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A New and Complete Translation

Essay 65

1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 [†] 15 December 1767[65.1]

2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 You? Tell me a weakness? asks the Queen.[65.2]

3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 BLANCA: Flatteries, sighs, caresses, and especially tears are capable of undermining even the purest virtue. How dearly this experience cost me! The Earl –

4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 0 QUEEN: The Earl? Which Earl?

5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 0 BLANCA: Essex.

6 Leave a comment on paragraph 6 0 QUEEN: What do I hear?

7 Leave a comment on paragraph 7 0 BLANCA: His seductive tenderness –

8 Leave a comment on paragraph 8 0 QUEEN: The Earl of Essex?

9 Leave a comment on paragraph 9 0 BLANCA: He himself, your highness. –

10 Leave a comment on paragraph 10 0 QUEEN (aside): I’m dying! – Well? Keep going!

11 Leave a comment on paragraph 11 0 BLANCA: I tremble. – No, I do not dare –

12 Leave a comment on paragraph 12 0 The Queen encourages her and bit by bit draws more out of her than Blanca needs to say, and far more than she herself wishes to hear. She hears where and how the Earl has been successful,[*][65.3] and when she also finally hears that he has promised marriage to Blanca, and that she is pressing for the fulfillment of this promise, the storm that has long been held back breaks forth. She derides the gullible girl in the sharpest possible way and absolutely forbids her to think further of the Earl. Blanca guesses without much trouble that this intensity on the part of the Queen must be jealousy, and indicates so to her.

13 Leave a comment on paragraph 13 0 QUEEN: Jealousy? – No; only your conduct disgusts me. – And supposing – yes, supposing I loved the Earl. If I – I loved him, and another were so presumptuous, so foolish, to love him alongside me – what am I saying, to love – just to look at him – what am I saying, to look? – to just let a thought of him come into her head: should this not cost this other person her life? – You see how much a merely supposed, fictionalized jealousy enrages me; judge from that what I would do with a real one. Now I only feign jealousy; beware of really making me so![†][65.4]

14 Leave a comment on paragraph 14 0 With this threat the Queen exits and leaves Blanca in the most extreme despair. This adds a last straw to the injuries Blanca already had to bear. The Queen has taken her father, her brother, and her estate, and now she wants to take the Earl from her as well. The revenge was already determined, but why should Blanca wait until another executes it for her? She will carry it out herself, this evening. As the Queen’s chambermaid she must help her undress; she is alone with her then and will not lack for an opportunity. – She sees the Queen return with the Chancellor and goes to prepare herself for her undertaking.

15 Leave a comment on paragraph 15 0 The Chancellor has various documents, which the Queen orders him to put on a table; she will look through them before she goes to sleep. The Chancellor praises the exceptional vigilance she applies to her government business; the Queen declares that it is her duty and dismisses him. Now she is alone and sits down with the papers. She wants to free herself from her lovesick suffering and focus her attention on more proper concerns. But the first paper she takes up is a petition from Earl Felix. An Earl! “Must, then,” she says, “the very first thing that presents itself to me be from an Earl!” This stroke is excellent. Suddenly she is once again preoccupied heart and soul with the same Earl whom she did not want to think about. His love for Blanca is a thorn in her heart that makes life a burden for her. Until death frees her from this torment, she will seek relief from death’s brother, and so she falls asleep.

16 Leave a comment on paragraph 16 0 Meanwhile Blanca enters, with one of the Earl’s pistols, which she found in her room. (The playwright had not brought them in at the beginning of the act for nothing). She finds the Queen alone and asleep: could she have wished for a more convenient moment? But a moment ago the Earl had looked for Blanca and not found her in her room. Doubtless you guess what happens next. He comes to look for her here, and comes just in time to seize the murderous Blanca and wrench from her the pistol that she already had cocked and pointed at the Queen. But whilst he struggles with her, the shot goes off; the Queen wakes up and everyone in the palace comes running.

17 Leave a comment on paragraph 17 0 QUEEN waking up: Ha! What is that?

18 Leave a comment on paragraph 18 0 CHANCELLOR: Let’s go, let’s go! What was that sound of a shot, in the Queen’s room? What is happening here?

19 Leave a comment on paragraph 19 0 ESSEX with the pistol in his hand: Horrible coincidence!

20 Leave a comment on paragraph 20 0 QUEEN: What is this, Earl?

21 Leave a comment on paragraph 21 0 ESSEX: What should I do?

22 Leave a comment on paragraph 22 0 QUEEN: Blanca, what is this?

23 Leave a comment on paragraph 23 0 BLANCA: My death is assured!

24 Leave a comment on paragraph 24 0 ESSEX: Can there be worse confusion?

25 Leave a comment on paragraph 25 0 CHANCELLOR: What? The Earl a traitor?

26 Leave a comment on paragraph 26 0 ESSEX Aside: What should I do? If I stay silent, the crime falls on me. If I tell the truth, I will be the worthless denouncer of my beloved, my Blanca, my dearest Blanca.

27 Leave a comment on paragraph 27 0 QUEEN: Are you the traitor, Earl? Are you, Blanca? Which of you was my savior? Which my murderer? It seems to me that in my sleep I heard both of you call: Traitoress! Traitor! And yet only one of you can deserve this name. If one of you sought my life, then I am indebted to the other for it. To whom am I indebted, Earl? Who sought it, Blanca? You are silent? – All right, be silent! I will remain in this uncertainty; I will not know who is innocent in order not to know who is guilty. Perhaps it would pain me just as much to discover who my protector is as my enemy. I will gladly forgive Blanca her treachery, I will thank her for it, if only the Earl was innocent in return.[‡][65.5]

28 Leave a comment on paragraph 28 0 But the Chancellor says: while the Queen may want to let the matter rest, he cannot; the crime is too great; his office requires that he get to the bottom of it, particularly because all appearances speak against the Earl.

29 Leave a comment on paragraph 29 0 QUEEN: The Chancellor is right: we must investigate. – Earl –

30 Leave a comment on paragraph 30 0 ESSEX: Queen! –

31 Leave a comment on paragraph 31 0 QUEEN: Confess the truth. – Aside: But how much my love fears to hear it! – Was it Blanca?

32 Leave a comment on paragraph 32 0 ESSEX: Unhappy me!

33 Leave a comment on paragraph 33 0 QUEEN: Was it Blanca who wanted to kill me?

34 Leave a comment on paragraph 34 0 ESSEX: No, your Highness, it was not Blanca.

35 Leave a comment on paragraph 35 0 QUEEN: It was you, then?

36 Leave a comment on paragraph 36 0 ESSEX: Dreadful fate! – I do not know.

37 Leave a comment on paragraph 37 0 QUEEN: You do not know? – And how did this murderous weapon come into your hand?

38 Leave a comment on paragraph 38 0 The Earl is silent, and the Queen orders him to be taken to the tower. Blanca should remain under guard in her room until the matter becomes more clear. They are led away, and the second act ends.


39 Leave a comment on paragraph 39 0 [*]     BLANCA: […] le llamé una noche obscura.
REYNA: Y vino á verte?
BLANCA:                        Pluguiera
á Dios, que no fuera tanta
mi desdicha, y su fineza.
Vino mas galan que nunca,
y yo, que dos veces ciega
por mi mal, estaba entónces
del amor y las tinieblas –

40 Leave a comment on paragraph 40 0 [†] REYNA: […] Este es el zelo, Blanca.
BLANCA:                              Añadiéndole una letra.
REYNA: Qué decís?
BLANCA:                              Señora, que
si acaso posible fuera,
á no ser vos la que dice
esas palabras, dixera,
que de zelos –
REYNA:                     Qué son zelos?
no son zelos, es ofensa
que me estais haciendo vos.
Supongamos que quisiera
al Conde en esta ocasion:
pues si yo al Conde quisiera,
y alguna, atrevida, loca,
presumida, descompuesta,
le quisiera – qué es querer?
le mirara, que le viera –
qué es verle? no sé qué diga,
no hay cosa que ménos sea […]
no la quitara la vida,
la sangre no la bebiera, […]
los zelos, aunque fingidos,
me arrebatáron la lengua,
y despertáron mi enojo. […]
Mirad que no me deis zelos,
que si fingido se altera
tanto mi enojo, ved vos,
si fuera verdad, qué hiciera. […]
escarmentad en las burlas,
no me deis zelos de veras. Vase.

41 Leave a comment on paragraph 41 0 [‡] REYN: Conde, vos traidor? vos, Blanca?
el juicio está indiferente:
quál me libra, quál me mata;
Conde, Blanca, respondedme:
tú á la Reyna? tú á la Reyna?
oí, aunque confusamente:
ah, traidora! dixo el Conde:
Blanca dixo: traidor eres.
Estas razones de entrambos
á entrambas cosas convienen;
uno de los dos me libra,
otro de los dos me ofende.
Conde, quál me daba vida?
Blanca, quál me daba muerte?
decidme: no lo digais,
que neutral mi valor quiere,
por no saber el traidor,
no saber el inocente.
Mejor es quedar confusa,
en duda mi juicio quede,
porque quando mire á alguno,
y de la traicion me acuerde,
á pensar que es el traidor,
que es el leal tambien piense.
Yo le agradeciera á Blanca,
que ella la traidora fuese,
solo á trueque de que el Conde
fuera el que estaba inocente.

  • 42 Leave a comment on paragraph 42 0
  • [†] Text in blue indicates passages ommitted by Zimmern in her 1890 translation.
  • [65.1] Actually published in early 1768.
  • [65.2] 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].
  • [65.3] For the quotation in Lessing’s footnote, see Coello 19.
  • [65.4] Ibid., 19–20.
  • [65.5] Ibid., 21–22.
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Source: http://mcpress.media-commons.org/hamburg/essay-65/