THE RESOURCES OF QUINOLA
THE RESOURCES OF QUINOLA
HONORE DE BALZAC
The day will come when the piece will be employed by critics as a
battering ram to demolish some piece at its first representation just
as they have employed all his novels and even his play entitled
/Vautrin/ to demolish /The Resources of Quinola/.
However tranquil may be his mood of resignation the author cannot
refrain from making here two suggestive observations.
Not one among fifty feuilleton writers has failed to treat as a fable
invented by the author the historic fact upon which is founded the
Long before M. Arago mentioned this incident in his history of steam
published in the /Annuaire du Bureau des Longitudes/ the author to
whom the incident was known had guessed in imagination the great
drama that must have led up to that final act of despair the
catastrophe which necessarily ended the career of the unknown
inventor who in the middle of the sixteenth century built a ship
that moved by steam in the harbor of Barcelona and then scuttled it
with his own hands in the presence of two hundred thousand spectators.
This observation is sufficient answer to the derision which has been
flung upon what was supposed to be the author's hypothesis as to the
invention of steam locomotion before the time of the Marquis of
Worcester Salomon de Caus and Papin.
The second observation relates to the strange manner in which almost
all the critics have mistaken the character of Lavradi one of the
personages in this comedy which they have stigmatized as a hideous
creation. Any one who reads the piece of which no critic has given an
exact analysis will see that Lavradi sentenced to be transported for
ten years to the /presides/ comes to ask pardon of the king. Every
one knows how freely the severest penalties were in the sixteenth
century measured out for the lightest offences and how warmly valets
in a predicament such as Quinola's were welcomed by the spectators in
the antique theatres.
Many volumes might be filled with the laments of feuilletonists who
for nearly twenty years have called for comedies in the Italian
Spanish or English style. An attempt has been made to produce one and
the critics would rather eat their own words than miss the opportunity
of choking off the man who has been bold enough to venture upon a
pathway of such fertile promise whose very antiquity lends to it in
these days the charm of novelty.
Nor must we forget to mention to the disgrace of our age the howl of
disapprobation which greeted the title "Duke of Neptunado" selected
by Philip II. for the inventor a howl in which educated readers will
refuse to join but which was so overwhelming at the presentation of
the piece that after its first utterance the actors omitted the term
during the remainder of the evening. This howl was raised by an
audience of spectators who read in the newspapers every morning the
title of the Duke of Vittoria given to Espartero and who must have
heard of the title Prince of Paz given to the last favorite of the
last but one of the kings of Spain. How could such ignorance as this
have been anticipated? Who does not know that the majority of Spanish
titles especially in the time of Charles V. and Philip II. refer to
circumstances under which they were originally granted?
An admiral took that of /Transport-Real/ from the fact that the
dauphin sailed with him to Italy.
Navarro was given the title /La Vittoria/ after the sea-fight of
Toulon though the issue of the conflict was indecisive.
These examples and as many others are outdone by that of the famous
finance minister a parvenu broker who chose to be entitled the
Marquis Insignificant (l'Ensenada).
In producing a work constructed with all the dramatic irregularity of
the early French and Spanish stage the author has made an experiment
which had been called for by the suffrages of more than one "organ of
public opinion" as well as of all the "first-nighters" of Paris. He
wished to meet the genuine public and to have his piece represented in
a house filled with a paying audience. The unsatisfactory result of
this ordeal was so plainly pointed out by the whole press that the
indispensability of /claqueurs/ has been now forever established.
The author had been confronted by the following dilemma as stated by
those experienced in such matters. If he introduced into the theatre
twelve hundred "dead heads" the success secured by their applause
would undoubtedly be questioned. If twelve hundred paying spectators
were present the success of the piece was almost out of the question.
The author chose to run the risk of the latter alternative. Such is
the history of this first representation where so many people
appeared to be made so uncomfortable by their elevation to the dignity
of independent judges.
The author intends therefore to return to the beaten track base and
ignoble though it be which prejudice has laid out as the only avenue
to dramatic success; but it may not be unprofitable to state here
that the first representation of /The Resources of Quinola/ actually
redounded to the advantage of the /claqueurs/ the only persons who
enjoyed any triumph in an evening entertainment from which their
presence was debarred!
Some idea of the criticism uttered on this comedy may be gained from
the fact that out of the fifty newspapers all of which for the last
twenty years have uttered over the unsuccessful playwright the
hackneyed phrase "the play is the work of a clever man who will some
day take his revenge" not one employed it in speaking of /The
Resources of Quinola/ which they were unanimous in consigning to
oblivion. This result has settled the ambition of the author.
Certain persons whose good auguries the author had done nothing to
call forth encouraged from the outset this dramatic venture and thus
showed themselves less critical than unkind; but the author counts
such miscalculations as blessings in disguise for the loss of false
friends is the best school of experience. Nor is it less a pleasure
than a duty thus publicly to thank the friends like M. Leon Gozlan
who have remained faithful towards whom the author has contracted a
debt of gratitude; like M. Victor Hugo who protested so to speak
against the public verdict at the first representation by returning
to witness the second; like M. de Lamartine and Madame de Girardin
who stuck to their first opinion in spite of the general public
reprobation of the piece. The approval of such persons as these would
be consoling in any disaster.
LAGNY 2 April 1842.
PERSONS OF THE PROLOGUE
Philip II. King of Spain
Cardinal Cienfuegos Grand Inquisitor
The Captain of the Guards
The Duke of Olmedo
The Duke of Lerma
Lavradi known as Quinola
An alcalde of the palace
A familiar of the Inquisition
The Queen of Spain
The Marchioness of Mondejar
PERSONS OF THE PLAY
Don Fregose Viceroy of Catalonia
Count Sarpi secretary to the Viceroy
Don Ramon a savant
Avaloros a banker
Mathieu Magis a Lombard
Lothundiaz a burgess
Alfonso Fontanares an inventor
Lavradi known as Quinola servant to Fontanares
Monipodio a retired bandit
Coppolus a metal merchant
Carpano a locksmith
The host of the "Golden Sun"
Marie Lothundiaz daughter to Lothundiaz
Dona Lopez duenna to Marie Lothundiaz
Paquita maid to Faustine
SCENE: Spain--Valladolid and Barcelona
THE RESOURCES OF QUINOLA
(The scene is laid at Valladolid in the palace of the King of Spain.
The stage represents the gallery which leads to the chapel. The
entrance to the chapel is on the spectators' left that to the royal
apartment on the right. The principal entrance is in the centre. On
each side of the principal door stand two halberdiers. At the rise of
the curtain the Captain of the Guards and two lords are on the stage.
An alcalde of the palace stands in the centre of the gallery. Several
courtiers are walking up and down in the hall that leads to the
The Captain of the Guards Quinola (wrapped in his mantle) and a
The halberdier (barring the way to Quinola)
No one passes this way unless he has the right to do so. Who are you?
Quinola (lifting up the halberd)
(All look at him.)
From what state?
Quinola (passing in)
From what state? From a state of misery.
The Captain of the Guards
Go and bring the major-domo of the palace that he may render to this
ambassador the honors that are due him. (To the halberdier) Three
Quinola (to the Captain)
You are a very droll rascal.
Quinola (taking him aside)
Are not you the cousin of the Marchioness of Mondejar?
What if I am?
Although she is high in favor she is on the brink of an abyss into
which she may fall and lose her head in falling.
All people of your class trump up these stories!--Listen you are the
twenty-second person and we have only reached the tenth of the month
who has made an attempt to be introduced to the favorite for the
purpose of squeezing a few pistoles from her. Take yourself off or
My lord it is better to be misled by twenty-two poor devils twenty-
two times than once to miss the opportunity of heeding him who is
sent by your good angel; and you see I may also say (he opens his
mantle) I am wearing her wings.
Let us end this and tell me what proof of your errand you can give?
Quinola (handing him a letter)
This little message you must return to me so that the secret remains
in our possession and hang me if you do not see the marchioness swoon
when she reads it. Believe moreover that I profess in common with an
immense majority of Spaniards a deep-seated aversion for--the
And suppose that some ambitious woman has paid for your life that she
give it in exchange for another's?
Should I be in rags? My life is as good as Caesar's. Look here my
lord. (He unseals the letter smells it folds it up again and gives
it to him) Are you satisfied?
The Captain (aside)
I have yet time. (To Quinola) Remain where you are I am going to her.
Quinola (alone in the front of the stage looking at the departing
That is all right! O my dear master if the torture chamber has not
broken your bones you are likely to get out of the cells of the holy
--the thrice holy Inquisition--saved by your poor cur Quinola! Poor?--
why should I say poor? My master once free we will end by cashing our
hopes. To live at Valladolid for six months without money and without
being nabbed by the alguazils argues the possession of certain small
talents which if applied to--other ends might bring a man to--
something different in fact! If we knew where we were going no one
would stir a step--I purpose speaking to the king I Quinola. God of
the rapscallions give me the eloquence--of--a pretty woman of the
Marchioness of Mondejar--
Quinola and the Captain.
The Captain (to Quinola)
Here are fifty doubloons which the marchioness sends you that you may
be enabled to make your appearance here in decent guise.
Quinola (pouring the gold from one hand into the other)
Ah this burst of sunshine has been long expected! I will return my
lord radiant as that amorous valet whose name I have assumed;
Quinola at your service Quinola soon to be lord of wide domains
where I shall administer justice from the time--(aside) I cease to
fear its ministers.
The Courtiers and the Captain.
The Captain (alone at the front of the stage)
What secret has this miserable creature discovered? My cousin almost
fainted away. She told me that it concerned all my friends. The king
must have something to do in the matter. (To a lord) Duke of Lerma is
there anything new in Valladolid?
The Duke of Lerma (whispering)
It is said that the Duke of Olmedo was murdered this morning at three
o'clock just before dawn. It happened a few paces from the Mondejar
It is quite likely he should be assassinated for prejudicing the
king's mind against my cousin; the king like all great statesmen
esteems as true everything that appears to be probable.
It is said that enmity between the duke and the marchioness was only a
pretence and that the assassin is not to be prosecuted.
Duke this ought not to be repeated unless it can be proved and even
then could not be written excepting with a sword dipped in my blood.
You asked me the news.
(The duke retires.)
The same persons and the Marchioness of Mondejar.
Ah! here is my cousin! (To the marchioness) Dear marchioness you are
still very much agitated. In the name of our common salvation control
yourself; you will attract attention.
Has that man come back?
Now how can a man of such base condition as he is throw you into such
He holds my life in his hands; more than my life indeed; for he holds
in his power the life also of another who in spite of the most
scrupulous precautions cannot avoid exciting the jealousy--
Of the king!--Did he cause the assassination of the Duke of Olmedo as
Alas! I do not know what to think.--Here I am alone helpless--and
perhaps soon to be abandoned.
You may rely upon me--I shall constantly be in the midst of all our
enemies like a hunter on the watch.
The same persons and Quinola.
I have only thirty doubloons left but I have had the worth of sixty.
--Ah! what a lovely scent! The marchioness can now talk to me without
The Marchioness (pointing out Quinola)
Is this our man?
Keep watch my cousin so that I may be able to talk without being
overheard. (To Quinola) Who are you my friend?
Her friend! As soon as you have a woman's secret you are her friend.
(Aloud) Madame I am a man superior to all considerations and all
You have reached a pretty good height at any rate.
Is that a threat or a warning?
Sir you are very impertinent.
Do not mistake farsightedness for impertinence. You must study me
before coming to a decision. I am going to describe my character to
you; my real name is Lavradi. At the moment Lavradi ought to be
serving a ten years' sentence in Africa at the presides owing to an
error of the alcaldes of Barcelona. Quinola is the conscience white
as your fair hands of Lavradi. Quinola does to know Lavradi. Does the
soul know the body? You may unite the soul Quinola to the body
Lavradi all the more easily because this morning Quinola was at the
postern of your garden with the friends of the dawn who stopped the
Duke of Olmedo--