The Cid
by Pierre Corneille
Previous Part     1  2
Home - Random Browse


Shall I listen to thee still, pride of my birth, that makest a crime out of my passions? Shall I listen to thee, love, whose delicious power causes my desires to rebel against this proud tyrant? Poor princess! to which of the two oughtest thou to yield obedience? Rodrigo, thy valor renders thee worthy of me; but although thou art valiant, thou art not the son of a king.

Pitiless fate, whose severity separates my glory and my desires! Is it decreed [lit. said], that the choice of [a warrior of] such rare merit should cost my passion such great anguish? O heaven! for how many sorrows [lit. sighs] must my heart prepare itself, if, after such a long, painful struggle, it never succeeds in either extinguishing the love, or accepting the lover!

But there are too many scruples, and my reason is alarmed at the contempt of a choice so worthy; although to monarchs only my [proud] birth may assign me, Rodrigo, with honor I shall live under thy laws. After having conquered two kings, couldst thou fail in obtaining a crown? And this great name of Cid, which thou hast just now won—does it not show too clearly over whom thou art destined to reign?

He is worthy of me, but he belongs to Chimene; the present which I made of him [to her], injures me. Between them, the death of a father has interposed so little hatred, that the duty of blood with regret pursues him. Thus let us hope for no advantage, either from his transgression or from my grief, since, to punish me, destiny has allowed that love should continue even between two enemies.


Infanta. Whence [i.e. for what purpose] comest thou, Leonora?

Leonora. To congratulate you, dear lady, on the tranquillity which at last your soul has recovered.

Infanta. From what quarter can tranquillity come [lit. whence should this tranquillity come], in an accumulation of sorrow?

Leonora. If love lives on hope, and if it dies with it, Rodrigo can no more charm your heart; you know of the combat in which Chimene involves him; since he must die in it, or become her husband, your hope is dead and your spirit is healed.

Infanta. Ah! how far from it!

Leonora. What more can you expect?

Infanta. Nay, rather, what hope canst thou forbid me [to entertain]? If Rodrigo fights under these conditions, to counteract the effect of it [that conflict], I have too many resources. Love, this sweet author of my cruel punishments, puts into [lit. teaches] the minds of lovers too many stratagems.

Leonora. Can you [accomplish] anything, since a dead father has not been able to kindle discord in their minds? For Chimene clearly shows by her behavior that hatred to-day does not cause her pursuit. She obtains the [privilege of a] combat, and for her champion, she accepts on the moment the first that offers. She has not recourse to those renowned knights [lit. noble hands] whom so many famous exploits render so glorious; Don Sancho suffices her, and merits her choice, because he is going to arm himself for the first time; she loves in this duel his want of experience; as he is without renown, [so] is she without apprehension; and her readiness [to accept him], ought to make you clearly see that she seeks for a combat which her duty demands, but which yields her Rodrigo an easy victory, and authorizes her at length to seem appeased.

Infanta. I observe it clearly; and nevertheless my heart, in rivalry with Chimene, adores this conqueror. On what shall I resolve, hopeless lover that I am?

Leonora. To remember better from whom you are sprung. Heaven owes you a king; you love a subject!

Infanta. The object of my attachment has completely changed: I no longer love Rodrigo as a mere nobleman. No; it is not thus that my love entitles him. If I love him, it is [as] the author of so many brilliant deeds; it is [as] the valiant Cid, the master of two kings. I shall conquer myself, however; not from dread of any censure, but in order that I may not disturb so glorious a love; and even though, to favor me, they should crown him, I will not accept again [lit. take back] a gift which I have given. Since in such a combat his triumph is certain, let us go once more to give him [or, that gift] to Chimene. And thou, who seest the love-arrows with which my heart is pierced; come see me finish as I have begun.


Chimene. Elvira, how greatly I suffer; and how much I am to be pitied! I know not what to hope, and I see everything to be dreaded. No wish escapes me to which I dare consent. I desire nothing without quickly repenting of it [lit. a quick repentance]. I have caused two rivals to take up arms for me: the most happy result will cause me tears; and though fate may decree in my favor, my father is without revenge, or my lover is dead.

Elvira. On the one side and the other I see you consoled; either you have Rodrigo, or you are avenged. And however fate may ordain for you, it maintains your honor and gives you a spouse.

Chimene. What! the object of my hatred or of such resentment!—the slayer of Rodrigo, or that of my father! In either case [lit. on all sides] they give me a husband, still [all] stained with the blood that I cherished most; in either case my soul revolts, and I fear more than death the ending of my quarrel. Away! vengeance, love—which agitate my feelings. Ye have no gratifications for me at such a price; and Thou, Powerful Controller of the destiny which afflicts me, terminate this combat without any advantage, without rendering either of the two conquered or conqueror.

Elvira. This would be treating you with too much severity. This combat is a new punishment for your feelings, if it leaves you [still] compelled to demand justice, to exhibit always this proud resentment, and continually to seek after the death of your lover. Dear lady, it is far better that his unequalled valor, crowning his brow, should impose silence upon you; that the conditions of the combat should extinguish your sighs; and that the King should compel you to follow your inclinations.

Chimene. If he be conqueror, dost thou believe that I shall surrender? My strong [sense of] duty is too strong and my loss too great; and this [law of] combat and the will of the King are not strong enough to dictate conditions to them [i.e. to my duty and sorrow for my loss]. He may conquer Don Sancho with very little difficulty, but he shall not with him [conquer] the sense of duty of Chimene; and whatever [reward] a monarch may have promised to his victory, my self-respect will raise against him a thousand other enemies.

Elvira. Beware lest, to punish this strange pride, heaven may at last permit you to revenge yourself. What!—you will still reject the happiness of being able now to be reconciled [lit. to be silent] with honor? What means this duty, and what does it hope for? Will the death of your lover restore to you a father? Is one [fatal] stroke of misfortune insufficient for you? Is there need of loss upon loss, and sorrow upon sorrow? Come, in the caprice in which your humor persists, you do not deserve the lover that is destined for you, and we may [lit. shall] see the just wrath of heaven, by his death, leaving you Don Sancho as a spouse.

Chimene. Elvira, the griefs which I endure are sufficient: do not redouble them by this fatal augury. I wish, if I can, to avoid both; but if not, in this conflict Rodrigo has all my prayers; not because a weak [lit. foolish] affection inclines me to his side, but because, if he were conquered, I should become [the bride] of Don Sancho. This fear creates [lit. causes to be born] my desire——

[Enter Don Sancho.]

What do I see, unhappy [woman that I am]! Elvira, all is lost!


Don Sancho. Compelled to bring this sword to thy feet——

Chimene. What! still [all] reeking with the blood of Rodrigo! Traitor, dost thou dare to show thyself before mine eyes, after having taken from me that [being] whom I love the best? Declare thyself my love, and thou hast no more to fear. My father is satisfied; cease to restrain thyself. The same [death] stroke has placed my honor in safety, my soul in despair, and my passion at liberty!

Don Sancho. With a mind more calmly collected——

Chimene. Dost thou still speak to me, detestable assassin of a hero whom I adore? Go; you fell upon him treacherously. A warrior so valiant would never have sunk beneath such an assailant! Hope nothing from me. Thou hast not served me; and believing that thou wert avenging me, thou hast deprived me of life.

Don Sancho. Strange delusion, which, far from listening to me——

Chimene. Wilt thou that I should listen to thee while boasting of his death?—that I should patiently hear with what haughty pride thou wilt describe his misfortune, my own crime, and thy prowess?


Chimene. Sire, there is no further need to dissemble that which all my struggles have not been able to conceal from you. I loved, you knew it; but, to avenge my father, I even wished to sacrifice so dear a being [as Rodrigo]. Sire, your majesty may have seen how I have made love yield to duty. At last, Rodrigo is dead; and his death has converted me from an unrelenting foe into an afflicted lover. I owed this revenge to him who gave me existence; and to my love I now owe these tears. Don Sancho has destroyed me in undertaking my defence; and I am the reward of the arm which destroys me. Sire, if compassion can influence a king, for mercy's sake revoke a law so severe. As the reward of a victory by which I lose that which I love, I leave him my possessions; let him leave me to myself, that in a sacred cloister I may weep continually, even to my last sigh, for my father and my lover.

Don Diego. In brief, she loves, sire, and no longer believes it a crime to acknowledge with her own lips a lawful affection.

Don Fernando. Chimene, be undeceived [lit. come out from thine error]; thy lover is not dead, and the vanquished Don Sancho has given thee a false report.

Don Sancho. Sire, a little too much eagerness, in spite of me, has misled her; I came from the combat to tell her the result. This noble warrior of whom her heart is enamored, when he had disarmed me, spoke to me thus: "Fear nothing—I would rather leave the victory uncertain, than shed blood risked in defence of Chimene; but, since my duty calls me to the King, go, tell her of our combat [on my behalf]; on the part of the conqueror, carry her thy sword." Sire, I came; this weapon deceived her; seeing me return, she believed me to be conqueror, and her resentment suddenly betrayed her love, with such excitement and so much impatience, that I could not obtain a moment's hearing. As for me, although conquered, I consider myself fortunate; and in spite of the interests of my enamored heart, [though] losing infinitely, I still love my defeat, which causes the triumph of a love so perfect.

Don Fernando. My daughter, there is no need to blush for a passion so glorious, nor to seek means of making a disavowal of it; a laudable [sense of] shame in vain solicits thee; thy honor is redeemed, and thy duty performed; thy father is satisfied, and it was to avenge him that thou didst so often place thy Rodrigo in danger. Thou seest how heaven otherwise ordains. Having done so much for him [i.e. thy father], do something for thyself; and be not rebellious against my command, which gives thee a spouse beloved so dearly.


Infanta. Dry thy tears, Chimene, and receive without sadness this noble conqueror from the hands of thy princess.

Don Rodrigo. Be not offended, sire, if in your presence an impassioned homage causes me to kneel before her [lit. casts me before her knees]. I come not here to ask for [the reward of] my victory; I come once more [or, anew] to offer you my head, dear lady. My love shall not employ in my own favor either the law of the combat or the will of the King. If all that has been done is too little for a father, say by what means you must be satisfied. Must I still contend against a thousand and a thousand rivals, and to the two ends of the earth extend my labors, myself alone storm a camp, put to flight an army, surpass the renown of fabulous heroes? If my deep offence can be by that means washed away, I dare undertake all, and can accomplish all. But if this proud honor, always inexorable, cannot be appeased without the death of the guilty [offender], arm no more against me the power of mortals; mine head is at thy feet, avenge thyself by thine own hands; thine hands alone have the right to vanquish the invincible. Take thou a vengeance to all others impossible. But at least let my death suffice to punish me; banish me not from thy remembrance, and, since my doom preserves your honor, to recompense yourself for this, preserve my memory, and say sometimes, when deploring my fate: "Had he not loved me, he would not have died."

Chimene. Rise, Rodrigo. I must confess it, sire, I have said too much to be able to unsay it. Rodrigo has noble qualities which I cannot hate; and, when a king commands, he ought to be obeyed. But to whatever [fate] you may have already doomed me, can you, before your eyes, tolerate this union? And when you desire this effort from my feeling of duty, is it entirely in accord with your sense of justice? If Rodrigo becomes so indispensable to the state, of that which he has done for you ought I to be the reward, and surrender myself to the everlasting reproach of having imbrued my hands in the blood of a father?

Don Fernando. Time has often rendered lawful that which at first seemed impossible, without being a crime. Rodrigo has won thee, and thou art justly his. But, although his valor has by conquest obtained thee to-day, it would need that I should become the enemy of thy self-respect, to give him so soon the reward of his victory. This bridal deferred does not break a law, which, without specifying the time, devotes thy faith to him. Take a year, if thou wilt, to dry thy tears; Rodrigo, in the mean time, must take up arms. After having vanquished the Moors on our borders, overthrown their plans, and repulsed their attacks, go, carry the war even into their country, command my army, and ravage their territory. At the mere name of Cid they will tremble with dismay. They have named thee lord! they will desire thee as their king! But, amidst thy brilliant [lit. high] achievements, be thou to her always faithful; return, if it be possible, still more worthy of her, and by thy great exploits acquire such renown, that it may be glorious for her to espouse thee then.

Don Rodrigo. To gain Chimene, and for your service, what command can be issued to me that mine arm cannot accomplish? Yet, though absent from her [dear] eyes, I must suffer grief, sire, I have too much happiness in being able—to hope!

Don Fernando. Hope in thy manly resolution; hope in my promise, and already possessing the heart of thy mistress, let time, thy valor, and thy king exert themselves [lit. do, or act], to overcome a scrupulous feeling of honor which is contending against thee.


Previous Part     1  2
Home - Random Browse