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.

Read the play here

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