« PreviousContinue »
And think awhile on whom your bread depends.
He felt a purpose to be kind at last:
But now awakened, from this fatal time
So Isaac now, as led by conscience, feels,
My gentle brother, whom I could not pay,
And therefore left to pine, and fret his life away!"
All the good uncle of his feelings told,
All he lamented - and the ready tear
Falls as he listens, soothed, and grieved to hear.
"Did he not curse me, child?"-"He never cursed,
But could not breathe, and said his heart would burst.”
My uncle said it took his pains away."
Repeating thus his sorrows, Isaac shows
And from this source alone his every comfort flows.
They make him humble, nay, they give him pain:
He takes no joy in home, but sighing, sees
A son in sorrow, and a wife at ease;
He takes no joy in office- see him now,
And Burgess Steel has but a passing bow;
And from all comforts of the world to fly,
Without a hope in life—without a wish to die.
(Translated for this work, by Forrest Morgan.)
[PIERRE AUGUSTIN CARON, ennobled as "de Beaumarchais," the famous French comic dramatist, was born 1732, at Paris, son of a clockmaker; gifted with a wit almost equal to Voltaire's, great love of music, quenchless energy and ambition. At twenty-one he invented an escapement which was pirated; he had the matter referred to the Academy of Sciences, and won. This attracted court notice; Mme. de Pompadour called in his services, an old official's wife fell in love with him and had her husband transfer the office to him, and on the husband's death, shortly after, married him. Later he bought a royal secretaryship which gave him a patent of nobility; taught the king's sisters the harp, used their favor to oblige the great banker of Paris-Duverney - and was given share in his ventures. On Duverney's death his heir dishonored his written statement of debt to Beaumarchais, and when cast in court, appealed to Parliament, where "influence" ruled; Beaumarchais bribed the referee's wife for a hearing, and when defeated tried to get back the bribe; only receiving part, he exposed the transaction, and was prosecuted for bribery by the referee, but got him degraded and drove the wife to a convent; was himself disfranchised, but later restored, finally won his case, and was a popular idol for assailing the hated Parliament. The king afterward sent him on secret missions to England to
suppress exposure of Mme. du Barry. In the American war he induced the king to give the colonies the aids which won their independence; and himself trafficked immensely with them, these affairs involving his American agents as Silas Deane in suspicion and discredit. In 1768 and 1770 he had written two sentimental dramas, "Eugénie" and "The Two Friends," without success; in 1775 he produced the comic "Barber of Seville" with as little at first, owing to structural faults and putting too much self-vindicative allusion in it,—but remodeled it and had triumphant success. In 1781 he finished its sequel, "The Marriage of Figaro," but the king's fears kept it from representation till 1784, when it succeeded enormously; a third sequel, "The Guilty Mother," a most repulsive and harrowing melodrama, was also very popular. He wrote besides an opera, "Tarare." In the Revolution he failed in a venture to supply the Convention with Dutch muskets, was accused of treason, and had to fly to Holland and England. He died in 1799.]
[The "Marriage of Figaro" is a sequel to the "Barber of Seville," in which Figaro helps the young Count Almaviva to outwit Dr. Bartholo and obtain his ward Rosine. In the present play, Figaro is the Count's valet, engaged to Suzanne the Countess's maid, niece to Antonio the gardener. The Count, tired of his wife, wishes to obtain Suzanne: at first on the evening after her marriage with Figaro; then, in revenge for exposure, determines to prevent the marriage altogether, and grant the suit of the housekeeper Marceline as below. Meantime the neglected Countess allows the page Cherubino to make ardent love to her; just before this the Count has so nearly trapped him in her boudoir that he has had to hide in the closet and then jump through the window into the garden, Suzanne taking his place in the closet, to be found there by the Count, and Figaro swearing it was he who jumped into the garden.]
FIGARO [in the rear, aside] - Here we are.
Count If he knows one word of it from her-
Count I make him marry the old woman.
Figaro [aside]-The darling of Master Bazile?
CountThen let us see what we will do with the young
Figaro [aside, but half aloud]—Ah! my wife, if you please.
Figaro-I have said nothing.
Figaro It is-a-the end of an answer I made: "Go and tell it to my wife, if you please.'
Count [walking about, to himself]-His wife!-[TO FIGARO] I want to know what business can detain my gentleman, when I call him?
Figaro [pretending to make sure of his dress] — I got soile: on the garden beds in falling; I was changing my clothes. Count - Did it need an hour?
Count-The servants here are longer in dressing than their masters!
Figaro - That's because they have no valets to help them. Count-I didn't understand any too well who forced you to run into a useless danger, by throwing yourself —
A danger! one might say I was swallowed up
Count To try to throw me off the trail while pretending to follow it, you crafty valet you know very well it's not the danger that disquiets me, but the motive.
Figaro On a false scent, you come in furious, upsetting everything like the torrent of the Morena; you hunt for a man, you must have him, or you are going to break in the doors, to pull down the partitions! I find myself there, by chance: who knows in your outbreak if
Count-You could escape by the stairway.
Figaro And you catch me in the corridor.
Count [angrily]-In the corridor!1 [Aside] I lose my temper, and prejudice what I want to know.
Figaro [aside]-Let's see it come out, and play cautiously. Count [more mildly] - That is not what I want to talk of: let it pass. I was - yes, I was rather inclined to take you to London as dispatch-bearer; but after thinking everything
Figaro - My lord has changed his purpose?
Count-I don't understand.
Figaro I say I know "God-dam."
Figaro O Lord! the English is a fine tongue : it needs so little to go so far. With "God-dam," in England, one lacks nothing anywhere. Do you want to taste a nice fat fowl? Go into a tavern and just make this gesture to the waiter [turns an imaginary spit] "God-dam!" they bring you a salt cow-heel without bread. It is admirable! Are you fond of drinking a swallow of excellent Burgundy or claret? Do nothing but
1 Where he was courting Suzanne.
this [empties an imaginary bottle]: "God-dam!" they serve you a pot of beer, in a bright pewter, with froth around the rim. What satisfaction! Do you meet one of those pretty females who walk mincingly along, eyes cast down, elbows to the rear, wriggling their hips a little? Put all your fingers together daintily over your mouth. Ah! "God-dam!" she gives you a cuff like a porter. That proves that she understands. It is true, the English add some other words here and there in conversation; but it is very easy to see that "God-dam" is the basis of the language: and if my lord has no other motive for leaving me in Spain
Count [aside]-He wants to go to London: she has not
Figaro [aside]-He believes I don't know anything: let's work on him a little in his own sort.
Count-What motive had the Countess to play me such a
Figaro My faith, my lord, you know better than I. Count-I anticipate all her wishes and load her with presents.
Figaro You make her gifts, but you are unfaithful. we thank for superfluities those who deprive us of necessaries? Count-Formerly you told me everything.
Figaro And now I hide nothing from you.
Count - How much has the Countess given you for this fine combination?
Figaro How much did you give me to get her out of the Doctor's hands? Hold on, my lord: don't let us humiliate the man who serves us well, for fear of making him a bad valet.
Count Why must there always be something crooked in what you do?
Figaro-It is because one sees it everywhere when he is hunting for injuries.
A detestable reputation!
Figaro And if I am better than my reputation? Are there many lords who can say as much?
Count-A hundred times I have seen you marching towards fortune, and never going straight.
Figaro - What would you have? the crowd is there; everybody is in the race; they press, they push, they elbow, they upset; those get there who can, the rest are wiped out. So goes the world; as for me, I renounce.