MAN AND SUPERMAN
GEORGE BERNARD SHAW
Part 3 out of 5
VIOLET. Have you been telling lies for my sake?
HECTOR. Lying! Lying hardly describes it. I overdo it. I get
carried away in an ecstasy of mendacity. Violet: I wish you'd let
me own up.
VIOLET. [instantly becoming serious and resolute] No, no. Hector:
you promised me not to.
HECTOR. I'll keep my promise until you release me from it. But I
feel mean, lying to those men, and denying my wife. Just
VIOLET. I wish your father were not so unreasonable.
HECTOR. He's not unreasonable. He's right from his point of view.
He has a prejudice against the English middle class.
VIOLET. It's too ridiculous. You know how I dislike saying such
things to you, Hector; but if I were to--oh, well, no matter.
HECTOR. I know. If you were to marry the son of an English
manufacturer of office furniture, your friends would consider it
a misalliance. And here's my silly old dad, who is the biggest
office furniture man in the world, would show me the door for
marrying the most perfect lady in England merely because she has
no handle to her name. Of course it's just absurd. But I tell
you, Violet, I don't like deceiving him. I feel as if I was
stealing his money. Why won't you let me own up?
VIOLET. We can't afford it. You can be as romantic as you please
about love, Hector; but you mustn't be romantic about money.
HECTOR. [divided between his uxoriousness and his habitual
elevation of moral sentiment] That's very English. [Appealing
to her impulsively] Violet: Dad's bound to find us out some
VIOLET. Oh yes, later on of course. But don't let's go over this
every time we meet, dear. You promised--
HECTOR. All right, all right, I--
VIOLET. [not to be silenced] It is I and not you who suffer by
this concealment; and as to facing a struggle and poverty and all
that sort of thing I simply will not do it. It's too silly.
HECTOR. You shall not. I'll sort of borrow the money from my dad
until I get on my own feet; and then I can own up and pay up at
the same time.
VIOLET. [alarmed and indignant] Do you mean to work? Do you want
to spoil our marriage?
HECTOR. Well, I don't mean to let marriage spoil my character.
Your friend Mr Tanner has got the laugh on me a bit already about
VIOLET. The beast! I hate Jack Tanner.
HECTOR. [magnanimously] Oh, he's all right: he only needs the
love of a good woman to ennoble him. Besides, he's proposed a
motoring trip to Nice; and I'm going to take you.
VIOLET. How jolly!
HECTOR. Yes; but how are we going to manage? You see, they've
warned me off going with you, so to speak. They've told me in
confidence that you're married. That's just the most overwhelming
confidence I've ever been honored with.
Tanner returns with Straker, who goes to his car.
TANNER. Your car is a great success, Mr Malone. Your engineer is
showing it off to Mr Ramsden.
HECTOR. [eagerly--forgetting himself] Let's come, Vi.
VIOLET. [coldly, warning him with her eyes] I beg your pardon,
Mr Malone, I did not quite catch--
HECTOR. [recollecting himself] I ask to be allowed the pleasure
of showing you my little American steam car, Miss Robinson.
VIOLET. I shall be very pleased. [They go off together down the
TANNER. About this trip, Straker.
STRAKER. [preoccupied with the car] Yes?
TANNER. Miss Whitefield is supposed to be coming with me.
STRAKER. So I gather.
TANNER. Mr Robinson is to be one of the party.
TANNER. Well, if you can manage so as to be a good deal occupied
with me, and leave Mr Robinson a good deal occupied with Miss
Whitefield, he will be deeply grateful to you.
STRAKER. [looking round at him] Evidently.
TANNER. "Evidently"! Your grandfather would have simply winked.
STRAKER. My grandfather would have touched his at.
TANNER. And I should have given your good nice respectful
grandfather a sovereign.
STRAKER. Five shillins, more likely. [He leaves the car and
approaches Tanner]. What about the lady's views?
TANNER. She is just as willing to be left to Mr Robinson as Mr
Robinson is to be left to her. [Straker looks at his principal
with cool scepticism; then turns to the car whistling his
favorite air]. Stop that aggravating noise. What do you mean by
it? [Straker calmly resumes the melody and finishes it. Tanner
politely hears it out before he again addresses Straker, this
time with elaborate seriousness]. Enry: I have ever been a warm
advocate of the spread of music among the masses; but I object to
your obliging the company whenever Miss Whitefield's name is
mentioned. You did it this morning, too.
STRAKER. [obstinately] It's not a bit o use. Mr Robinson may as
well give it up first as last.
STRAKER. Garn! You know why. Course it's not my business; but you
needn't start kiddin me about it.
TANNER. I am not kidding. I don't know why.
STRAKER. [Cheerfully sulky] Oh, very well. All right. It ain't my
TANNER. [impressively] I trust, Enry, that, as between employer
and engineer, I shall always know how to keep my proper distance,
and not intrude my private affairs on you. Even our business
arrangements are subject to the approval of your Trade Union. But
don't abuse your advantages. Let me remind you that Voltaire said
that what was too silly to be said could be sung.
STRAKER. It wasn't Voltaire: it was Bow Mar Shay.
TANNER. I stand corrected: Beaumarchais of course. Now you seem
to think that what is too delicate to be said can be whistled.
Unfortunately your whistling, though melodious, is unintelligible.
Come! there's nobody listening: neither my genteel relatives nor
the secretary of your confounded Union. As man to man, Enry, why
do you think that my friend has no chance with Miss Whitefield?
STRAKER. Cause she's arter summun else.
TANNER. Bosh! who else?
STRAKER. Mean to tell me you didn't know? Oh, come, Mr Tanner!
TANNER. [in fierce earnest] Are you playing the fool, or do you
STRAKER. [with a flash of temper] I'm not playin no fool. [More
coolly] Why, it's as plain as the nose on your face. If you ain't
spotted that, you don't know much about these sort of things.
[Serene again] Ex-cuse me, you know, Mr Tanner; but you asked me
as man to man; and I told you as man to man.
TANNER. [wildly appealing to the heavens] Then I--I am the
bee, the spider, the marked down victim, the destined prey.
STRAKER. I dunno about the bee and the spider. But the marked
down victim, that's what you are and no mistake; and a jolly good
job for you, too, I should say.
TANNER. [momentously] Henry Straker: the moment of your life has
STRAKER. What d'y'mean?
TANNER. That record to Biskra.
STRAKER. [eagerly] Yes?
TANNER. Break it.
STRAKER. [rising to the height of his destiny] D'y'mean it?
TANNER. I do.
TANNER. Now. Is that machine ready to start?
STRAKER. [quailing] But you can't--
TANNER. [cutting him short by getting into the car] Off we go.
First to the bank for money; then to my rooms for my kit; then to
your rooms for your kit; then break the record from London to
Dover or Folkestone; then across the channel and away like mad to
Marseilles, Gibraltar, Genoa, any port from which we can sail to
a Mahometan country where men are protected from women.
STRAKER. Garn! you're kiddin.
TANNER. [resolutely] Stay behind then. If you won't come I'll do
it alone. [He starts the motor].
STRAKER. [running after him] Here! Mister! arf a mo! steady on!
[he scrambles in as the car plunges forward].
Evening in the Sierra Nevada. Rolling slopes of brown, with olive
trees instead of apple trees in the cultivated patches, and
occasional prickly pears instead of gorse and bracken in the
wilds. Higher up, tall stone peaks and precipices, all handsome
and distinguished. No wild nature here: rather a most
aristocratic mountain landscape made by a fastidious
artist-creator. No vulgar profusion of vegetation: even a touch
of aridity in the frequent patches of stones: Spanish
magnificence and Spanish economy everywhere.
Not very far north of a spot at which the high road over one of
the passes crosses a tunnel on the railway from Malaga to
Granada, is one of the mountain amphitheatres of the Sierra.
Looking at it from the wide end of the horse-shoe, one sees, a
little to the right, in the face of the cliff, a romantic cave
which is really an abandoned quarry, and towards the left a
little hill, commanding a view of the road, which skirts the
amphitheatre on the left, maintaining its higher level on
embankments and on an occasional stone arch. On the hill,
watching the road, is a man who is either a Spaniard or a
Scotchman. Probably a Spaniard, since he wears the dress of a
Spanish goatherd and seems at home in the Sierra Nevada, but
very like a Scotchman for all that. In the hollow, on the slope
leading to the quarry-cave, are about a dozen men who, as they
recline at their cave round a heap of smouldering white ashes of
dead leaf and brushwood, have an air of being conscious of
themselves as picturesque scoundrels honoring the Sierra by
using it as an effective pictorial background. As a matter of
artistic fact they are not picturesque; and the mountains
tolerate them as lions tolerate lice. An English policeman or
Poor Law Guardian would recognize them as a selected band of
tramps and ablebodied paupers.
This description of them is not wholly contemptuous. Whoever has
intelligently observed the tramp, or visited the ablebodied ward
of a workhouse, will admit that our social failures are not all
drunkards and weaklings. Some of them are men who do not fit the
class they were born into. Precisely the same qualities that make
the educated gentleman an artist may make an uneducated manual
laborer an ablebodied pauper. There are men who fall helplessly
into the workhouse because they are good far nothing; but there
are also men who are there because they are strongminded enough
to disregard the social convention (obviously not a disinterested
one on the part of the ratepayer) which bids a man live by
heavy and badly paid drudgery when he has the alternative of
walking into the workhouse, announcing himself as a destitute
person, and legally compelling the Guardians to feed, clothe and
house him better than he could feed, clothe and house himself
without great exertion. When a man who is born a poet refuses a
stool in a stockbroker's office, and starves in a garret,
spunging on a poor landlady or on his friends and relatives
rather than work against his grain; or when a lady, because she
is a lady, will face any extremity of parasitic dependence rather
than take a situation as cook or parlormaid, we make large
allowances for them. To such allowances the ablebodied pauper and
his nomadic variant the tramp are equally entitled.
Further, the imaginative man, if his life is to be tolerable to
him, must have leisure to tell himself stories, and a position
which lends itself to imaginative decoration. The ranks of
unskilled labor offer no such positions. We misuse our laborers
horribly; and when a man refuses to be misused, we have no right
to say that he is refusing honest work. Let us be frank in this
matter before we go on with our play; so that we may enjoy it
without hypocrisy. If we were reasoning, farsighted people, four
fifths of us would go straight to the Guardians for relief, and
knock the whole social system to pieces with most beneficial
reconstructive results. The reason we do got do this is because
we work like bees or ants, by instinct or habit, not reasoning
about the matter at all. Therefore when a man comes along who can
and does reason, and who, applying the Kantian test to his
conduct, can truly say to us, If everybody did as I do, the world
would be compelled to reform itself industrially, and abolish
slavery and squalor, which exist only because everybody does as
you do, let us honor that man and seriously consider the
advisability of following his example. Such a man is the
able-bodied, able-minded pauper. Were he a gentleman doing his
best to get a pension or a sinecure instead of sweeping a
crossing, nobody would blame him; for deciding that so long as
the alternative lies between living mainly at the expense of the
community and allowing the community to live mainly at his, it
would be folly to accept what is to him personally the greater of
the two evils.
We may therefore contemplate the tramps of the Sierra without
prejudice, admitting cheerfully that our objects--briefly,
to be gentlemen of fortune--are much the same as theirs, and the
difference in our position and methods merely accidental. One
or two of them, perhaps, it would be wiser to kill without malice
in a friendly and frank manner; for there are bipeds, just as
there are quadrupeds, who are too dangerous to be left unchained
and unmuzzled; and these cannot fairly expect to have other men's
lives wasted in the work of watching them. But as society has not
the courage to kill them, and, when it catches them, simply
wreaks on them some superstitious expiatory rites of torture and
degradation, and than lets them loose with heightened
qualifications for mischief; it is just as well that they are at
large in the Sierra, and in the hands of a chief who looks as if
he might possibly, on provocation, order them to be shot.
This chief, seated in the centre of the group on a squared block
of stone from the quarry, is a tall strong man, with a striking
cockatoo nose, glossy black hair, pointed beard, upturned
moustache, and a Mephistophelean affectation which is fairly
imposing, perhaps because the scenery admits of a larger swagger
than Piccadilly, perhaps because of a certain sentimentality in
the man which gives him that touch of grace which alone can
excuse deliberate picturesqueness. His eyes and mouth are by no
means rascally; he has a fine voice and a ready wit; and whether
he is really the strongest man in the party, or not, he looks it.
He is certainly, the best fed, the best dressed, and the best
trained. The fact that he speaks English is not unexpected in
spite of the Spanish landscape; for with the exception of one man
who might be guessed as a bullfighter ruined by drink and one
unmistakable Frenchman, they are all cockney or American;
therefore, in a land of cloaks and sombreros, they mostly wear
seedy overcoats, woollen mufflers, hard hemispherical hats, and
dirty brown gloves. Only a very few dress after their leader,
whose broad sombrero with a cock's feather in the band, and
voluminous cloak descending to his high boots, are as un-English
as possible. None of them are armed; and the ungloved ones keep
their hands in their pockets because it is their national belief
that it must be dangerously cold in the open air with the night
coming on. (It is as warm an evening as any reasonable man could
Except the bullfighting inebriate there is only one person in the
company who looks more than, say, thirty-three. He is a small man
with reddish whiskers, weak eyes, and the anxious look of a
small tradesman in difficulties. He wears the only tall hat
visible: it shines in the sunset with the sticky glow of some
sixpenny patent hat reviver, often applied and constantly tending
to produce a worse state of the original surface than the ruin it
was applied to remedy. He has a collar and cuff of celluloid; and
his brown Chesterfield overcoat, with velvet collar, is still
presentable. He is pre-eminently the respectable man of the
party, and is certainly over forty, possibly over fifty. He is
the corner man on the leader's right, opposite three men in
scarlet ties on his left. One of these three is the Frenchman. Of
the remaining two, who are both English, one is argumentative,
solemn, and obstinate; the other rowdy and mischievious.
The chief, with a magnificent fling of the end of his cloak
across his left shoulder, rises to address them. The applause
which greets him shows that he is a favorite orator.
THE CHIEF. Friends and fellow brigands. I have a proposal to make
to this meeting. We have now spent three evenings in discussing
the question Have Anarchists or Social-Democrats the most
personal courage? We have gone into the principles of Anarchism
and Social-Democracy at great length. The cause of Anarchy has
been ably represented by our one Anarchist, who doesn't know what
Anarchism means [laughter]--
THE ANARCHIST. [rising] A point of order, Mendoza--
MENDOZA. [forcibly] No, by thunder: your last point of order took
half an hour. Besides, Anarchists don't believe in order.
THE ANARCHIST. [mild, polite but persistent: he is, in fact, the
respectable looking elderly man in the celluloid collar and
cuffs] That is a vulgar error. I can prove--
MENDOZA. Order, order.
THE OTHERS [shouting] Order, order. Sit down. Chair! Shut up.
The Anarchist is suppressed.
MENDOZA. On the other hand we have three Social-Democrats among
us. They are not on speaking terms; and they have put before us
three distinct and incompatible views of Social-Democracy.
THE MAJORITY. [shouting assent] Hear, hear! So we are. Right.
THE ROWDY SOCIAL-DEMOCRAT. [smarting under oppression] You ain't
no Christian. You're a Sheeny, you are.
MENDOZA. [with crushing magnanimity] My friend; I am an exception
to all rules. It is true that I have the honor to be a Jew; and,
when the Zionists need a leader to reassemble our race on its
historic soil of Palestine, Mendoza will not be the last to
volunteer [sympathetic applause--hear, hear, etc.]. But I am not
a slave to any superstition. I have swallowed all the formulas,
even that of Socialism; though, in a sense, once a Socialist,
always a Socialist.
THE SOCIAL-DEMOCRATS. Hear, hear!
MENDOZA. But I am well aware that the ordinary man--even the
ordinary brigand, who can scarcely be called an ordinary man
[Hear, hear!]--is not a philosopher. Common sense is good enough
for him; and in our business affairs common sense is good enough
for me. Well, what is our business here in the Sierra Nevada,
chosen by the Moors as the fairest spot in Spain? Is it to
discuss abstruse questions of political economy? No: it is to
hold up motor cars and secure a more equitable distribution of
THE SULKY SOCIAL-DEMOCRAT. All made by labor, mind you.
MENDOZA. [urbanely] Undoubtedly. All made by labor, and on its
way to be squandered by wealthy vagabonds in the dens of vice
that disfigure the sunny shores of the Mediterranean. We
intercept that wealth. We restore it to circulation among the
class that produced it and that chiefly needs it--the working
class. We do this at the risk of our lives and liberties, by the
exercise of the virtues of courage, endurance, foresight, and
abstinence--especially abstinence. I myself have eaten nothing
but prickly pears and broiled rabbit for three days.
THE SULKY SOCIAL-DEMOCRAT. (Stubbornly] No more ain't we.
MENDOZA. [indignantly] Have I taken more than my share?
THE SULKY SOCIAL-DEMOCRAT. [unmoved] Why should you?
THE ANARCHIST. Why should he not? To each according to his needs:
from each according to his means.
THE FRENCHMAN. [shaking his fist at the anarchist] Fumiste!
MENDOZA. [diplomatically] I agree with both of you.
THE GENUINELY ENGLISH BRIGANDS. Hear, hear! Bravo, Mendoza!
MENDOZA. What I say is, let us treat one another as gentlemen,
and strive to excel in personal courage only when we take the
THE ROWDY SOCIAL-DEMOCRAT. [derisively] Shikespear.
A whistle comes from the goatherd on the hill. He springs up and
points excitedly forward along the road to the north.
THE GOATHERD. Automobile! Automobile! [He rushes down the hill
and joins the rest, who all scramble to their feet].
MENDOZA. [in ringing tones] To arms! Who has the gun?
THE SULKY SOCIAL-DEMOCRAT. [handing a rifle to Mendoza] Here.
MENDOZA. Have the nails been strewn in the road?
THE ROWDY SOCIAL-DEM0CRAT. Two ahnces of em.
MENDOZA. Good! [To the Frenchman] With me, Duval. If the nails
fail, puncture their tires with a bullet. [He gives the rifle to
Duval, who follows him up the hill. Mendoza produces an opera
glass. The others hurry across to the road and disappear to the
MENDOZA. [on the hill, using his glass] Two only, a capitalist
and his chauffeur. They look English.
DUVAL. Angliche! Aoh yess. Cochons! [Handling the rifle] Faut
MENDOZA. No: the nails have gone home. Their tire is down: they
DUVAL. [shouting to the others] Fondez sur eux, nom de Dieu!
MENDOZA. [rebuking his excitement] Du calme, Duval: keep your
hair on. They take it quietly. Let us descend and receive them.
Mendoza descends, passing behind the fire and coming forward,
whilst Tanner and Straker, in their motoring goggles, leather
coats, and caps, are led in from the road by brigands.
TANNER. Is this the gentleman you describe as your boss? Does he
THE ROWDY SOCIAL-DEMOCRAT. Course he does. Y'don't suppowz we
Hinglishmen lets ahrselves be bossed by a bloomin Spenniard, do
MENDOZA. [with dignity] Allow me to introduce myself: Mendoza,
President of the League of the Sierra! [Posing loftily] I am a
brigand: I live by robbing the rich.
TANNER. [promptly] I am a gentleman: I live by robbing the poor.
THE ENGLISH SOCIAL-DEMOCRATS. Hear, hear!
General laughter and good humor. Tanner and Mendoza shake hands.
The Brigands drop into their former places
STRAKER. Ere! where do I come in?
TANNER. [introducing] My friend and chauffeur.
THE SULKY SOCIAL-DEMOCRAT. [suspiciously] Well, which is he?
friend or show-foor? It makes all the difference you know.
MENDOZA. [explaining] We should expect ransom for a friend. A
professional chauffeur is free of the mountains. He even takes a
trifling percentage of his princpal's ransom if he will honor us
by accepting it.
STRAKER. I see. Just to encourage me to come this way again.
Well, I'll think about it.
DUVAL. [impulsively rushing across to Straker] Mon frere! [He
embraces him rapturously and kisses him on both cheeks].
STRAKER. [disguested] Ere, git out: don't be silly. Who are you,
DUVAL. Duval: Social-Democrat.
STRAKER. Oh, you're a Social-Democrat, are you?
THE ANARCHIST. He means that he has sold out to the parliamentary
humbugs and the bourgeoisie. Compromise! that is his faith.
DUVAL. [furiously] I understand what he say. He say Bourgeois. He
say Compromise. Jamais de la vie! Miserable menteur--
STRAKER. See here, Captain Mendoza, ow much o this sort o thing
do you put up with here? Are we avin a pleasure trip in the
mountains, or are we at a Socialist meetin?
THE MAJORITY. Hear, hear! Shut up. Chuck it. Sit down, etc. etc.
[The Social-Democrats and the Anarchist are hurtled into the
background. Straker, after superintending this proceeding with
satisfaction, places himself on Mendoza's left, Tanner being on
MENDOZA. Can we offer you anything? Broiled rabbit and prickly
TANNER. Thank you: we have dined.
MENDOZA. [to his followers] Gentlemen: business is over for the
day. Go as you please until morning.
The Brigands disperse into groups lazily. Some go into the cave.
Others sit down or lie down to sleep in the open. A few produce a
pack of cards and move off towards the road; for it is now
starlight; and they know that motor cars have lamps which can be
turned to account for lighting a card party.
STRAKER. [calling after them] Don't none of you go fooling with
that car, d'ye hear?
MENDOZA. No fear, Monsieur le Chauffeur. The first one we
captured cured us of that.
STRAKER. [interested] What did it do?
MENDOZA. It carried three brave comrades of ours, who did not
know how to stop it, into Granada, and capsized them opposite the
police station. Since then we never touch one without sending for
the chauffeur. Shall we chat at our ease?
TANNER. By all means.
Tanner, Mendoza, and Straker sit down on the turf by the fire.
Mendoza delicately waives his presidential dignity, of which the
right to sit on the squared stone block is the appanage, by
sitting on the ground like his guests, and using the stone only
as a support for his back.
MENDOZA. It is the custom in Spain always to put off business
until to-morrow. In fact, you have arrived out of office hours.
However, if you would prefer to settle the question of ransom at
once, I am at your service.
TANNER. To-morrow will do for me. I am rich enough to pay
anything in reason.
MENDOZA. [respectfully, much struck by this admission] You
are a remarkable man, sir. Our guests usually describe themselves
as miserably poor.
TANNER. Pooh! Miserably poor people don't own motor cars.
MENDOZA. Precisely what we say to them.
TANNER. Treat us well: we shall not prove ungrateful.
STRAKER. No prickly pears and broiled rabbits, you know. Don't
tell me you can't do us a bit better than that if you like.
MENDOZA. Wine, kids, milk, cheese and bread can be procured for
STRAKER. [graciously] Now you're talking.
TANNER. Are you all Socialists here, may I ask?
MENDOZA. [repudiating this humiliating misconception] Oh no, no,
no: nothing of the kind, I assure you. We naturally have modern
views as to the justice of the existing distribution of wealth:
otherwise we should lose our self-respect. But nothing that you
could take exception to, except two or three faddists.
TANNER. I had no intention of suggesting anything discreditable.
In fact, I am a bit of a Socialist myself.
STRAKER. [drily] Most rich men are, I notice.
MENDOZA. Quite so. It has reached us, I admit. It is in the air
of the century.
STRAKER. Socialism must be looking up a bit if your chaps are
taking to it.
MENDOZA. That is true, sir. A movement which is confined to
philosophers and honest men can never exercise any real political
influence: there are too few of them. Until a movement shows
itself capable of spreading among brigands, it can never hope for
a political majority.
TANNER. But are your brigands any less honest than ordinary
MENDOZA. Sir: I will be frank with you. Brigandage is abnormal.
Abnormal professions attract two classes: those who are not good
enough for ordinary bourgeois life and those who are too good for
it. We are dregs and scum, sir: the dregs very filthy, the scum
STRAKER. Take care! some o the dregs'll hear you.
MENDOZA. It does not matter: each brigand thinks himself scum,
and likes to hear the others called dregs.
TANNER. Come! you are a wit. [Mendoza inclines his head,
flattered]. May one ask you a blunt question?
MENDOZA. As blunt as you please.
TANNER. How does it pay a man of your talent to shepherd such a
flock as this on broiled rabbit and prickly pears? I have seen
men less gifted, and I'll swear less honest, supping at the Savoy
on foie gras and champagne.
MENDOZA. Pooh! they have all had their turn at the broiled
rabbit, just as I shall have my turn at the Savoy. Indeed, I have
had a turn there already--as waiter.
TANNER. A waiter! You astonish me!
MENDOZA. [reflectively] Yes: I, Mendoza of the Sierra, was a
waiter. Hence, perhaps, my cosmopolitanism. [With sudden
intensity] Shall I tell you the story of my life?
STRAKER. [apprehensively] If it ain't too long, old chap--
TANNER. [interrupting him] Tsh-sh: you are a Philistine, Henry:
you have no romance in you. [To Mendoza] You interest me
extremely, President. Never mind Henry: he can go to sleep.
MENDOZA. The woman I loved--
STRAKER. Oh, this is a love story, is it? Right you are. Go on: I
was only afraid you were going to talk about yourself.
MENDOZA. Myself! I have thrown myself away for her sake: that is
why I am here. No matter: I count the world well lost for her.
She had, I pledge you my word, the most magnificent head of hair
I ever saw. She had humor; she had intellect; she could cook to
perfection; and her highly strung temperament made her uncertain,
incalculable, variable, capricious, cruel, in a word, enchanting.
STRAKER. A six shillin novel sort o woman, all but the cookin. Er
name was Lady Gladys Plantagenet, wasn't it?
MENDOZA. No, sir: she was not an earl's daughter. Photography,
reproduced by the half-tone process, has made me familiar with
the appearance of the daughters of the English peerage; and I can
honestly say that I would have sold the lot, faces, dowries,
clothes, titles, and all, for a smile from this woman. Yet she
was a woman of the people, a worker: otherwise--let me
reciprocate your bluntness--I should have scorned her.
TANNER. Very properly. And did she respond to your love?
MENDOZA. Should I be here if she did? She objected to marry a
TANNER. On religious grounds?
MENDOZA. No: she was a freethinker. She said that every Jew
considers in his heart that English people are dirty in their
TANNER. [surprised] Dirty!
MENDOZA. It showed her extraordinary knowledge of the world; for
it is undoubtedly true. Our elaborate sanitary code makes us
unduly contemptuous of the Gentile.
TANNER. Did you ever hear that, Henry?
STRAKER. I've heard my sister say so. She was cook in a Jewish
MENDOZA. I could not deny it; neither could I eradicate the
impression it made on her mind. I could have got round any other
objection; but no woman can stand a suspicion of indelicacy as to
her person. My entreaties were in vain: she always retorted that
she wasn't good enough for me, and recommended me to marry an
accursed barmaid named Rebecca Lazarus, whom I loathed. I talked
of suicide: she offered me a packet of beetle poison to do it
with. I hinted at murder: she went into hysterics; and as I am a
living man I went to America so that she might sleep without
dreaming that I was stealing upstairs to cut her throat. In
America I went out west and fell in with a man who was wanted by
the police for holding up trains. It was he who had the idea of
holding up motors cars--in the South of Europe: a welcome idea to
a desperate and disappointed man. He gave me some valuable
introductions to capitalists of the right sort. I formed a
syndicate; and the present enterprise is the result. I became
leader, as the Jew always becomes leader, by his brains and
imagination. But with all my pride of race I would give
everything I possess to be an Englishman. I am like a boy: I cut
her name on the trees and her initials on the sod. When I am
alone I lie down and tear my wretched hair and cry Louisa--
STRAKER. [startled] Louisa!
MENDOZA. It is her name--Louisa--Louisa Straker--
STRAKER. [scrambling up on his knees most indignantly] Look here:
Louisa Straker is my sister, see? Wot do you mean by gassin about
her like this? Wot she got to do with you?
MENDOZA. A dramatic coincidence! You are Enry, her favorite
STRAKER. Oo are you callin Enry? What call have you to take a
liberty with my name or with hers? For two pins I'd punch your
fat ed, so I would.
MENDOZA. [with grandiose calm] If I let you do it, will you
promise to brag of it afterwards to her? She will be reminded of
her Mendoza: that is all I desire.
TANNER. This is genuine devotion, Henry. You should respect it.
STRAKER. [fiercely] Funk, more likely.
MENDOZA. [springing to his feet] Funk! Young man: I come of a
famous family of fighters; and as your sister well knows, you
would have as much chance against me as a perambulator against
your motor car.
STRAKER. [secretly daunted, but rising from his knees with an air
of reckless pugnacity] I ain't afraid of you. With your Louisa!
Louisa! Miss Straker is good enough for you, I should think.
MENDOZA. I wish you could persuade her to think so.
STRAKER. [exasperated] Here--
TANNER. [rising quickly and interposing] Oh come, Henry: even if
you could fight the President you can't fight the whole League of
the Sierra. Sit down again and be friendly. A cat may look at a
king; and even a President of brigands may look at your sister.
All this family pride is really very old fashioned.
STRAKER. [subdued, but grumbling] Let him look at her. But wot
does he mean by makin out that she ever looked at im?
[Reluctantly resuming his couch on the turf] Ear him talk, one ud
think she was keepin company with him. [He turns his back on them
and composes himself to sleep].
MENDOZA. [to Tanner, becoming more confidential as he finds
himself virtually alone with a sympathetic listener in the still
starlight of the mountains; for all the rest are asleep by this
time] It was just so with her, sir. Her intellect reached forward
into the twentieth century: her social prejudices and family
affections reached back into the dark ages. Ah, sir, how the
words of Shakespear seem to fit every crisis in our emotions!
I loved Louisa: 40,000 brothers
Could not with all their quantity of love
Make up my sum.
And so on. I forget the rest. Call it madness if you will--
infatuation. I am an able man, a strong man: in ten years I
should have owned a first-class hotel. I met her; and you see! I
am a brigand, an outcast. Even Shakespear cannot do justice to
what I feel for Louisa. Let me read you some lines that I have
written about her myself. However slight their literary merit may
be, they express what I feel better than any casual words can.
[He produces a packet of hotel bills scrawled with manuscript,
and kneels at the fire to decipher them, poking it with a stick
to make it glow].
TANNER. [clapping him rudely on the shoulder] Put them in the
MENDOZA. [startled] Eh?
TANNER. You are sacrificing your career to a monomania.
MENDOZA. I know it.
TANNER. No you don't. No man would commit such a crime against
himself if he really knew what he was doing. How can you look
round at these august hills, look up at this divine sky, taste
this finely tempered air, and then talk like a literary hack on a
second floor in Bloomsbury?
MENDOZA. [shaking his head] The Sierra is no better than
Bloomsbury when once the novelty has worn off. Besides, these
mountains make you dream of women--of women with magnificent
TANNER. Of Louisa, in short. They will not make me dream of
women, my friend: I am heartwhole.
MENDOZA. Do not boast until morning, sir. This is a strange
country for dreams.
TANNER. Well, we shall see. Goodnight. [He lies down and composes
himself to sleep].
Mendoza, with a sigh, follows his example; and for a few moments
there is peace in the Sierra. Then Mendoza sits up suddenly and
says pleadingly to Tanner--
MENDOZA. Just allow me to read a few lines before you go to
sleep. I should really like your opinion of them.
TANNER. [drowsily] Go on. I am listening.
MENDOZA. I saw thee first in Whitsun week
TANNER. [roaring himself] My dear President, Louisa is a
very pretty name; but it really doesn't rhyme well to Whitsun
MENDOZA. Of course not. Louisa is not the rhyme, but the refrain.
TANNER. [subsiding] Ah, the refrain. I beg your pardon. Go on.
MENDOZA. Perhaps you do not care for that one: I think you will
like this better. [He recites, in rich soft tones, and to slow
Louisa, I love thee.
I love thee, Louisa.
Louisa, Louisa, Louisa, I love thee.
One name and one phrase make my music,
Louisa. Louisa, Louisa, Louisa, I love thee.
Mendoza thy lover,
Thy lover, Mendoza,
Mendoza adoringly lives for Louisa.
There's nothing but that in the world for Mendoza.
Louisa, Louisa, Mendoza adores thee.
[Affected] There is no merit in producing beautiful lines upon
such a name. Louisa is an exquisite name, is it not?
TANNER. [all but asleep, responds with a faint groan].
MENDOZA. O wert thou, Louisa,
The wife of Mendoza,
Mendoza's Louisa, Louisa Mendoza,
How blest were the life of Louisa's Mendoza!
How painless his longing of love for Louisa!
That is real poetry--from the heart--from the heart of hearts.
Don't you think it will move her?
[Resignedly] Asleep, as usual. Doggrel to all the world; heavenly
music to me! Idiot that I am to wear my heart on my sleeve! [He
composes himself to sleep, murmuring] Louisa, I love thee; I love
thee, Louisa; Louisa, Louisa, Louisa, I--
Straker snores; rolls over on his side; and relapses into sleep.
Stillness settles on the Sierra; and the darkness deepens. The
fire has again buried itself in white ash and ceased to glow. The
peaks show unfathomably dark against the starry firmament; but
now the stars dim and vanish; and the sky seems to steal away out
of the universe. Instead of the Sierra there is nothing;
omnipresent nothing. No sky, no peaks, no light, no sound, no
time nor space, utter void. Then somewhere the beginning of a
pallor, and with it a faint throbbing buzz as of a ghostly
violoncello palpitating on the same note endlessly. A couple of
ghostly violins presently take advantage of this bass
(a staff of music is supplied here)
and therewith the pallor reveals a man in the void, an
incorporeal but visible man, seated, absurdly enough, on nothing.
For a moment he raises his head as the music passes him by. Then,
with a heavy sigh, he droops in utter dejection; and the violins,
discouraged, retrace their melody in despair and at last give it
up, extinguished by wailings from uncanny wind instruments,
It is all very odd. One recognizes the Mozartian strain;
and on this hint, and by the aid of certain sparkles of violet
light in the pallor, the man's costume explains itself as that of
a Spanish nobleman of the XV-XVI century. Don Juan, of
course; but where? why? how? Besides, in the brief lifting
of his face, now hidden by his hat brim, there was a curious
suggestion of Tanner. A more critical, fastidious, handsome face,
paler and colder, without Tanner's impetuous credulity and
enthusiasm, and without a touch of his modern plutocratic
vulgarity, but still a resemblance, even an identity. The name
too: Don Juan Tenorio, John Tanner. Where on earth---or elsewhere
--have we got to from the XX century and the Sierra?
Another pallor in the void, this time not violet, but a
disagreeable smoky yellow. With it, the whisper of a ghostly
clarionet turning this tune into infinite sadness:
(Here there is another musical staff.)
The yellowish pallor moves: there is an old crone wandering in
the void, bent and toothless; draped, as well as one can guess,
in the coarse brown frock of some religious order. She wanders
and wanders in her slow hopeless way, much as a wasp flies in its
rapid busy way, until she blunders against the thing she seeks:
companionship. With a sob of relief the poor old creature
clutches at the presence of the man and addresses him in her dry
unlovely voice, which can still express pride and resolution as
well as suffering.
THE OLD WOMAN. Excuse me; but I am so lonely; and this place is
DON JUAN. A new comer?
THE OLD WOMAN. Yes: I suppose I died this morning. I confessed; I
had extreme unction; I was in bed with my family about me and my
eyes fixed on the cross. Then it grew dark; and when the light
came back it was this light by which I walk seeing nothing. I
have wandered for hours in horrible loneliness.
DON JUAN. [sighing] Ah! you have not yet lost the sense of time.
One soon does, in eternity.
THE OLD WOMAN. Where are we?
DON JUAN. In hell.
THE OLD WOMAN [proudly] Hell! I in hell! How dare you?
DON JUAN. [unimpressed] Why not, Senora?
THE OLD WOMAN. You do not know to whom you are speaking. I am a
lady, and a faithful daughter of the Church.
DON JUAN. I do not doubt it.
THE OLD WOMAN. But how then can I be in hell? Purgatory, perhaps:
I have not been perfect: who has? But hell! oh, you are lying.
DON JUAN. Hell, Senora, I assure you; hell at its best that is,
its most solitary--though perhaps you would prefer company.
THE OLD WOMAN. But I have sincerely repented; I have confessed.
DON JUAN. How much?
THE OLD WOMAN. More sins than I really committed. I loved
DON JUAN. Ah, that is perhaps as bad as confessing too little. At
all events, Senora, whether by oversight or intention, you are
certainly damned, like myself; and there is nothing for it now
but to make the best of it.
THE OLD WOMAN [indignantly] Oh! and I might have been so much
wickeder! All my good deeds wasted! It is unjust.
DON JUAN. No: you were fully and clearly warned. For your bad
deeds, vicarious atonement, mercy without justice. For your good
deeds, justice without mercy. We have many good people here.
THE OLD WOMAN. Were you a good man?
DON JUAN. I was a murderer.
THE OLD WOMAN. A murderer! Oh, how dare they send me to herd with
murderers! I was not as bad as that: I was a good woman. There is
some mistake: where can I have it set right?
DON JUAN. I do not know whether mistakes can be corrected here.
Probably they will not admit a mistake even if they have made
THE OLD WOMAN. But whom can I ask?
DON JUAN. I should ask the Devil, Senora: he understands the ways
of this place, which is more than I ever could.
THE OLD WOMAN. The Devil! I speak to the Devil!
DON JUAN. In hell, Senora, the Devil is the leader of the best
THE OLD WOMAN. I tell you, wretch, I know I am not in hell.
DON JUAN. How do you know?
THE OLD WOMAN. Because I feel no pain.
DON JUAN. Oh, then there is no mistake: you are intentionally
THE OLD WOMAN. Why do you say that?
DON JUAN. Because hell, Senora, is a place for the wicked. The
wicked are quite comfortable in it: it was made for them. You
tell me you feel no pain. I conclude you are one of those for
whom Hell exists.
THE OLD WOMAN. Do you feel no pain?
DON JUAN. I am not one of the wicked, Senora; therefore it bores
me, bores me beyond description, beyond belief.
THE OLD WOMAN. Not one of the wicked! You said you were a
DON JUAN. Only a duel. I ran my sword through an old man who was
trying to run his through me.
THE OLD WOMAN. If you were a gentleman, that was not a murder.
DON JUAN. The old man called it murder, because he was, he said,
defending his daughter's honor. By this he meant that because I
foolishly fell in love with her and told her so, she screamed;
and he tried to assassinate me after calling me insulting names.
THE OLD WOMAN. You were like all men. Libertines and murderers
all, all, all!
DON JUAN. And yet we meet here, dear lady.
THE OLD WOMAN. Listen to me. My father was slain by just such a
wretch as you, in just such a duel, for just such a cause. I
screamed: it was my duty. My father drew on my assailant: his
honor demanded it. He fell: that was the reward of honor. I am
here: in hell, you tell me that is the reward of duty. Is there
justice in heaven?
DON JUAN. No; but there is justice in hell: heaven is far above
such idle human personalities. You will be welcome in hell,
Senora. Hell is the home of honor, duty, justice, and the rest of
the seven deadly virtues. All the wickedness on earth is done in
their name: where else but in hell should they have their reward?
Have I not told you that the truly damned are those who are happy
THE OLD WOMAN. And are you happy here?
DON JUAN. [Springing to his feet] No; and that is the enigma on
which I ponder in darkness. Why am I here? I, who repudiated all
duty, trampled honor underfoot, and laughed at justice!
THE OLD WOMAN. Oh, what do I care why you are here? Why am I
here? I, who sacrificed all my inclinations to womanly virtue and
DON JUAN. Patience, lady: you will be perfectly happy and at home
here. As with the poet, "Hell is a city much like Seville."
THE OLD WOMAN. Happy! here! where I am nothing! where I am
DON JUAN. Not at all: you are a lady; and wherever ladies are is
hell. Do not be surprised or terrified: you will find everything
here that a lady can desire, including devils who will serve you
from sheer love of servitude, and magnify your importance for the
sake of dignifying their service--the best of servants.
THE OLD WOMAN. My servants will be devils.
DON JUAN. Have you ever had servants who were not devils?
THE OLD WOMAN. Never: they were devils, perfect devils, all of
them. But that is only a manner of speaking. I thought you meant
that my servants here would be real devils.
DON JUAN. No more real devils than you will be a real lady.
Nothing is real here. That is the horror of damnation.
THE OLD WOMAN. Oh, this is all madness. This is worse than fire
and the worm.
DON JUAN. For you, perhaps, there are consolations. For instance:
how old were you when you changed from time to eternity?
THE OLD WOMAN. Do not ask me how old I was as if I were a thing
of the past. I am 77.
DON JUAN. A ripe age, Senora. But in hell old age is not
tolerated. It is too real. Here we worship Love and Beauty. Our
souls being entirely damned, we cultivate our hearts. As a lady
of 77, you would not have a single acquaintance in hell.
THE OLD WOMAN. How can I help my age, man?
DON JUAN. You forget that you have left your age behind you in
the realm of time. You are no more 77 than you are 7 or 17 or 27.
THE OLD WOMAN. Nonsense!
DON JUAN. Consider, Senora: was not this true even when you lived
on earth? When you were 70, were you really older underneath your
wrinkles and your grey hams than when you were 30?
THE OLD WOMAN. No, younger: at 30 I was a fool. But of what use
is it to feel younger and look older?
DON JUAN. You see, Senora, the look was only an illusion. Your
wrinkles lied, just as the plump smooth skin of many a stupid
girl of 17, with heavy spirits and decrepit ideas, lies about her
age? Well, here we have no bodies: we see each other as bodies
only because we learnt to think about one another under that
aspect when we were alive; and we still think in that way,
knowing no other. But we can appear to one another at what age we
choose. You have but to will any of your old looks back, and back
they will come.
THE OLD WOMAN. It cannot be true.
DON JUAN. Try.
THE OLD WOMAN. Seventeen!
DON JUAN. Stop. Before you decide, I had better tell you that
these things are a matter of fashion. Occasionally we have a rage
for 17; but it does not last long. Just at present the
fashionable age is 40--or say 37; but there are signs of a
change. If you were at all good-looking at 27, I should suggest
your trying that, and setting a new fashion.
THE OLD WOMAN. I do not believe a word you are saying. However,
27 be it. [Whisk! the old woman becomes a young one, and so
handsome that in the radiance into which her dull yellow halo has
suddenly lightened one might almost mistake her for Ann
DON JUAN. Dona Ana de Ulloa!
ANA. What? You know me!
DON JUAN. And you forget me!
ANA. I cannot see your face. [He raises his hat]. Don Juan
Tenorio! Monster! You who slew my father! even here you pursue
DON JUAN. I protest I do not pursue you. Allow me to withdraw
ANA. [reining his arm] You shall not leave me alone in this
DON JUAN. Provided my staying be not interpreted as pursuit.
ANA. [releasing him] You may well wonder how I can endure your
presence. My dear, dear father!
DON JUAN. Would you like to see him?
ANA. My father HERE!!!
DON JUAN. No: he is in heaven.
ANA. I knew it. My noble father! He is looking down on us now.
What must he feel to see his daughter in this place, and in
conversation with his murderer!
DON JUAN. By the way, if we should meet him--
ANA. How can we meet him? He is in heaven.
DON JUAN. He condescends to look in upon us here from time to
time. Heaven bores him. So let me warn you that if you meet him
he will be mortally offended if you speak of me as his murderer!
He maintains that he was a much better swordsman than I, and that
if his foot had not slipped he would have killed me. No doubt he
is right: I was not a good fencer. I never dispute the point; so
we are excellent friends.
ANA. It is no dishonor to a soldier to be proud of his skill in
DON JUAN. You would rather not meet him, probably.
ANA. How dare you say that?
DON JUAN. Oh, that is the usual feeling here. You may remember
that on earth--though of course we never confessed it--the death
of anyone we knew, even those we liked best, was always mingled
with a certain satisfaction at being finally done with them.
ANA. Monster! Never, never.
DON JUAN. [placidly] I see you recognize the feeling. Yes: a
funeral was always a festivity in black, especially the funeral
of a relative. At all events, family ties are rarely kept up
here. Your father is quite accustomed to this: he will not expect
any devotion from you.
ANA. Wretch: I wore mourning for him all my life.
DON JUAN. Yes: it became you. But a life of mourning is one
thing: an eternity of it quite another. Besides, here you are as
dead as he. Can anything be more ridiculous than one dead person
mourning for another? Do not look shocked, my dear Ana; and do
not be alarmed: there is plenty of humbug in hell (indeed there
is hardly anything else); but the humbug of death and age and
change is dropped because here WE are all dead and all eternal.
You will pick up our ways soon.
ANA. And will all the men call me their dear Ana?
DON JUAN. No. That was a slip of the tongue. I beg your pardon.
ANA. [almost tenderly] Juan: did you really love me when you
behaved so disgracefully to me?
DON JUAN. [impatiently]] Oh, I beg you not to begin talking about
love. Here they talk of nothing else but love--its beauty, its
holiness, its spirituality, its devil knows what!--excuse me; but
it does so bore me. They don't know what they're talking about. I
do. They think they have achieved the perfection of love because
they have no bodies. Sheer imaginative debauchery! Faugh!
ANA. Has even death failed to refine your soul, Juan? Has the
terrible judgment of which my father's statue was the minister
taught you no reverence?
DON JUAN. How is that very flattering statue, by the way? Does it
still come to supper with naughty people and cast them into this
ANA. It has been a great expense to me. The boys in the monastery
school would not let it alone: the mischievous ones broke it; and
the studious ones wrote their names on it. Three new noses in two
years, and fingers without end. I had to leave it to its fate at
last; and now I fear it is shockingly mutilated. My poor father!
DON JUAN. Hush! Listen! [Two great chords rolling on syncopated
waves of sound break forth: D minor and its dominant: a round of
dreadful joy to all musicians]. Ha! Mozart's statue music. It is
your father. You had better disappear until I prepare him. [She
>From the void comes a living statue of white marble, designed
to represent a majestic old man. But he waives his majesty with
infinite grace; walks with a feather-like step; and makes every
wrinkle in his war worn visage brim over with holiday joyousness.
To his sculptor he owes a perfectly trained figure, which he
carries erect and trim; and the ends of his moustache curl up,
elastic as watchsprings, giving him an air which, but for its
Spanish dignity, would be called jaunty. He is on the pleasantest
terms with Don Juan. His voice, save for a much more
distinguished intonation, is so like the voice of Roebuck Ramsden
that it calls attention to the fact that they are not unlike one
another in spite of their very different fashion of shaving.
DON JUAN. Ah, here you are, my friend. Why don't you learn to
sing the splendid music Mozart has written for you?
THE STATUE. Unluckily he has written it for a bass voice. Mine is
a counter tenor. Well: have you repented yet?
DON JUAN. I have too much consideration for you to repent, Don
Gonzalo. If I did, you would have no excuse for coming from
Heaven to argue with me.
THE STATUE. True. Remain obdurate, my boy. I wish I had killed
you, as I should have done but for an accident. Then I should
have come here; and you would have had a statue and a reputation
for piety to live up to. Any news?
DON JUAN. Yes: your daughter is dead.
THE STATUE. [puzzled] My daughter? [Recollecting] Oh! the one you
were taken with. Let me see: what was her name?
DON JUAN. Ana.
THE STATUE. To be sure: Ana. A goodlooking girl, if I recollect
aright. Have you warned Whatshisname--her husband?
DON JUAN. My friend Ottavio? No: I have not seen him since Ana
Ana comes indignantly to light.
ANA. What does this mean? Ottavio here and YOUR friend! And you,
father, have forgotten my name. You are indeed turned to stone.
THE STATUE. My dear: I am so much more admired in marble than I
ever was in my own person that I have retained the shape the
sculptor gave me. He was one of the first men of his day: you
must acknowledge that.
ANA. Father! Vanity! personal vanity! from you!
THE STATUE. Ah, you outlived that weakness, my daughter: you must
be nearly 80 by this time. I was cut off (by an accident) in my
64th year, and am considerably your junior in consequence.
Besides, my child, in this place, what our libertine friend here
would call the farce of parental wisdom is dropped. Regard me, I
beg, as a fellow creature, not as a father.
ANA. You speak as this villain speaks.
THE STATUE. Juan is a sound thinker, Ana. A bad fencer, but a
ANA. [horror creeping upon her] I begin to understand. These are
devils, mocking me. I had better pray.
THE STATUE. [consoling her] No, no, no, my child: do not pray. If
you do, you will throw away the main advantage of this place.
Written over the gate here are the words "Leave every hope
behind, ye who enter." Only think what a relief that is! For what
is hope? A form of moral responsibility. Here there is no hope,
and consequently no duty, no work, nothing to be gained by
praying, nothing to be lost by doing what you like. Hell, in
short, is a place where you have nothing to do but amuse
yourself. [Don Juan sighs deeply]. You sigh, friend Juan; but if
you dwelt in heaven, as I do, you would realize your advantages.
DON JUAN. You are in good spirits to-day, Commander. You are
positively brilliant. What is the matter?
THE STATUE. I have come to a momentous decision, my boy. But
first, where is our friend the Devil? I must consult him in the
matter. And Ana would like to make his acquaintance, no doubt.
ANA. You are preparing some torment for me.
DON JUAN. All that is superstition, Ana. Reassure yourself.
Remember: the devil is not so black as he is painted.
THE STATUE. Let us give him a call.
At the wave of the statue's hand the great chords roll out again
but this time Mozart's music gets grotesquely adulterated with
Gounod's. A scarlet halo begins to glow; and into it the Devil
rises, very Mephistophelean, and not at all unlike Mendoza,
though not so interesting. He looks older; is getting prematurely
bald; and, in spite of an effusion of goodnature and friendliness,
is peevish and sensitive when his advances are not reciprocated.
He does not inspire much confidence in his powers of hard work or
endurance, and is, on the whole, a disagreeably self-indulgent
looking person; but he is clever and plausible, though
perceptibly less well bred than the two other men, and enormously
less vital than the woman.
THE DEVIL. [heartily] Have I the pleasure of again receiving a
visit from the illustrious Commander of Calatrava? [Coldly] Don
Juan, your servant. [Politely] And a strange lady? My respects,
ANA. Are you--
THE DEVIL. [bowing] Lucifer, at your service.
ANA. I shall go mad.
THE DEVIL. [gallantly] Ah, Senora, do not be anxious. You come to
us from earth, full of the prejudices and terrors of that
priest-ridden place. You have heard me ill spoken of; and yet,
believe me, I have hosts of friends there.
ANA. Yes: you reign in their hearts.
THE DEVIL. [shaking his head] You flatter me, Senora; but you are
mistaken. It is true that the world cannot get on without me; but
it never gives me credit for that: in its heart it mistrusts and
hates me. Its sympathies are all with misery, with poverty, with
starvation of the body and of the heart. I call on it to
sympathize with joy, with love, with happiness, with beauty.
DON JUAN. [nauseated] Excuse me: I am going. You know I cannot
THE DEVIL. [angrily] Yes: I know that you are no friend of mine.
THE STATUE. What harm is he doing you, Juan? It seems to me that
he was talking excellent sense when you interrupted him.
THE DEVIL. [warmly shaking the statue's hand] Thank you, my
friend: thank you. You have always understood me: he has always
disparaged and avoided me.
DON JUAN. I have treated you with perfect courtesy.
THE DEVIL. Courtesy! What is courtesy? I care nothing for mere
courtesy. Give me warmth of heart, true sincerity, the bond of
sympathy with love and joy--
DON JUAN. You are making me ill.
THE DEVIL. There! [Appealing to the statue] You hear, sir! Oh, by
what irony of fate was this cold selfish egotist sent to my
kingdom, and you taken to the icy mansions of the sky!
THE STATUE. I can't complain. I was a hypocrite; and it served me
right to be sent to heaven.
THE DEVIL. Why, sir, do you not join us, and leave a sphere for
which your temperament is too sympathetic, your heart too warm,
your capacity for enjoyment too generous?
THE STATUE. I have this day resolved to do so. In future,
excellent Son of the Morning, I am yours. I have left Heaven for
THE DEVIL. [again grasping his hand] Ah, what an honor for me!
What a triumph for our cause! Thank you, thank you. And now, my
friend--I may call you so at last--could you not persuade HIM
to take the place you have left vacant above?
THE STATUE. [shaking his head] I cannot conscientiously recommend
anybody with whom I am on friendly terms to deliberately make
himself dull and uncomfortable.
THE DEVIL. Of course not; but are you sure HE would be
uncomfortable? Of course you know best: you brought him here
originally; and we had the greatest hopes of him. His sentiments
were in the best taste of our best people. You remember how he
sang? [He begins to sing in a nasal operatic baritone, tremulous
from an eternity of misuse in the French manner].
Vivan le femmine!
Viva il buon vino!
THE STATUE. [taking up the tune an octave higher in his counter
Sostegno a gloria
THE DEVIL. Precisely. Well, he never sings for us now.
DON JUAN. Do you complain of that? Hell is full of musical
amateurs: music is the brandy of the damned. May not one lost
soul be permitted to abstain?
THE DEVIL. You dare blaspheme against the sublimest of the arts!
DON JUAN. [with cold disgust] You talk like a hysterical woman
fawning on a fiddler.
THE DEVIL. I am not angry. I merely pity you. You have no soul;
and you are unconscious of all that you lose. Now you, Senor
Commander, are a born musician. How well you sing! Mozart would
be delighted if he were still here; but he moped and went to
heaven. Curious how these clever men, whom you would have
supposed born to be popular here, have turned out social
failures, like Don Juan!
DON JUAN. I am really very sorry to be a social failure.
THE DEVIL. Not that we don't admire your intellect, you know. We
do. But I look at the matter from your own point of view. You
don't get on with us. The place doesn't suit you. The truth is,
you have--I won't say no heart; for we know that beneath all your
affected cynicism you have a warm one.
DON JUAN. [shrinking] Don't, please don't.
THE DEVIL. [nettled] Well, you've no capacity for enjoyment. Will
that satisfy you?
DON JUAN. It is a somewhat less insufferable form of cant than
the other. But if you'll allow me, I'll take refuge, as usual, in
THE DEVIL. Why not take refuge in Heaven? That's the proper place
for you. [To Ana] Come, Senora! could you not persuade him for
his own good to try a change of air?
ANA. But can he go to Heaven if he wants to?
THE DEVIL. What's to prevent him?
ANA. Can anybody--can I go to Heaven if I want to?
THE DEVIL. [rather contemptuously] Certainly, if your taste lies
ANA. But why doesn't everybody go to Heaven, then?
THE STATUE. [chuckling] I can tell you that, my dear. It's
because heaven is the most angelically dull place in all
creation: that's why.
THE DEVIL. His excellency the Commander puts it with military
bluntness; but the strain of living in Heaven is intolerable.
There is a notion that I was turned out of it; but as a matter of
fact nothing could have induced me to stay there. I simply left
it and organized this place.
THE STATUE. I don't wonder at it. Nobody could stand an eternity
THE DEVIL. Oh, it suits some people. Let us be just, Commander:
it is a question of temperament. I don't admire the heavenly
temperament: I don't understand it: I don't know that I
particularly want to understand it; but it takes all sorts to
make a universe. There is no accounting for tastes: there are
people who like it. I think Don Juan would like it.
DON JUAN. But--pardon my frankness--could you really go back
there if you desired to; or are the grapes sour?
THE DEVIL. Back there! I often go back there. Have you never read
the book of Job? Have you any canonical authority for assuming
that there is any barrier between our circle and the other one?
ANA. But surely there is a great gulf fixed.
THE DEVIL. Dear lady: a parable must not be taken literally. The
gulf is the difference between the angelic and the diabolic
temperament. What more impassable gulf could you have? Think of
what you have seen on earth. There is no physical gulf between
the philosopher's class room and the bull ring; but the bull
fighters do not come to the class room for all that. Have you
ever been in the country where I have the largest following--
England? There they have great racecourses, and also concert
rooms where they play the classical compositions of his
Excellency's friend Mozart. Those who go to the racecourses can
stay away from them and go to the classical concerts instead if
they like: there is no law against it; for Englishmen never will
be slaves: they are free to do whatever the Government and public
opinion allows them to do. And the classical concert is admitted
to be a higher, more cultivated, poetic, intellectual, ennobling
place than the racecourse. But do the lovers of racing desert
their sport and flock to the concert room? Not they. They would
suffer there all the weariness the Commander has suffered in
heaven. There is the great gulf of the parable between the two
places. A mere physical gulf they could bridge; or at least I
could bridge it for them (the earth is full of Devil's Bridges);
but the gulf of dislike is impassable and eternal. And that is
the only gulf that separates my friends here from those who are
invidiously called the blest.
ANA. I shall go to heaven at once.
THE STATUE. My child; one word of warning first. Let me complete
my friend Lucifer's similitude of the classical concert. At every
one of those concerts in England you will find rows of weary
people who are there, not because they really like classical
music, but because they think they ought to like it. Well, there
is the same thing in heaven. A number of people sit there in
glory, not because they are happy, but because they think they
owe it to their position to be in heaven. They are almost all
THE DEVIL. Yes: the Southerners give it up and join me just as
you have done. But the English really do not seem to know when
they are thoroughly miserable. An Englishman thinks he is moral
when he is only uncomfortable.
THE STATUE. In short, my daughter, if you go to Heaven without
being naturally qualified for it, you will not enjoy yourself
ANA. And who dares say that I am not naturally qualified for it?
The most distinguished princes of the Church have never
questioned it. I owe it to myself to leave this place at once.
THE DEVIL. [offended] As you please, Senora. I should have
expected better taste from you.
ANA. Father: I shall expect you to come with me. You cannot stay
here. What will people say?
THE STATUE. People! Why, the best people are here--princes of the
church and all. So few go to Heaven, and so many come here, that
the blest, once called a heavenly host, are a continually
dwindling minority. The saints, the fathers, the elect of long
ago are the cranks, the faddists, the outsiders of to-day.
THE DEVIL. It is true. From the beginning of my career I knew
that I should win in the long run by sheer weight of public
opinion, in spite of the long campaign of misrepresentation and
calumny against me. At bottom the universe is a constitutional
one; and with such a majority as mine I cannot be kept
permanently out of office.
DON JUAN. I think, Ana, you had better stay here.
ANA. [jealously] You do not want me to go with you.
DON JUAN. Surely you do not want to enter Heaven in the company
of a reprobate like me.
ANA. All souls are equally precious. You repent, do you not?
DON JUAN. My dear Ana, you are silly. Do you suppose heaven is
like earth, where people persuade themselves that what is done
can be undone by repentance; that what is spoken can be unspoken
by withdrawing it; that what is true can be annihilated by a
general agreement to give it the lie? No: heaven is the home of
the masters of reality: that is why I am going thither.
ANA. Thank you: I am going to heaven for happiness. I have had
quite enough of reality on earth.
DON JUAN. Then you must stay here; for hell is the home of the
unreal and of the seekers for happiness. It is the only refuge
from heaven, which is, as I tell you, the home of the masters of
reality, and from earth, which is the home of the slaves of
reality. The earth is a nursery in which men and women play at
being heros and heroines, saints and sinners; but they are
dragged down from their fool's paradise by their bodies: hunger
and cold and thirst, age and decay and disease, death above all,
make them slaves of reality: thrice a day meals must be eaten
and digested: thrice a century a new generation must be
engendered: ages of faith, of romance, and of science are all
driven at last to have but one prayer " Make me a healthy
animal." But here you escape the tyranny of the flesh; for here
you are not an animal at all: you are a ghost, an appearance, an
illusion, a convention, deathless, ageless: in a word, bodiless.
There are no social questions here, no political questions, no
religious questions, best of all, perhaps, no sanitary questions.
Here you call your appearance beauty, your emotions love, your
sentiments heroism, your aspirations virtue, just as you did on
earth; but here there are no hard facts to contradict you, no
ironic contrast of your needs with your pretensions, no human
comedy, nothing but a perpetual romance, a universal melodrama.
As our German friend put it in his poem, "the poetically
nonsensical here is good sense; and the Eternal Feminine draws us
ever upward and on"--without getting us a step farther. And yet
you want to leave this paradise!
ANA. But if Hell be so beautiful as this, how glorious must
The Devil, the Statue, and Don Juan all begin to speak at once in
violent protest; then stop, abashed.
DON JUAN. I beg your pardon.
THE DEVIL. Not at all. I interrupted you.
THE STATUE. You were going to say something.
DON JUAN. After you, gentlemen.
THE DEVIL. [to Don Juan] You have been so eloquent on the
advantages of my dominions that I leave you to do equal justice
to the drawbacks of the alternative establishment.
DON JUAN. In Heaven, as I picture it, dear lady, you live and
work instead of playing and pretending. You face things as they
are; you escape nothing but glamor; and your steadfastness and
your peril are your glory. If the play still goes on here and on
earth, and all the world is a stage, Heaven is at least behind
the scenes. But Heaven cannot be described by metaphor. Thither I
shall go presently, because there I hope to escape at last from
lies and from the tedious, vulgar pursuit of happiness, to spend
my eons in contemplation--
THE STATUE. Ugh!
DON JUAN. Senor Commander: I do not blame your disgust: a picture
gallery is a dull place for a blind man. But even as you enjoy
the contemplation of such romantic mirages as beauty and
pleasure; so would I enjoy the contemplation of that which
interests me above all things namely, Life: the force that ever
strives to attain greater power of contemplating itself. What
made this brain of mine, do you think? Not the need to move my
limbs; for a rat with half my brains moves as well as I. Not
merely the need to do, but the need to know what I do, lest in my
blind efforts to live I should be slaying myself.
THE STATUE. You would have slain yourself in your blind efforts
to fence but for my foot slipping, my friend.
DON JUAN. Audacious ribald: your laughter will finish in hideous
boredom before morning.
THE STATUE. Ha ha! Do you remember how I frightened you when I
said something like that to you from my pedestal in Seville? It
sounds rather flat without my trombones.
DON JUAN. They tell me it generally sounds flat with them,
ANA. Oh, do not interrupt with these frivolities, father. Is
there nothing in Heaven but contemplation, Juan?
DON JUAN. In the Heaven I seek, no other joy. But there is the
work of helping Life in its struggle upward. Think of how it
wastes and scatters itself, how it raises up obstacles to itself
and destroys itself in its ignorance and blindness. It needs a
brain, this irresistible force, lest in its ignorance it should
resist itself. What a piece of work is man! says the poet. Yes:
but what a blunderer! Here is the highest miracle of organization
yet attained by life, the most intensely alive thing that exists,
the most conscious of all the organisms; and yet, how wretched
are his brains! Stupidity made sordid and cruel by the realities
learnt from toil and poverty: Imagination resolved to starve
sooner than face these realities, piling up illusions to hide
them, and calling itself cleverness, genius! And each accusing
the other of its own defect: Stupidity accusing Imagination of
folly, and Imagination accusing Stupidity of ignorance: whereas,
alas! Stupidity has all the knowledge, and Imagination all the
THE DEVIL. And a pretty kettle of fish they make of it between
them. Did I not say, when I was arranging that affair of Faust's,
that all Man's reason has done for him is to make him beastlier
than any beast. One splendid body is worth the brains of a
hundred dyspeptic, flatulent philosophers.
DON JUAN. You forget that brainless magnificence of body has been
tried. Things immeasurably greater than man in every respect but
brain have existed and perished. The megatherium, the
icthyosaurus have paced the earth with seven-league steps and
hidden the day with cloud vast wings. Where are they now? Fossils
in museums, and so few and imperfect at that, that a knuckle bone
or a tooth of one of them is prized beyond the lives of a
thousand soldiers. These things lived and wanted to live; but for
lack of brains they did not know how to carry out their purpose,
and so destroyed themselves.
THE DEVIL. And is Man any the less destroying himself for all
this boasted brain of his? Have you walked up and down upon the
earth lately? I have; and I have examined Man's wonderful
inventions. And I tell you that in the arts of life man invents
nothing; but in the arts of death he outdoes Nature herself, and
produces by chemistry and machinery all the slaughter of plague,
pestilence and famine. The peasant I tempt to-day eats and drinks
what was eaten and drunk by the peasants of ten thousand years
ago; and the house he lives in has not altered as much in a
thousand centuries as the fashion of a lady's bonnet in a score
of weeks. But when he goes out to slay, he carries a marvel of
mechanism that lets loose at the touch of his finger all the
hidden molecular energies, and leaves the javelin, the arrow, the
blowpipe of his fathers far behind. In the arts of peace Man is a
bungler. I have seen his cotton factories and the like, with
machinery that a greedy dog could have invented if it had wanted
money instead of food. I know his clumsy typewriters and bungling
locomotives and tedious bicycles: they are toys compared to the
Maxim gun, the submarine torpedo boat. There is nothing in Man's
industrial machinery but his greed and sloth: his heart is in his
weapons. This marvellous force of Life of which you boast is a
force of Death: Man measures his strength by his destructiveness.
What is his religion? An excuse for hating ME. What is his law?
An excuse for hanging YOU. What is his morality? Gentility! an
excuse for consuming without producing. What is his art? An
excuse for gloating over pictures of slaughter. What are his
politics? Either the worship of a despot because a despot can
kill, or parliamentary cockfighting. I spent an evening lately in
a certain celebrated legislature, and heard the pot lecturing the
kettle for its blackness, and ministers answering questions. When
I left I chalked up on the door the old nursery saying--"Ask no
questions and you will be told no lies." I bought a sixpenny
family magazine, and found it full of pictures of young men
shooting and stabbing one another. I saw a man die: he was a
London bricklayer's laborer with seven children. He left
seventeen pounds club money; and his wife spent it all on his
funeral and went into the workhouse with the children next day.
She would not have spent sevenpence on her children's schooling:
the law had to force her to let them be taught gratuitously; but
on death she spent all she had. Their imagination glows, their
energies rise up at the idea of death, these people: they love
it; and the more horrible it is the more they enjoy it. Hell is a
place far above their comprehension: they derive their notion of
it from two of the greatest fools that ever lived, an Italian and
an Englishman. The Italian described it as a place of mud, frost,
filth, fire, and venomous serpents: all torture. This ass, when
he was not lying about me, was maundering about some woman whom
he saw once in the street. The Englishman described me as being
expelled from Heaven by cannons and gunpowder; and to this day
every Briton believes that the whole of his silly story is in the
Bible. What else he says I do not know; for it is all in a long
poem which neither I nor anyone else ever succeeded in wading
through. It is the same in everything. The highest form of
literature is the tragedy, a play in which everybody is murdered
at the end. In the old chronicles you read of earthquakes and
pestilences, and are told that these showed the power and majesty
of God and the littleness of Man. Nowadays the chronicles
describe battles. In a battle two bodies of men shoot at one
another with bullets and explosive shells until one body runs
away, when the others chase the fugitives on horseback and cut
them to pieces as they fly. And this, the chronicle concludes,
shows the greatness and majesty of empires, and the littleness of
the vanquished. Over such battles the people run about the
streets yelling with delight, and egg their Governments on to
spend hundreds of millions of money in the slaughter, whilst the
strongest Ministers dare not spend an extra penny in the pound
against the poverty and pestilence through which they themselves
daily walk. I could give you a thousand instances; but they all
come to the same thing: the power that governs the earth is not
the power of Life but of Death; and the inner need that has
nerved Life to the effort of organizing itself into the human
being is not the need for higher life but for a more efficient
engine of destruction. The plague, the famine, the earthquake,
the tempest were too spasmodic in their action; the tiger and
crocodile were too easily satiated and not cruel enough:
something more constantly, more ruthlessly, more ingeniously
destructive was needed; and that something was Man, the inventor
of the rack, the stake, the gallows, and the electrocutor; of the
sword and gun; above all, of justice, duty, patriotism and all
the other isms by which even those who are clever enough to be
humanely disposed are persuaded to become the most destructive of
all the destroyers.
DON JUAN. Pshaw! all this is old. Your weak side, my diabolic
friend, is that you have always been a gull: you take Man at his
own valuation. Nothing would flatter him more than your opinion
of him. He loves to think of himself as bold and bad. He is
neither one nor the other: he is only a coward. Call him tyrant,
murderer, pirate, bully; and he will adore you, and swagger about
with the consciousness of having the blood of the old sea kings
in his veins. Call him liar and thief; and he will only take an
action against you for libel. But call him coward; and he will go
mad with rage: he will face death to outface that stinging truth.
Man gives every reason for his conduct save one, every excuse for
his crimes save one, every plea for his safety save one; and that
one is his cowardice. Yet all his civilization is founded on his
cowardice, on his abject tameness, which he calls his
respectability. There are limits to what a mule or an ass will
stand; but Man will suffer himself to be degraded until his
vileness becomes so loathsome to his oppressors that they
themselves are forced to reform it.
THE DEVIL. Precisely. And these are the creatures in whom you
discover what you call a Life Force!
DON JUAN. Yes; for now comes the most surprising part of the
THE STATUE. What's that?
DON JUAN. Why, that you can make any of these cowards brave by
simply putting an idea into his head.
THE STATUE. Stuff! As an old soldier I admit the cowardice: it's
as universal as sea sickness, and matters just as little. But
that about putting an idea into a man's head is stuff and
nonsense. In a battle all you need to make you fight is a little
hot blood and the knowledge that it's more dangerous to lose than
DON JUAN. That is perhaps why battles are so useless. But men
never really overcome fear until they imagine they are fighting
to further a universal purpose--fighting for an idea, as they
call it. Why was the Crusader braver than the pirate? Because he
fought, not for himself, but for the Cross. What force was it
that met him with a valor as reckless as his own? The force of
men who fought, not for themselves, but for Islam. They took
Spain from us, though we were fighting for our very hearths and
homes; but when we, too, fought for that mighty idea, a Catholic
Church, we swept them back to Africa.
THE DEVIL. [ironically] What! you a Catholic, Senor Don Juan! A
devotee! My congratulations.
THE STATUE. [seriously] Come come! as a soldier, I can listen to
nothing against the Church.
DON JUAN. Have no fear, Commander: this idea of a Catholic Church
will survive Islam, will survive the Cross, will survive even
that vulgar pageant of incompetent schoolboyish gladiators which
you call the Army.
THE STATUE. Juan: you will force me to call you to account for
DON JUAN. Useless: I cannot fence. Every idea for which Man will
die will be a Catholic idea. When the Spaniard learns at last
that he is no better than the Saracen, and his prophet no better
than Mahomet, he will arise, more Catholic than ever, and die on
a barricade across the filthy slum he starves in, for universal
liberty and equality.
THE STATUE. Bosh!
DON JUAN. What you call bosh is the only thing men dare die for.
Later on, Liberty will not be Catholic enough: men will die for
human perfection, to which they will sacrifice all their liberty
THE DEVIL. Ay: they will never be at a loss for an excuse for
killing one another.
DON JUAN. What of that? It is not death that matters, but the
fear of death. It is not killing and dying that degrade us, but
base living, and accepting the wages and profits of degradation.
Better ten dead men than one live slave or his master. Men shall
yet rise up, father against son and brother against brother, and
kill one another for the great Catholic idea of abolishing
THE DEVIL. Yes, when the Liberty and Equality of which you prate
shall have made free white Christians cheaper in the labor market
than by auction at the block.
DON JUAN. Never fear! the white laborer shall have his turn too.
But I am not now defending the illusory forms the great ideas
take. I am giving you examples of the fact that this creature
Man, who in his own selfish affairs is a coward to the backbone,
will fight for an idea like a hero. He may be abject as a
citizen; but he is dangerous as a fanatic. He can only be
enslaved whilst he is spiritually weak enough to listen to
reason. I tell you, gentlemen, if you can show a man a piece of
what he now calls God's work to do, and what he will later on
call by many new names, you can make him entirely reckless of the
consequences to himself personally.
ANA. Yes: he shirks all his responsibilities, and leaves his wife
to grapple with them.
THE STATUE. Well said, daughter. Do not let him talk you out of
your common sense.
THE DEVIL. Alas! Senor Commander, now that we have got on to the
subject of Woman, he will talk more than ever. However, I confess
it is for me the one supremely interesting subject.
DON JUAN. To a woman, Senora, man's duties and responsibilities
begin and end with the task of getting bread for her children. To
her, Man is only a means to the end of getting children and
ANA. Is that your idea of a woman's mind? I call it cynical and
DON JUAN. Pardon me, Ana: I said nothing about a woman's whole
mind. I spoke of her view of Man as a separate sex. It is no more
cynical than her view of herself as above all things a Mother.
Sexually, Woman is Nature's contrivance for perpetuating its
highest achievement. Sexually, Man is Woman's contrivance for
fulfilling Nature's behest in the most economical way. She knows
by instinct that far back in the evolutional process she invented
him, differentiated him, created him in order to produce
something better than the single-sexed process can produce.
Whilst he fulfils the purpose for which she made him, he is
welcome to his dreams, his follies, his ideals, his heroisms,
provided that the keystone of them all is the worship of woman,
of motherhood, of the family, of the hearth. But how rash and
dangerous it was to invent a separate creature whose sole
function was her own impregnation! For mark what has happened.
First, Man has multiplied on her hands until there are as many
men as women; so that she has been unable to employ for her
purposes more than a fraction of the immense energy she has left
at his disposal by saving him the exhausting labor of gestation.
This superfluous energy has gone to his brain and to his muscle.
He has become too strong to be controlled by her bodily, and too
imaginative and mentally vigorous to be content with mere self-
reproduction. He has created civilization without consulting her,
taking her domestic labor for granted as the foundation of it.
ANA. THAT is true, at all events.
THE DEVIL. Yes; and this civilization! what is it, after all?
DON JUAN. After all, an excellent peg to hang your cynical
commonplaces on; but BEFORE all, it is an attempt on Man's part
to make himself something more than the mere instrument of
Woman's purpose. So far, the result of Life's continual effort
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