A monologue from the play by Pedro Calderon de la Barca
NOTE: This monologue is reprinted from Eight Dramas of Calderon. Trans. Edward Fitzgerald. London: Macmillan & Co., 1906.
DONNA CLARA: Not to spare
Your father even, Eugenia! For shame!
‘Tis time to tie your roving tongue indeed.
Consider, too, we are not in the country,
Where tongue and eyes, Eugenia, may run wild
Without offence to uncensorious woods;
But in a city, with its myriad eyes
Inquisitively turn’d to watch, and tongues
As free and more malicious than yours
To tell–where honour’s monument is wax,
And shame’s of brass. I know, Eugenia,
High spirits are not in themselves a crime;
But if to men they seem so?–that’s the question.
For it is almost better to do ill
With a good outward grace than well without;
Especially a woman; most of all
One not yet married; whose reputation
One breath of scandal, like a flake of snow,
May melt away; one of those tenderest flowers
Whose leaves ev’n the warm breath of flattery
Withers as fast as envy’s bitterest wind,
That surely follows short-lived summer praise.
Ev’n those who praise your beauty, grace, or wit,
Will be the first, if you presume on them,
To pull the idol down themselves set up,
Beginning with malicious whispers first,
Until they join the storm themselves have raised.
And most if one be given oneself to laugh
And to make laugh: the world will doubly yearn
To turn one’s idle giggle into tears.
I say this all by way of warning, sister,
Now we are launched upon this dangerous sea.
Consider of it.