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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cognitive forces" the the (looking again) "the
finality "that's it" the finality." Ah ! Good-bye.

LAZ. But don't go away on my account.

JUAN. We must show respect to the wise. (Laugh-
ing.) I am going to read all alone the great book


which you have lent me. (Taking a flower and
putting it in the buttonhole of his dressing-gown)
Consider now, whether I shall hesitate between
Kant and " Nana." (Pulls the bell.}

LAZ. As you please.

JUAN. Good-bye, my son. To your drama to
your drama and put nothing immoral in it.


TER. Senor.

JUAN. Listen, Teresa : take all that to my room.
Wait (Pours himself out a glass. Touching one pocket.}
Here is Gil Bias, (touching) here is "Nana": Kant
hauled along by the neck and to my room. Work,
my boy, work ! Do something great. Leave some-
thing to the world. I shall leave you I think
(drinking the glass of wine.} Well, this finality has
an end. To work to work ? Good-bye. Lord,
what a Lazarus this is ! To my room with all that,
little Teresa.

[Exit carrying in one pocket Gil Bias, in the other
"Nana," in his buttonhole the flower, and
gripped very hard the "volume of Kant.

LAZ. Teresa, they have brought no letter for me ?

TER. (preparing to remove the wine and the biscuits),
No, senor.

LAZ. Patience : you did not tell my mother I had
written to that Senor de Bermudez.

TER. No, senor.

LAZ. Has my mother got up ?

TER. Got up, indeed ! Before you returned this
morning from hunting, Dona Dolores had already gone
to call for the Senorita Carmen that they might go to
Mass together.

LAI. Good.


TER. And I don't know how she rose so early, nor
how she found courage to go out.

LAZ. Why?

TER. Because last night she was very ill : very ill

LAZ. (starting up). My mother !

TER. Yes, senor. I say that it must have been the
nerves. How she cried : how she twisted her arms !
Indeed I wanted to send an express messenger for
you to come back at once.

LAZ. Ah ! my God, my poor mother ! and why was
I not informed ? I would have mounted on horse-
back ; and in one hour here.

TER. Because the senora would not have it so.
" Silence, not a word to anybody," so she said, and
an order from her is an order.

LAZ. But how is it possible? My father said
nothing to me !

TER. He was not informed : he went to the theatre,
afterwards to the Casino with Don Timoteo and Don
Nemesio; he returned late, and as the senora had
given orders " to nobody " nothing was said to him ;
and he knew nothing.

LAZ. But how was it ? Why was it ? She who is
never ill !

TER. I don't know. The senora dined early and
alone. Afterwards she went out. She came back at
ten o'clock : she could scarcely enter her room, and
immediately fell to the ground just like a tower that

LAZ. My God I my God ! And you never informed
me !

TER. Well, I am informing you now. And in spite of
what she said, " not a word." But as to you for your
sake! Oh ! when it concerns you, senorito. (LAZARUS


pays no attention to her.) But don't be distressed :
this morning already she was so strong and so well :
yes, really, very pale and with such dark circles round
the eyes ! but so strong. We women are thus : now
we are dying and afterwards we revive : we go back
to death and again we return to life.

LAZ. You mean that now she is well ? But entirely

TER. Don't I tell you she is as well as could be ?
Let your mind rest, senorito.

LAZARUS, very much agitated, has been "walking

LAZ. Good, good, if it has already passed off in
short, when my mother returns, tell me.

TER. You have no other orders ?

LAZ. No. (A bell rings several times.) My father
is calling : go, go quickly. The vibrating of the bell
makes me nervous.

TER. I must take away this. (Takes up the trays.)

LAZ. (the bell continues ringing). Take it away
quickly for pity's sake.

TER. On the instant ; what a hurry that good
gentleman is in !

LAZ. And if they bring the answer from Senor de

TER. Immediately afterwards. (The bell con-
tinues.) I am coming, I am coming. (She says this
without calling aloud, as if to herself.)


LAZ. (alone). What she has told me about my
poor mother- has unstrung all my nerves. I am not
well. Bah ! I am not ill. How Doctor Bermudez
will laugh at me when I consult him. The fact is
that I am very apprehensive ; but I feel strong : Javier


says to me every moment : "My boy, don't strut
about on your heels so much." Steady ; so, steady.
(He walks about, treads with his heels and laughs.}
I know now what's the matter. I am very happy and
I have a horrible dread of losing so much happiness.
Very happy. (Counting on his fingers?) My father
and mother, so good ; Carmen, who adores me ; I,
who am raving about her ; glory, which calls me ;
I who answer, " Forward, Lazarus '' ; my eyes, which
are my own and are never satiated with drinking in
light and colours ; my thought, which is mine, and
which does not tire of originating wonders ; my life,
which is mine, and which desire^ to live more, to live
more yes, more ! (A pause^/T They say that life is
dull, that it is mournful. Buffoons ! Has anything
better been discovered ?/ Is it better to be stone
which has no nerves to quiver with delight ? Is it
better to be water which always runs in headlong
stupidity without knowing where it goes ? Is it better
to be air to blow without motive and to fill itself with
the foulest earth and dust? No, it is better to be
Lazarus. (Resumes the counting on his fingers?) For
Lazarus has very good parents ; he has Carmen ; he
has glory ; he has life ; and he has, above all, thought,
reason ! Ha ! I have all this : I have it : what
remains to be done if I have it ! (Sits down in a
somewhat cowering manner?) It is evident because
all this is so good, and because I have it, I am afraid
to lose it. I am as terrified as a little child ; at times^.
it seems to me that I am a little child, and I am seized
with impulses to run to my mother and wrap myself
round in her skirt. A man who almost understands
Kant and Hegel ; who writes dramas which are very
well received, yes, senor, very well received ; who
meditates transcendental works. A man, in every


sense a man, who has fought duels in Madrid, and
has had a little love affair or so (laughing) and
very pleasant too : the practical reason, not of Kant
but of Zola, which turns the Pure Reason of Kant into
ridicule and makes even the good matron laugh.
Well then, this formidable Lazarus at times is a child,
and he would like his mother to embrace him and to
buy him toys ! To be a child, yes ; all the same
it is good to be a child. Nay. I should like it.
(Laughing!) But what absurdities ! Lord, what
absurdities ! (Remains cowering in his chair \ thinking
and laughing very low.)


TER. Senorito, a gentleman has given me this card.

LAZ. (as if awaking). A gentleman? Let me see
Doctor Bermudez ! But why has he put himself to
inconvenience ? I would have gone to him. Let him
come in. Let him come in. Quick, woman, let him
come in. (Exit TERESA.) With this man I must
have much prudence, much composure, much calm.
If he had heard the nonsense that I was talking !
What a terror !

TERESA, (re-entering and announcing). Sefior de
Bermudez. [Exit TERESA.


BERM. Senor Don Lazarus Mejia ?

LAZ. Your servant very much your servant one
who is grieved to the heart for having troubled a
person such as you. A man of eminence a man of
knowledge. ( With much courtesy ', but endeavouring to
restrain himself.)

BERM. Not so not so I received your letter.

LAZ. Indeed, it was not meant that you should give
yourself any trouble. I begged you to be good


enough to appoint a time for me and I should have
gone to your house. But take a seat. I cannot allow
you to remain standing an instant longer. Sit down !
(Making him sit down.} Here no here you will
be better here.

BERM. Many thanks. You are very amiable !
( Takes a seat.}

LAZ. I don't know whether I am entitled to sit
down in the presence of a man like yourself; a
national glory ! (Commands himself so that his accent
is natural : perhaps however he errs a little by excess
of courtesy.)

BERM. For goodness' sake !

LAZ. A man of European fame !

yL__B_ERM. You overwhelm me. I don't deserve
[^AsidelJ He is very engaging, this young man. They
were right in Madrid to say that he has plenty of

LAZ. You don't deserve it ? Ah ! in the mouth of
a celebrity like Doctor Bermudez, modesty will always
have a voice, but it has no vote.

BERM. Senor de Mejia. (Aside.} How well he
speaks !

LAZ. Don't treat me ceremoniously. I am not
deserving of so much solemnity. " Senor de Mejia" !
(Laughing.} Call me Lazarus. I really don't
deserve anything better; treat me as a master
might a pupil. I dare not say as a kind friend
would treat a respectful friend.

BERM. As you please. It will be an honour for me !
(Aside.} Very engaging, very engaging !

LAZ. Well, I repeat that I am sorry at heart for
having given you this trouble.

BERM. Not at all. ^already told your mother last
night that if at any other time she required me, or if


she wished by any further suggestions to make me
amplify my opinion, I was unconditionally at her
orders. A card saying to me " Come," and I should
come instantly. And so it is that on receiving the
letter this morning as you may imagine I said, " I
must place myself at the feet of that lady, and I must
personally become acquainted with her son, a national
glory of the future, one who is destined to have a
European renown."

LAZ. Senor de Bermudez ! (Repudiating the
honour with a gesture. Aside.) My mother last
night what does he say ? (Commanding himself,
then aloud.) So my mother went last night to see
you because

BERM. Yes, senor, she has already explained every-
thing to me. That you were out hunting, and that
you did not mean to return this week ; that she had
been informed that I was going back to Madrid this
day, and that she had been anxious to consult me
without the loss of a moment concerning the illness of
that poor young man a cousin or a nephew, or a
relative I think he is a nephew of your mother,
whose name she said was Don Luis Don

LAZ. Quite so a nephew. You have it. (Smiling.
Then aside.) What's this ? What relative is that ?
Why, it is not true. God of Heaven ! (Aloud.) A
nephew that's it. To whom God does not give sons,

the devil, (Laughing.) Yes, but she also has me

her Lazarus, her son !

BERM. And she must be proud.

LAZ. Senor de Bermudez, have compassion on a
beginner. But I wish you to explain to me what you
had the kindness to explain to my mother ; because
ladles don't understand much about medical science


and though I understand just as little of it, never-

BERM. Quite so ; it is a speciality.

LAZ. A speciality, that's it ; it is a speciality. And
moreover, I know that young man more intimately
poor Luis ! And I can supply you with fresh

BERM. Oh ! those of your mother were very precise.
She has a keenly observant mind.

LAZ. Very much so ; don't you describe it well ! A
keenly observant mind. (Aside.) My God! my
mother and on her return home her weeping
what does this man say ?

BERM. Altogether it would be better that I should
see the poor young man ; but should that not be

LAZ. I should think it is possible, and that would
be the best. You shall see him. I myself will take
him to you to your house. Yes, sefior, to your
house ; yes, senor.

BERM. That will do perfectly. That was what
I said to your mother, but she told me in reply that so
long as things don't come to an extremity, families
require to consider. I understand and I impute no

LAZ. Nothing of the kind. Now, at this very
moment you shall come with me to see that that
poor young man. A man like you ! Why, there's no
difficulty about it.

BERM. (rising). Then I await your orders.

LAZ. Allow me, my friend, my dear friend : first of
all I should like I beg of you to tell me what my
mother explained to you, and what was your opinion ;
because, although she related everything to me this
morning, I should be glad to hear it from your lips.


One learns everything by listening to such a man as
Doctor Bermudez. (In a persuasive tone.} I am so
anxious that you should speak, and that I should hear
you. Indeed, it has been the dream of my existence.
Speak, speak.

BERM. Dear Lazarus. (Aside.} I have fascinated

him, decidedly. (Aloud.} Your mother explained to

me with great lucidity all the antecedents of the

I patient : his sufferings when a child, his character, his

! studies, his excitable imagination, the first symptoms

l of the illness, a fainting attack, another more violent.

LAZ. (somewhat drily]. All that I know already.
Go on. ( With extreme cordiality?) Go on, my dear

BERM. The doctor is rather like a confessor, and
your mother did not object to letting me know of the
youthful days of the father of the father of the young

LAZ. Ah ! his youthful days yes his youthful
days yes yes and what else ?

BERM. His vicious conduct ; his unbridled liber-

LAZ. (excitedly). Libertinism ! (Controlling him-
self?) Yes. (With a forced laugh?) Follies of youth.
A lady always exaggerates these things. I have not
been a saint myself; neither have you. Doctor,
doctor, you with all your science and all your
gravity. God knows. God knows ! Oh ! these
doctors ! (Giving him a slap on the back?) And
what more ?

BERM. (laughing). We are mortals and sinners,
friend Lazarus.

LAZ. And we take for fine gold little lenses of talc.
Come, come to the talc.

BERM. Thus stands the case that that good


gentleman, the father of the patient, reached the age
of gravity, and he was not a steady man, and he did
not correct his faults. His wife seems to have suffered
very much. Is all this exact which your mother told
me? Because if it is exact it must be taken into
account. That's the reason I ask.

LAZ. (aside). My head ! Oh my head ! (Succeeds
in commanding himself, and speaks naturally.
Aloud.) See, doctor, those are details of which
I know nothing. But if my mother told you so, it
will be true. My mother is a superior spirit, a most
pure soul, a mother beyond comparison. But let us
not speak of the mother, only of the son, that's to say
of the son of the other mother. Therefore let's see,
let's see. What more did she tell you ?

BERM. That to prevent the son from becoming
fully acquainted with the disorders of the father 1
because the boy, naturally, was growing up, the
mother had to send him to a college in France. )

LAZ. (astde). It is I. It is I ! Ah ! ah ! Calm !
let me be calm !

BERM. What do you say ?

LAZ. Nothing. I laugh at those family tragedies

the father a madcap, and the son, And as you

fill me with such respect and as the subject is so sad
I should not have presumed to laugh. Ah ! Senor
de Bermudez, what a world this is ! what a world
this is ! Come, come. (Growing calm.) Yes, senor,
the history, so far as I know, is entirely correct.
Then they sent him to study in Madrid that un~)
fortunate, unfortunate youth : but, look you, not so
unfortunate for he went through his course with

BERM. Quite so, and the father remained always
the same.


LAZ. (somewhat harshly). Let us not speak of the
father. And why ? Because the son is now launched
on the world ; then let us leave out of the question the
other. (Recollecting himself?) Ah ! pardon me. I
love my father so much, I respect him so much, that
those words which you uttered have caused me much
pain, much pain. A weakness I confess ; a man of
science does not know those weaknesses; but we
poets are thus . You you raise yourselves above the
level of human miseries. The eagle soars alike eh ?
above the peak of granite with its robe of frost eh ?
and over the infected puddle or the mire the mire
eh ? But we are not all as Doctor Bermudez ?
(Grasping his hand.)

BERM. I respect your delicacy: but science is
implacable. A father who has consumed his life in

LAZARUS retreats in his chair.

Who has wallowed with all the energies of his nature
in the mire of riot, who has heated his blood in the
embers of all impure fires runs the danger of trans-
mitting to his son nothing but the germs of death or
the germs of madness !

LAZARUS recoils more and more.
And I tell you, as I told your mother last night, with-
out prejudice to the rectification of my opinion when
I have examined the patient, that if the description
which you have given me is exact and I conclude
that it is

LAZ. It is. What then ?

BERM. Ah ! the springs of life cannot be corrupted
with impunity. The Son of that father will very soon
sink into madness or into idiocy. A madman or an
idiot : such is his fate!


(He says this without looking round, with solemnity,
like one who pronounces a sentence : gazing for-
ward and motioning with his arm towards
LAZARUS. The latter cowers in his chair and
looks at BERMUDEZ with horror.)
LAZ. Ah ! No ! What ? My father ! I ! A lie !
A lie ! It is a lie ! (Hides his face in his hands.)

BERM. What's this ? Lazarus ! Senor de Mejia !
Are you ill? What do you say? (Rising and
approaching LAZARUS.) I don't understand ! Can it
be? What?

LAZ. That I am the madman ? Silence ! That I
am the idiot ? Silence ! That I am such I ? Look
at me well : study me well : strengthen your judg- I
ment : meditate, examine, give sentence !

BERMUDEZ standing, LAZARUS seated and clutching
the doctor by the arm.

BERM. But this is not fair, Senor de Mejia ! This
is not just ! By God by the Holy God !

LAZ. Fairness, justice, in a man such as I ? Ber-
mudez, Bermudez, I did wrong, I confess (with a
mixture of courtesy, sadness, and some sarcasm) An
idiot who presents his most humble excuses to a wise
man ! Be generous, pardon me.

BERM. You have not understood me. I am sorry
for you, Lazarus, because I have given you a shock
a bad time of it, without cause believe me,
without any cause. God help me, these dramatic
authors no, one is not safe with them ! (Wishing to
turn the matter off" with a laugh.)

LAZ. Let us be calm, let us be calm. I want the
truth ; there still remains to me some glimmer of reason,
and I can understand what you say to me. Ha ! the
truth Bermudez, the truth ! It is the last truth that


I can understand, and I wish to enjoy it. (Rising.}
Out with it ! I still understand yes still !

BERM. Friend Lazarus ! By all the saints of the
heavenly court !

LAZ. No, I still keep my senses ; I shall explain to
you all that has passed. _My mother, pretending to
inquire about another, inquired about me ; I, pre-
tending to be interested on another's account, was
interested on my own, and a poor mother and a lost
^wretch have between them cajoled a wise man. Ah !
cajoled no : pardon. We wished to know the truth-
nothing more ; but as the truth is treacherous, it is
necessary at times to drag it forth by treason. I
humbly beg that you will pardon us my mother
and myself.

BERM. I tell you that I cannot recover from my
surprise ; that I am cut to the heart for having spoken
with such levity. I have already told you that my
opinion was haphazard quite haphazard without
examination of the patient. (Seeking where to go.)

LAZ. Well, .here is the patient. Don't I tell you
that I am the man ? Oh, have no fear : I am a man
capable of looking face to face upon death, and of
answering the grimace of madness with another
grimace even more grotesque. While a heart
remains to me, the head will obey.

BERM. For God's sake, calm yourself. All this is
not serious.

LAZ. I am perfectly calm; I am still master of
myself. Sit down. (Makes him take a seat.) Let us
talk quietly. Tell me all, but in a low voice, that my
mother may not know ; that she may not know. And
of my father, not a word! Of my father no, enough
nothing ! I have been a madmanjn Madrid^ so that
the madness is mine. It is all mine ! Oh ! you deny


that it is all mine ? That is not right, Senor de Ber-
mudez. Take to yourself the accusation that it is not
right. You deny me my own reason, and you even
wish to deprive me of my own madness, saying
saying that my father silence I Well, my reason
may not belong to me : patience ! But my madness
belongs to me ; I swear to you that it belongs to me,
and I shall defend it l^shall defendjt, Bermudez !
(Advances upon the physician. Then restrains him-
self.} And now, let us talk soberly of myself of my

BERM. Senor de Mejia, dear Lazarus as for what I
told you a while since, it was purely hypothetical ;
now that I know you, I modify my opinion in every

LAZ. (with a mocking smile). Indeed? By God,
Senor de Bermudez, that I am a madman we'll let
pass ; but I am not yet an idiot.

BERM. By God, Senor de Mejia, I am sure that I
shall go out of this house either an idiot or a mad-
man !

LAZ. When do you calculate that I shall suffer
the decisive attack the last : that of eternal night ;
that which surrounds us with blackness for ever?
How easily it is known that I have been a poet, eh ?
Eternal night, eternal blackness ! Is it not true ?
However, say when ? What term do you allow me ?
A year ? three months ? or is it immediately ? Can-
didly. You see, now, that I still hear, and under-
stand, and even speak poetically. Eternal blackness,
eternal night ! However, let me know let me know.
A year, eh ?

BERM. It is readily perceived that you are a poet.
You plunge into the regions of phantasy. You see,
your nervous system is shaken, somewhat shaken. I


don't deny it ; but I make myself responsible for your
cure ; do you want more ?

LAZ. We are coming to the point. As for my cure,
I am ready to believe that. But the decisive attack
when ? I have such a feeling these few days past,
that I think it will be very soon.

BERM. Ravings, ravings ! these are ravings.

LAZ. Precisely. Ah ! you have said it ravings.
Come, an effort. Will it be to-morrow, will it be
to-day ?

I BERM. Neither to-day, nor to-morrow, nor within
twenty years, if you keep your senses.

LAZ. If I keep my senses ! You are ingenious.
" I shall not lose my senses if I keep my senses."

BERM. A good sign : now we are joking.

LAZ. Yes, I am very quiet. At first I felt a wave
of blood roll through my brain ; then a wave of ice,
which spread through all my being. And now well
quiet tired, a little tired, nothing more.

BERM. Good ; then take a rest, put your mind at
ease ; and before my setting out for Madrid I shall
return. I have to convince you

LAZ. I am convinced ! Oh, my God ! I don't
wish to keep you any longer, I have sufficiently
abused your kindness.

BERM. (making a movement to withdraw). Then if
you will permit me

LAZ. Yes, senor, assuredly (accompanying him}.
And don't have any ill-will towards me.

BERM. Good God no ; however, my friend

LAZ. (detaining hitri). One moment ! (In his ear.)

BERM. Some other time.

LAZ. No ; the one thing that I wish you to tell me,


is this : " Lazarus, there is no hope ; the attack will
be next month, or next week, or to-morrow, or to-night,
or this very hour," in short, when must it be ? This
is the only thing you have to tell me : I ask no

BERM. But how can you have me knowingly utter
nonsense ?

LAZ. (energetically). Because you have the inevi-
table power of telling me the truth ; however sharp,
however bitter, however mournful, it may be, you
must tell it to me. It is a question of honour, of life
or death. Now you shall understand me. (In a low
voice in the doctor's ear.) I love, I adore Carmen ;
our wedding has been arranged : it will take place in
a short time within fifteen days. And now, answer
me : Can I, in conscience, without being guilty of
infamy, can I bind the existence of Carmen to my
existence to the existence of an idiot ?

BERM. What a question !

LAZ. If you are a man of honour . What, go

away without answering me ? Well, the way is free
to you (withdrawing from him). Oh ! I'll not detain

BERM. By God, Lazarus

LAZ. But reflect, that through the cowardice of a
moment, through not having spoken to me as one

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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 5 of 8)