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    Act III

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    ELV. What say you, Eliza, to this unaccountable weakness in the heart of a Princess? What do you say when you see me so quickly forego my desire for revenge, and, in spite of so much publicity, weakly and shamefully pardon so cruel an outrage.

    EL. I say, Madam, that an insult from a man we love is doubtless very difficult to bear; but if there be none which makes us sooner angry, so there is none which we sooner pardon. If the man we love is guilty, and throws himself at our feet, he triumphs over the rash outbreak of the greatest anger; so much the more easily, Madam, if the offence comes from an excess of love. However great your displeasure may have been, I am not astonished to see it appeased; I know the power which, in spite of your threats, will always pardon such crimes.

    ELV. But know, Eliza, however great the power of my love may be, I have blushed for the last time; if henceforth the Prince gives me fresh cause for anger, he must no longer look for pardon. I swear, that in such a case, I will never more foster tender feelings for him: for in short, a mind with ever so little pride is greatly ashamed to go back from its word, and often struggles gallantly against its own inclinations; it becomes stubborn for honour's sake, and sacrifices everything to the noble pride of keeping its word. Though I have pardoned him now, do not consider this a precedent for the future. Whatever fortune has in store for me, I cannot think of giving my hand to the Prince of Navarre, until he has shown that he is completely cured of those gloomy fits which unsettle his reason, and has convinced me, who am the greatest sufferer by this disease, that he will never insult me again by a relapse.

    EL. But how can the jealousy of a lover be an insult to us?

    ELV. Is there one more deserving of our wrath? And since it is with the utmost difficulty we can resolve to confess our love; since the strict honour of our sex at all times strongly opposes such a confession, ought a lover to doubt our avowal, and should he not be punished? Is he not greatly to blame in disbelieving that which is never said but after a severe struggle with one's self?

    [Footnote: The words "since it is" until "one's self" have been used by Molière with some slight alteration in the Misanthrope, Act iv., Scene 3, (see vol. II.)]

    EL. As for me, I think that a little mistrust on such an occasion should not offend us; and that it is dangerous, Madam, for a lover to be absolutely persuaded that he is beloved. If...

    ELV. Let us argue no more. Every person thinks differently. I am offended by such suspicions; and, in spite of myself, I am conscious of something which forebodes an open quarrel between the Prince and me, and which, notwithstanding his great qualities.... But Heavens! Don Silvio of Castile in this place!

    SCENE II.--DONNA ELVIRA, DON ALPHONSO, under the name of Don Silvio, ELIZA.

    ELV. Ah! my Lord, what chance has brought you here?

    ALPH. I know, Madam, that my arrival must surprise you. To enter quietly this town, to which the access has become difficult through the orders of a rival, and to have avoided being seen by the soldiers, is an event you did not look for. But if, in coming here, I have surmounted some obstacles, the desire of seeing you is able to effect much greater miracles. My heart has felt but too severely the blows of merciless fate which kept me away from you; to allay the pangs which nearly kill me, I could not refuse myself some moments to behold in secret your inestimable person. I come, therefore, to tell you that I return thanks to Heaven, that you are rescued from the hands of an odious tyrant. But, in the midst of that happiness, I feel that I shall always be tortured with the thought that envious fate deprived me of the honour of performing such a noble deed, and has unjustly given to my rival the chance of venturing his life pleasantly to render you so great a service. Yes, Madam, my readiness to free you from your chains was undoubtedly equal to his; I should have gained the victory for you, if Heaven had not robbed me of that honour.

    ELV. I know, my Lord, that you possess a heart capable of overcoming the greatest dangers; I doubt not but this generous zeal which incited you to espouse my quarrel, would have enabled you, as well as any one else, to overcome all base attempts; but even if you have not performed this noble deed--and you could have done it--I am already under sufficient obligations to the house of Castile. It is well known what a warm and faithful friend the Count, your father, was of the late King, and what he did for him. After having assisted him until he died, he gave my brother a shelter in his states; full twenty years he concealed him, in spite of the cowardly efforts to discover him, employed by barbarous and enraged enemies; and now to restore to his brow a crown, in all its splendour, you are marching in person against our usurpers. Are you not satisfied, and do not these generous endeavours place me under strong obligations to you? Would you, my Lord, obstinately persist in swaying my whole fate? Must I never receive even the slightest kindness unless from you? Ah! amidst these misfortunes, which seem to be my fate, suffer me to owe also something to another, and do not complain that another arm acquired some glory, when you were absent.

    ALPH. Yes, Madam, I ought to cease complaining; you are quite right when you tell me so; we unjustly complain of one misfortune, when a much greater threatens to afflict us. This succour from a rival is a cruel mortification to me: but, alas! this is not the greatest of my misfortunes; the blow, the severe blow which crushes me, is to see that rival preferred to me. Yes, I but too plainly perceive that his greater reputation was the reason that his love was preferred to mine; that opportunity of serving you, the advantage he possessed of signalizing his prowess, that brilliant exploit which he performed in saving you, was nothing but the mere effect of being happy enough to please you, the secret power of a wonderful astral influence which causes the object you love to become famed. Thus all my efforts will be in vain. I am leading an army against your haughty tyrants; but I fulfil this noble duty trembling, because I am sure that your wishes will not be for me, and that, if they are granted, fortune has in store the most glorious success for my happy rival. Ah! Madam, must I see myself hurled from that summit of glory I expected; and may I not know what crimes they accuse me of, and why I have deserved that dreadful downfall?

    ELV. Before you ask me anything, consider what you ought to ask of my feelings. As for this coldness of mine, which seems to abash you, I leave it to you, my Lord, to answer for me; for, in short, you cannot be ignorant that some of your secrets have been told to me. I believe your mind to be too noble and too generous to desire me to do what is wrong. Say yourself if it would be just to make me reward faithlessness; whether you can, without the greatest injustice, offer me a heart already tendered to another; whether you are justified in complaining, and in blaming a refusal which would prevent you from staining your virtues with a crime? Yes, my Lord, it is a crime, for first love has so sacred a hold on a lofty mind, that it would rather lose greatness and abandon life itself, than incline to a second love.

    [Footnote: The words "Yes my Lord" until "second love" are also, with some alterations, found in The Blue Stockings, Act iv. Scene 2, (see Vol. III).]

    I have that regard for you which is caused by an appreciation of your lofty courage, your magnanimous heart; but do not require of me more than I owe you, and maintain the honour of your first choice. In spite of your new love, consider what tender feelings the amiable Inez still retains for you; that she has constantly refused to be made happy for the sake of an ungrateful man; for such you are, my Lord! In her great love for you, how generously has she scorned the splendour of a diadem! Consider what attempts she has withstood for your sake, and restore to her heart what you owe it.

    ALPH. Ah, Madam, do not present her merit to my eyes! Though I am an ungrateful man and abandon her, she is never out of my mind; if my heart could tell you what it feels for her, I fear it would be guilty towards you. Yes, that heart dares to pity Inez, and does not, without some hesitation follow the violent love which leads it on. I never flattered myself that you would reward my love without at the same time breathing some sighs for her; in the midst of these pleasant thoughts my memory still casts some sad looks towards my first love, reproaches itself with the effect of your divine charms, and mingles some remorse with what I wish most fervently. And since I must tell you all, I have done more than this. I have endeavoured to free myself from your sway, to break your chains, and to place my heart again under the innocent yoke of its first conqueror. But, after all my endeavours, my fidelity gives way, and I see only one remedy for the disease that kills me. Were I even to be forever wretched, I cannot forswear my love, or bear the terrible idea of seeing you in the arms of another; that same light, which permits me to behold your charms, will shine on my corpse, before this marriage takes place. I know that I betray an amiable Princess; but after all, Madam, is my heart guilty? Does the powerful influence which your beauty possesses leave the mind any liberty? Alas! I am much more to be pitied than she; for, by losing me, she loses only a faithless man. Such a sorrow can easily be soothed; but I, through an unparalleled misfortune, abandon an amiable lady, whilst I endure all the torments of a rejected love.

    ELV. You have no torments but what you yourself create, for our heart is always in our own power. It may indeed sometimes show a little weakness; but, after all, reason sways our passions...

    SCENE III.--DON GARCIA, DONNA ELVIRA, DON ALPHONSO, under the name of Don Silvio.

    GARC. I perceive. Madam, that my coming is somewhat unseasonable, and disturbs your conversation. I must needs say I did not expect to find such good company here.

    ELV. Don Silvio's appearance indeed surprised me very much; I no more expected him than you did.

    GARC. Madam, since you say so, I do not believe you were forewarned of this visit; (to Don Silvio) but you, sir, ought at least to have honoured us with some notice of this rare happiness, so that we should not have been surprised, but enabled to pay you here those attentions which we would have liked to render you.

    ALPH. My Lord, you are so busy with warlike preparations, that I should have been wrong had I interrupted you. The sublime thoughts of mighty conquerors can hardly stoop to the ordinary civilities of the world.

    GARC. But those mighty conquerors, whose warlike preparations are thus praised, far from loving secrecy, prefer to have witnesses of what they do; their minds trained to glorious deeds from infancy, make them carry out all their plans openly; being always supported by lofty sentiments, they never stoop to disguise themselves. Do you not compromise your heroic merits in coming here secretly, and are you not afraid that people may look upon this action as unworthy of you?

    ALPH. I know not whether any one will blame my conduct because I have made a visit here in secret; but I know, Prince, that I never courted obscurity in things which require light. Were I to undertake anything against you, you should have no cause to remark you were surprised. It would depend upon yourself to guard against it; I would take care to warn you beforehand. Meanwhile let us continue upon ordinary terms, and postpone the settlement of our quarrels until all other affairs are arranged. Let us suppress the outbursts of our rather excited passions, and not forget in whose presence we are both speaking.

    ELV. (To Don Garcia). Prince, you are in the wrong; and his visit is such that you...

    GARC. Ah! Madam, it is too much to espouse his quarrel You ought to dissemble a little better when you pretend that you were ignorant he was coming here. You defend him so warmly and so quickly, that it is no very convincing proof of his visit being unexpected.

    ELV. Your suspicions concern me so little, that I should be very sorry to deny your accusation.

    GARC. Why do you not go farther in your lofty pride, and, without hesitation, lay bare your whole heart? You are too prone to dissimulation. Do not unsay anything you once said. Be brief, be brief, lay aside all scruples; say that his passion has kindled yours, that his presence delights you so much...

    ELV. And if I have a mind to love him, can you hinder me? Do you pretend to sway my heart, and have I to receive your commands whom I must love? Know that too much pride has deceived you, if you think you have any authority over me; my mind soars too high to conceal my feelings when I am asked to declare them. I will not tell you whether the Count is beloved; but I may inform you that I esteem him highly; his great merits, which I admire, deserve the love of a Princess better than you; his passion, the assiduity he displays, impress me very strongly; and if the stern decree of fate puts it out of my power to reward him with my hand, I can at least promise him never to become a prey to your love. Without keeping you any longer in slight suspense, I engage myself to act thus, and I will keep my word. I have opened my heart to you, as you desired it, and shown you my real feelings. Are you satisfied, and do you not think that, as you pressed me, I have sufficiently explained myself? Consider whether there remains anything else for me to do in order to clear up your suspicions. (To Don Silvio). In the meanwhile, if you persist in your resolution to please me, do not forget, Count, that I have need of your arm, and that whatever may be the outbreaks of temper of an eccentric man, you must do your utmost to punish our tyrants. In a word, do not listen to what he may say to you in his wrath, and in order to induce you so to act, remember that I have entreated you.


    GARC. Everything smiles upon you, and you proudly triumph over my confusion. It is pleasant to hear the glorious confession of that victory which you obtain over a rival; but it must greatly add to your joy to have that rival a witness to it. My pretensions, openly set aside, enhance all the more the triumph of your love. Enjoy this great happiness fully, but know that you have not yet gained your point; I have too just cause to be incensed, and many things may perhaps ere then come to pass. Despair, when it breaks out, goes a great way; everything is pardonable when one has been deceived. If the ungrateful woman, out of compliment to your love, has just now pledged her word never to be mine, my righteous indignation will discover the means of preventing her ever being yours.

    ALPH. I do not trouble myself about your antagonism. We shall see who will be deceived in his expectations. Each by his valour will be able to defend the reputation of his love, or avenge his misfortune. But as between rivals the calmest mind may easily become irate, and as I am unwilling that such a conversation should exasperate either of us, I wish, Prince, you would put me in the way of leaving this place, so that the restraint I put upon myself may be ended.

    GARC. No, no, do not fear that you will be compelled to violate the order you received. Whatever righteous wrath is kindled within me, and which no doubt delights you, Count, I know when it should break forth. This place is open to you; you can leave it, proud of the advantages you have gained. But once more I tell you that my head alone can put your conquest into your hands.

    ALPH. When matters shall have reached that point, fortune and our arms will soon end our quarrel.
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