THE RESOURCES OF QUINOLA
A COMEDY IN A PROLOGUE AND FIVE ACTS
HONORE DE BALZAC
First Presented at the Theatre de l'Odeon, Paris March 19, 1842.
Had the author of the following play written it merely for the purpose of winning for it the universal praise which the journals have lavished upon his romances, and which perhaps transcended their merits, The Resources of Quinola would still have been an excellent literary speculation; but, when he sees himself the object of so much praise and so much condemnation, he has come to the conclusion that it is much more difficult to make successfully a first venture on the stage than in the field of mere literature, and he has armed himself, accordingly, with courage, both for the present and for the future.
The day will come when the piece will be employed by critics as a battering ram to demolish some piece at its first representation, just as they have employed all his novels and even his play entitled Vautrin, to demolish The Resources of Quinola.
However tranquil may be his mood of resignation, the author cannot refrain from making here two suggestive observations.
Not one among fifty feuilleton writers has failed to treat as a fable, invented by the author, the historic fact upon which is founded the present play.
Long before M. Arago mentioned this incident in his history of steam, published in the Annuaire du Bureau des Longitudes, the author, to whom the incident was known, had guessed in imagination the great drama that must have led up to that final act of despair, the catastrophe which necessarily ended the career of the unknown inventor, who, in the middle of the sixteenth century, built a ship that moved by steam in the harbor of Barcelona, and then scuttled it with his own hands in the presence of two hundred thousand spectators.
This observation is sufficient answer to the derision which has been flung upon what was supposed to be the author's hypothesis as to the invention of steam locomotion before the time of the Marquis of Worcester, Salomon de Caus and Papin.
The second observation relates to the strange manner in which almost all the critics have mistaken the character of Lavradi, one of the personages in this comedy, which they have stigmatized as a hideous creation. Any one who reads the piece, of which no critic has given an exact analysis, will see that Lavradi, sentenced to be transported for ten years to the presides, comes to ask pardon of the king. Every one knows how freely the severest penalties were in the sixteenth century measured out for the lightest offences, and how warmly valets in a predicament such as Quinola's, were welcomed by the spectators in the antique theatres.
Many volumes might be filled with the laments of feuilletonists, who for nearly twenty years have called for comedies in the Italian, Spanish or English style. An attempt has been made to produce one, and the critics would rather eat their own words than miss the opportunity of choking off the man who has been bold enough to venture upon a pathway of such fertile promise, whose very antiquity lends to it in these days the charm of novelty.
Nor must we forget to mention, to the disgrace of our age, the howl of disapprobation which greeted the title "Duke of Neptunado," selected by Philip II. for the inventor, a howl in which educated readers will refuse to join, but which was so overwhelming at the presentation of the piece that after its first utterance the actors omitted the term during the remainder of the evening. This howl was raised by an audience of spectators who read in the newspapers every morning the title of the Duke of Vittoria, given to Espartero, and who must have heard of the title Prince of Paz, given to the last favorite of the last but one of the kings of Spain. How could such ignorance as this have been anticipated? Who does not know that the majority of Spanish titles, especially in the time of Charles V. and Philip II. refer to circumstances under which they were originally granted?
An admiral took that of Transport-Real, from the fact that the dauphin sailed with him to Italy.
Navarro was given the title La Vittoria after the sea-fight of Toulon, though the issue of the conflict was indecisive.
These examples, and as many others, are outdone by that of the famous finance minister, a parvenu broker, who chose to be entitled the Marquis Insignificant (l'Ensenada).
In producing a work, constructed with all the dramatic irregularity of the early French and Spanish stage, the author has made an experiment which had been called for by the suffrages of more than one "organ of public opinion," as well as of all the "first-nighters" of Paris. He wished to meet the genuine public and to have his piece represented in a house filled with a paying audience. The unsatisfactory result of this ordeal was so plainly pointed out by the whole press, that the indispensability of claqueurs has been now forever established.
The author had been confronted by the following dilemma, as stated by those experienced in such matters. If he introduced into the theatre twelve hundred "dead heads," the success secured by their applause would undoubtedly be questioned. If twelve hundred paying spectators were present, the success of the piece was almost out of the question. The author chose to run the risk of the latter alternative. Such is the history of this first representation, where so many people appeared to be made so uncomfortable by their elevation to the dignity of independent judges.
The author intends therefore to return to the beaten track, base and ignoble though it be, which prejudice has laid out as the only avenue to dramatic success; but it may not be unprofitable to state here, that the first representation of The Resources of Quinola actually redounded to the advantage of the claqueurs, the only persons who enjoyed any triumph in an evening entertainment from which their presence was debarred!
Some idea of the criticism uttered on this comedy may be gained from the fact that out of the fifty newspapers, all of which for the last twenty years have uttered over the unsuccessful playwright the hackneyed phrase, "the play is the work of a clever man who will some day take his revenge," not one employed it in speaking of The Resources of Quinola, which they were unanimous in consigning to oblivion. This result has settled the ambition of the author.
Certain persons, whose good auguries the author had done nothing to call forth, encouraged from the outset this dramatic venture, and thus showed themselves less critical than unkind; but the author counts such miscalculations as blessings in disguise, for the loss of false friends is the best school of experience. Nor is it less a pleasure than a duty thus publicly to thank the friends, like M. Leon Gozlan, who have remained faithful, towards whom the author has contracted a debt of gratitude; like M. Victor Hugo, who protested, so to speak, against the public verdict at the first representation, by returning to witness the second; like M. de Lamartine and Madame de Girardin, who stuck to their first opinion, in spite of the general public reprobation of the piece. The approval of such persons as these would be consoling in any disaster.
LAGNY, 2 April, 1842.
PERSONS OF THE PROLOGUE
Philip II., King of Spain Cardinal Cienfuegos, Grand Inquisitor The Captain of the Guards The Duke of Olmedo The Duke of Lerma Alfonso Fontanares Lavradi, known as Quinola A halberdier An alcalde of the palace A familiar of the Inquisition The Queen of Spain The Marchioness of Mondejar
PERSONS OF THE PLAY
Don Fregose, Viceroy of Catalonia Grand Inquisitor Count Sarpi, secretary to the Viceroy Don Ramon, a savant Avaloros, a banker Mathieu Magis, a Lombard Lothundiaz, a burgess Alfonso Fontanares, an inventor Lavradi, known as Quinola, servant to Fontanares Monipodio, a retired bandit Coppolus, a metal merchant Carpano, a locksmith Esteban, workman Girone, workman The host of the "Golden Sun" A bailiff An alcalde Faustine Brancadori Marie Lothundiaz, daughter to Lothundiaz Dona Lopez, duenna to Marie Lothundiaz Paquita, maid to Faustine
SCENE: Spain—Valladolid and Barcelona
THE RESOURCES OF QUINOLA
(The scene is laid at Valladolid, in the palace of the King of Spain. The stage represents the gallery which leads to the chapel. The entrance to the chapel is on the spectators' left, that to the royal apartment on the right. The principal entrance is in the centre. On each side of the principal door stand two halberdiers. At the rise of the curtain the Captain of the Guards and two lords are on the stage. An alcalde of the palace stands in the centre of the gallery. Several courtiers are walking up and down in the hall that leads to the gallery.)
The Captain of the Guards, Quinola (wrapped in his mantle) and a halberdier.
The halberdier (barring the way to Quinola) No one passes this way, unless he has the right to do so. Who are you?
Quinola (lifting up the halberd) An ambassador.
(All look at him.)
Halberdier From what state?
Quinola (passing in) From what state? From a state of misery.
The Captain of the Guards Go and bring the major-domo of the palace, that he may render to this ambassador the honors that are due him. (To the halberdier) Three days' imprisonment.
Quinola (to the Captain) You are a very droll rascal.
Quinola (taking him aside) Are not you the cousin of the Marchioness of Mondejar?
The Captain What if I am?
Quinola Although she is high in favor, she is on the brink of an abyss, into which she may fall and lose her head in falling.
The Captain All people of your class trump up these stories!—Listen, you are the twenty-second person, and we have only reached the tenth of the month, who has made an attempt to be introduced to the favorite, for the purpose of squeezing a few pistoles from her. Take yourself off or else—
Quinola My lord, it is better to be misled by twenty-two poor devils, twenty-two times, than once to miss the opportunity of heeding him who is sent by your good angel; and you see, I may also say (he opens his mantle) I am wearing her wings.
The Captain Let us end this, and tell me what proof of your errand you can give?
Quinola (handing him a letter) This little message you must return to me so that the secret remains in our possession, and hang me if you do not see the marchioness swoon when she reads it. Believe moreover that I profess, in common with an immense majority of Spaniards, a deep-seated aversion for—the gallows.
The Captain And suppose that some ambitious woman has paid for your life, that she give it in exchange for another's?
Quinola Should I be in rags? My life is as good as Caesar's. Look here, my lord. (He unseals the letter, smells it, folds it up again, and gives it to him) Are you satisfied?
The Captain (aside) I have yet time. (To Quinola) Remain where you are, I am going to her.
Quinola (alone, in the front of the stage, looking at the departing captain) That is all right! O my dear master, if the torture chamber has not broken your bones, you are likely to get out of the cells of the holy —the thrice holy Inquisition—saved by your poor cur Quinola! Poor? —why should I say poor? My master once free, we will end by cashing our hopes. To live at Valladolid for six months without money, and without being nabbed by the alguazils, argues the possession of certain small talents, which, if applied to—other ends, might bring a man to—something different in fact! If we knew where we were going no one would stir a step—I purpose speaking to the king, I, Quinola. God of the rapscallions, give me the eloquence—of—a pretty woman, of the Marchioness of Mondejar—
Quinola and the Captain.
The Captain (to Quinola) Here are fifty doubloons which the marchioness sends you, that you may be enabled to make your appearance here in decent guise.
Quinola (pouring the gold from one hand into the other) Ah, this burst of sunshine has been long expected! I will return, my lord, radiant as that amorous valet, whose name I have assumed; Quinola at your service, Quinola soon to be lord of wide domains, where I shall administer justice, from the time—(aside) I cease to fear its ministers.
The Courtiers and the Captain.
The Captain (alone at the front of the stage) What secret has this miserable creature discovered? My cousin almost fainted away. She told me that it concerned all my friends. The king must have something to do in the matter. (To a lord) Duke of Lerma, is there anything new in Valladolid?
The Duke of Lerma (whispering) It is said that the Duke of Olmedo was murdered this morning, at three o'clock, just before dawn. It happened a few paces from the Mondejar palace.
The Captain It is quite likely he should be assassinated for prejudicing the king's mind against my cousin; the king, like all great statesmen, esteems as true everything that appears to be probable.
The Duke It is said that enmity between the duke and the marchioness was only a pretence, and that the assassin is not to be prosecuted.
The Captain Duke, this ought not to be repeated unless it can be proved, and even then could not be written excepting with a sword dipped in my blood.
The Duke You asked me the news.
(The duke retires.)
The same persons, and the Marchioness of Mondejar.
The Captain Ah! here is my cousin! (To the marchioness) Dear marchioness, you are still very much agitated. In the name of our common salvation, control yourself; you will attract attention.
The Marchioness Has that man come back?
The Captain Now, how can a man of such base condition as he is throw you into such terror?
The Marchioness He holds my life in his hands; more than my life, indeed; for he holds in his power the life also of another, who, in spite of the most scrupulous precautions, cannot avoid exciting the jealousy—
The Captain Of the king!—Did he cause the assassination of the Duke of Olmedo, as is rumored?
The Marchioness Alas! I do not know what to think.—Here I am alone, helpless—and perhaps soon to be abandoned.
The Captain You may rely upon me—I shall constantly be in the midst of all our enemies like a hunter on the watch.
The same persons and Quinola.
Quinola I have only thirty doubloons left, but I have had the worth of sixty. —Ah! what a lovely scent! The marchioness can now talk to me without fear.
The Marchioness (pointing out Quinola) Is this our man?
The Captain Yes.
The Marchioness Keep watch, my cousin, so that I may be able to talk without being overheard. (To Quinola) Who are you, my friend?
Quinola (aside) Her friend! As soon as you have a woman's secret, you are her friend. (Aloud) Madame, I am a man superior to all considerations and all circumstances.
The Marchioness You have reached a pretty good height, at any rate.
Quinola Is that a threat or a warning?
The Marchioness Sir, you are very impertinent.
Quinola Do not mistake farsightedness for impertinence. You must study me, before coming to a decision. I am going to describe my character to you; my real name is Lavradi. At the moment Lavradi ought to be serving a ten years' sentence in Africa, at the presides, owing to an error of the alcaldes of Barcelona. Quinola is the conscience, white as your fair hands, of Lavradi. Quinola does to know Lavradi. Does the soul know the body? You may unite the soul, Quinola, to the body, Lavradi, all the more easily because this morning Quinola was at the postern of your garden, with the friends of the dawn who stopped the Duke of Olmedo—
The Marchioness What has happened to him?
Quinola Lavradi would take advantage of this moment, which is full of promise, to ask a pardon; but Quinola is a gentleman.
The Marchioness You are taken up too much with yourself—
Quinola And not sufficiently with him—that is just. The duke took us for foul assassins; we were simply asking him, at a rather too advantageous hour, to make us a loan, pledged by our rapiers as collateral. The famous Majoral, who was in command of us, being close pressed by the duke, was forced to disable him by a little thrust, of which he knows the secret.
The Marchioness O! My God!—
Quinola Happiness is cheap at such a cost, madame.
The Marchioness (aside) Hush! He knows my secret.
Quinola When we saw that the duke had not a maravedi about him, we left him where he was. As I was the least culpable of all the gang, I was charged to take him home; in adjusting his pockets, which had been turned inside out, I found the letter which he had written to you, and, learning your position at the court, I understood—
The Marchioness That your fortune was made?
Quinola Not at all—that my life was in danger.
The Marchioness Indeed?
Quinola To whom are you speaking? Quinola or Lavradi?
The Marchioness Lavradi shall have his pardon. What does Quinola desire? To enter my service?
Quinola Foundling children are of gentle birth; Quinola will deliver your letter to you with asking a maravedi, without obliging you to do anything unworthy of you, and he expects that you will refrain from desiring the services of a poor devil who carries under his wallet the heart of the Cid.
The Marchioness How dear you are going to cost me, fellow!
Quinola You said to me just now, "my friend."
The Marchioness Were you not my enemy?
Quinola On account of that word I trust you, madame, and intend to tell you everything. But here—do not laugh—you must promise—I wish—
The Marchioness You wish?
Quinola I wish—to speak to the king—at the moment when he passes on his way to the chapel; I desire you to lend favor to my request.
The Marchioness But what are you going to ask him?
Quinola The most simple thing in the world—an audience for my master.
The Marchioness Explain yourself, for time presses.
Quinola Madame, I am the servant of a philosopher; and if the mark of genius is poverty, we have a great deal too much genius, madame.
The Marchioness To the point.
Quinola Senor Alfonso Fontanares has come here from Catalonia to offer the king our master the sceptre of the sea. At Barcelona he was taken for a madman; here he is considered a sorcerer. When it becomes known what he proposes, he is scoffed at in the antechambers. One wishes to protest for the sake of ruining him; another, a philosopher, throws a doubt on the existence of our secret, with the view of filching it; others again make him a business proposition—capitalists who wish to entangle him in their meshes. As things go at present we do not know how they will turn out. No one certainly can deny the forces of mechanics and geometry, but the finest theorems have very little bodily nourishment in them, and the smallest of ragouts is better for the stomach; but, really, science is not to blame for that. During the past winter my master and myself warmed ourselves over our projects, and chewed the end of our illusions. . . . Well, madame, he is now in prison, for he has been accused of being on too friendly terms with the devil; and, unfortunately, the Holy Office is right, this time, for we have constantly seen him at the bottom of our purse. And now, madame, I implore you, inspire the king with curiosity to see a man who will give him a dominion as extended as that which Columbus gave to Spain.
The Marchioness But since Columbus gave a new world to Spain, new worlds are being offered to us once in every fortnight!
Quinola Ah! madame, every man of genius has one of his own to offer. By heavens, it is so rare that a man can make honestly a fortune both for himself and the state that the phenomenon deserves to be favored.
The Marchioness But what is the project about?
Quinola I must once more beg you not to laugh, madame. His plan is to make ships travel without sail or oar, against the wind, by means of a pot filled with water, which is kept boiling.
The Marchioness What an idea! Where do you come from? What do you mean? Are you dreaming?
Quinola That is just what they all say! Ah, common herd, ye are so constituted that the man of genius, who is right ten years before everybody else, passes for a madman for twenty-five years. I am the only one who believes in this man, and it is on this account I love him; to understand another is to be his equal.
The Marchioness And you want me to repeat this nonsense to the king?
Quinola Madame, you are the only person in the whole of Spain to whom the king will not say, "Be silent."
The Marchioness You do not know the king, and I do. (Aside) I must get back my letter. (Aloud) There is one recent circumstance whose occurrence seems favorable to your master; news comes to the king that the Armada has been lost; wait for him on his way through to chapel and address him. (Exit.)
The Captain of the Guards, the Courtiers and Quinola.
Quinola (in the front of the stage) It is not sufficient to possess genius and to employ it, for there are plenty of people who make a false show to have it and meet excellent success. There is need also of opportunity and favoring circumstances; a picked up letter which puts a favorite in danger, in order to obtain an interceding tongue, and the loss of the mightiest of flotillas, in order to open the ears of a prince. Chance is an infamous wretch! And now, in the duel of Fontanares with his century, the hour has come for his poor second to appear. (Bells are heard; guard is mounted.) Is yon sound an omen of success? (To the Captain of the Guards) How ought the king to be spoken to?
The Captain Step forward, bow your knee, and say: "Sire"—and pray God to guide your tongue aright.
(The royal procession appears.)
Quinola I shall have no trouble falling upon my knees; they are giving way already; for it is not only the fate of a man, but of a world, that is at stake.
A page The queen!
A page The king!
The same persons, the King, the Queen, the Marchioness of Mondejar, the Grand Inquisitor and the whole Court.
Philip II. Gentlemen, we are about to pray God and honor Him who had dealt a deadly blow to Spain. England has escaped us, the Armada is lost, and we desire no more to talk of that flotilla. Admiral (he turns to the admiral), you were not sent to give battle to the storms.
Quinola Sire! (He falls on one knee.)
Philip II. Who are you?
Quinola The most insignificant and the most devoted of your subjects; the servant of a man who pines in the prisons of the Holy Office, accused of magic, because he desires to give to your Majesty the power of escaping from similar disasters—
Philip II. If you are really a servant, rise to your feet. Only grandees are wont to kneel here, in presence of the king.
Quinola My master, then, shall kneel at your feet.
Philip II. Explain yourself in brief; the moments of the king's whole life are not so numerous as are his subjects.
Quinola You must have, then, but one hour for each of your empires. My master, Senor Alfonso Fontanares, is in the prison of the Holy Office—
Philip II. (to the Grand Inquisitor) Father (the Grand Inquisitor approaches), what can you tell us of a certain Alfonso Fontanares?
The Grand Inquisitor He is a pupil of Galileo. He professes the heretical doctrine of his master and boasts the power to do wonders while he refuses to explain the means. He is accused of being rather a Moor than a Spaniard.
Quinola (aside) That sallow face is going to spoil all! (To the King) Sire, my master knows no sorcery, excepting so far as he is madly in love, first with the glory of your Majesty, next with a maid of Barcelona, heiress of Lothundiaz, the richest burgess of the town. As he picked up more science than wealth in studying natural science in Italy, the poor youth has failed in his attempt to marry this maid.—And notice, sire, how great men are calumniated; in his despair he made a pilgrimage to the Virgen del Pilar, to beg her assistance, because Marie was the name of the lady he loved. On leaving the church, he sat down wearied under a tree and fell asleep. In his dreams the Virgin appeared to him and communicated to him an invention by which he could navigate ships without sails, without oars, against wind and tide. He approached you, sire; but between the sun and him a cloud intervened, and after a deadly conflict with the cloud, he is now suffering for his confidence in the Virgen del Pilar and in his king. No one but his servant has sufficient courage to come and throw at your feet the news that there exists a means of realizing universal dominion.
Philip II. I will see your master when I leave the chapel.
The Grand Inquisitor Surely, the king will not expose himself to such peril?
Philip II. My duty is to inquire.
The Grand Inquisitor And mine is to make men respect the privileges of the Sacred Office.
Philip II. I know them. Obey me and keep silence. I know that I owe you a hostage. I know it. (He looks round) Tell me, where is the Duke of Olmedo?
Quinola (aside) Aha!
The Marchioness (aside) We are lost.
The Captain of the Guards Sire, the duke is not yet—arrived—
Philip II. Who has given him leave thus boldly to forsake the duties of his office? (Aside) Some one is deceiving me. (To the Captain of the Guards) Tell him, if he comes, that the king has committed him as a prisoner of the Holy Office. (To the Grand Inquisitor) Issue the order.
The Grand Inquisitor Sire, I will go myself.
The Queen And what if the duke fails to come?
Philip II. In that case he must be dead. (To the captain) You will take his place in the execution of my orders. (He enters the chapel.)
The Marchioness (to Quinola) Run to the duke's house, tell him to come and comport himself as if he were not wounded to the death. The report will then be considered mere calumny.
Quinola You may reckon upon me, but grant us your protection. (Alone) Great heavens! The king seemed charmed by my little fable of the Virgen del Pilar; I must make a vow to her—but what shall it be?—we will see after we have succeeded.
(A cell of the Inquisition.)
Fontanares (alone) I understand now why Columbus desired that his fetters should be placed beside him in his coffin. What a lesson for discoverers! A great discovery is a revelation of truth. And truth destroys so many abuses and errors that all those who live by falsehood rise up to slay the truth; they begin by assailing the man. Let inventors then have patience! I myself desire to have it. Unfortunately, my patience proceeds from my love. In the hope of obtaining Marie, I dream of glory and I pursue it. I saw a piece of straw fly up above a boiler. All men have had the same experience since boilers and straw existed. But I saw there a force; in order to estimate its violence, I put a lid on the boiler; the lid flew off but did not kill me. Archimedes and I are of the same mind! He wished for a lever and a fulcrum to move the world; I possess this lever and have been fool enough to say so; since then—misfortunes have overwhelmed me. If I should die, you, man of genius who shall discover the secret, act on it, but keep silence. The light which we discover, men take from us, only to set on fire our funeral pile. Galileo, my master, is in prison for having said that the earth moves, and I am here for attempting to apply the forces of the earth. No! I am here because I rebel against the cupidity of those who desire to steal my secret; were it not for my love for Marie, I would claim my liberty to-night, leaving to them the profit, keeping to myself the fame—Ah! What rage is in my heart! But rage is only fit for children; let me be calm and then I shall be strong. Would that I might have news of the only man who has faith in me! He is at liberty, he, who begged to win me bread. But faith is only found among the poor, who have need of it.
The Grand Inquisitor, a familiar and Fontanares.
The Grand Inquisitor Well, my son, how are you? You were speaking of faith, doubtless you have made some sage reflections recently. Come now, spare the Holy Office a resort to severity.
Fontanares Father, what do you wish me to say?
The Grand Inquisitor Before setting you at liberty, the Holy Office must be sure that the means you employ are natural—
Fontanares Father, if I had made a compact with the Evil One, would he have let me languish here?
The Grand Inquisitor Your words are impious; the devil has a master whose existence is proved by our burning of heretics.
Fontanares Have you ever seen a ship on the sea? (The Grand Inquisitor assents.) By what means is it propelled?
The Grand Inquisitor The wind fills the sails.
Fontanares Did the devil reveal this method of navigation to the first sailor?
The Grand Inquisitor Do you know who he was?
Fontanares He was, perhaps, the founder of some long forgotten power that ruled the sea—at any rate, the means that I employ are not less natural than his. I have seen a certain force in nature, a force controllable by man. For the wind is God's creature, and man is not its master, but the wind propels the ships of man, while my force is in the ship itself.
The Grand Inquisitor (aside) This man may prove a dangerous fellow. (Aloud) And you refuse to tell us what it is?
Fontanares I will tell the king, in presence of the court; for, after that, no one will be able to rob me of my glory and the fortune that it brings.
The Grand Inquisitor You call yourself an inventor, and yet you think of nothing but fortune! You are too ambitious to be a man of genius.
Fontanares Father, I am so profoundly disgusted by the jealousy of the vulgar, by the avarice of the great, by the behavior of sham philosophers, that— but for my love for Marie—I would give back that which chance has bestowed upon me.
The Grand Inquisitor Chance?
Fontanares I am wrong. I would give back to God the thought which God has sent to me.
The Grand Inquisitor God did not send it to you that it might be hidden, and we have the right to force you to divulge it. (To his familiar) Bid them prepare the rack.
Fontanares I was expecting it.
The Grand Inquisitor, Fontanares, Quinola and the Duke of Olmedo.
Quinola It isn't a very healthy thing, this torture.
Fontanares Quinola! And in what a livery!
Quinola The livery of success, for you are to be freed.
Fontanares Free? And to pass from hell to heaven in an instant?
The Duke of Olmedo As martyrs do.
The Grand Inquisitor Sir, do you dare to say such words in this place!
The Duke of Olmedo I am charged by the king to take out of your custody this man, and will answer for him to the Holy Inquisition.
The Grand Inquisitor What a mistake!
Quinola Ah! you would like to boil him in your cauldrons of oil! Many thanks! His cauldrons are going to carry us 'round the world—like this. (He twirls his hat.)
Fontanares Embrace me, my friend, and tell me how—
The Duke of Olmedo Say not a word here—
Quinola Yes (he points to the Inquisitor), for here the walls have ears. Come. And you (speaking to the duke) take courage. You are pale, and I must give to you a tinge of color; but I know how to do it.
(Palace gallery as in first scene.)
The Duke of Olmedo, the Duke of Lerma, Fontanares and Quinola.
The Duke of Olmedo We have come just in time!
The Duke of Lerma You were not wounded then?
The Duke of Olmedo Who said I was? Would the favorite of the king ruin me? And should I be here, as you see me, if I were dead? (To Quinola) Stand close and hold me up.
Quinola (to Fontanares) This is a man worthy of your love.
Fontanares Who would not envy such a one? Yet how seldom is occasion given to show one's love.
Quinola Spare us, good sir, all this rigmarole about love, in the presence of the king; for the king, hark you—
A page The King!
Fontanares Come on, and let all our thoughts be for Marie!
Quinola (noticing that the Duke of Olmedo is fainting) How are you? (He puts a flask to his nostrils.)
The same persons, the King, the Queen, the Captain of the Guards, the Grand Inquisitor, the Marchioness of Mondejar, the President of the Council of Castile and the whole court.
Philip II. (to the Captain of the Guards) Has our man arrived?
The Captain The Duke of Olmedo, whom I met on the palace steps, has at once obeyed the commands of the king.
The Duke of Olmedo (falling on one knee) Will the king deign to pardon a delay—unpardonable?
Philip II. (raising him by his wounded arm) I was told you were dying—(he glances at the marchioness)—of a wound received in a nocturnal attack.
The Duke of Olmedo Well, you see me here, sire, a sufficient answer.
The Marchioness (aside) He is rouged!
Philip II. (to the duke) Where is your prisoner?
The Duke of Olmedo (pointing to Fontanares) Yonder he stands.
Fontanares (kneeling) And ready, to the great glory of God, to do wonders which shall add splendor to the reign of the king, my master.
Philip II. Rise up and speak to me; what is this force miraculous which shall give to Spain the empire of the world?
Fontanares It is a force invincible, sire. It is steam; for, when water has become expanded in steam, it demands a much more extensive area than that which it occupies in its natural form; and in order to take that space it would blow up mountains. By my invention this force is confined; the machine is provided with wheels, which beat the sea and propel a vessel as swiftly as the wind, so that tempests cannot resist its course. Voyages can be made in safety and so swiftly that there is no limit to speed excepting in the revolution of the wheels. Human life is lengthened every time a moment is economized. Sire, Christopher Columbus gave to you a world three thousand leagues across the ocean; I will bring one to you at the port of Cadiz, and you shall claim, with the assistance of God, the dominion of the sea.
The Queen You do not seem to be astonished, sire?
Philip II. Astonishment is involuntary flattery, and kings may never flatter. (To Fontanares) What do you ask of me?
Fontanares That which Columbus asked, a ship and the presence of my king to witness the experiment.
Philip II. You shall have all—the king, the realm of Spain—the whole world. They tell me that you love a maid of Barcelona. I am about to cross the Pyrenees, to visit my possessions, Roussillon and Perpignan; you shall receive your vessel at Barcelona.
Fontanares In granting me this vessel, sire, you have done me justice; in giving it to me at Barcelona, you have bestowed a favor which, from a subject, makes me your slave.
Philip II. Yet be cautious; to lose a vessel of the state will be to risk your life, for so the law provides.
Fontanares I know it, and accept the risk.
Philip II. Well said, brave man! If you succeed in constructing this sailless, oarless vessel that shall face the wind as swiftly as if the wind were in its favor, I will create you—what is your name?
Fontanares Alfonso Fontanares.
Philip II. You shall be Don Alfonso Fontanares, Duke of—Neptunado, Grandee of Spain.
The Duke of Lerma Sire, the statutes concerning nobility—
Philip II. Silence! Duke of Lerma. It is the duty of the king to exalt the man of genius above all other men and thus to honor the ray of light which God has given to him.
The Grand Inquisitor Sire—
Philip II. What would you?
The Grand Inquisitor We did not imprison the man on the charge that he had commerce with the devil, nor because of his impiety, nor because he springs from a family suspected of heresy; but for the safety of monarchies. Printing has permitted clever men to communicate their thoughts to others and the result has been—Luther, whose word has flown abroad in every direction. But this man is endeavoring to make out of all the nations of the earth a single people, and, before a multitude like this, the Holy Office trembles for the fate of monarchy.
Philip II. All progress moves heavenward.
The Grand Inquisitor Heaven does not command many things which yet it does not hinder men from doing.
Philip II. Our duty consists in bringing good out of evil things and in this work of amelioration gathering all within one circle, whose centre is the throne. Do you not see what is here at stake, even the realization of that universal dominion long-sought for by my glorious father? (To Fontanares) When you have won the rank of duke and Spanish grandee of the first class, I will put upon your breast the Golden Fleece; you shall then be appointed Grand Master of Naval Construction in Spain and the Indies. (To a minister) President, you will issue, this very day, under pain of my displeasure, the order to put at the disposal of this man, in our port of Barcelona, such a vessel as he desires, and —see that no obstacle interferes with his enterprise.
Philip II. What do you desire?
Quinola While you are here, grant, sire, full pardon to a wretch named Lavradi, who was sentenced by a deaf magistrate.
Philip II. Because the judge was deaf, must the king be blind?
Quinola No, but indulgent, sire, which is almost the same thing.
Fontanares Pardon! Grant pardon to the only man who has sustained me in my struggle!
Philip II. (to a minister) This man has talked with me, and I gave him my hand to kiss; issue to him letters of my full pardon.
The Queen (to the king) If this man (she points to Fontanares) is one of those great discoverers, raised up by God, Don Philip you have done a good day's work this morning.
Philip II. (to the queen) It is very difficult to distinguish between a man of genius and a madman; but if he is a madman, my promises are only worth the value of his.
Quinola (to the marchioness) Here is your letter, but let me beg you, between ourselves, to write no more.
The Marchioness We are saved!
(The court follows the king into the royal apartment.)
Fontanares and Quinola.
Fontanares Surely I am dreaming—Duke! Grandee of Spain! The Golden Fleece!
Quinola And Master of Naval Construction! We shall have plenty of contractors to patronize. The court is an odd place, I should like to succeed there; how is it to be done? By impudence? I have enough of that to sell! By trickery? Why, the king believes my tale of the Virgen del Pilar. (He laughs) But what is my master thinking about?
Fontanares Let us start at once.
Quinola For what place?
Fontanares For Barcelona.
Quinola No—for a tavern. If the air of the court gives the citizens a good appetite, it makes me devilish thirsty. After a drink, my glorious master, you will see your Quinola a very busy man; for we must not delude ourselves. Between the word of the king and the attainment of success, we shall meet with as many jealous philosophers, scheming tricksters, malicious cavillers, crooked, rapacious, greedy beasts of prey, thievish parasites as have ever beset you in your attempts to see the king.
Fontanares Yet to obtain my Marie I must succeed.
Quinola Yes, and for our own sakes also.
Curtain to the Prologue.
(The scene is Barcelona. The stage represents a public place. On the left of the spectator appear houses, among which that of Lothundiaz stands at the corner of the street. To the right is the palace of Senora Brancadori. The time is night, but the day begins to dawn.)
Monipodio (wrapped in a mantle, seated under the balcony of the Brancadori palace), Quinola (who glides forth cautiously like a thief, and brushes against Monipodio).
Monipodio Who is it dares to tread on my shoes?
Quinola (in ragged array) A gentleman, who does not wear any.
Monipodio That sounds like Lavradi.
Quinola Monipodio!—I thought that you had been—hanged!
Monipodio I thought that you had been beaten to death in Africa.
Quinola Alas, we have been beaten enough without going to Africa!
Monipodio And do you dare to show yourself here?
Quinola You seem comfortable enough here. As for me, I have the king's pardon in my pocket, and while I am waiting for my patent of nobility I call myself Quinola.
Monipodio I suppose you stole your pardon?
Quinola Yes, from the king.
Monipodio And have you seen the king? (He sniffs at him.) You smell of poverty—
Quinola Like a poet's garret. And what are you doing?
Quinola That is soon done; if it gives you any income, I would like to embrace your profession.
Monipodio I have been misunderstood, my friend! Hunted by our political enemies.
Quinola The judges, magistrates and police.
Monipodio It is necessary for a man to have a political party.
Quinola I understand you; from being the game you have become the hunter.
Monipodio What nonsense! I am always myself. I have merely come to an understanding with the viceroy. When one of my fellows has reached the end of his tether, I say to him: "Get off," and if he doesn't go, ah! I hale him to justice—you understand!—That is not treachery is it?
Quinola It is prevision—
Monipodio And, by the bye, you have just come from court.
Quinola Listen. (Aside) Here is a man, the very one I want, knows everything in Barcelona. (Aloud) After what you have told me we ought to be friends.
Monipodio He who has my secret must be my friend—
Quinola You are as watchful here as if you were jealous. What is it? Come let us moisten our clay and wet our whistle with a bottle in some tavern; it is daybreak—
Monipodio Do you see how this palace is lit up for a feast? Don Fregose is dining and gaming at the house of Senora Faustine Brancadori.
Quinola Quite Venetian, Brancadori. 'Tis a rare name! She must be the widow of some patrician.
Monipodio She is twenty-two, subtle as musk, and governs the governor, and, let me tell you between ourselves, has already wheedled out of him all that he picked up under Charles V. in the wars of Italy. What comes from the flute—
Quinola The air takes. What is the age of the viceroy?
Monipodio He owns up to sixty years.
Quinola And yet they speak of first love! I know of nothing so terrible as last love; it strangles a man. I am happy that I have been brought up so far with unsinged wings! I might be a statesman—
Monipodio The old general is still young enough to employ me as a spy upon the Brancadori, while she pays me for her liberty; and—you can understand the joyous life I lead by making no mischief!
Quinola Now you want to know all, Old Curiosity, in order to place your thumb upon the throat of opportunity! (Monipodio nods assent.) Is Lothundiaz still alive?
Monipodio Yonder is his house, and this palace belongs to him; always grasping more and more property.
Quinola I had hoped to find the heiress her own mistress. My master is ruined!
Monipodio You bring back a master with you?
Quinola One who will bring me mines of gold.
Monipodio Could not I enter his service?
Quinola I am counting very much upon your co-operation here. Listen, Monipodio; we are going to change the face of the earth. My master has promised the king to make one of his finest vessels move through the water, without sails or oars, in the wind's eyes, more swiftly than the wind itself.
Monipodio (examining Quinola as he walks round him) Something has changed my friend.
Quinola Monipodio, please to remember that men like us must not be astonished at anything. Leave that to smaller people. The king has given us the ship, but without a doubloon to go and get her. We arrived here, therefore, with those two faithful companions of genius, hunger and thirst. A poor man who discovers a valuable idea has always seemed to me like a crumb of bread in a fish-pond; every fish takes a bite at him. We are likely to reach the goal of glory naked and dying.
Monipodio You are probably right.
Quinola One morning at Valladolid, my master was within an ace of divulging his secret to a philosopher who knew nothing of it. I warrant you, I showed that gentleman the door, with a dose of cudgel given with a good will.
Monipodio But how is it possible for us to gain a fortune honestly?
Quinola My master is in love. Now love forces a man to do as many foolish things as wise things. We two have first of all to protect our protector. My master is a philosopher who cannot keep accounts—
Monipodio Oh! my dear fellow, in choosing a master, you ought to have selected one—
Quinola Devotion and address count more with him than money; for money and favor to him are mere snares. I know him well; he will either give us or permit us to take enough to end our days in respectability.
Monipodio Ah! that is what I have dreamed of.
Quinola We must then use all our talents, which have been so far wasted, in carrying out this grand enterprise. We should have had a great deal of misfortune if the devil had not favored us.
Monipodio It will be almost worth while to make a journey to Compostello. I have the smuggler's faith, and I love wine.
Quinola Are you not still in touch with the coiners of false money, and the skeleton key-makers?
Monipodio Yes—but for the good of the country—
Quinola Well, that's the trick! As my master constructs his machine, I shall take possession of the models of each part and we will make a duplicate—
Quinola What now?
(Paquita shows herself on the balcony.)
Monipodio You are the greatest of men!
Quinola I know it. Make a discovery, and you will die persecuted as a criminal; make a copy, and you will live happy as a fool! And on the other hand, if Fontanares should die, why should not I save his invention for the good of humanity?
Monipodio Especially, since we ourselves are humanity, as an old author says. Let me embrace you.
The same persons and Paquita.
Quinola (aside) Next to an honest dupe, I know nothing better than the self-deluding rascal.
Paquita (to herself) Two friends embrace each other! They cannot therefore be spies.
Quinola You are already in the secrets of the viceroy, you have the confidence of the Brancadori lady. That is a good beginning! Work a miracle and give us some clothes first of all, and if we two, taking counsel with a flask of liquor, do not discover some way by which my master and Marie Lothundiaz may meet, I will not answer for the consequences. For the last two days his constant talk has been of her, and I am afraid he may some day entirely lose his head.
Monipodio The maiden is guarded like a condemned convict. This is the reason: Lothundiaz has had two wives; the first was poor and gave him a son, the second had a fortune, and when she died left all to her daughter, and left it in such a way that she could never be deprived of it. The old man is a miser whose only object is his son's success. Sarpi, the secretary of the viceroy, in order to win the rich heiress, has promised to obtain a title for Lothundiaz, and takes vast interest in the son—
Quinola There you are—an enemy at the very outset.
Monipodio We must use great prudence. Listen. I am going to give a hint to Mathieu Magis, the most prominent Lombard in the city, and a man entirely under my influence. You will find everything you need at his palace, from diamonds down to low shoes. When you return here you shall see our young lady. (Exeunt.)
Paquita and Faustine.
Paquita Madame is right; two men are on sentry under her balcony and are going away on seeing the day dawn.
Faustine The old viceroy will end by disgracing me! He suspects me, even at my own house, while I am within sight and hearing of him.
Faustine and Don Fregose.
Don Fregose Madame, you run the risk of catching cold; it is too chilly here.
Faustine Come here, my lord. You tell me, that you have faith in me; but you put Monipodio to watch under my windows. Your behavior is not to be excused like the excessive prudence of a young man, and necessarily exasperates an honest woman. There are two kinds of jealousy: the first makes a man distrust his mistress; the second leads him to lose faith in himself. Confine yourself, if you please, to the second.
Don Fregose Do not end so charming a celebration, senora, by a burst of anger which I do not deserve.
Faustine Was Monipodio, through whom you learn everything that goes on in Barcelona, under my windows last night, or was he not? Answer me on your honor as a gentleman.
Don Fregose He might have been in the neighborhood to prevent our gamesters from being attacked on their way home.
Faustine This is the evasive stratagem of an old general! I must know the truth. If you have deceived me I will never see you again so long as I live!
(She leaves him.)
Don Fregose (alone) Oh, why cannot I give up the sight, the voice of this woman! She delights me even in her very anger, and I love to call forth her reproaches, that I may listen to her words.
Paquita and Monipodio (disguised as a begging friar at the door of the Brancadori Palace).
Paquita Madame told me to learn why Monipodio stationed himself below, but I saw no one there.
Monipodio Alms, my dear child, is a treasure which is laid up in heaven.
Paquita I have nothing to give.
Monipodio Never mind, promise me something.
Paquita This is rather a jovial friar.
Monipodio She does not recognize me and I believe I can run the risk.
(Monipodio knocks at the door of Lothundiaz.)
Paquita Ah! If you count upon the alms of our friend the land-owner, you would be richer with my promise. (To Faustine Brancadori, who appears on the balcony) Madame, the men are gone.
Monipodio and Dona Lopez (at the door of the Lothundiaz Mansion.)
Dona Lopez What is it you desire?
Monipodio The brothers of our order have received tidings of your dear Lopez—
Dona Lopez That he was living?
Monipodio As you conduct the Senorita Marie to the convent of the Dominicans, take a turn round the square; you will meet there an escaped Algerian captive, who will tell you about Lopez.
Dona Lopez Merciful heavens! Would that I could ransom him!
Monipodio Be careful, first of all, when you approach on that subject; suppose that he were a Mussulman?
Dona Lopez Dear Lopez! I must go and prepare the senorita for her journey.
(Dona Lopez re-enters the house.)
Monipodio, Quinola and Fontanares.
Fontanares At last, Quinola, we stand beneath her windows.
Quinola Yes, but where is Monipodio? Has he allowed himself to be beaten off? (He turns to the friar) Sir Beggar?
Monipodio All goes well.
Quinola Sangodemy! What perfection of mendicancy! Titian ought to paint you. (To Fontanares) She will come. (To Monipodio) How do you find things?
Monipodio Most favorable.
Quinola He shall be a grandee of Spain.
Monipodio Oh! That is nothing. There is something still better than that!
Quinola (to Fontanares) Now, sir, you must above all things be prudent. Let us have no sighing, which might open the eyes of the duenna.
The same persons, Dona Lopez and Marie.
Monipodio (to the duenna, pointing to Quinola) This is the Christian who escaped from captivity.
Quinola (speaking to the duenna) Ah! madame, I recognize you from the portrait of your charms which Senor Lorenzo drew for me.
(He takes her aside.)
Monipodio, Marie and Fontanares.
Marie Is it really you?
Fontanares Yes, Marie, I have so far succeeded; our happiness is assured.
Marie Ah! If you only knew how I have prayed for your success!
Fontanares I have millions of things to say to you; but there is one thing which I ought to say a million times, to make up for all the weary time of my absence.
Marie If you speak thus to me, I shall believe you do not know the depth of my attachment; for it is fed less upon flattering words than upon the interest I feel in all that interests you.
Fontanares What I am most interested in now, Marie, is to learn before engaging in so important an undertaking, whether you have the courage to resist your father, who is said to contemplate a marriage for you.
Marie Do you think then that I could change?
Fontanares With us men, to love is to be forever jealous! You are so rich, I am so poor. When you thought I was ruined, you had no perturbation for the future, but now that success has come we shall have the whole world between us. And you shall be my star! And shall shine upon me though from so great a distance. If I thought that at the end of my long struggle I should not find you at my side, oh! in the midst of all the triumph I should die for grief!
Marie Do you not know me yet? Though I was lonely, almost a recluse while you were absent, the pure feeling which from our childhood united me with you has grown greater with your destiny! When these eyes, which with such rapture look on you again, shall be closed forever; when this heart which only beats for God, for my father and for you shall be reduced to dust, I believe that on earth will survive a soul of mine to love you still! Do you doubt now my constancy?
Fontanares After listening to such words as these, what martyr would not receive new courage at the stake?
The same persons and Lothundiaz.
Lothundiaz That cursed duenna has left my door open.
Monipodio (aside) Alas, those poor children are ruined! (To Lothundiaz) Alms is a treasure which is laid up in heaven.
Lothundiaz Go to work, and you can lay up treasures here on earth. (He looks round) I do not see my daughter and her duenna in their usual place.
Monipodio (to Lothundiaz) The Spaniard is by nature generous.
Lothundiaz Oh! get away! I am a Catalonian and suspicious by nature. (He catches sight of his daughter and Fontanares.) What do I see? My daughter with a young senor! (He runs up to them) It is hard enough to pay duennas for guarding children with the heart and eyes of a mother without finding them deceivers. (To his daughter) How is it that you, Marie, heiress of ten thousand sequins a year, should speak to—do my eyes deceive me? It is that blasted machinist who hasn't a maravedi.
(Monipodio makes signs to Quinola.)
Marie Alfonso Fontanares is without fortune; he has seen the king.
Lothundiaz So much the worst for the king.
Fontanares Senor Lothundiaz, I am quite in a position to aspire to the hand of your daughter.
Fontanares Will you accept for your son-in-law the Duke of Neptunado, grandee of Spain, and favorite of the king?
(Lothundiaz pretends to look for the Duke of Neptunado.)
Marie But it is he himself, dear father.
Lothundiaz You, whom I have known since you were two foot high, whose father used to sell cloth—do you take me for a fool?
The same persons, Quinola and Dona Lopez.
Quinola Who said fool?
Fontanares As a present upon our wedding, I will procure for you and for my wife a patent of nobility; we will permit you to settle her fortune by entail upon your son—
Marie How is that, father?
Quinola How is that, sir?
Lothundiaz Why! This is that brigand of a Lavradi!
Quinola My master has won from the king an acknowledgment of my innocence.
Lothundiaz To obtain for me a patent of nobility cannot then be a difficult matter.
Quinola And do you really think that a townsman can be changed into a nobleman by letters-patent of the king! Let us make the experiment. Imagine for a moment that I am the Marquis of Lavradi. My dear duke, lend me a hundred ducats?
Lothundiaz A hundred cuts of the rod! A hundred ducats! It is the rent of a piece of property worth two thousand gold doubloons.
Quinola There! I told you so—and that fellow wishes to be ennobled! Let us try again. Count Lothundiaz, will you advance two thousand doubloons in gold to your son-in-law that he may fulfill his promises to the King of Spain?
Lothundiaz (to Fontanares) But you must tell me what you have promised.
Fontanares The King of Spain, learning of my love for your daughter, is coming to Barcelona to see a ship propelled without oars or sails, by a machine of my invention, and will himself honor our marriage by his presence.
Lothundiaz (aside) He is laughing at me. (Aloud) You are very likely to propel a ship without sails or oars! I hope you will do it; I'll go to see it. It would amuse me, but I don't wish to have for a son-in-law any man of such lofty dreams. Girls brought up in our families need no prodigies for husbands, but men who are content to mind their business at their own homes, and leave the affairs of the sun and moon alone. All that I want is that my son-in-law should be the good father of his family.
Fontanares Your daughter, senor, when she was but twelve years old, smiled on me as Beatrice smiled on Dante. Child as she was, she saw in me at first naught but a brother; since then, as we felt ourselves separated by fortune, she has watched me as I formed that bold enterprise which should bridge with glory the gulf that stood between us. It was for her sake I went to Italy and studied with Galileo. She was the first to applaud my work, the first to understand it. She had wedded herself to my thought before it had occurred to her that one day she might wed herself to me. It is thus she has become the whole world to me. Do you now understand how I adore her?
Lothundiaz It is just for that reason that I refuse to give her to you. In ten years' time she would be deserted, that you might run after some other discovery.
Marie Is it possible, father, that a lover could prove false to a love which has spurred him on to work such wonders?
Lothundiaz Yes, when he can work them no longer.
Marie If he should become a duke, grandee of Spain, and wealthy?
Lothundiaz If! If! If! Do you take me for an imbecile? These ifs are the horses that drag to the hospital all these sham world-discoverers.
Fontanares But here are the letters in which the king grants to me the use of a ship.
Quinola Now open your eyes! My master is at once a man of genius and a handsome youth; genius dulls a man and makes him of no use in a home, I grant you; but the handsome youth is there still; what more is needed by a girl for happiness?
Lothundiaz Happiness does to consist in these extremes. A handsome youth and a man of genius,—these, forsooth, are fine reasons for pouring out the treasures of Mexico. My daughter shall be Madame Sarpi.
The same persons, and Sarpi (on the balcony).
Sarpi (aside) Some one uttered my name. What do I see? It is the heiress and her father! What can they be doing in the square at this hour?
Lothundiaz Sarpi has not gone to look for a ship in the harbor of Valladolid, but he gained promotion for my son.
Fontanares Do not, Lothundiaz, merely for the sake of your son's advancement, dispose of your daughter's hand without my consent; she loves me and I love her in return. In a short time I shall be (Sarpi appears) one of the most influential men in Spain, and powerful enough to reap my vengeance—
Marie Oh! not upon my father!
Fontanares Tell him then Marie, all that I am doing to deserve you.
Sarpi (aside) What! A rival?
Quinola (to Lothundiaz) Sir, if you don't consent, you are in a fair way to be damned.
Lothundiaz Who told you that?
Quinola And worse than that,—you are going to be robbed; this I'll swear to.
Lothundiaz To prevent my either being robbed or damned I am keeping my daughter for a man who may not have genius, but who has common sense—
Fontanares At least you will give me time—
Sarpi Why give him time?
Quinola (to Monipodio) Who can that be?
Quinola What a bird of prey he looks!
Monipodio And he is as difficult to kill. He is the real governor of Barcelona.
Lothundiaz My respects to you, honorable secretary! (To Fontanares) Farewell, my friend, your arrival is an excellent reason why I should hurry on the wedding. (To Marie) Come, my daughter, let us go in. (To the duenna) And you, old hag, you'll have to pay for this.
Sarpi (to Lothundiaz) This hidalgo seems to have pretensions—
Fontanares (to Sarpi) Nay, I have a right!
(Exeunt Marie, the duenna and Lothundiaz.)
Monipodio, Sarpi, Fontanares and Quinola.
Sarpi A right? Do you know that the nephew of Fra Paolo Sarpi, kinsman of the Brancadori, count in the Kingdom of Naples, secretary to the viceroy of Catalonia, makes pretension to the hand of Marie Lothundiaz? When another man claims a right in the matter he insults both her and me.
Fontanares Do you know that I for five years, I, Alfonso Fontanares, to whom the king our master has promised the title of Duke of Neptunado and Grandee, as well as the Golden Fleece, have loved Marie Lothundiaz, and that your pretensions, made in spite of the oath which she has sworn to me, will be considered, unless you renounce them, an insult both by her and by me?
Sarpi I did not know, my lord, that I had so great a personage for a rival. In any case, future Duke of Neptunado, future Grandee, future Knight of the Golden Fleece, we love the same woman; and if you have the promise of Marie, I have that of her father; you are expecting honors, while I possess them.
Fontanares Now, listen; let us remain just where we are; let us not utter another word; do not insult me even by a look. Had I a hundred quarrels, I would fight with no one until I had completed my enterprise and answered successfully the expectation of my king. When that moment comes, I will fight singled-handed against all. And, when I have ended the conflict, you will find me—close to the king.
Sarpi Oh! we are not going to lose sight of each other.
The same persons, Faustine, Don Fregose and Paquita.
Faustine (on the balcony) Tell me what is going on, my lord, between that young man and your secretary? Let us go down.
Quinola (to Monipodio) Don't you think that my master has pre-eminently the gift of drawing down the lightning on his own head?
Monipodio He carries his head so high!
Sarpi (to Don Fregose) My lord, there has arrived in Catalonia a man upon whom the king our master has heaped future honors. According to my humble opinion, he should be welcomed by your excellency in accordance with his merits.
Don Fregose (to Fontanares) Of what house are you?
Fontanares (aside) How many sneers, such as this, have I not been forced to endure! (Aloud) The king, your excellency, never asked me that question. But here is his letter and that of his ministers. (He hands him a package.)
Faustine (to Paquita) That man has the air of a king.
Paquita Of a king who will prove a conqueror.
Faustine (recognizing Monipodio) Monipodio! Do you know who that man is?
Monipodio He is a man who, according to rumor, is going to turn the world upside down.
Faustine Ah! I see; it is that famous inventor of whom I have heard so much.
Monipodio And here is his servant.
Don Fregose Sarpi, you may file these ministerial documents; I will keep that of the king. (To Fontanares) Well, my fine fellow, the letter of the king seems to me to be positive. You are undertaking, I see, to achieve the impossible! However great you may be, perhaps it would be well for you to take the advice, in this affair, of Don Ramon, a philosopher of Catalonia who, on this subject, has written some famous treatises—
Fontanares In a matter of this kind, your excellency, the finest dissertations in the world are not worth so much as a practical achievement.
Don Fregose That sounds presumptuous. (To Sarpi) Sarpi, you must place at the disposal of this gentleman whatever vessel in the harbor he may choose.
Sarpi (to the viceroy) Are you quite sure that such is the king's wish?
Don Fregose We shall see. In Spain it is best to say a paternoster between every two steps we take.
Sarpi Other letters on the same subject have reached us from Valladolid.
Faustine (to the viceroy) What are you talking about?
Don Fregose Oh, it is nothing but a chimera.
Faustine But don't you know that I am rather fond of chimeras?
Don Fregose This is the chimera of some philosopher which the king has taken seriously on account of the disaster of the Armada. If this gentleman succeeds, we shall have the court at Barcelona.
Faustine We shall be much indebted to him for that.
Don Fregose He has staked his life on a commission to propel a vessel, swift as the wind, yet straight in the wind's eye, without the employment of either oars or sails.
Faustine Staked his life? He must be a child to do so.
Sarpi Alfonso Fontanares reckons that the performance of this miracle will win for him the hand of Marie Lothundiaz.
Faustine Ah! He loves her then—
Quinola (whispering to Faustine) No, senora, he adores her.
Faustine The daughter of Lothundiaz!
Don Fregose You seem suddenly to feel a great interest in him.
Faustine I hope the gentleman may succeed, if it were only for the purpose of bringing the court here.
Don Fregose Senora, will you not come and take luncheon at the villa of Avaloros? A vessel is at your service in the harbor.
Faustine No, my lord, the night of pleasure has wearied me, and a sail would prove too much. I am not obliged, like you, to be indefatigable; youth loves sleep, give me leave then to retire and take a little rest.
Don Fregose You never say anything to me but that your words contain some innuendo.
Faustine You ought to be grateful that I do not take you seriously!
(Exeunt Faustine, the Viceroy and Paquita.)
Avaloros, Quinola, Monipodio, Fontanares and Sarpi.
Sarpi (to Avaloros) It is too late for a sail.
Avaloros I do not care; I have won ten crowns in gold.
(Sarpi and Avaloros talk together.)
Fontanares (to Monipodio) Who is this person?
Monipodio It is Avaloros, the richest banker of Catalonia; he has bought the whole Mediterranean to be his tributary.
Quinola I feel my heart filled with tenderness towards him.
Monipodio Every one of us owns him as our master.
Avaloros (to Fontanares) Young man, I am a banker; if your business is a good one, next to the protection of God and that of the king, nothing is as good as that of a millionaire.
Sarpi (to the banker) Make no engagements at present. You and I together will easily be able to make ourselves masters of this enterprise.
Avaloros (to Fontanares) Very well, my friend, you must come to see me.
(Monipodio secretly robs him of his purse.)
Monipodio, Fontanares and Quinola.
Quinola (to Fontanares) Are you making a good beginning here?
Monipodio Don Fregose is jealous of you.
Quinola Sarpi is bent on defeating your enterprise.
Monipodio You are posing as a giant before dwarfs who are in power! Before you put on these airs of pride, succeed! People who succeed make themselves small, slip into small openings and glide inward to the treasure.
Quinola Glory? But my dear sir, it can only be obtained by theft.
Fontanares Do you wish me to abase myself?
Monipodio Yes, in order that you may gain your point.
Fontanares Pretty good for a Sarpi! I shall make an open struggle for it. But what obstacle do you see between success and me? Am I not on my way to the harbor to choose a fine galleon?
Quinola Ah! I am superstitious on that point. Sir, do not choose the galley!
Fontanares I see no reason why I shouldn't.
Quinola You have had no experience! You have had something else to make discoveries about. Ah, sir, we are moneyless, without credit at any inn, and if I had not met this old friend who loves me, for there are friends who hate you, we should have been without clothes—
Fontanares But she loves me! (Marie waves her handkerchief at the window.) See, see, my star is shining!
Quinola Why, sir, it is a handkerchief! Are you sufficiently in your right mind to take a bit of advice? This is not the sort of madonna for you; you need a Marchioness of Mondejar—one of those slim creatures, clad in steel, who through love are capable of all the expedients which distress makes necessary. Now the Brancadori—
Fontanares If you want me to throw the whole thing up you will go on talking like that! Bear that in mind; love gives the only strength I have. It is the celestial light that leads me on.
Quinola There, there, do not excite yourself.
Monipodio This man makes me anxious! He seems to me rather to be possessed by the machinery of love than by the love of machinery.
The same persons and Paquita.
Paquita (to Fontanares) My mistress bids me tell you, senor, that you must be on your guard. You are the object of implacable hatred to certain persons.
Monipodio That is my business. You may go without fear through all the streets of Barcelona; if any one seeks your life, I shall be the first to know it.
Fontanares Danger! Already?
Paquita You have given me no answer for her.
Quinola No, my pet, people don't think about two machines at the same time; tell your divine mistress that my master kisses her feet. I am a bachelor, sweet angel, and wish to make a happy end.
(He kisses her.)
Paquita (slapping him in the face) You fool!
Quinola Oh, charming!
Fontanares, Quinola and Monipodio.
Monipodio Come to the Golden Sun. I know the host; you will get credit there.
Quinola The battle is beginning even earlier than I had expected.
Fontanares Where shall I obtain money?
Quinola We can't borrow it, but we can buy it. How much do you need?
Fontanares Two thousand doubloons in gold.
Quinola I have been trying to make an estimate of the treasury I intended to draw upon; it is not plump enough for that.
Monipodio Well, now, I have found a purse.
Quinola Forget nothing in your estimate; you will require, sir, iron, copper, steel, wood, all of which the merchants can supply. I have an idea! I will found the house of Quinola and Company; if they don't prosper you shall.
Fontanares Ah! what would have become of me without you?
Monipodio You would have been the prey of Avaloros.
Fontanares To work, then! The inventor must prove the salvation of the lover.
Curtain to the First Act.
(A room in the palace of Senora Brancadori.)
Avaloros, Sarpi and Paquita.
Avaloros Is the queen of our lives really ill?
Paquita She is melancholy.
Avaloros Is thought, then, a malady?
Paquita Yes, and you therefore can be sure of good health.
Sarpi Say to my dear cousin that Senor Avaloros and I are awaiting her good pleasure.
Avaloros Stay; here are two ducats if you will say that I am sometimes pensive—
Paquita I will say that your tastes are expensive. But I must go and induce the senora to dress herself. (Exit.)
Avaloros and Sarpi.
Sarpi Poor viceroy! He is the youngster.
Avaloros While your little cousin is making a fool of him, you are displaying all the activity of a statesman and clearing the way for the king's conquest of French Navarre. If I had a daughter I would give her to you. Old Lothundiaz is no fool.
Sarpi How fine it would be to be founder of a mighty house; to win a name in the history of the country; to be a second Cardinal Granville or Duke of Alva!
Avaloros Yes! It would be a very fine thing. I also think of making a name. The emperor made the Fuggers princes of Babenhausen; the title cost them a million ducats in gold. For my part, I would like to be a nobleman at a cheaper rate.
Sarpi You! How could you accomplish it?
Avaloros This fellow Fontanares holds the future of commerce in his own hands.
Sarpi And is it possible that you who cling so persistently to the actual have any faith in him?
Avaloros Since the invention of gunpowder, of printing and the discovery of the new world I have become credulous. If any one were to tell me that a man had discovered the means to receive the news from Paris in ten minutes, or that water contained fire, or that there are still new Indies to discover, or that it is possible to travel through the air, I would not contradict it, and I would give—
Sarpi Your money?
Avaloros No; my attention to the enterprise.
Sarpi If the vessel is made to move in the manner proposed, you would like then to be to Fontanares what Amerigo Vespucci was to Christopher Columbus.
Avaloros Have I not here in my pocket enough to pay for six men of genius?
Sarpi But how would you manage the matter?
Avaloros By means of money; money is the great secret. With money to lose, time is gained; and with time to spend, everything is possible; by this means a good business may be made a bad one, and while those who control it are in despair the whole profit may be carried off by you. Money,—that is the true method. Money furnishes the satisfaction of desire, as well as of need. In a man of genius, there is always a child full of unpractical fancies; you deal with the man and you come sooner or later on the child; the child will become your debtor, and the man of genius will go to prison.
Sarpi And how do you stand with him now?
Avaloros He does not trust my offers; that is, his servant does not. I shall negotiate with the servant.
Sarpi I understand you; I am ordered to send all the ships of Barcelona to the coasts of France; and, through the prudence of the enemies which Fontanares made at Valladolid, this order is absolute and subsequent to the king's letter.
Avaloros What do you want to get out of the deal?
Sarpi The functions of the Grand Master of Naval Construction—these I wish to be mine.
Avaloros But what is your ultimate object?
Avaloros You rascally trickster!
Sarpi Your greedy extortioner!
Avaloros Let us hunt together; it will be time enough to quarrel when we come to the division of the prey. Give me your hand. (Aside) I am the stronger, and I control the viceroy through the Brancadori.
Sarpi (aside) We have fattened him sufficiently, let us kill him; I know how to destroy him.
Avaloros We must gain over this Quinola to our interests, and I have sent for him to hold a conference with the Brancadori.
The same persons and Quinola.
Quinola I hang between two thieves. But these thieves are powdered over with virtue and tricked out with fine manners. And they would like to hang the rest of us!
Sarpi You rogue, while you are waiting for your master to propel the galleys by new methods, you ought to be rowing in them yourself.
Quinola The king, who justly appreciates my merits, well understands that he would lose too much by such an arrangement.
Sarpi You shall be watched!
Quinola That I can well believe, for I keep watch on myself.
Avaloros (to Sarpi) You are rousing his suspicions, for he is an honest lad. (To Quinola) Come my good fellow, have you any idea of what is meant by wealth?
Quinola No, for I have seen it from too great a distance.
Avaloros Say, such a sum as two thousand golden doubloons?
Quinola What? I do not know what you mean! You dazzle me. Is there such a sum? Two thousand doubloons! That means to be a land-holder, to own a house, a servant, a horse, a wife, an income; to be protected instead of being chased by the Holy Brotherhood!—What must I do to gain it?
Avaloros You must assist me in obtaining a contract for the mutual advantage of your master and myself.
Quinola I understand! To tangle him up. O my conscience, that is very fine! But, dear conscience, be silent for a while; let me forget you for a few days, and we will live comfortably together for the rest of my life.
Avaloros (to Sarpi) We have him.
Sarpi (to Avaloros) He is fooling us! If he were in earnest he would not talk thus.
Quinola I suppose you won't give me the two thousand doubloons in gold until after the treaty has been signed.
Sarpi (with eagerness) You can have it before.
Quinola You don't mean it! (Holding out his hand) Give it me then.
Avaloros As soon as you sign notes of hand for the amounts which have already matured.
Quinola The Grand Turk himself never offered the bowstring with greater delicacy.
Sarpi Has your master got his ship?
Quinola Valladolid is at some distance from this, I admit; but we control in that city a pen which has the power of decreeing your disgrace.
Sarpi I will grind you to powder.
Quinola I will make myself so small that you can't do it.
Avaloros Ah! you scoundrel, what do you propose to do?
Quinola To talk to you about the gold.
The same persons, Faustine and Paquita.
Paquita Gentlemen, here is the senora. (Exit.)
The same persons, with the exception of Paquita.
Quinola (approaching the Brancadori) Senora, my master talks of killing himself unless he can obtain the ship which Count Sarpi has refused for thirty days to give him; Senor Avaloros asks for his life while offering him his purse; do you understand? (Aside) A woman was our salvation at Valladolid; the women shall be our salvation at Barcelona. (Aloud) He is very despondent.
Avaloros The wretched man seems daring enough.
Quinola Daring without money is naturally amazing to you.
Sarpi (to Quinola) Will you enter my service?
Quinola I am too set in my ways to take a master.
Faustine (aside) He is despondent! (Aloud) Why is it that men like you, Sarpi and Avaloros, for whom I have done so much, should persecute, instead of protecting, the poor man of genius who has so lately arrived among us? (Avaloros and Sarpi are confused.) I cry shame upon you! (To Quinola) You must explain to me exactly their schemes against your master.
Sarpi (to Faustine) My dear cousin, it does to need much penetration to divine what malady it is under which you have labored since the arrival of this Fontanares.
Avaloros (to Faustine) You owe me, senora, two thousand doubloons, and you will need to draw still further on my purse.
Faustine I? What have I ever asked of you?
Avaloros Nothing, but you never refuse anything which I am generous enough to offer you.
Faustine Your monopoly of the wheat trade is a monstrous abuse.
Avaloros Senora, I owe you a thousand doubloons.
Faustine Write me at once a receipt for the two thousand doubloons, and a check for the like sum which I do not intend to pay you. (To Sarpi) After having put you in the position in which you now flourish, I warn you that your best policy is to keep my secret.
Sarpi My obligations to you are too great to admit of my being ungrateful.
Faustine (aside) He means just the contrary, and he will make the viceroy furious with me.
The same persons, with the exception of Sarpi.
Avaloros Here they are, senora. (Handing her the receipt and the check.)
Faustine Very good.
Avaloros We shall be friends?
Faustine Your monopoly of the wheat trade is perfectly legal.
Avaloros Ah! senora.
Quinola (aside) That is what is called doing business.
Avaloros Senora, you are a noble creature, and I am—
Quinola (aside) A regular swindler.
Faustine (offering the check to Quinola) Here, Quinola, this is for the expenses of your master's machine.
Avaloros (to Faustine) Don't give it to him, senora, he may keep it for himself, and for other reasons you should be prudent; you should wait—
Quinola (aside) I pass from the torrid to the arctic zone; what a gamble is life!
Faustine You are right. (Aside) Better that I should hold in a balance the fortune of Fontanares. (To Avaloros) If you wish to keep your monopoly hold your tongue.
Avaloros There is nothing keeps a secret better than capital. (Aside) These women are disinterested until the day they fall in love. I must try to defeat her; she is beginning to cost me too much. (Exit.)
Faustine and Quinola.
Faustine Did you not tell me he was despondent?
Quinola Everything is against him.
Faustine But he knows how to wrestle with difficulties.
Quinola We have been for two years half drowned in difficulties; sometimes we have gone to the bottom and the gravel was pretty hard.
Faustine But what force of character, what genius he has!
Quinola You see, there, senora, the effects of love.
Faustine And with whom is he in love now?
Quinola Still the same—Marie Lothundiaz.
Faustine A doll!
Quinola Yes, nothing but a doll.
Faustine Men of talent are all like that.
Quinola Colossal creatures with feet of clay!
Faustine They clothe with their own illusions the creature that entangles them; they love their own creation; they are egotists!
Quinola (aside) Just like the women! (Aloud) Listen, senora, I wish that by some honest means we could bury this doll in the depths of the—that is—of a convent.
Faustine You seem to me to be a fine fellow.
Quinola I love my master.
Faustine Do you think that he has noticed me?
Quinola Not yet.
Faustine Speak to him of me.
Quinola But then, he would speak to me by breaking a stick across my back. You see, senora, that girl—
Faustine That girl ought to be forever lost to him.
Quinola But he would die, senora.
Faustine He must be very much in love with her.
Quinola Ah! that is not my fault! All the way here from Valladolid I have a thousand times argued the point, that a man like he ought to adore women, but never to love an individual woman! Never—
Faustine You are a pretty worthless rascal! Go and tell Lothundiaz to come and speak with me and to bring his daughter with him. (Aside) She shall be put in a convent.
Quinola (aside) She is the enemy. She loves me so much that she can't help doing us a great deal of harm. (Exit.)
Faustine and Fregose.
Fregose While you expect the master, you spend your time in corrupting the servant.
Faustine Can a woman ever lose her habit of seduction?
Fregose Senora, you are ungenerous; I should think that a patrician lady of Venice would know how to spare the feelings of an old soldier.
Faustine Come, my lord, you presume more upon your white hair than a young man would presume upon his fairest locks, and you find in them a stronger argument than in—(She laughs). Let me have no more of this petulance.
Fregose How can I be otherwise than vexed when you compromise yourself thus, you, whom I wish to be my wife? Is it nothing to have a chance of bearing one of the noblest of names?
Faustine Do you think it is too noble for a Brancadori?
Fregose Yet, you would prefer stooping to a Fontanares!
Faustine But what if he could raise himself as high as to a Brancadori? That would be a proof of love indeed! Besides, as you know from your own experience, love never reasons.
Fregose Ah! You acknowledge that!
Faustine Your friendship to me is so great that you have been the first to learn my secret.
Fregose Senora! Yes, love is madness! I have surrendered to you more than myself! Alas, I wish I had the world to offer you. You evidently are not aware that your picture gallery alone cost me almost all my fortune.
Fregose And that I would surrender to you even my honor.
The same persons and Paquita.
Faustine (to Paquita) Tell my steward that the pictures of my gallery must immediately be carried to the house of Don Fregose.
Fregose Paquita, do not deliver that order.
Faustine The other day, they tell me, the Queen Catherine de Medici sent an order to Diana of Poitiers to deliver up what jewels she had received from Henry II.; Diana sent them back melted into an ingot. Paquita, fetch the jeweler.
Fregose You will do nothing of the kind, but leave the room.
The same persons, with the exception of Paquita.
Faustine As I am not yet the Marchioness of Fregose, how dare you give your orders in my house?
Fregose I am quite aware of the fact that here it is my duty to receive them. But is my whole fortune worth one word from you? Forgive an impulse of despair.
Faustine One ought to be a gentleman, even in despair; and in your despair you treat Faustine as a courtesan. Ah! you wish to be adored, but the vilest Venetian woman would tell you that this costs dear.
Fregose I have deserved this terrible outburst.
Faustine You say you love me. Love me? Love is self-devotion without the hope of recompense. Love is the wish to live in the light of a sun which the lover trembles to approach. Do not deck out your egotism in the lustre of genuine love. A married woman, Laura de Nova, said to Petrarch, "You are mine, without hope—live on without love." But when Italy crowned the poet she crowned also his sublime love, and centuries to come shall echo with admiration to the names of Laura and Petrarch.
Fregose There are very many poets whom I dislike, but the man you mention is the object of my abomination. To the end of the world women will throw him in the face of those lovers whom they wish to keep without taking.
Faustine You are called general, but you are nothing but a soldier.
Fregose Indeed, and how then shall I imitate this cursed Petrarch?
Faustine If you say you love me, you will ward off from a man of genius—(Don Fregose starts)—yes, there are such—the martyrdom which his inferiors are preparing for him. Show yourself great, assist him! I know it will give you pain, but assist him; then I shall believe you love me, and you will become more illustrious, in my sight at least, by this act of generosity than by your capture of Mantua.
Fregose Here, in your presence, I feel capable of anything, but you cannot dream of the tempest which will fall upon my head, if I obey your word.
Faustine Ah! you shrink from obeying me!
Fregose Protect him, admire him, if you like; but do not love him!
Faustine The ship given him by the king has been held back; you can restore it to him, in a moment.
Fregose And I will send him to give you the thanks.
Faustine Do it! And learn how much I love you.
(Exit Don Fregose.)
Faustine (alone) And yet so many women wish that they were men.
Faustine, Paquita, Lothundiaz and Marie.
Paquita Senora, here are Senor Lothundiaz and his daughter. (Exit.)
The same persons, excepting Paquita.
Lothundiaz Ah! senora, you have turned my palace into a kingdom!