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Miguel de Cervantes
THE COMPLETE NOVELS
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Table of Contents
The Travels of Persiles and Sigismunda
Original title: La Galatea (1585)
Translation: Gordon Willoughby James Gyll (1818-1878)
Whilst to the sorrowful and mournful plaints,
Of the too ill assorted sound of my set strain,
In bitter echo of the exhausted breast
Reply the mountains, meadows, plain and stream.
To deaf and hasty winds complaints we throw
Which from the burning and the frigid breast
Arise to my discomfort — asking in vain
Aid from the stream, the hill, meadow and plain.
Augment the humour of my wearied eyes,
The water of this stream, and of this mead
The variegated flowers brambles are
And thorns, which in my soul entrance have found.
The lofty mount lists not to my ennui,
The very plains are wearied with the same;
Not e’en a slight cessation of my pain
Is found in mount, in plain, in mead or rill.
I thought the flame which in my soul awakes
The winged boy — the noose with which he binds —
The subtle net wherewith the gods he takes,
The fury and the vigour of his shaft,
Which would offend, as it offended me.
And me subjects to one who unequal is —
But ’gainst a soul which is of marble framed,
Nor net, nor fire, noose, arrow compass can.
Yet in a fire I burn and am consumed,
And round my neck I meekly place the noose,
Fearing but little the invisible net,
The shaft’s dread vigour gives me no alarm,
To such extremity am I arrived for this,
To such a grief, a misadventure such,
That for my glory and my solace too
I bear the net, the arrow, noose and fire.
Thus sang Elicio, a shepherd, on the banks of the Tagus, to whom Nature had been as liberal as fortune, and love had been wanting, although the course of time, the consumer and restorer of all human actions, had brought him to a crisis, in which his wish had placed him on account of the incomparable beauty of Galatea, one without an equal, as shepherdess, born in the same coasts; and although she had been educated in rustic and pastoral exercises, yet was she so exalted in intelligence that discreet women, brought up in royal palaces and used to the judicious conduct of a court, considered themselves fortunate to resemble her in discretion as well as beauty, by reason of the many and rich gifts with which heaven had adorned Galatea.
She was beloved, and with a sincere earnestness, too, by many shepherds and herdsmen, who fed their flocks on Tagus’ banks.
Among these the gay Elicio presumed to solicit her with a pure and anxious love such as the virtue and propriety of Galatea allowed.
We must not infer that Galatea disregarded Elicio, or that she actually loved him, for sometimes as one overwhelmed by his many services, with an honest zeal she raised him upwards, and again, without rendering reason, she would so neglect him that the enamoured shepherd could scarce comprehend his lot. The good qualities of Elicio were not to be despised — neither were the beauty, grace and goodness of Galatea not to be loved.
In fine, Galatea did not reject Elicio, nor could Elicio, nor ought he, nor wished he, to forget Galatea. It seemed to Galatea that as Elicio showed her so much preference it would be excess of ingratitude if she did not requite his honest thoughts. Elicio concluded, since Galatea did not disdain his services, that his desires tended to a favourable issue; and when these thoughts reanimated hope, he was so content and emboldened in himself, that a thousand times he wished to disclose to Galatea what he with such difficulty had concealed.
But the perspicacity of Galatea detected in the motions of his countenance what Elicio contained in his soul, and she evinced such condescension that the words of the enamoured shepherd congealed in his mouth, and he remained in the joy alone of a first motion, though it appeared to him that he had done an injury to her, even to treat of what might not have the semblance of rectitude.
With these downright (antibaxos) strokes of his life the shepherd passed it so uncomfortable that he thought even the loss of her might be a gain, instead of feeling what had caused his miscarriage.
So one day, having reviewed his sentiments variously, and being in a delightful meadow, invited by solitude, and the murmurs of a brawling brook which through it ran, drawing from his scrip a polished rebeck, whereby he communicated his plaints to heaven, at the top of his voice he sang the sequent verses: —
If you appreciate yourself as mine,
Move with such an air
That no coyness humble you;
Or contentment make you proud.
Secure a mean, if you find yourself
Capable of such constancy —
Fly not joy,
Much less close the gate
To the grief which love imparts.
If you wish that of my life
The career finish not,
Remove it not so ashamed.
Or raise it where it hopes not,
Let there be death in the fall.
This vain presumption
In two things it will stop —
One in thy destruction,
The other that your heart
Will pay for these doubts.
From it wert thou born, and in birth
Thou sinnest, and it paid itself —
Thou fliest it, and if I pretend
To gather you up in it even a little,
I do not reach you, or understand
This dangerous flight
Whereby you mount to heaven —
Unless thou art fortunate
There will be lodged on the soil
My ease and thy repose.
Thou wilt say who well employs himself
And delivers himself to chance,
That it is not possible he
Of such an opinion be madly judged
From the sprightliness in which it is arrayed
In that lofty occasion
There is a glory without equal,
In holding such presumption —
And the more so if it agree
With the soul and the heart.
So I understand it,
But I would undeceive you,
Which is a sign of boldness,
To have legs part in love
Than the humble and bashful,
You rise behind a beauty
Which cannot be greater —
I understand not your capacity
Which can hold love
With so much inequality.
But if a thought verges
Towards an exalted subject,
Contemplate it, and it withdraws itself,
Not being assured
As to its touching a point so high;
Much more is love born
Joined with confidence,
And in it feeds and banquets.
When hope fails
It vanishes like a cloud.
Then thou who seest so far
Into the core of what thou desirest,
Hopeless, yet constant
If in this career you die
You will drain ignorance,
But nothing comes of it
In this amorous enterprise
Whence the cause is sublimated,
Death is an honourable life,
And suffering extreme joy.
Scarce had ceased the agreeable song of Elicio, when the voice of Erastro sounded on his right hand side; he, with his flocks of goats, had settled in that place.
Erastro was a rustic shepherd, yet did not his rusticity and wild lot so far prevail as to prevent the entrance of love into his hardy breast, there to take up possession; having sought more than his very life the beauteous Galatea, to whom he proffered his court when occasion presented. Though a very rustic, yet was he a true lover, and so discreet in all lovers’ ways, that when he discoursed thereon it would seem that Love himself appeared, and through his tongue gave utterance. Nevertheless with all this, for Galatea heard all, stories of diversion abounded.
The rivalry of Erastro gave Elicio no pain, for he understood from the wit of Galatea that she aspired to higher things rather than pity and envy towards Erastro. Pity in observing that at last he loved, and that it was not possible to reap the fruit of his wishes. Envy in appearing, perhaps, that he had no such understanding as would give way to a soul which would feel the disdain or favours of Galatea, so that some might terminate, and some drive him frantic. Erastro approached, with his dogs, the faithful guardian of his simple sheep, who, under his protection, were secure from the fleshy teeth of hungry wolves, rejoicing in them, and calling them by their names, giving to each such a title as each merited. One he styled Lion, another Hawk. This was termed the strong, that the spotted, while they, as if endued with reason, by moving their heads on approach, reciprocated the feeling which they had evoked.
So came Erastro, and by Elicio agreeably received, was also interrogated if in any other part he had determined to pass the sultry season, as all was ready for him should it not be disagreeable to him to pass it in his company. “With no one could I pass it better than with you, Elicio, were she not as hardened to my requests as is an entire grove of oaks to my complaints.”
Immediately the two sat them down on the small grass, while their flocks rambled at will, eating the tops of the tender herbs of the grassy plain, with their cud-chewing teeth. And as Erastro, by many recognised signs, knew clearly that Elicio loved Galatea, and that the merit of Elicio was of many more carats in value than his own; in token that he admitted this fact in the midst of his talk, among other reasons he put to him the following remarks —
“I know not, gallant and amorous Elicio, if the love I bear to Galatea has been the cause of annoyance to you, and if so, pardon me, for I never intended any harm, nor did I request aught of Galatea but permission to serve her.
“A madness and foul disease consumes and affects my wanton kids and my tender lambkins. When they quit the udder of their beloved mothers they find not herbs enough to support them, but bitter tueras and venomous oleanders.
“And I have tried a thousand times to blot it from my memory, and oft have been to doctors to seek remedies for my solicitude, and the cause for which I suffer. Some order all sorts of love potions, others commend me to heaven, which cures all disorders, and say that is a madness only.
“Suffer me, good Elicio, that I request you, since you are sure that if you, with your skill and extreme grace and intelligence, cannot assuage my ills, much less can I soften them with my simplicity. This licence I beg, and am in debt to your desert, for should you not give it to me, it would be as impossible to cease living as it would be for water not to moisten, or the sun with its well-combed locks not to illuminate us.”
I cannot help laughing, Elicio, at the reasons of Erastro, and at the politeness with which he asks to love Galatea — and thus he replied: —
“It does me no harm, Erastro, that you love Galatea. Your condition afflicts me, for which your reason and unfeigned words can effect nothing.
“May heaven aid your wishes in proportion as you have sincerity in them, and henceforth you will not find in me any obstacle to your loving Galatea, for I am not in so forlorn a condition but I can find occasion for my purposes.
“On the contrary, I request you by what you owe to the goodwill I evince towards you, that you deny me not your conversation and friendship, for as far as I am concerned, you are quite safe. Let our heads and our ideas coalesce.
“Then, by the sound of my pipe will be announced pleasure or pain, according as the gay or sorrowful countenance of Galatea directs.
“I with my rebeck in the soft stilly night or evening during the heat of the siesta in the fresh shade of green trees wherewith our banks are adorned, I will try to remove the heavy charge of your toils, by giving notice to heaven of my own.
“And in virtue of my proposition, and my sincere friendship, whilst the shades of these trees become wider, and the sun westward declines, let us unite our instruments, and really begin the exercises which henceforth we must entertain.”
Scarce had this proposal been made, than with an indication of extreme content at discovering so much friendship in Elicio, that he brought forth his pipe, and Elicio his rebeck, whilst one responding to the other, they sang as follows: —
Blandly, sweetly, reposedly,
Ungrateful love, that day you subjected me,
When the rays of gold, and the noble front
Of the sun I contemplated, which the sun obscured —
Thou cruel solace, like the serpent
Concealed in the ruddy tangles of the thicket,
I who came to view the sun in masses,
Came too to imbibe his rays through my eyes.
Astonished I remained, and appalled,
As a hard rock, voiceless,
When of Galatea the extreme
Courtesy I beheld — her grace, her beauty,
On my left side Love settled,
With his arrows of gold (oh hard death)
Making a door whereby might enter
Galatea, and my soul surprise.
By what miracle, Love, openest thou the breast,
Of the wretched lover who pursues thee;
And the inward wound which thou hast made,
An increase of glory thou shewest to him who follows —
How is the ill thou makest a provision?
How in thy death lives joyous life,
How the soul which experiences such results?
The cause is known, the manner rests unknown.
One sees not so many countenances displayed
In a broken mirror, or framed by art;
If we look and see ourselves reflected,
We discern a multitude in each and every part.
How many cares on cares arise
All from one cruel care which will not
From my soul — o’ercome by its own rigour,
Until it separate in union with existence.
The driven snow and coloured rose,
Which e’en the summer destroys not, or the winter,
The sun of two morning stars, where reposes
Soft love, and where eternally will dwell
The voice as that of Orpheus, all powerful
To suspend the rage of Hell.
And other things to see, tho’ blind,
Have furnished me with aliment for an invisible fire.
Two beauteous apples, beauteous in colour,
Such seem to me two cheeks
And the arches of two raised eyebrows.
Such wonders as never Iris reached.
Two rays, two extraordinary threads,
Of pearls, ’twixt scarlet, as if one may say
A thousand graces which have no equal
Have infused o’er me a loving gale.
I burn, yet consume I not; I live and die,
Far am I from myself, yet near.
On one thing only do I hope, and yet despair —
Heaven I ascend, and yet the abyss descend.
I love that I hate — meek and yet fierce.
Love engenders paroxysms,
And with contrarieties, by degrees
My latest agonies do I approach.
I promised you, Elicio, I would tell you
All that in my life is left
To Galatea, that she may return to me,
My heart and soul, which she has robbed me of.
And after the flock, I would join
My dog, Hawk, to the spotted one.
And as she must be a goddess,
The soul will require her above all things.
Erastro, the heart which in exaltations,
Is doomed by fate, or lot, or not,
To desire its overthrow by force or art;
Oh, human diligence is madness —
One should be content with their lot —
For tho’ one die without it, I imagine
There is in this world no happier life
Than for a cause so sacred thus to die.
Whilst Erastro was preparing to pursue his song in succession, and they were seated by a steep mountain which lay at their shoulders, they heard a no slight voice and rush, and both getting on their feet to see what was the matter, they saw that from the mountain a shepherd issued, at a smart running pace, with a naked weapon in his hand, and his colour quite changed; and behind him came another shepherd who overtook the first, who seizing him by the hair of his skin garment, raised his arm as high as he could and dealt him a blow, burying the weapon twice in his body, saying, “Take this, O wretched Leonida, the life of this traitor, which in vengeance I sacrifice for thy death and this was effected with such despatch that neither Elicio nor Erastro could prevent it, for they just arrived as the stricken shepherd exhaled his last breath, embarrassed by these few and ill-arranged words: —
“You will let me satisfy, O Lisandro, heaven with a repentance more exemplary than the wrong I did you, and then you will take my life, which now for the reason I have stated, ill at ease with the flesh, separates from it;” and so without power to add more, he closed his eyes in eternal night.
From these words Elicio and Erastro inferred that the other shepherd had not perpetrated the signal and cruel murder without just cause. And the better to get information, they sought it from the homicide; but he with retreating steps abandoning the dead shepherd, to the wonder of the two observers, turned back to regain the mountain. But Elicio desirous of pursuing him, to ascertain from him what he wanted, saw him sally out of the wood, and standing at some space from them, in a raised voice, said — “Pardon me, gentle shepherds, if I have not been in your presence what you sought to have seen, because a just and mortal anger which I entertained against the traitor would not let me exercise more moderate discourse. What I suggest is, if you would not irritate the Deity who dwells in highest heaven, that you should not carry out the obsequies and accustomed rites in favour of the traitorous soul of that body which you have before you — or even give it sepulture, if it is not customary to bury traitors in your country.” This finished, he turned round at full speed to regain the mountain, so that Elicio lost all hope of overtaking him, however he tried. Hence the twain, with bowels yearning, returned to perform the pious office, and give burial as best they could to the wretched corse, which had just completed its short existence. Erastro went to his cabin hard by, and collecting sufficient implements, made a grave in the same place where the body lay, and giving a parting adieu, they lodged the body in it.
And not without compassion for these sorrowful affairs, they returned to their flocks, re-collecting them in haste, and the sun being on the point of going down, they repaired to their usual lodgings, where, despite anxiety and retirement, nothing could prevent Elicio from meditating on the motives which had impelled the two shepherds to come to such a desperate encounter; grieving he had not effectually pursued the homicide and had ascertained from him what he desired. Imbued with this thought, and more which love had awakened, having left his flock in security, he issued from his cabin, as his wont was, and in the radiance of the beauteous Diana, which appeared in the sky, he rushed into the thick of a wood to seek some solitary spot, where in the silence of the moon with great tranquillity he might give rein to his amorous fancies, it being a fact that solitude is the great awakener of reminiscences joyful or sorrowful. So moving gently on, in the fruition of a mild zephyr which met his face, replete with the fragrant smell of flowers which were concentrated there, and thus passing through them, enshrouded in a delicious robe of air, he heard a noise as if from one in deep anguish, and holding his breath awhile that the noise should not interrupt the sound, he perceived there to issue from some closely pressed brambles which lay adjacent, a very lugubrious voice, and though interwoven with deep sighs, he understood what was enunciated: —
“Cowardly, yet daring arm, mortal enemy to your own self-respect; see now how nothing is left to take vengeance, but yourself. To what use the protraction of an abhorred life? If you think our ill is one which time can remedy you are deceived; for there is no remedy more remote from cure than our own misfortune. For he who could have done it good, found life so short, that in his tender years he offered it to the fatal knife, which took it on account of the treachery of the wicked Carino. This had in part appeased the soul of Leonida, if she dwells in heavenly mansions, and retains a lust of vengeance.
“Ah, Carino, Carino, I appeal to you in the heavens, if just complaints are there heard — that they admit no extenuation, if you advance any for the treachery you have practised on me, and that they permit your body to lie unburied, even as your soul was wanting in mercy.
“And thou, beauteous and ill-attained Leonida, receive as the token of the love I bore you in life, the tears which for your death I shed, and ascribe it to no slight feeling my not parting with my life, such as I felt for your death; a small recompense as to what I owe and ought to feel is the grief which ends so briefly. You will see, if you observe, how this afflicted body will one day perish gradually of woe, for its greater affliction and sensibility — like to moistened and illumined powder, which devoid of noise or flame, consumes itself, without leaving aught save the track of burnt ashes.
“Grieve as much as possible, O, soul of my soul, that I cannot enjoy you in life, or perform thy obsequies, or do justice to your goodness and virtue. Still I promise and swear that the little time — and short it is to be — that this, my impassioned soul, may moisten the heavy charge of this miserable body, and the exhausted voice retain the breath which supports it, to treat of nothing in my doleful and bitter ditties but thy praises and merits.”
At this juncture the voice ceased, by which Elicio clearly defined it to be the voice of the homicide, at which he was glad to think that he could at length learn what he had so desired from him; and being anxious to advance nearer, he turned to stop, as it seemed to him that the shepherd gently made a rebeck speak, and he wished, first, to listen if she should also answer to it. Delay was not long, when, with a melodious and well-adjusted voice, he heard the sequent strains —
Ah! adventurous soul,
Which, from a human veil,
Free flies, full of life, to the lofty region;
Leaving in the dark
Dungeon of discomfort
My life — though it goes with thee —
Without thee, dark hast thou left
The clear light of day.
To earth beat down
The well-founded hope
In the more firm seat of joy;
In fine, with your flight
Grief remained quick; life was death.
Involved in thy spirits,
Death has seized
The excess of beauty —
The light of those eyes
Which seen in thee
Continued riches enclosed,
With the ready lightness
Of lofty thought,
And the enamoured breast,
Glory is dissolved
Like wax before the sun, or clouds the winds.
And all my venture
The stone of my grave shuts up.
How could the hand,
Inexorable and savage,
And the intent cruel, wicked,
Of brother’s vengeance
Leave free and destitute
My soul of beauteous mortal veil?
Why disturb the repose
Of our hearts?
Which could we not accomplish it,
Or be joined
In honest and holy ties.
Ah! cruel hand, disdainful;
How hast thou ordained that living I should die?
In eternal grief,
My wretched soul,
Years will pass, months and days;
While age, firm and lasting,
Will not dread The obstinacy of time.
With sweet delights
Wilt thou see the glory fixed,
Of which thy commendable life
Finds thee so worthy.
If in thy memory thou canst hold her,
And not lose her from earth.
Thou shouldest preserve her
Whom I so much adore.
But how simple have I been,
Blessed and pure soul,
To ask that you remember
Not even joking me
Who have so much
Now know I that my complaint
Will go on in favours, eternising itself;
Better is it that thinking
I am of thee forgotten.
My wound presses me;
Make it so to slacken
With the grief which is
Yet left in life,
With such excess of ill lot,
That death itself no ill considered is.
Rejoice in holy chorus,
With other holy spirits,
O soul, in that ever-during
Lofty, rich treasure,
Rewards, thanks, so many,
That it rejoices not to eschew
The good path
There I hope to enjoy.
If I am conducted by thy steps,
With thee in the entire peace
Of eternal spring.
Without alarm, surprise, or deviation,
To this it leads me.
Then will it be a deed
Worthy thy works;
Then you celestial souls
Regard the good I covet,
And to so good desire enlarge the wings.
Thus ceased the voice, hut not the sighs, of the unfortunate man who had just sung, and both were stimulants to extend the wish to ascertain who he was.
So, bursting through the spiny brambles, to ascertain the exact spot whence the sound issued, he abutted on a little meadow like a theatre, surrounded by thick and intricate shrubs, wherein he espied a shepherd, who, in a state of excitement, stood with his foot advanced, and the left hand behind, and the right raised as if to make a cast. This was truly so, for the noise Elicio had made in struggling through the bushes, thinking it to be some wild animal, from which shepherds must defend themselves, he adjusted himself to throw a heavy stone, which he held in his hand. Elicio, perceiving his object from his position, before he effected it, said: — “Assuage your breast, wretched herdsman, for he who comes brings his provision to do what you require, and the desire of learning your misfortune has moved him to tears, though it may destroy the ease, which, being alone, it may secure to you.” With these mild and polite words, Elicio calmed the hind, who, with no less blandness, replied, saying, “I accept your kind offer, whomsoever thou art, gentle shepherd; but if, by chance, you would know what I have never revealed, you may remain unsatisfied.” “You speak truth,” answered Elicio, “but for the words and complaints which this night I have heard you indicate clearly that you are not deeply afflicted; still, you shall not the less satisfy my wishes by telling me your hardships, and declare to me your contentment also, and thus I give you up to fortune, and trust you will not deny me what I solicit, unless your not knowing me restrains; although, to assure you, and to move you, I vow I have not a soul so content as not to feel the misery you should recount to me. This I say because I know there is nothing more excusable and yet baneful than for the wretch to recapitulate his woes to one who overflows with placid content.”
“Your excellent reasons oblige me,” rejoined the hind, “that I should satisfy you; yet do not imagine that these complaints arise from a pusillanimous soul (which you have just heard), though I may be reluctant to divulge them.”
At this Elicio rejoiced, and after some reciprocal politeness, Elicio giving tokens of his being a real friend of the shepherd, and he recognising a friendly intent, was induced to acquiesce in what Elicio had asked.
Hence both sat on the soil, Diana reflecting on them the rays which rivalled those of her brother; then the hind, with evidence of deep emotion, thus began his narrative —
“On the banks of the Betis, mighty river, which enriches the vast Vandalia, was born Lisandro (for that is my unfortunate name), and of noble parentage, as it pleased heaven, though I might have been the offspring of a humbler stock. Oft nobleness of lineage supplies wings and power to the soul to elevate her eyes beyond where humble lot has cast it, and of such boldness succeed similar calamities with what you shall hear, if with attention you listen. In the same hamlet was also born a shepherdess, by name Leonida, the paragon of beauty, and such as the world rarely produces, and of a birth correspondent in nobility with her beauty and virtue. It came to pass that both parents, being the principals of the locality in whom resided the government that envy, the mortal enemy of tranquillity, on some differences came to a quarrel, and even a mortal strife, so that the inhabitants were divided into two sects, one following mine, the other her parents, and with such rooted rancour and bad spirit, that no human interposition sufficed to allay its venom. Fate decreed, as if to throw off all prospect of restoration to amity, that I should fall violently in love with the handsome Leonida, daughter of Parmindro, head of the opposite faction. Such was my love, though I adopted all means to detach it from me, that I fell prostrate before it. A mountain of difficulties uprose, which prevented the execution of my desires, such as the opposition of Leonida, the inveterate hatred of our parents, the few opportunities, or rather the absence of them; and withal, when I added the eyes of imagination to the rare beauty of Leonida, some difficulty was eased off, so that I thought I might pare away the sharp corners of the diamond, facets as it were, to touch my amorous and honest thoughts. Having combated with myself some days to see if I could divert my mind from the attempt, and seeing it to be hopeless, I gathered up all my industry, to find means of conveying to her the secret of my breast — but as all beginnings are difficult, those of love exceed in that, until it, when it desires to prove favourable, opens a remedy where all access seems intercepted; thus did it appear in my case. Still guided by my own cogitations, I concluded that no better medium did contribute to my hope than that of establishing an acquaintance with the parents of Silvia, a shepherdess and firm friend of Leonida, who unitedly visited the village cottages.
Now Silvia had a relative styled Carino, a close companion of Crisalvo, brother to the dear Leonida, whose whimsical manner and asperity had earned for him the reputation of cruel, and so was he accounted by all who knew him, and not the less so by Carino, Silvia’s relative, a companion of Crisalvo, who, from being a sort of compound, and very acute, she gave the sobriquet of sharp, with whom, and with Silvia (as it served my purpose), by means of little gifts and dainties, I founded a friendship in appearance at least, so on Silvia’s side it became deeper than I desired, for the presents she had received from me my ill-fortune converted to my present wretchedness.
Now this maiden was of rare beauty, and with such gracefulness, that even the savage heart of Crisalvo was melted to love, and this I found to my discomfort, for in some days after, and relying on Silvia’s freedom, an opportunity arising in my tenderest accents, I disclosed the nature of my wounds, adding that being both profound and dangerous, I trusted to find in her some solace for them, averring how honourable were my professions, my purpose being marriage with the lovely Leonida — hence I inferred that she would deign to take my case into her keeping.
In fine, to avoid prolixity, love suggested such terms that being convinced thereby, and more by the sufferings I underwent than evidence in my face, she courteously took charge of my love affairs and offered to communicate my feelings, promising to superadd all she could realise as to my wishes, despite the difficulty arising from the hostility of our parents, which, however, might be extinguished by this union.
Moved by this good feeling, and softened by the tears I shed, as heretofore related, she ventured to be my advocate, and inquiring what method she would adopt with Leonida, she ordered me to write a note which she would present at the earliest opportunity.
This seemed very acceptable, and that same day I sent one, which being the result of my agreeable interview 'with her, I committed to memory, though I cannot revert to it now in the hour of my grief. Silvia got the note, and I waited a moment to deliver it to Leonida. “No,” said Elicio, stopping the reasons of Lisandro; “it is not right that you let me omit mention of the note you sent to Leonida — as being the first, and finding you so smitten at that time, it should have been discreet — and since you admit to me that you have it in remembrance, and the joy you have experienced, you will not refuse to declare it to me.” You say well, my friend, that I was then as deep in love as I am now in discontent and despair, so that I seemed not to desire to say aught, though Leonida assured he gave credence to all which the note contained. If you are studious to know its contents, this is a version of it: —
Lisandro to Leonida. — Whilst I was capable (though with extreme sorrow) of resisting, with my own faculties, the amorous flame which I entertained for thee, O lovely Leonida, it consumed me. I have never been bold enough, respecting the exalted courage which I recognise in you, to reveal to you the love I bear you. Not the less is that virtue consumed which till now has made me bold, and I have been constrained to discover my wound, and to try writing as the first and last remedy. What may be the first you know, and the second dwells in your hand, whence I hope to realise what your compassion promises and my honest desires merit. What they are, and the end they aim at, you will learn by Silvia, who will deliver this to you — and as she has undertaken to do so, know they are just in proportion to your deservings.
This epistolary effusion of Lisandro did not appear ill-timed to Elicio, who prosecuting the narrative of his loves, said — “A few days only and that identical note reached the lily-white hands of Leonida by the compassionate agency of Silvia my constant friend, who, in her commission, introduced things which in a great measure tempered the anger and change which the letter had produced in Leonida, suggesting as a consequence of marriage that the family feud might end, and that the object should be not to reject the suit — the more so as one could not compassionate her beauty, or die without respect to one who loved her as I did, adding other reasons with which Leonida was acquainted.”
But not to let it be thought she surrendered at the first assault and that all was finished at the first advance, she gave not so agreeable a response to Silvia as she desired. However by the intercession of Silvia to which she forced her, she did reply as follows: —
Leonida to Lisandro — Should I understand, Lisandro, that your temerity arose from a defect of propriety in myself, would I execute the punishment I deserve, so to be assured of this from what I know of myself, I think your boldness proceeds more from ill-balanced thoughts than love — and though they be as you allege, do not think your advances to me can alleviate them, as Silvia would insinuate, for I complain of being induced to reply to you, as well as of your assurance in writing to me; silence had been the fittest reply. If you withdraw from what you have commenced you will act discreetly, for I would have you to know that I count more on my own honour than on your vanities.
This was the reply of Leonida, which, united to the hopes which Silvia imparted, though somewhat indefinite, made me conclude myself amongst the most fortunate of my sex.
Pending these transactions, Crisalvo was not deficient in soliciting Silvia by various messages, presents, and services, but his bearing was rough and untutored that he could extort not the smallest favour, from which circumstance he lost all patience, and resembled a bull vanquished and fretted with cruel darts (agarrochado) — on account of his loves he had established a friendship with the cunning Carino, Silvia’s relative, — from being a mortal enemy owing to a certain wrestling match they had one feast day before the whole village, at which many lusty Swains attended, — when Crisalvo got down Carino and ill-treated him, which gave rise to a perpetual enmity, and not a less one was entertained also against my other brother, for opposing him in his amours, and carrying from him the fruits which Carino expected. This rancour and settled ill-will Carino concealed till time favoured him with an opportunity to avenge himself on both through the means of a very cruel artifice. He was my friend — for the admission to Silvia’s house was no impediment — Crisalvo loved him that he might advance his suit with Silvia, and such was the amity, that whenever Leonida visited Silvia, Carino was a companion — on which account it seemed good to Silvia, being my friend, to avow the love which I entertained for Leonida, which went on then so briskly by the intervention of Silvia that time and place alone were wanting to cull the fruit of our immaculate desires, the which being known to Carino, he chose me as instrument for a disgraceful treason. For one day (playing the loyal with Crisalvo and infusing into him an idea that he more highly prized his friendship than the honour of his parentage) he said to him that the principal cause why Silvia neither loved nor encouraged him was from her being enamoured of me, and of that he was convinced; and that now as our loves were known, that had he not been blinded by passion he had discovered it by a thousand signs — and, to certify the more what he averred, that henceforth he should look to him, because he plainly perceived that without any impediment, she accorded to me unusual favours. On this representation Crisalvo became furious, as it seemed he was by what ensued. From this juncture Crisalvo employed spies to observe what took place between Silvia and me, and as I had frequent cause to be alone with her, not on account of love for her, but for that which related to my own interests, these were assumed by Crisalvo as being favours which arose from pure friendship, and which Silvia offered to me. Hence the indignation of Crisalvo attained such a point that often he essayed to kill me, as I thought, not on account of love matters but by reason of the ancient family enmity.
Seeing, however, he was Leonida’s brother, I took great care not to offend him, knowing for certain, if I married his sister, our opposition would cease. This he regarded not, he even thought that I malevolently courted Silvia to spite him and not for love. The end was that he lost his reason from annoyance and rage, though he was scarce a reasonable being, and there needed no great effort to consume all he had — and it drove him so far out that he began to detest Silvia in an inverse ratio with his former predilection for her, because of her presumed preference for me, as he averred; so in whatsoever company he was he jeered Silvia and gave her ugly epithets. The world, however, knowing his intractableness and Silvia’s blandness, it all went into thin air. Such being the case, Silvia concerted with Leonida that both should wed, and to effect it nicely that one day Leonida should come with Carino to a certain house, and not return to her parents’ house that night, and that with Carino she should repair to a hamlet some half league off, where some of my rich relatives dwelt, in whose house with greater quiet the affair might be consummated. For if in the event the parents of Leonida were not satisfied, at least, she being away, the plan would be easiest to accomplish. This appointment arranged, and notice given to Carino, he offered with much cheerfulness to remove the willing Leonida to the other hamlet.
The services I did for Carino out of pure good will, the words of kindness I uttered, the embraces which I gave him, one had supposed had quenched in a heart of steel all covert ill-feeling. Yet did this traitor Carino, turning his back on my kindness, efforts, and promises, regardless of what he owed me, conceive the treason which I will recount.
Carino being cognisant of the wish of Leonida, and seeing it to be in conformity with that of Silvia, planned on the first approach of darkness, how he should undertake to conduct Leonida in as secret and honourable a way as possible. After this concert which you have heard, he went to Crisalvo as I since learned, and he told him that his relative Silvia was so forward in her amours with me, that on a certain night he had determined to force her from her parent’s house, and remove her to another village where my parents dwelt, and where he might perpetrate vengeance on both; on Silvia for the little respect she had to his services, on me for the ancient enmity and the disgust I had caused in drawing him from Silvia. Hence Carino learned to cajole and say what he pleased, and with a heart cruel as his own, induced bad thoughts in him. The day having arrived which I deemed to be most to my content, failing to tell Carino not what he had done, but what he ought to do, I went to the other hamlet to give orders how to receive Leonida — and it was recommended to Carino to leave her as a poor simple lamb is left to hungry wolves, or a gentle dove in the claws of a fierce hawk who would tear it in pieces. Ah friend! at this point of imagination, I know not how to collect force to sustain life, or thought to reflect on it, much less language to express it. Oh evil-counselled Lisandro! Know you not the double conditions which bound Carino?But who would trust to words which were not reinforced by deeds? woe to thee ill attained Leonida — what evil have I touched by your preference of me. In fine, to end with the tragedy of my disgrace, know thou, discreet shepherd, that the night which Carino set aside for the abduction of Leonida to the village where I expected her, he called to another shepherd, who was an enemy, though he concealed his aversion under his accustomed dissimulation, whose name was Libeo, and asked him to be his companion that night, for that he resolved to abduct a shepherdess, so attractive, to the hamlet which I told you of, where he trusted to make her his wife. Libeo, both gallant and amorous, made no objection to become his companion. Leonida dismissed Silvia with tumultuous clasps and loving tears, as presuming this to be the last farewell. She should then have reflected on the treason against her parents, and not what Carino had arranged, and how bad an account of her was rife in the village. Now passing over all these thoughts, and impelled by the love which overcame her, she surrendered herself to the custody of Carino, and that he would bear her whither I expected. How oft does it recur to my memory, at this point, what I dreamed that day, which I had thought most lucky, if in it I had closed my existence! I remember that quitting the village a little ere the sun departed from our horizon, I found myself at the foot of an ash tree on the very spot that Leonida should pass, expecting that the night would close in to advance my object and to receive her, not knowing how, I fell asleep — and scarcely surrendering my eyes to that influence, it seemed to me that the tree against which I leaned, yielding to the fury of a stiff wind which blew, deracinating the deep roots from the earth, it fell on my body, and trying to elude the heavy weight, I rolled from side to side. So standing in this predicament, I imagined that I saw a white deer close by, to whom I offered supplications that as well as it could it might avert from me the impending danger; and while soliciting the animal to be moved by compassion, at the same instant a fierce lion rushed from the wood, and seizing the deer with his sharp claws took it off into the thicket, and now that by a heavy labour having escaped, I went to seek the deer in the mountain, and there found her mangled and rent into a thousand pieces, whereon such grief seized me that my soul was shocked by reason of the compassion the deer had evinced towards me, so that in my sleep I wept sore, and the tears awakened me. Perceiving my cheeks to be tinged with moisture, I was beside myself, when I reflected on what I had dreamed; yet was the hope of seeing Leonida so high, that I considered my dream but as a stroke of fate, which awaking I should realise. When I opened my eyes, night began to close in all its darkness, and with such thunder and lightnings, as to facilitate the horrors which were to be transacted in it. As Carino issued from the house of Silvia with Leonida, he delivered her to Libeo, ordering him to accompany her to the village’ I mentioned, and as Leonida was surprised to see Libeo, Carino declared that he was no less my friend than his, and with all security she could go with him until he gave me news of their arrival. The simple then enamoured one believed the words of the false Carino, and with less mistrust than was judicious, conducted by the plausible Libeo, continued her steps to her destruction, hoping only to find satisfaction. Carino advanced from the two, as I said, and reported to Crisalvo what had occurred, and what with the other four relatives on the same road took place, and all were surrounded on every side by wood, and remained concealed, and told them how Silvia came up, and that I alone accompanied her, and that they should rejoice at the good opportunity which fortune had put into their power to avenge themselves of the injury they had received, and that it would be on Silvia, though a relative, the first who should experience the edge of their steel. The five cruel butchers quickly appeared to dye themselves in the innocent blood of the pair, who without suspicion of a treason of such magnitude came that way, and having reached the point of ambush, the perfidious homicides fell on them and enclosed them. Crisalvo joined Leonida, mistaking her for Silvia, and with injurious and heated language, and beset by the hellish rage which mastered him, with six mortal stabs left her extended on the soil, at the same time that Libeo, with the four others, thinking it was on me they struck with reiterated slashes, reeled to earth. Carino, discerning how well his traitorous intent had succeeded, without asking questions, went off incontinently before them, and the five traitors in themselves content, as if they had enacted some valorous exploit, returned to the hamlet, and Crisalvo went to Silvia’s house to inform the parents of the event to aggravate their grief and sensibility, saying they must now bury their daughter Silvia whose life he had taken, because she had paid more attention to the frigid solicitations of his enemy Lisandro than to his repeated services. Silvia, who felt all that Crisalvo said, averred that she was still in being, and free from all imputation, but that she grieved at the murder no less than if it had been her own death; and with this she told him that her sister Leonida had left the house that night in an unusual apparel. Crisalvo, surprised to see Silvia alive, fearing most assuredly she lay dead, with no slight bound made off for her house, and not finding there her sister, in the most profound confusion and rage returned alone to see who it was he had murdered, for Silvia it was not.
During the passage of these events I stood in extreme anxiety awaiting Carino and Leonida, and thinking them later than they should be, I desired to go out and find them, and to learn the cause of their delay that night. When I was not far on the road, a voice of woe struck my ear, saying, “Oh Sovereign Creator of Heaven, withdraw thy arm of justice, and open the fonts of mercy, in favour of the soul now about to render account of the offences it has offered to you!”
Ah, Lisandro, Lisandro, how will the friendship of Carino cost your life, since it is not possible that the grief of my having lost it for thee will end it. Oh cruel brother, that without hearing my exculpations, is it possible you would make me pay the penalty of my error?
When I heard this reasoning, by the voice I recognised directly that of Leonida, and the presage of my misfortune; and with this emotion I groped about to find where Leonida was involved in her own blood, and, discovering the spot,
I fell immediately on her corpse in extremity of suffering, saying, “What woe is this, my beloved? Oh, my soul.! what hand was it that respected not so much loveliness!” By these sounds I was recognised by Leonida, and raising with vast trouble her exhausted arms, I fixed them round my neck, and fastening them as best I could, joining her mouth to mine, with weak and ill-enunciated reasons, she spoke only thus to me — “My brother has slain me — Carino sold — Libeo is lifeless; may God give you, Lisandro mine, long and happy years, and permit me to enjoy in another life the repose which has been denied me here.” And again joining her mouth to mine, having closed her lips to confer on me her first and last kiss, she re-opened them only to exhale her soul, and she was left dead in my arms. When I felt this, abandoning myself on the corpse, I remained motionless, and if I was yet alive it were as dead. Who seeing us in this predicament would not call to mind the woeful story of Pyramus and Thisbe? However, returning to my self-possession, I opened my mouth to fill the air with my lamentations and sighs, and I perceived some one advancing with quickened steps, and on his approach, though the night was obscure, the eyes of my soul gave me to understand that it was Crisalvo, and so it was. He turned round to certify if by chance it was Leonida his sister whom he had killed. So soon as I was sure it was him, and while he did not regard it, I fell on him like a wrathful lion, and giving him two wounds I heaved him to the earth, and before he breathed his last I dragged him where Leonida was, and putting in the dead hand of Leonida a dagger which her brother had, the same that murdered her, helping her to it, thrice was it plunged into his heart — and so, consoling myself with Crisalvo’s death without delay, I took on my shoulders Leonida’s body, and bore it to the village where her parents dwelt, and, recounting the mischance, solicited for the corpse honourable burial; and then I resolved to execute vengeance on Carino, as I had done on Crisalvo, and as that occurred by his absence from the village, my just wrath was delayed till I found him at the wood, though six months have intervened since the event, and now he has paid the price of his treason, and no longer further vengeance rests within me, save on myself, as against a life which I breathe unwillingly. This shepherd is the cause of the lamentations you have heard. If it seems to you reason good for such sentiments, I leave them to your judgment. And so he ended the discourse, and gave vent to such copious tears that Elicio could not restrain the flux of his own; but when in time the grief of one which oppressed him was mitigated and softened into sighs, and in the other the sense of compassion, Elicio began with the soundest reason to console Lisandro, though his grief was so far beyond counsel as its success had evinced, so that among other things he said to him, and what concurred with Lisandro’s feelings, was, that ills without remedy should be without regard, and that from the very high and virtuous condition of Leonida it was to be believed that she had enjoyed a calm existence, and that one should rather rejoice at the good she had attained, than be wretched at what she had lost.
To this replied Lisandro — “I know your reason carries force enough with it to cause me to accept such conclusions, yet do neither they nor what the world could say, suffice to assuage me; with Leonida’s decease begin my misfortunes, and these will cease not till I go to her, and since this can only be by my death, he who shall procure me that alternative will be my truest friend.” Elicio, however, did not wish to superinduce more mental anguish by his advice, though he did not so reckon them, only he adjured him to accompany him to his cabin, in which what he might wish would be found, proffering his friendship in aught that could serve him. To this Lisandro agreed, and though he desired not to visit Elicio, yet he consented, swayed by his importunities. Thus they both arose and wended towards Elicio’s cabin, where they passed the remainder of the night.
Now when the brilliant Aurora had left the couch of her jealous husband, and gave tokens of the coming day, Erastro arose and commenced putting in order the cattle of Elicio and his own, to conduct them to their usual pasture. Elicio invited Lisandro to join him, and the three shepherds coming with the gentle flock of sheep to a watercourse below, on mounting one side they heard the sound of a dulcet pipe, which by the enamoured shepherds, Elicio and Erastro, was recognised for that of Galatea, and in brief space from the hill top they discerned some sheep, and near them Galatea herself, whose attractiveness was such that it were better to imagine it, as words were inadequate to do it justice. She came, vested in mountaineer’s attire, with hair floating in the wind, so that Apollo might envy her, for casting his light on her, it was somewhat obscured, and the rays which darted from the obscuration represented another sun. Erastro was dumb with astonishment, nor could Elicio avert his eyes. Now, as Galatea saw the flocks of Elicio and Erastro were blended with hers, evinced no disposition to continue with them all that day, she called to the tender ewe-lamb in her hand, and to the others which followed behind, to go to another part, where the shepherds were not. Hence Elicio, seeing what Galatea did, without tolerating such disdainful conduct, approaching the spot where the shepherdess was, said to her — “Suffer, beautiful Galatea, that your flock unite with ours; but if you dislike the company, select what you do like, that by thy absence our sheep may not lack pasture, for I, who am born to serve thee, think more of them than my own; and so despise me not thus overtly, for my free will towards you deserves it not, as your course was towards the pebble fountain, and now you see me you turn aside; and if this be, as I have a shrewd idea it is, tell me where, now and henceforth, you would pasture your flock, and then I swear I will never there obtrude mine.” “I promise you,” said Galatea, “that it is not to avoid your company or that of Erastro, that I have changed the course which you imagined I had pursued, for my purpose is to pass here the evening with my companion, Florisa, who attends me, near to the brook of palms, for only yesterday we agreed so to do, and feed our flocks, and as I came along thoughtlessly tuning my pipe, the gentle ewe took the road towards the pebble stream, as the most accustomed. For the good will you bear me, and your considerate offers, thanks; but do not infer that your suspicions are well-grounded.” “Alas, Galatea!” answered Elicio, “and how do you feign it should appear, having so little need for artifice, for in fact I entertain no other desire than what you desire. Go now, then, to the stream near the palm-trees, to the wood of counsel (al soto de consejo) or to the fountain of pebbles, and be assured you will not go alone, for my heart will bear you company, and if you see it not it is because you desire it not, as having no wish to furnish balm to it.” “Until now,” replied Galatea, “I think I see the first heart, and so I conclude I have incurred no wrong in not supplying a remedy.” “I know not how you can allege this,” replied Elicio, “heavenly Galatea, for you see it to wound it, and not to cure.” “You remove evidence from me,” rejoined Galatea, “in saying that I am armed (for to women no arms are allowed), have wounded no one.” “Yes, discreet Galatea,” said Elicio, “how you play with that which makes my heart suffer, and what invisibly inflicts wounds, and with your beauty alone for weapons. Still I murmur not so much at the woe you have caused me, as at your indifference to my pain.” “I should consider it less even if I found it more again,” retorted Galatea. Now, at this juncture of time arrived Erastro, and observing that Galatea went away and left them, said to her — “Whither go you, or rather fly, handsome Galatea? If from us who adore you, you fly, who can hope your company? Oh, enemy! how volatile you make off, triumphing over our ardent wishes; may heaven destroy the good I entertain for you if I do not long to see you in love with one who esteems your complaints as you requite mine; and do you smile, Galatea? I weep at your acts.” Galatea could not reply to Erastro, because she was engaged in conducting her flock to the brook of palms, and lowering her head from afar, in token of taking leave, she retired, and when she found herself alone, and had reached the spot where her companion Florisa thought she would be, with the consummate voice which nature gave her, she warbled this sonnet: —
Far off from fire, noose, cold, or from the dart
Of love, which burns, presses, enflames and chills,
For such flame no proclivities has my heart,
Or with such knot will e’er rest satisfied.
Consume, bind, freeze, slay, press,
Take any wish you choose,
But as for arrow, snow, or net, hope not
My soul in any such a heat to melt;
Its fire will petrify my chaste purpose,
The knot will break by force or art,
Snow will dissolve my burning zeal,
The arrow my thoughts will blunt;
And thus I shall not, in security, fear
The blaze of love, the snare, the dart, the cold.