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    Act II

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    EL. To speak my mind freely to you, I am not much astonished at anything the Prince may do; for it is very natural, and I cannot disapprove of it, that a soul inflamed by a noble passion should become exasperated by jealousy, and that frequent doubts should cross his mind: but what surprises me, Don Lopez, is to hear that you keep alive his suspicions; that you are the contriver of them; that he is sad only because you wish it, jealous only because he looks at everything with your eyes. I repeat it, Don Lopez, I do not wonder that a man who is greatly in love becomes suspicious. But, that a man who is not in love should have all the anxieties of one who is jealous--this is a novelty that belongs to none but you.

    LOP. Let everybody comment on my actions as much as they please. Each man regulates his conduct according to the goal he wishes to reach; since my love was rejected by you, I court the favour of the Prince.

    EL. But do you not know that no favour will be granted to him if you continue to maintain him in this disposition?

    LOP. Pray, charming Eliza, was it ever known that those about great men minded anything but their own interest, or that a perfect courtier wished to increase the retinue of those same grandees by adding to it a censor of their faults? Did he ever trouble himself if his conversation harmed them, provided he could but derive some benefit? All the actions of a courtier only tend to get into their favour, to obtain a place in as short a time as possible; the quickest way to acquire their good graces is by always flattering their weaknesses, by blindly applauding what they have a mind to do, and by never countenancing anything that displeases them. That is the true secret of standing well with them. Good advice causes a man to be looked upon as a troublesome fellow, so that he no longer enjoys that confidence which he had secured by an artful subservience. In short, we always see that the art of courtiers aims only at taking advantage of the foibles of the great, at cherishing their errors, and never advising them to do things which they dislike.

    EL. These maxims may do well enough for a time: but reverses of fortune have to be dreaded. A gleam of light may at last penetrate the minds of the deceived nobles, who will then justly avenge themselves on all such flatterers for the length of time their glory has been dimmed. Meanwhile I must tell you that you have been a little too frank in your explanations; if a true account of your motives were laid before the Prince, it would but ill serve you in making your fortune.

    LOP. I could deny having told you those truths I have just unfolded, and that without being gainsaid; but I know very well that Eliza is too discreet to divulge this private conversation. After all, what I have said is known by everyone; what actions of mine have I to conceal? A downfall may be justly dreaded when we employ artifices or treachery. But what have I to fear? I, who cannot be taxed with anything but complaisance, who by my useful lessons do but follow up the Prince's natural inclination for jealousy. His soul seems to live upon suspicions; and so I do my very best to find him opportunities for his uneasiness, and to look out on all sides if anything has happened that may furnish a subject for a secret conversation. When I can go to him, with a piece of news that may give a deadly blow to his repose, then he loves me most: I can see him listen eagerly and swallow the poison, and thank me for it too, as if I had brought him news of some victory which would make him happy and glorious for all his life. But my rival draws near, and so I leave you together; though I have renounced all hope of ever gaining your affection, yet it would pain me not a little to see you prefer him to me before my face; therefore I will avoid such a mortification as much as I can.

    [Footnote: Don Lopez bears a distant resemblance to "honest Iago" in Othello, though Molière has only faintly shadowed forth what Shakespeare has worked out in so masterly a manner.]

    EL. All judicious lovers should do the same.


    ALV. At last we have received intelligence that the king of Navarre has this very day declared himself favourable to the Prince's love, and that a number of fresh troops will reinforce his army, ready to be employed in the service of her to whom his wishes aspire. As for me, I am surprised at their quick movements... but...


    GARC. What is the Princess doing?

    EL. I think, my Lord, she is writing some letters; but I shall let her know that you are here.

    GARC. (In a low voice and aside). How well she dissembles.

    ELV. We have just now heard that the King, your father, approves your designs, and consents that his son should restore us to our subjects. I am extremely rejoiced at this.

    GARC. Yes, Madam, and my heart is rejoiced at it too; but....

    ELV. The tyrant will doubtless find it difficult to defend himself against the thunderbolts which from all sides threaten him. I flatter myself that the same courage which was able to deliver me from the brutal rage of the usurper, to snatch me out of his hands, and place me safe within the walls of Astorga, will conquer the whole of Leon, and by its noble efforts cause the head of the tyrant to fall.

    GARC. A few days more will show if I am successful. But pray let us proceed to some other subject of conversation. If you do not consider me too bold, will you kindly tell me, Madam, to whom you have written since fate led us hither?

    ELV. Why this question, and whence this anxiety?

    GARC. Out of pure curiosity, Madam, that is all.

    ELV. Curiosity is the daughter of jealousy.

    GARC. No; it is not at all what you imagine; your commands have sufficiently cured that disease.

    ELV. Without endeavouring further to discover what may be the reasons for your inquiry, I have written twice to the Countess Inez at Leon, and as often to the Marquis, Don Louis, at Burgos. Does this answer put your mind at rest?

    GARC. Have you written to no one else, Madam?

    ELV. No, certainly, and your questions astonish me.

    GARC. Pray consider well, before you make such a statement, because people forget sometimes, and thus perjure themselves.

    ELV. I cannot perjure myself in what I have stated.

    GARC. You have, however, told a very great falsehood.

    ELV. Prince!

    GARC. Madam!

    ELV. Heavens; what is the meaning of this! Speak! Have you lost your senses?

    GARC. Yes, yes, I lost them, when to my misfortune I beheld you, and thus took the poison which kills me; when I thought to meet with some sincerity in those treacherous charms that bewitched me.

    ELV. What treachery have you to complain of?

    GARC. Oh! how double-faced she is! how well she knows to dissimulate! But all means for escape will fail you. Cast your eyes here, and recognize your writing.

    [Footnote: The lines, "Heavens! what is the meaning of this?" till "and recognize your writing" have been employed again by Molière in the Misanthrope, Act iv., Scene 3, (see vol. II). The misanthrope Alceste has also in his hand the written proofs of the faithlessness of the object of his love: but his suspicions are well founded, whilst those of Don Garcia are inspired only by jealousy.]

    Without having seen the other part of this letter, it is easy enough to discover for whom you employ this style.

    ELV. And this is the cause of your perturbation of spirits?

    GARC. Do you not blush on beholding this writing?

    ELV. Innocence is not accustomed to blush.

    GARC. Here indeed we see it oppressed. You disown this letter because it is not signed.

    ELV. Why should I disown it, since I wrote it?

    [Footnote: The words, "And this is the cause" until "since I wrote it," are, with a few slight alterations, found also in the Misanthrope, Act iv., Scene 3.]

    GARC. It is something that you are frank enough to own your handwriting; but I will warrant that it was a note written to some indifferent person, or at least that the tender sentiments it contains were intended only for some lady friend or relative.

    ELV. No, I wrote it to a lover, and, what is more, to one greatly beloved.

    GARC. And can I, O perfidious woman...?

    ELV. Bridle, unworthy Prince, the excess of your base fury. Although you do not sway my heart, and I am accountable here to none but myself, yet for your sole punishment I will clear myself from the crime of which you so insolently accuse me. You shall be undeceived; do not doubt it. I have my defence at hand. You shall be fully enlightened; my innocence shall appear complete. You yourself shall be the judge in your own cause, and pronounce your own sentence.

    GARC. I cannot understand such mysterious talk.

    ELV. You shall soon comprehend it to your cost. Eliza come hither!


    EL. Madam.

    ELV. (to Don Garcia). At least observe well whether I make use of any artifice to deceive you; whether by a single glance or by any warning gesture I seek to ward off this sudden blow. (To Eliza). Answer me quickly, where did you leave the letter I wrote just now?

    EL. Madam, I confess I am to blame. This letter was by accident left on my table; but I have just been informed that Don Lopez, coming into my apartment, took, as he usually does, the liberty to pry everywhere, and found it. As he was unfolding it, Leonora wished to snatch it from him before he had read anything; and whilst she tried to do this, the letter in dispute was torn in two pieces, with one of which Don Lopez quickly went away, in spite of all she could do.

    ELV. Have you the other half?

    EL. Yes; here it is.

    ELV. Give it to me. (To Don Garcia). We shall see who is to blame; join the two parts together, and then read it aloud. I wish to hear it.

    GARC. "To Don Garcia." Ha!

    ELV. Go on! Are you thunderstruck at the first word?

    GARC. (Reads). "Though your rival, Prince, disturbs your mind, you ought still to fear yourself more than him. It is in your power to destroy now the greatest obstacle your passion has to encounter. I feel very grateful to Don Garcia for rescuing me from the hands of my bold ravishers; his love, his homage delights me much; but his jealousy is odious to me. Remove, therefore, from your love that foul blemish; deserve the regards that are bestowed upon it; and when one endeavours to make you happy, do not persist in remaining miserable."

    ELV. Well, what do you say to this?

    GARC. Ah! Madam, I say that on reading this I am quite confounded; that I see the extreme injustice of my complaints, and that no punishment can be severe enough for me.

    ELV. Enough! Know that if I desired that you should read the letter, it was only to contradict everything I stated in it; to unsay a hundred times all that you read there in your favour. Farewell, Prince.

    GARC. Alas, Madam! whither do you fly?

    ELV. To a spot where you shall not be, over-jealous man.

    GARC. Ah, Madam, excuse a lover who is wretched because, by a wonderful turn of fate, he has become guilty towards you, and who, though you are now very wroth with him, would have deserved greater blame if he had remained innocent. For, in short, can a heart be truly enamoured which does not dread as well as hope? And could you believe I loved you if this ominous letter had not alarmed me; if I had not trembled at the thunderbolt which I imagined had destroyed all my happiness? I leave it to yourself to judge if such an accident would not have caused any other lover to commit the same error; if I could disbelieve, alas, a proof which seemed to me so clear!

    ELV. Yes, you might have done so; my feelings so clearly expressed ought to have prevented your suspicions. You had nothing to fear; if some others had had such a pledge they would have laughed to scorn the testimony of the whole world.

    GARC. The less we deserve a happiness which has been promised us, the greater is the difficulty we feel in believing in it. A destiny too full of glory seems unstable, and renders us suspicious. As for me, who think myself so little deserving of your favours, I doubted the success of my rashness.

    [Footnote: Molière has with a few alterations placed this phrase beginning with "the less," and ending with "my rashness," in the mouth of Tartuffe in the play of the same name, Act iv., Sc. 5, (see Vol. II).]

    I thought that, finding yourself in a place under my command, you forced yourself to be somewhat kind to me; that, disguising to me your severity...

    ELV. Do you think that I could stoop to so cowardly an action? Am I capable of feigning so disgracefully; of acting from motives of servile fear; of betraying my sentiments; and, because I am in your power, of concealing my contempt for you under a pretence of kindness? Could any consideration for my own reputation so little influence me? Can you think so, and dare to tell it me? Know that this heart cannot debase itself; that nothing under Heaven can compel it to act thus: if it has committed the great error of showing you some kindness, of which you were not worthy, know that in spite of your power, it will be able now to show the hatred it feels for you, to defy your rage, and convince you that it is not mean, nor ever will be so.

    [Footnote: This scene beginning from "Well," until the end, has, with several alterations rendered necessary by change of metre, been treated by Molière in his Amphitryon, Act ii., Sc. 6, (see Vol. II.).]

    GARC. Well, I cannot deny that I am guilty: but I beg pardon of your heavenly charms, I beg it for the sake of the most ardent love that two beautiful eyes ever kindled in a human soul. But if your wrath cannot be appeased; if my crime be beyond forgiveness; if you have no regard for the love that caused it, nor for my heart-felt repentance, then one propitious blow shall end my life, and free me from these unbearable torments. No, think not that having displeased you, I can live for one moment under your wrath. Even whilst we are speaking, my heart sinks under gnawing remorse; were a thousand vultures cruelly to wound it, they could not inflict greater pangs. Tell me, madam, if I may hope for pardon; if not, then this sword shall instantly, in your sight, by a well-directed thrust, pierce the heart of a miserable wretch; that heart, that irresolute heart, whose weakness has so deeply offended your excessive kindness, too happy if in death this just doom efface from your memory all remembrance of its crime, and cause you to think of my affection without dislike. This is the only favour my love begs of you.

    ELV. Oh! too cruel Prince!

    GARC. Speak, Madam.

    ELV. Must I still preserve some kind feelings for you, and suffer myself to be affronted by so many indignities?

    GARC. A heart that is in love can never offend, and finds excuses for whatever love may do.

    ELV. Love is no excuse for such outbursts.

    GARC. Love communicates its ardour to all emotions, and the stronger it is, the more difficulty it finds...

    ELV. No, speak to me no more of it; you deserve my hatred.

    GARC. You hate me then?

    ELV. I will at least endeavour to do so. But alas! I am afraid it will be in vain, and that all the wrath which your insults have kindled, will not carry my revenge so far.

    GARC. Do not endeavour to punish me so severely, since I offer to kill myself to avenge you; pronounce but the sentence and I obey immediately.

    ELV. One who cannot hate cannot wish anybody to die.

    GARC. I cannot live unless you kindly pardon my rash errors; resolve either to punish or to forgive.

    ELV. Alas! I have shown too clearly my resolution; do we not pardon a criminal when we tell him we cannot hate him?

    GARC. Ah! this is too much. Suffer me, adorable Princess...

    ELV. Forbear, I am angry with myself for my weakness.

    GARC. (Alone). At length I am...


    LOP. My Lord, I have to communicate to you a secret that may justly alarm your love.

    GARC. Do not talk to me of secrets or alarms, whilst I am in such a blissful rapture. After what has just taken place, I ought not to listen to any suspicions. The unequalled kindness of a divine object ought to shut my ears against all such idle reports. Do not say anything more.

    LOP. My Lord, I shall do as you wish; my only care in this business was for you. I thought that the secret I just discovered ought to be communicated with all diligence; but since it is your pleasure I should not mention it, I shall change the conversation, and inform you that every family in Leon threw off the mask, as soon as the report spread that the troops of Castile were approaching; the lower classes especially show openly such an affection for their true King, that the tyrant trembles for fear.

    GARC. Castile, however, shall not gain the victory without our making an attempt to share in the glory; our troops may also be able to terrify Mauregat. But what secret would you communicate to me? Let us hear it?

    LOP. My Lord, I have nothing to say.

    [Footnote: Compare Iago's reticence in Shakespeare's Othello (iii. 3).]

    GARC. Come, come, speak, I give you leave.

    LOP. My Lord, your words have told me differently; and since my news may displease you, I shall know for the future how to remain silent.

    GARC. Without further reply, I wish to know your secret.

    LOP. Your commands must be obeyed; but, my Lord, duty forbids me to explain such a secret in this place. Let us go hence, and I shall communicate it to you; without taking anything lightly for granted, you yourself shall judge what you ought to think of it.
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