Page images
PDF
EPUB

And in wisdom ?-O my father,
Thy hand reach me; sire, arise:
Now that Heaven this way has made thee
See thou erredst in the mode
Of o’ercoming it, I place me
Here, awaiting thy revenge:

On my neck thy feet be planted. He throws himself at his father's feet, having now, indeed, conquered; for he has conquered himself. All else is arranged in a few lines. Astolfo fulfils his pledge to Rosaura, the prince affectionately embraces the faithful Clotaldo, gives his own hand to Estrella, and, when all are wondering at his wisdom and moderation, forbids them to restrain their admiration, even if he should not waken to find himself in his narrow dungeon again, yet life itself is a dream, which he would fain dream well, that so a blessed awakening

may follow.

8

II.

THE GREAT THEATRE OF THE WORLD.

No auto of Calderon has yet been translated into English either in whole or in part. Ticknor has presented, in his History of Spanish Literature, an account of one, The Divine Orpheus,* but wholly in prose; and in prose also The Rambler (December, 1855) has given a very fair analysis of The Poison and the Antidote. While I am fully conscious of the difficulty of the attempt, and the danger of utter and ridiculous failure, I venture here to offer an analysis of one of them, with sufficient verse quotations to give a somewhat clearer conception of what they are than could in any other way be gained. I might perhaps have chosen autos of Calderon in which he soars upon loftier wing; but this also seems to me to be admirably conceived and carried out, and is not quite so strange and startling as some perhaps might appear.

* Vol. ii., p. 323.

The title which it bears, The Great Theatre of the World, will sufficiently indicate its subject. The observation that

< All the world's a stage, And all the men and women merely players,” has now become a commonplace, yet is one containing in it so deep a moral significance, so profound a truth, that it can never grow old or out of date. It is one to which Calderon recurred again and again. Thus in his very, noble play To know Good and Evil, he says:

“ En el teatro del mundo
Todos son representantes.
Cual hace un Rey soberano,
Cual un Principe, ò un grande,
A quien obedecen todos;
Y aquel punto, aquel instante
Que dura el papel, es dueño
De todas las voluntades.
Acabóse la comedia,
Y como el papel se acaba,
La muerte en el vestuario
A todos los deja iguales.”

Nor is he content with making such passing allusions to it; but in the auto, of which I am about to present some specimens, this thought furnishes, as will be seen, the idea on which he has wrought throughout.

Before going further let me say to the reader, above all in respect of the opening scene, that what was not intended profanely or even over-boldly, but in strong religious earnestness and reverence, must be taken in no other sense by him; or, if he is unable so to take it, he will do best in not proceeding any further. In the first scene then the Author appears with a mantle spangled with stars, and the triple rays of light (potencias) on his forehead. He summons the world, which describes itself as being shaped and moulded under his creative word; and informs it of his purpose to set out upon it a great pageant and representation for the display of his power and glory. Men are to be his company. He bids the world that it do not fail to provide richly all things needful to) enable the several players to enact their allotted parts. The world in one of the long speeches for which Calderon was famous (the present exceeds two hundred lines) promises obedience; that the properties and furniture shall not be wanting, and so withdraws. And now the Author summons his future company - the Rich Man, the Beggar, the King, the Husbandman,* the Lady or Beauty, the Recluse or Discretion, the Infant, as by a necessary prolepsis they are called, and distributes to them their several

* The English word gives exactly the force of the Spanish labrador; he is no day-laborer in our sense; for though he labors with his own hands, it is also on his own ground.

« EelmineJätka »