A monologue from the play by Pedro Calderón de la Barca

  • NOTE: This monologue is reprinted from Eight Dramas of Calderon. Trans. Edward Fitzgerald. London: Macmillan & Co., 1906.
  • URREA: I will speak, if I can, whose sorrow rising still
    Clouds its own utterance. My liege, my son,
    Don Lope, loved a lady here; seduced her
    By no feign'd vows of marriage, but compell'd
    By me, who would not listen to a suit
    Without my leave contracted, put it off
    From day to day, until the lady, tired
    Of a delay that argued treachery,
    Engaged her brother in the quarrel; who
    With two companions set upon my son
    One night to murder him. The lad, whose metal
    Would never brook affront, nor cared for odds,
    Drew on all three; slew one--a homicide
    That nature's common law of self-defence
    Permits. The others fled, and set on him
    The officers of justice, one of whom
    In his escape he struck--
    A self-defence against your laws I own
    Not so to be excused--then fled himself
    Up to the mountains. I must needs confess
    He better had deserved an after-pardon
    By lawful service in your camp abroad
    Than aggravating old offense at home,
    By lawless plunder; but your Highness knows
    It is an ancient law of honour here
    In Arragon, that none of noble blood
    In mortal quarrel quit his native ground
    But to return. The woman, twice aggrieved,
    Her honour and her brother lost at once,
    (For him it was my son slew of the three,)
    Now seeks to bring her sorrows into port:
    And pitying my grey hairs and misery,
    Consents to acquit my son on either count,
    Providing I supply her wherewithal
    To hide her shame within some holy house;
    Which, straiten'd as I am, (that, by my troth,
    I scarce, my liege, can find my daily bread,)
    I have engaged to do; not only this,
    But, in addition to the sum in hand,
    A yearly income--which to do, I now
    Am crept into my house's poorest rooms,
    And, (to such straits may come nobility!)
    Have let for hire what should become my rank
    And dignity to an old friend, Don Mendo
    Torellas, who I hear returns to-day
    To Saragossa. It remains, my liege,
    That, being by the plaintiff's self absolved,
    My son your royal pardon only needs;
    Which if not he nor I merit ourselves,
    Yet let the merits of a long ancestry,
    Who swell your glorious annals with their names
    Writ in their blood, plead for us not in vain;
    Pity the snows of age that misery
    Now thaws in torrents from my eyes; yet more,
    Pity a noble lady--my wife--his mother--
    Who sits bow'd down with sorrow and disgrace
    In her starved house.