A New and Complete Translation

Essay 61

1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 [†] 1 December 1767[61.1]

2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 At this point she begins a long story about the fate of Mary of Scotland.[61.2] We learn (for Essex himself must doubtless have known all this for a long time) that her father and brother were very devoted to this unhappy queen, that she had refused to participate in the oppression of the innocent, that Elizabeth imprisoned her for this and then secretly had her executed in prison. No wonder Blanca hates Elizabeth and is firmly resolved to seek revenge. It is true that later Elizabeth received her among her ladies-in-waiting and deemed her worthy of her complete confidence. But Blanca is unforgiving. It was in vain that the queen recently chose Blanca’s country estate over all others to enjoy the season for a few days in peace and quiet. – Blanca wanted to use this very advantage to bring about her ruin. She had written to her uncle, who, fearing that what happened to his brother, her father, might happen to him, had fled to Scotland where he lived in hiding. The uncle had come, and in brief, the uncle was the one who wanted to murder the queen in the garden. Now Essex knows who the person is whose life he saved, and we do too. But Blanca does not know that it is Essex who will thwart her plot. Rather, she counts on the infinite love Essex has pledged to her, and ventures not just to make him into an accomplice, but to transfer wholly onto him the successful execution of her revenge. He is to write immediately to her uncle, who has fled back to Scotland again, and make common cause with him. The she-tyrant must die, her name is universally hated, her death would be a great service to the country, and no one deserves better than Essex to provide the country such a service.

3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 Essex is completely taken aback by this proposal. Blanca, his dear Blanca, could ask him to commit such treachery? How very ashamed he is, in this moment, of his love! But what should he do? Should he do the proper thing, and convey his indignation? Would she then be any less likely to cling to her disgraceful stance? Should he inform the queen of the matter? That is impossible: Blanca, who is still his dear Blanca, is in danger. Should he try to dissuade her from her decision through pleas and petitions? He would have to be ignorant of what a vengeful creature an injured woman is and how little she allows herself to be softened by entreaties or frightened off by danger. How readily might his dissuasion, his anger bring her into despair, so that she revealed herself to another who would not be so scrupulous and would dare anything out of love for her?[*][61.3] – Having considered this quickly, he resolves to dissimulate in order to trap Roberto (this is Blanca’s uncle) along with all of his followers.

4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 0 Blanca becomes impatient when Essex does not answer her immediately. “Earl,” she says, “if you must consult with yourself so long, then you do not love me. Even to doubt is a crime. Ingrate!”[†][61.4] – “Be calm, Blanca!” Essex replies: “I have made a decision.” – “To do what?” – “I will give it to you in writing right away.”

5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 0 The Earl sits down to write to her uncle; meanwhile the Duke approaches from the gallery. He is curious to see who converses so long with Blanca, and is astonished to behold the Earl of Essex. But he is even more shocked by what he hears next. Essex has written to Roberto and reads Blanca the content of his letter, which he intends to send off with Cosme immediately. Roberto should come with his friends to London, separately; Essex will support him with his people; Essex has the people’s favor; nothing will be easier than to seize the Queen; she is as good as dead. – “First I would have to die!” cries the Duke suddenly, coming toward them. Blanca and the Earl are taken aback by this sudden appearance, and the latter’s shock is not without jealousy. He believes that Blanca had hidden the Duke in her rooms. The Duke vindicates Blanca and avouches that she knew nothing of his presence; he had found the gallery open and had gone in on his own to look at the paintings there.[‡] [61.5]

6 Leave a comment on paragraph 6 0 THE DUKE: On my brother’s life, on the life of the queen, which is even more dear to me, on – but enough for me to say to you: Blanca is innocent. And, milord, you have only her to thank for this declaration. You do not warrant any consideration here. For people like me make of people like you –

7 Leave a comment on paragraph 7 0 THE EARL: Prince, doubtless you do not really know who I am?

8 Leave a comment on paragraph 8 0 THE DUKE: True, I did not really know you. But I know you now. I thought you were a completely different man, and I find you are a traitor.

9 Leave a comment on paragraph 9 0 THE EARL: Who dares say that?

10 Leave a comment on paragraph 10 0 THE DUKE: I do! – Not another word! I will not hear another word, Earl!

11 Leave a comment on paragraph 11 0 THE EARL: My intention may also have been –

12 Leave a comment on paragraph 12 0 THE DUKE: Look: I am convinced that a traitor has no heart. I encounter you as a traitor: I must take you for a man without a heart. But I do not permit myself to make use of this advantage over you. My honor pardons you because you have forfeited yours. If you were as blameless as I once thought you were, I would know how to chastise you.

13 Leave a comment on paragraph 13 0 THE EARL: I am the Earl of Essex. No one has yet dared treat me thusly except the brother of the King of France.

14 Leave a comment on paragraph 14 0 THE DUKE: If I were not who I am; if you only were, what you are not, a man of honor: then you would really feel who you are dealing with. You, the Earl of Essex? If you are this famous warrior, how could you want to wipe out so many great deeds through one that is so unworthy?

15 Leave a comment on paragraph 15 0 [*] Hay tal traicion! vive el Cielo,
que de amarla estoy corrido.
Blanca, que es mi dulce dueño,
Blanca, á quien quiero, y estimo,
me propone tal [traicion]!
Qué haré? porque si ofendido,
respondiendo, como es justo,
contra su traicion me irrito,
no por eso he de evitar
su resuelto desatino.
Pues darle cuenta á la Reyna
es imposible, pues quiso
mi suerte, que tenga parte
Blanca en aqueste delito.
Pues si procuro con ruegos
disuadirla, es desvarío,
que es una muger resuelta
animal tan vengativo,
que no se dobla á los ruegos,
ántes con afecto impio,
en el mismo rendimiento
suelen aguzar los filos;
y quizá desesperada
de mi enojo, ó mi desvío,
se declarará con otro
ménos leal, ménos fino,
que quizá por ella intente
lo que yo hacer no he querido.

16 Leave a comment on paragraph 16 0 [†] Si estás consultando, Conde,
allá dentro de ti mismo
lo que has de hacer, no me quieres,
ya el dudarlo fué delito:
vive Dios, que eres ingrato.

17 Leave a comment on paragraph 17 0 [‡] Por vida del Rey mi hermano,
y por la que mas estimo,
de la Reyna mi señora,
y por – pero ya lo digo,
que en mí es el mayor empeño
de la verdad el decirlo,
que no tiene Blanca parte
de estar yo aqui – –
y estad muy agradecido
á Blanca de que yo os dé,
no satisfaccion, aviso
de esta verdad, porque á vos,
hombre como yo –

18 Leave a comment on paragraph 18 0 COND.           Imagino –
que no me conoceis bien.

19 Leave a comment on paragraph 19 0 DUQ. No os habia conocido
hasta aquí, mas ya os conozco,
pues ya tan otro os he visto,
que os reconozco traidor.

20 Leave a comment on paragraph 20 0 COND. Quien dixere –

21 Leave a comment on paragraph 21 0 DUQ. Yo lo digo,
no pronuncies algo, Conde,
que ya no puedo sufriros.

22 Leave a comment on paragraph 22 0 COND. Qualquier cosa que yo intente –

23 Leave a comment on paragraph 23 0 DUQ. Mirad que estoy persuadido,
que hace la traicion cobardes;
y así, quando os he cogido
en un lance, que me da
de que sois cobarde indicios,
no he de aprovecharme de esto,
y así os perdona mi brio
este rato que teneis
el valor desminuido,
que á estar todo vos entero,
supiera daros castigo.

24 Leave a comment on paragraph 24 0 COND. Yo soy el Conde de Sex,
y nadie se me ha atrevido
sino el hermano del Rey
de Francia.

25 Leave a comment on paragraph 25 0 DUQ. Yo tengo brio,
para que sin ser quien soy,
pueda mi valor invicto
castigar, no digo yo
solo á vos, mas á vos mismo,
siendo leal, que es lo mas
con que queda encarecido.
Y pues sois tan gran Soldado,
no echeis á perder os pido,
tantas heroycas [sic] hazañas
con un hecho tan indigno.

  • 26 Leave a comment on paragraph 26 0
  • [†] Text in blue indicates passages ommitted by Zimmern in her 1890 translation.
  • [61.1] Actually published winter of 1768.
  • [61.2] In [54], Lessing begins his analysis of The Unhappy Favourite: or, The Earl of Essex (1682) by John Banks; here Lessing continues, from [60], his extended synopsis and discussion of a “Spanish Essex” (Antonio Coello’s Dar la vida por su Dama, 1633). See [60.2].
  • [61.3] For the quotation in Lessing’s footnote, see Coello 7–8.
  • [61.4] Ibid. 8.
  • [61.5] Ibid. 9.
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Source: http://mcpress.media-commons.org/hamburg/essay-61/