Joseph Forster.

Some French and Spanish men of genius. Sketches of Marivaux, Voltaire, Rousseau, Diderot, Beaumarachais, Mirabeau, Danton and Robespierre, Béranger, Victor Hugo, Eugéne Sue and Zola, Cervantes and Lope de Vega, Calderon online

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Online LibraryJoseph ForsterSome French and Spanish men of genius. Sketches of Marivaux, Voltaire, Rousseau, Diderot, Beaumarachais, Mirabeau, Danton and Robespierre, Béranger, Victor Hugo, Eugéne Sue and Zola, Cervantes and Lope de Vega, Calderon → online text (page 16 of 19)
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DIANA. Listen, Anarda.

ANARDA. What does the senora desire 1

DIANA. Who is the man who quitted the house just

ANARDA. A man !

DIANA. Yes, he passed from this room. Come, I
know your manoeuvres. Who brought him here to see
me ? Who is the go-between ?

ANARDA. Do not fancy, senora, that any of us would
be so bold. A man in your apartment .... and
brought here by one of us ! No, no ; it is impossible.

DIANA. Come nearer. If you are not deceiving me,
you have thrown a new light on the matter. It is, per-
haps, to see one of my maids that this man has dared to
penetrate my house 1

ANARDA. Senora, seeing you so justly angry makes
me throw off all restraint ; I must tell you the truth,
although in so doing I may injure my friend Marcela.
She loves some one, and she is loved in return. But I
can't find out who it is.

DIANA. It is wrong to conceal anything. When you
admit the principal thing, why conceal the rest 1

ANARDA. Well, I know I'm a woman, and so the


secrets of others are hard to keep. But let it suffice you
to know that the cavalier came after Marcela ; but you
need be under no apprehension. It's all quite proper.
.... Besides, it's only just begun.

DIANA. Oh, what impudence ! . . . And a nice
opinion will be formed of me, who am unmarried. By
the memory of the Count, my late husband

ANAKDA. Pray be calm, senora ; and let me set all
right. The man who comes to see Marcela is not a
stranger to the house, and he can come without danger
to you.

DIANA. Then he is one of my servants ?

ANARDA. He is.

DIANA. And who 1

ANARDA. Teodoro.

DIANA. My secretary ?

ANARDA. I know they have spoken together, but I
know no more.

DIANA. Retire.

ANARDA. Senora, be prudent. [Exit ANARDA.

DIANA (aside). I am more tranquil now I know he
did not come for me. . . . (Aloud) Marcela !

MARCELA. Senora ?

DIANA. Listen.

MARCELA. What is your will ? (Aside) I tremble.

DIANA. Is it you to whom I confided my opinions
and my honour ?

MARCELA. What can they have said of me ? Do
they accuse me of being wanting in devotion and fidelity ?

DIANA. Fidelity You 1

MARCELA. It is Teodoro, senora, who is in love,
and whenever he sees me he does nothing but talk of


DIANA. Ah ! he talks of love ! Very well, very
well !

MARCELA. I mean that as soon as he sees me his
tongue reveals the feelings of his heart

DIANA. What does he say 1

MARCELA. It would be difficult to recollect

DIANA. I insist !

MARCELA. Sometimes he says, ' Those eyes slay
me ;' ' By those eyes I live ;' ' All night I sleep not ; your
beauty is ever present to me.' Once he asked me for a
single hair which, he said, had power to enchain him.
But why should I repeat such absurdities?

DIANA. But these absurdities never fail to please
you !

MARCELA. I confess it, senora. Teodoro is honest,
and svishes only to marry me.

DIANA. Shall I arrange it all for you ?

MARCELA. Oh, senora, you are too kind !

DIANA. Marcela, I have decided upon marrying
you, and will do so as soon as it is proper. . . . But I
owe much to the name I bear, and I must not forget
that. I cannot, therefore, permit your meetings with
Teodoro ; above all, not openly. As your companions
know of this attachment, I must appear to oppose it ;
and I advise you to act with the greatest discretion. In
due time I will be a friend to both of you. Teodoro has
been brought up in my house ; I have a real friendship
for him. As to you, Marcela, I have, as you know, a
true liking for you, and will not forget your services.

MARCELA. I cast myself at your feet, senora.

DIANA. You may retire. (Exeunt DOROTEA and MAR-
CELA.) I have remarked the beauty, eloquence, elegance,
and wit of Teodoro a thousand times. Were it not for the


distance which my rank has placed between us, I should
love him. Love is our common nature ; but I prize my
honour more than love. I respect my name, my family ;
and such thoughts as I have of love are degrading. . . .
Jealousy, I know, will be my portion ; and if one can
envy the happiness of another, I have sufficient cause.
Oh, that Teodoro could raise himself to me ! or that I
could lower myself to him ! [Exit.

In another scene the Countess enters with a
letter supposed to be written by her for a lady friend,
and she asks Teodoro's opinion of it. As it is a love
letter, he excuses himself by saying that he knows
nothing of love.

DIANA. You know nothing of love 1 That, perhaps,
was the reason why you concealed your face in your cloak
last night.

He then reads the following letter :

' To love because one sees another loving, is envy ; to
be jealous before one loves is a marvellous invention of
love, which has been thought impossible. My love is
born of jealousy. I am uneasy, because being more
beautiful, I envy one who is more happy. I am
suspicious without a motive, and jealous without love ;
although I feel I ought to love, since I desire to be loved.
I neither yield nor oppose. I would be understood
without speaking. Let him understand who can, I
understand myself.'

This is Teodoro's opinion of the letter :
TEODORO. If that is the lady's thought I can only say


that she has expressed it beautifully. But I confess I do
not see how love can be born of jealousy ; for it is always
the contrary, love being the root of jealousy.

DIANA. The lady, I suspect, had been in the habit
of regarding the young man with pleasure, but not with
love. Still, when she saw him pay court to another,
jealousy awakened love in her bosom. May it not be

TEODORO. Certainly. But that jealousy had a
motive, and was not that motive love ?

DIANA. I do not know, Teodoro. The lady told
.me that jealousy awakened her love; laid bare her
heart, and forced her to renounce the indifference in which
she had resolved to continue. Endeavour to reply to

Teodoro at first refuses, but, pressed by the
^Countess, retires to prepare his answer. It is as
follows :

' To love only because one sees another love would be
envy, if love did not already exist ; for she who never
thought of love, would not love because she witnessed
love. Love which sees what it desires in the power of
another, easily betrays itself; for as the colour mounts
into the face at the sight of the beloved, so does the
tongue express that which excites the soul. I say no
more, and refuse to be happy, because if I should be
deceived my baseness would offend her greatness. I
speak only of what I comprehend ; and I will not com-
prehend that which I do not merit, lest I should be sup-
posed to believe I merited it.'

The scene ends by the Countess saying that if


-ever he loved a woman of rank, he must not de-
spair ; for to make himself beloved he only needs to
be constant. ' Our hearts are not made of stone.'

After the departure of Diana, Marcela enters,
and joyfully tells Teodoro that the Countess has
consented to their union. This convinces him that
the Countess does not love him. He embraces
Marcela just as Diana re-enters, who orders Mar-
cela to be locked into her room, lest her example
should corrupt others.

Soon after this, the Countess consults Teodoro on
the choice of a husband, and, on his advice, chooses
the Marquis in preference to her cousin, and orders
Teodoro to bear him the good news and receive
his reward. When the delighted Marquis arrives to
thank Diana, she tells him that he is mistaken and
dismisses him.

After this, Teodoro, who, if he loves anybody
besides himself, loves Marcela, tries to reconcile
himself with her. She pretends to be in love with
Fabio, but is persuaded at last by Tristan to pardon
her ambitious lover. In order to do this he calls the
Countess ugly, affected, and volatile. She over-
hears this, and comes forward, when Marcela and
Tristan take flight.

Teodoro is confounded. Diana, with cold
politeness, orders him to write to her dictation as
follows :

' When a woman of rank has declared herself in favour
-of a man beneath her, it is unpardonable in him to speak


to another. But he who knows not how to value hi&
good fortune is a fool.'

When Teodoro asks her to whom the note is to
be addressed, she replies, ' To you ;' and leaves him
overwhelmed by ambitious thoughts.

Marcela returns to learn the issue of his inter-
view with Diana. He tells her that the Countess
intends to unite her to Fabio, wishes her joy, and
politely regrets that he cannot marry her. Soon
after this he boldly avows his love to Diana. She
does not take his declaration seriously. He accuses
her of acting the part of the Gardener's Dog, and
entreats her to decide to accept him, or to permit
him to marry Marcela.

She replies that he shall not marry Marcela. He,
very angry now, declares that he loves Marcela, and
receives a vigorous slap in the face, so vigorous that
it draws blood. She repents her violence, and pre-
sents him with two thousand scudi to buy hand-

In the next act, Federico, Diana's cousin, and
the rejected Marquis employ a supposed bravo
to assassinate Teodoro. Tristan, the supposed
bravo, informs Teodoro of the plot against his

In the end Teodoro is palmed off as the son of
Count Ludovico, who had been sent by him to Malta,
captured by the Moors, and since lost sight of.

The last scene I can quote is very fine :

DIANA. Teodoro, have you cured your sadness 1


TEODORO. I love my sadness, cherish my woe, and
desire no cure. Blessed be the sufferings so pleasant to
endure, that he who feels that he is perishing loves the
sweet cause. I have but one sorrow, and that is being
forced to quit the source of my sorrow.

DIANA. You leave me ? Why ?

TEODORO. My life is threatened.

DIANA. Your life?

TEODORO. They envy me even my woe, coming from
so fair a source Let me return to Spain !

DIANA. Yes ; it must be. You thus place yourself
out of danger, and though your absence will be painful
to me, it will dispel the suspicions which hang over me.
Since the day when I forgot myself in the presence of my
cousin, he has been so suspicious that I must consent to
your departure. ... Go to Spain. I will see that you
have six thousand scudi for the voyage.

TEODORO. My absence will silence your detractors.
I kiss your fair feet.

DIANA. Go, Teodoro, depart. ... Do not delay
, . . Leave me, for I am a woman.

TEODORO. Ah, you weep ! What would you have
me do 1

DIANA. So, then, Teodoro .... you leave me ?

TEODORO. Yes, senora.

DIANA. Stay. . . . No depart. . . . Listen

TEODORO. What do you command ?

DIANA. Nothing. . . . Leave me.


DIANA (aside). I tremble. Is there a torment equal
to love 1 ... (Aloud) Well you are not gone 1

TEODORO. Yes, senora ; I am gone. [Exit.

DIANA. Malediction upon honour ! Malediction !


Tristan, Teodoro's servant, passes him off on-
Count Ludovico as his long-lost son.

Teodoro informs the Countess that it is a trick.
She, only caring for appearances, marries him.

Cervantes, the Shakespeare of Spain, led a life of
the most romantic and adventurous kind. In fact, no
novelist has ever invented a story as fascinating and
varied as the bare facts of his most extraordinary
career. He was a soldier, a dramatist, a patriot, a
slave; and after producing, perhaps, the greatest
novel ever written, a work which is the glory of
Spanish literature and a delight to the civilised
world, he died poor and neglected.

His family was noble and was first settled in
Galicia, from whence it moved to Castille. Cer-
vantes was born in 1549. His family although
honourable was very poor, but he received a liberal
education. He became a page, chamberlain and,,
afterwards, a soldier, and fought at the naval
battle of Lepanto '"Where/ he said, 'I lost my
left hand by an arquebuse under the conquering
banner of the son of that thunderbolt of war,
Charles V., of happy memory.'

He also distinguished himself at the siege of
Tunis, and, later, was taken prisoner by a Barbary
corsair, and was kept in cruel captivity for five
years at Algiers. It was customary with the
Algerines to treat their prisoners according to
their supposed rank and expected ransom. The


avarice of the masters sometimes alleviated the
lot of the Christian slaves ; but, unfortunately for
Cervantes, he was treated with extreme severity,
in order to compel him to obtain ransom from his-
friends, while he, the very soul of independence,
tried to escape in order to avoid trespassing on their
resources. The interest of the Moors was to pretend
to believe that their captives were of exalted rank
and position, in order to obtain a bigger ransom.
Dr. Sosa, a Christian captive, gives the following
account of his experience :

'What are we to think of the depth of their infernal
devices, -when, out of me, who am only a poor clergyman,
they have already, upon their own authority, made a,
bishop ; and soon afterwards, secretary to his Holiness,
his Great Councillor and Plenipotentiary ; nay, closeted
me together with his Holiness for eight hours a day,
treating together of most grave and weighty matters
connected with the interests of Christendom ? When I
denied having ever attained to such great honours, they
made me a cardinal. When I also disclaimed that, they
declared me to be Governor of Castelnuovo, at Naples ;
and, as that would not serve their turn, they made me
father confessor and master, as they call me, to the
Queen of Spain. To establish this fact, as they stoutly
maintain it, they have not scrupled to suborn both
Turks and Moors who should affirm it ; and there were
not wanting bad Christians in their house, as well as
out of it, who, the better to please my master, averred
that they knew it to be the case ; nay, so great is their
impudence as almost to confound me, for they brought


forward some Turks, lately escaped from Naples, who,
being confronted with me, declared that they had been
engaged in my service when Governor of Castelnuovo,
at Naples, as cooks and scullions. In the same way,
they have made another captive, a great lord, a most
wealthy Knight of Malta, a relation of the first noblemen
and prelates of Italy and Portugal ; and poor Juan
Botto, who is now at my elbow, is not only a very
rich man, but a celebrated Knight of Malta ; and our
friend Antonio Garces, one of the most distinguished
nobles of Portugal.'

Cervantes in one of his novels makes Ricardo
give an account of this notable custom in the story
of his adventures. His master, Fetale, is always
complimenting him upon his exalted rank, and telling
him that, from a sense of honour, he should pay a
high ransom. He tells him that it is not becoming
his rank to remain an idle and inglorious captive, and
laughs at the repeated disclaimers of his prisoner.
Unfortunately, when Cervantes was captured he had
in his possession letters of introduction from public
personages of the day, which caused him to be highly
valued. This led to cruel sufferings, inflicted in the
expectation of obtaining a heavy ransom. He was
sentenced to be imprisoned in a place called the
Baths. The Moorish dungeons had three depths of
caverns, like underground granaries. In mockery
of the light of heaven, there was one small window,
and that was crossed with iron bars. The sun and
air never entered this awful place. The only sights


were harrowing ; the only company was that of
convicts, thieves, murderers and the lowest Moorish
rabble ; and the sounds and voices, mixed with
blasphemies and oaths, were re-echoed as if from the
vaults of the dead. Every sense was outraged by
the accumulation of horrors that combined to disgust
and horrify. Hunger, nakedness, thirst, heat, damp
and cold, all combined to swell the catalogue of their
miseries and their woes. We can easily picture the
sufferings of Cervantes, whose captivity was as
severe as it was possible even for his Algerian
master to make it. No wonder that a man so full
of energy as Cervantes should try again and again
to escape from his infernal captivity. On four
occasions he was on the point of being impaled,
hanged, or burned alive for his daring attempts
to liberate himself and his unfortunate comrades.
But, of all the enterprises which entered the imagi-
nation of this fearless soldier, the most generous,
noble, and remarkable, as regarded its consequences,
made too at a period when Europe trembled at the
clank of the Ottoman chains, was that of rising upon
their tyrants and destroying them in the very strong-
hold of their cruelty and their power.

There is the best authority for believing that, if
the good fortune of Cervantes had been equal to his
courage, perseverance and skill, the city of Algiers
would have been taken by the Christians, for his bold
and resolute project aimed at no less a result. More-
over, if he had not been sold and betrayed by those
who undertook to assist him in his grand and noble



undertaking to liberate the captives of so many
lands his own captivity might have proved a
fortunate event.

At last Cervantes returned to Spain, after five
years' slavery at Algiers. He returned fired with
animosity against the Moors, and filled with ardent
sympathy for those Christians still in slavery. Thus
his comedy of El Trato de Argel, Los Banos de Argel,
his tale of the Captive in Don Quixote, and that of
the Generous Lover, were not mere literary works,
but charitable endeavours to serve the Christian
captives, and to excite the public sympathy in their

I have dwelt fully on this extraordinary experi-
ence of Cervantes, an experience which brought him
into direct contact with the lowest classes and the
elementary passions of mankind, with a view of
showing how profound and terrible was his know-
ledge of human character and human passion.

Before producing his immortal masterpiece, Don
Quixote, Cervantes wrote a great number of plays
which were not successful. The following racy
account of the rise of the Spanish drama is from the
pen of Cervantes :

'I must entreat your pardon, dear reader, if you
should see me in this prologue a little overstepping my
accustomed modesty. Some time since I happened to
find myself in company with a few friends who were dis-
coursing about comedies and other matters relating there-
to, and they treated this subject with so much ability and
refinement that they appeared to me almost to approach per-


fection. They spoke of the man who was the first in Spain
to free the drama from its swathing bands, and to clothe
it with pomp and magnificence. As the oldest of the
company, I remarked that I had frequently heard the
great Lope de Rueda recite, a poet equally celebrated as a
man and as a scholar. He was born at Seville, and was
by trade a goldbeater. As a pastoral poet he had great
merit, and in that species of composition no one, before or
since his time, has surpassed him. Although I could not
judge of the excellence of his poems, for I was then but a
child, yet some of them still remain in my memory, and r
recalling these at a riper age, they appear to me to be
worthy of their reputation. In the time of this celebrated
Spaniard all the apparatus of a dramatist and a manager
was contained in a bag, and consisted of four white cloaks
bordered with gilt leather, for shepherds, four beards and
wigs, and four crooks, more or less. The dramas were
mere dialogues, or eclogues, between two or three shep-
herds and a shepherdess, and these conversations were
enlivened and prolonged by two or three interludes, in
which negresses were introduced as confederates or go-be-
tweens; and, occasionally, some clowns and Biscayaus
made their appearance. At this time there was no
scenery, there were no combats between Moors and
Christians, on horseback and on foot ; no trap-doors by
which figures might appear to rise out of the earth. The
stage was merely composed of four square blocks of wood,
upon which rested five or six planks, so as to elevate the
actors a foot or two above the ground. No angels or
spirits descended in clouds from heaven. The sole
ornament of the theatre was an old curtain, supported at
both ends by strings, which separated the dressing-room
from the audience. At the back were placed the


musicians, who sang, without any guitar, some ancient

' Lope de Rueda at last died, and, on account of his
celebrity and excellence, was buried between the two
choirs in the great church of Cordova, where he lies in the
same place in which that renowned madman Luis Lopez
is interred.'

Before quitting the father of the Spanish drama,
Lope de Rueda, I will introduce his celebrated and
amusing proverb, The Olives.


Enter TORUVIO, a peasant. (He throws down a bundle of

TORUVIO. God be with me ! What a tempest pur-
sued me from the mountain ! I thought that the sky
would fall down, and I dare say my wife has not got my
supper ready confound her ! Halloh ! daughter . . .
Menciguela ! So every one is asleep in Zamora ? . . .
Do you hear me 1


MENCI. Good heavens ! Father, are you going to
break open the door?

TORUVIO. There's a chatterbox ! There's a tongue !
. . . And where is your mother, senora 1 ?

MENCI. She is at one of the neighbours'.

TORUVIO. Deuce take her and you ! Go and fetch her.


AGUEDA. Now, then, my lord, what next 1 Because
you have returned home with a wretched bundle of wood,
there'll be no bearing with you.


TORUVIO. So ! This bundle seems a trifle to your
ladyship ; but I swear before Heaven it was with the
utmost difficulty, with the assistance of your godchild,
that I could lift it on my shoulders.

AGUEDA. Well, be it so. ... But how wet you are !

TORUVIO. I have just had some soup of water.
Come, wife, let me have something to eat.

AGUEDA. And what the devil would you have me
give you ? I have nothing.

MENCI. Father, how wet the wood is !

TORUVIO. Wet indeed ! yet your mother will swear
it's only dew to the rain.

AGUEDA. Run, child, run, and dress a couple of eggs
for your father's supper, and prepare his bed. (Exit
MENCIGUELA.) Now, I'm certain, husband, that you
haven't thought of planting that olive-tree I asked
you to plant.

TORUVIO. And what should have kept me so late,
but planting it?

AGUEDA. That's well. And where have you planted it?

TORUVIO. Down there by the fig-tree . . . you re-
member . . . there where I kissed you one day.


MENCI. Father, you can come to supper ; it's quite

AGUEDA. Husband, do you know what I've been
thinking 1 The branch of the olive-tree which you have
just planted will furnish us in six or seven years' time
with four or five measures of olives ; and by planting a
branch here and there you will have a fine field of them
... in five-and-twenty or thirty years.


TORUVIO. That's true, wife ; how surprised every one
will be !

AGUEDA. Look here, my man ; do you know what
I've been thinking 1 I will gather the olives ; you will
carry them to market on our donkey, and Menciguela will
sell them. But remember, child, my strict orders that
you don't sell them under under two reals of Castille for
each peck.

TORUVIO. Eh ? Two reals of Castille ] You have no
conscience. It Avill be enough if we ask fourteen or fifteen
dineros the peck.

AGUEDA. Hold your tongue. The tree is of the very
rarest kind ; it is from Cordova.

TORUVIO. Well, suppose it is ; the price I named is

AGUEDA. To-day you distract me . . . hold your
tongue ! Look here, child, you heard me say that the
very least you must ask is two reals.

TORUVIO. The devil, two reals / . . . Come here, my
child ; how much will you ask ?

MENCI. As much as you please, father.

TORUVIO. Fourteen or fifteen dineros.

MENCL Very well, father.

AGUEDA. Very well, indeed! Come here, child; how
much do you intend to ask ?

MENCI. Whatever you please, mother.

AGUEDA. Two reals of Castille.

TORUVIO (furious). What ! two reals ] I promise
you, child, that if you do not ask what I bid you, I
shall hold myself ready to give you two hundred stripes.
How much will you ask, now ?

MENCI. What you told me, father.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 16 18 19

Online LibraryJoseph ForsterSome French and Spanish men of genius. Sketches of Marivaux, Voltaire, Rousseau, Diderot, Beaumarachais, Mirabeau, Danton and Robespierre, Béranger, Victor Hugo, Eugéne Sue and Zola, Cervantes and Lope de Vega, Calderon → online text (page 16 of 19)