¶ 3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 QUEEN: How now, dear Rutland? I sent for you. – How are you? For some time you have seemed sad. Why this somber cloud gathered about your lovely eyes? Cheer up, dear Rutland; I will find you a brave husband.
¶ 5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 0 QUEEN: How can you speak thus? I love you, indeed I love you well. – You shall see from this: just now I had a dispute with Nottingham – that unpleasant woman! – about, in fact, my Lord of Essex.
¶ 11 Leave a comment on paragraph 11 0 QUEEN: I know you deserve my trust. – Come, Rutland, I will tell you everything. You should advise me. – There is no doubt, dear Rutland, that you will have heard how much the people rail against the poor unhappy man, the crimes they charge him with. But perhaps you do not yet know the worst? He arrived today from Ireland, against my strict commands, and left affairs there in utmost confusion.
¶ 13 Leave a comment on paragraph 13 0 QUEEN: You speak the true thoughts of my soul. – But, dear Rutland, he is nonetheless to blame. – Come here, my dear, let me lean upon your breast. – Oh it is certain, they provoke me too much! No, I will not let myself be brought under their yoke in that way. They forget, that I am their Queen. – Ah, dear, I have long wanted a friend like you, to whom I can pour out my sorrows! –
¶ 14 Leave a comment on paragraph 14 0 RUT: Behold my tears, queen – To see you suffer so, you whom I admire so much! – Oh, if only my good angel would put thoughts in my soul and words on my tongue to charm the storm in your heart and pour balsam on your wounds!
¶ 15 Leave a comment on paragraph 15 0 QUEEN: Oh, then you would be my good angel, compassionate Rutland! – Say, is it not a pity, that so brave a man should be a traitor? That such a hero, honored as a god, can stoop so low to gain a petty throne from me?
¶ 16 Leave a comment on paragraph 16 0 RUT: That is what he is said to have wanted? Could he have wanted that? No, Queen, certainly not, certainly not! How often have I heard him speak of you! With what devotion, with what admiration, with what delight have I heard him speak of you!
¶ 18 Leave a comment on paragraph 18 0 RUT: And always as a man inspired, who speaks not with cold consideration, but with an inner feeling he cannot master. She is, he said, the goddess of her sex, raised so far above all other women that what we admire most in them, beauty and charm, are in her merely the shadows that offset a greater luster. Every feminine perfection is absorbed by her as the weak shimmer of a star is absorbed into the overflowing brightness of sunlight. Nothing exceeds her goodness; in her person benevolence itself rules this happy isle; her laws are drawn from the eternal codes of heaven and are registered again there by angels. – Oh, he then interrupted himself with a sigh that expressed the entirety of his loyal heart, oh, that she cannot be immortal! I do not wish to survive that terrible moment when God calls back this reflection of himself and instantly spreads darkness and confusion over Britain.
¶ 24 Leave a comment on paragraph 24 0 RUT: Not see him, Queen? Not see him? By the pity that has set up its throne in your soul, I entreat you: you must see him! Shame? Whose? For showing mercy to an unfortunate man? – God has mercy: should Kings insult mercy? – No, Queen, be equal to yourself here. Yes, you will, you will see him, see him at least once –
¶ 25 Leave a comment on paragraph 25 0 QUEEN: Him, the man who could so defy my explicit command? Him, the man who dares bring himself audaciously before my eyes? Why did he not stay where I ordered him to stay?
¶ 26 Leave a comment on paragraph 26 0 RUT: Do not attribute this to a crime! Lay the blame on the danger he saw himself in. He heard what was proceeding here, how much they sought to belittle him and make him suspect in your eyes. Thus he came, though without permission, with the best intention: with the intention to clear himself and not allow you to be deceived.
¶ 28 Leave a comment on paragraph 28 0 RUT: Oh nourish this most kind belief! Your royal soul cannot nurture a more righteous one. – Honest! You will certainly find him so. I would swear for him, by all your splendor I would swear for him that he has never ceased to be so. His soul is purer than the sun, which has spots and draws earthly vapors toward itself, and breeds vermin. – You say he is brave, and who does not say this? But a brave man is not capable of baseness. Think how he chastised the rebels, and how dreadful he made you to Spain, who spent the treasures of his Indies against you in vain. His name flew ahead of your fleets and armies, and even before they arrived, often his name had already won the battle.
¶ 29 Leave a comment on paragraph 29 0 QUEEN Aside: How eloquent she is! – Ha! This passion, this ardency – mere pity does not go so far. – I will hear it straight! – to her: And then, Rutland, his form –
¶ 30 Leave a comment on paragraph 30 0 RUT: Right, queen, his form. – Never has a form been more in keeping with the inner perfection! – Admit it, you, who yourself are so beautiful, that a more beautiful man has never been seen! A form so worthy, so noble, so bold and commanding! Every limb in such harmony with the others! And the whole with such soft lovely contours! Nature’s true model for creating a perfect man! The rare pattern for art, which must search through a hundred subjects for what it finds here all together!
¶ 31 Leave a comment on paragraph 31 0 QUEEN Aside: I thought so! – I can tolerate no more. – to her: What is the matter, Rutland? You are beside yourself. Your words and images come crowding one upon the other. What has thus overcome you? Is it just your Queen, or is it Essex himself that effects this true, or this forced, passion in you? –Aside: she is silent; – most certainly, she loves him. – What have I done? What new storm have I roused in my breast? etc.
¶ 32 Leave a comment on paragraph 32 0 Here Burleigh and Nottingham appear again to tell the queen that Essex awaits her orders. He is to come before her. “Rutland,” the queen says, “we must defer this subject till another time. – Come hither, Nottingham.” This streak of jealousy is excellent. Essex enters, and now comes the scene with the box on the ear. I do not know how it could be prepared with greater understanding or success. At first Essex seems to want to be completely submissive, but when she orders him to defend himself he becomes more and more heated; he huffs and puffs and brags and blusters. Nevertheless, none of this could have riled the Queen so much had her heart not already been embittered with jealousy. It is really the jealous lover who hits him; she merely employs the hand of the Queen to do so. In general, jealousy loves to hit.
¶ 33 Leave a comment on paragraph 33 0 For my part, I would rather have merely imagined these scenes than to have written the whole of Corneille’s Essex. They are so distinctive, so full of life and truth, that the Frenchman’s best effort pales in comparison.
- ¶ 34 Leave a comment on paragraph 34 0
- [†] Text in blue indicates passages ommitted by Zimmern in her 1890 translation.
- [58.1] Actually published winter of 1768.
- [58.2] In , Lessing begins his analysis of The Unhappy Favourite: or, The Earl of Essex (1682) by John Banks; here he continues, from , his translation and discussion of Act 3, Scene 1. Rutland: a countess.
- [58.3] Tr. note: on the translation, see [57.4]. In the following, Lessing not only changes the tone and diction of the text, but also departs from Banks’s original dialogue in significant ways. For comparison, see Banks, The Unhappy Favourite 3.1.