great delight ; but then you fell into sublime pre-
occupations. Poor Carmen ! (approaching him with
an air of secrecy} You don't love her as she loves

LAZ. With all my soul ! More than you can
imagine ! I am as I am : reserved, untamed, un-
polished but I know how to love !

JUAN. Better and better ! The poor little thing-
come, now the poor little thing.

LAZ. And why did not Don Timoteo answer on


the spot that he accepted ? When you asked him for
his daughter for me, why did he hesitate ?

JUAN. What do you mean by hesitation ? I do him
the honour of requesting the hand of Carmen for my
Lazarus and he would hesitate ! I should strangle
the scarecrow. Marry a man like you ! What more
could any daughter or any father desire ?

LAZ. Then why did he put off the answer till
to-day ?

JUAN. The prescriptions of etiquette : social con-
ventionalities : he was always a great stickler for
etiquette. Because he must consult with Carmen.
Imagine him consulting with Carmen ! When the
poor little thing is like a soul in purgatory, and you
are her heaven. Ha ! ha !

LAZ. You are right.

JUAN. No : you shall have your sweet little wife,
your home ; you shall work hard, you shall gain great
glory, you shall keep a sound judgment and let the
whole world say : Don Lazarus Mejia, son of Don
Juan Mejia ! Oh !

LAZ. Yes, senor : I shall do what I can and I
shall love my Carmen dearly.

JUAN. That's right that's right. But something's
the matter with you. You seem as it were absent-

LAZ. I am thinking of my drama.

JUAN. Then I shall go ! decidedly I shall go !
With my insipid chatter I prevent you from thinking.
Oh 1 thought ! the the (looking at the book) " the

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Online LibraryJosé EchegarayThe son of Don Juan; an original drama in 3 acts inspired by the reading of Ibsen's work entitled Gengangere → online text (page 4 of 8)