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 . . .
. . . 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 clarinet turning this tune into
infinite sadness . . .
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
THE OLD WOMAN Excuse me; but I am so lonely; and this place is so
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
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
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 one.
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 murderer.
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,
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 in hell?
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 propriety!
DON JUAN Patience, lady: you will be perfectly happy and at home
here. As saith the poet, "Hell is a city much like Seville."
THE OLD WOMAN Happy! here! where I am nothing! where I am nobody!
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
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 hairs 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
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, magnificently attired,
and so handsome that in the radiance into which her dull yellow halo has
suddenly lightened one might almost mistake her for Ann Whitefield].
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 me.
DON JUAN I protest I do not pursue you. Allow me to withdraw
ANA [seizing 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
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 are talking
about; I do. They think they have achieved the perfection of
love because they have no bodies. Sheer imaginative debauchery!
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
DON JUAN Hush! Listen! [Two great chords rolling on syncopated
waves of sound break forth: D minor and its dominant: a sound 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 fashions 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 good-looking 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
ANA Father! Vanity! personal vanity! from you!
THE STATUE Ah, you outlived that weakness, my daughter: you must be
nearly eighty 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 sound
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
DON JUAN You are in good spirits today, 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 good nature 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 stand
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 patting 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 ever.
THE DEVIL [again touching the marble hand] Ah, what an honor! 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 e 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 doesnt suit you. The truth is, you
have - I wont 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
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? Thats the proper place for
you. [To Ana] Come, senora! could you not persuade him for his
own good to try change of air?
ANA But can he go to heaven if he wants to?
THE DEVIL Whats to prevent him?
ANA Can anybody - can I go to heaven if I want to?
THE DEVIL [rather contemptuously] Certainly, if your taste lies that
ANA But why doesnt 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: thats
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 of
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 allow 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 these 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 there.
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 today.
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
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 heroes 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 this 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 heaven
[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 toll 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 intelligence.
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 today 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 shewed 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, shews 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 Government
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 served Life to the effort of organising 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, the electric
chair; of sword and gun and poison gas: 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 whole
THE STATUE Whats 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 to win.
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 this.
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 degrades 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 black heathen slaves sold 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 shew 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
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
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
not only to maintain itself, but to achieve higher and higher
organization and completer self-consciousness, is only, at best,
a doubtful campaign between its forces and those of Death and
Degeneration. The battles in this campaign are mere blunders,
mostly won, like actual military battles, in spite of the
THE STATUE That is a dig at me. No matter: go on, go on.
DON JUAN It is a dig at a much higher power than you, Commander.
Still, you must have noticed in your profession that even a
stupid general can win battles when the enemy's general is a
THE STATUE [very seriously] Most true, Juan, most true. Some donkeys
have amazing luck.
DON JUAN Well, the Life Force is stupid; but it is not so stupid as
the forces of Death and Degeneration. Besides, these are in its
pay all the time. And so Life wins, after a fashion. What mere
copiousness of fecundity can supply and mere greed preserve, we
possess. The survival of whatever form of civilization can
produce the best rifle and the best fed riflemen is assured.
THE DEVIL Exactly! the survival, not of the most effective means of
Life but of the most effective means of Death. You always come
back to my point, in spite of your wrigglings and evasions and
sophistries, not to mention the intolerable length of your
DON JUAN Oh, come! who began making long speeches? However, if I
overtax your intellect, you can leave us and seek the society of
love and beauty and the rest of your favorite boredoms.
THE DEVIL [much offended] This is not fair, DON JUAN, and not civil.
I am also on the intellectual plane. Nobody can appreciate it
more than I do. I am arguing fairly with you, and, I think,
successfully refuting you. Let us go on for another hour if you
DON JUAN Good: let us.
THE STATUE Not that I see any prospect of your coming to any point
in particular, Juan. Still, since in this place, instead of
merely killing time we have to kill eternity, go ahead by all
DON JUAN [somewhat impatiently] My point, you marble-headed old
masterpiece, is only a step ahead of you. Are we agreed that
Life is a force which has made innumerable experiments in
organizing itself; that the mammoth and the man, the mouse and
the megatherium, the flies and the fleas and the Fathers of the
Church, are all more or less successful attempts to build up
that raw force into higher and higher individuals, the ideal
individual being omnipotent, omniscient, infallible, and withal
completely, unilludedly self-conscious: in short, a god?
THE DEVIL I agree, for the sake of argument.
THE STATUE I agree, for the sake of avoiding argument.
ANA I most emphatically disagree as regards the Fathers of the
Church; and I must beg you not to drag them into the argument.
DON JUAN I did so purely for the sake of alliteration, Ana; and I
shall make no further allusion to them. And now, since we are,
with that exception, agreed so far, will you not agree with me
further that Life has not measured the success of its attempts
at godhead by the beauty or bodily perfection of the result,
since in both these respects the birds, as our friend
Aristophanes long ago pointed out, are so extraordinarily
superior, with their power of flight and their lovely plumage,
and, may I add, the touching poetry of their loves and nestings,
that it is inconceivable that Life, having once produced them,
should, if love and beauty were her object, start off on another
line and labor at the clumsy elephant and the hideous ape, whose
grandchildren we are?
ANA Aristophanes was a heathen; and you, Juan, I am afraid, are
very little better.
THE DEVIL You conclude, then, that Life was driving at clumsiness
DON JUAN No, perverse devil that you are, a thousand times no. Life
was driving at brains - at its darling object: an organ by which
it can attain not only self-consciousness but
THE STATUE This is metaphysics, Juan. Why the devil should - [to the
Devil] I beg your pardon.
THE DEVIL Pray don't mention it. I have always regarded the use of
my name to secure additional emphasis as a high compliment to
me. It is quite at your service, Commander.
THE STATUE Thank you: thats very good of you. Even in heaven, I
never quite got out of my old military habits of speech. What I
was going to ask Juan was why Life should bother itself about
getting a brain. Why should it want to understand itself? Why
not be content to enjoy itself?
DON JUAN Without a brain, Commander, you would enjoy yourself
without knowing it, and so lose all the fun.
THE STATUE True, most true. But I am quite content with brain
enough to know that I'm enjoying myself. I don't want to
understand why. In fact, I'd rather not. My experience is that
one's pleasures don't bear thinking about.
DON JUAN That is why intellect is so unpopular. But to Life, the
force behind the Man, intellect is a necessity, because without
it he blunders into death. Just as Life, after ages of struggle,
evolved that wonderful bodily organ the eye, so that the living
organism could see where it was going and what was coming to
help or threaten it, and thus avoid a thousand dangers that
formerly slew it, so it is evolving today a mind's eye that
shall see, not the physical world, but the purpose of Life, and
thereby enable the individual to work for that purpose instead
of thwarting and baffling it by setting up shortsighted personal
aims as at present. Even as it is, only one sort of man has ever
been happy, has ever been universally respected among all the
conflicts of interests and illusions.
THE STATUE You mean the military man.
DON JUAN Commander: I do not mean the military man. When the
military man approaches, the world locks up its spoons and packs
off its womankind. No: I sing, not arms and the hero, but the
philosophic man: he who seeks in contemplation to discover the
inner will of the world, in invention to discover the means of
fulfilling that will, and in action to do that will by the
so-discovered means. Of all other sorts of men I declare myself
tired. They are tedious failures. When I was on earth,
professors of all sorts prowled round me feeling for an
unhealthy spot in me on which they could fasten. The doctors of
medicine bade me consider what I must do to save my body, and
offered me quack cures for imaginary diseases. I replied that I
was not a hypochondriac; so they called me Ignoramus and went
their way. The doctors of divinity bade me consider what I must
do to save my soul; but I was not a spiritual hypochondriac any
more than a bodily one, and would not trouble myself about that
either; so they called me Atheist and went their way. After them
came the politician, who said there was only one purpose in
nature, and that was to get him into parliament. I told him I
did not care whether he got into parliament or not; so he called
me Mugwump and went his way. Then came the romantic man, the
Artist, with his love songs and his paintings and his poems; and
with him I had great delight for many years, and some profit;
for I cultivated my senses for his sake; and his songs taught
me to hear better, his paintings to see better, and his poems to
feel more deeply. But he led me at last into the worship of
DON JUAN Yes: I came to believe that in her voice was all the music
of the song, in her face all the beauty of the painting, and in
her soul all the emotion of the poem.
ANA And you were disappointed, I suppose. Well, was it her fault
that you attributed all these perfections to her?
DON JUAN Yes, partly. For with a wonderful instinctive cunning, she
kept silent and allowed me to glorify her: to mistake my own
visions, thoughts, and feelings for hers. Now my friend the
romantic man was often too poor or too timid to approach those
women who were beautiful or refined enough to seem to realize
his ideal; and so he went to his grave believing in his dream.
But I was more favored by nature and circumstance. I was of
noble birth and rich; and when my person did not please, my
conversation flattered, though I generally found myself
fortunate in both.
THE STATUE Coxcomb!
DON JUAN Yes; but even my coxcombry pleased. Well, I found that
when I had touched a woman's imagination, she would allow me to
persuade myself that she loved me; but when my suit was granted
she never said "I am happy: my love is satisfied": she always
said, first, "At last, the barriers are down," and second, "When
will you come again?"
ANA That is exactly what men say.
DON JUAN I protest I never said it. But all women say it. Well,
these two speeches always alarmed me; for the first meant that
the lady's impulse had been solely to throw down my
fortifications and gain my citadel; and the second openly
announced that henceforth she regarded me as her property, and
counted my time as already wholly at her disposal.
THE DEVIL That is where your want of heart came in.
THE STATUE [shaking his head] You shouldnt repeat what a woman says,
ANA [severely] It should be sacred to you.
THE STATUE Still, they certainly do say it. I never minded the
barriers; but there was always a slight shock about the other,
unless one was very hard hit indeed.
DON JUAN Then the lady, who had been happy and idle enough before,
became anxious, preoccupied with me, always intriguing,
conspiring, pursuing, watching, waiting, bent wholly on making
sure of her prey: I being the prey, you understand. Now this was
not what I had bargained for. It may have been very proper and
very natural; but it was not music, painting, poetry, and joy
incarnated in a beautiful woman. I ran away from it. I ran away
from it very often: in fact I became famous for running away
ANA Infamous, you mean.
DON JUAN I did not run away from you. Do you blame me for running
away from the others?
ANA Nonsense, man. You are talking to a woman of 77 now. If you had
had the chance, you would have run away from me too - if I had
let you. You would not have found it so easy with me as with
some of the others. If men will not be faithful to their home
and their duties, they must be made to be. I daresay you all
want to marry lovely incarnations of music and painting and
poetry. Well, you can't have them, because they don't exist. If
flesh and blood is not good enough for you you must go without:
thats all. Women have to put up with flesh-and-blood husbands -
and little enough of that too, sometimes; and you will have to
put up with flesh-and-blood wives. [The Devil looks dubious.
The Statue makes a wry face]. I see you don't like that, any of
you; but it's true, for all that; so if you don't like it you
can lump it.
DON JUAN My dear lady, you have put my whole case against romance
into a few sentences. That is just why I turned my back on the
romantic man with the artist nature, as he called his
infatuation. I thanked him for teaching me to use my eyes and
ears; but I told him that his beauty worshipping and happiness
hunting and woman idealizing was not worth a dump as a
philosophy of life; so he called me Philistine and went his way.
ANA It seems that Woman taught you something, too, with all her
DON JUAN She did more: she interpreted all the other teaching for
me. Ah, my friends, when the barriers were down for the first
time, what an astounding illumination! I had been prepared for
infatuation, for intoxication, for all the illusions of love's
young dream; and lo! never was my perception clearer, nor my
criticism more ruthless. The most jealous rival of my mistress
never saw every blemish in her more keenly than I. I was not
duped: I took her without chloroform.
ANA But you did take her.
DON JUAN That was the revelation. Up to that moment I had never
lost the sense of being my own master; never consciously taken
a single step until my reason had examined and approved it. I
had come to believe that I was a purely rational creature: a
thinker! I said, with the foolish philosopher, "I think;
therefore I am." It was Woman who taught me to say "I am;
therefore I think." And also "I would think more; therefore I
must be more."
THE STATUE This is extremely abstract and metaphysical, Juan. If
you would stick to the concrete, and put your discoveries in the
form of entertaining anecdotes about your adventures with women,
your conversation would be easier to follow.
DON JUAN Bah! what need I add? Do you not understand that when I
stood face to face with Woman, every fibre in my clear critical
brain warned me to spare her and save myself. My morals said No.
My conscience said No. My chivalry and pity for her said No. My
prudent regard for myself said No. My ear, practised on a
thousand songs and symphonies; my eye, exercised on a thousand
paintings; tore her voice, her features, her color to shreds. I
caught all those tell-tale resemblances to her father and mother
by which I knew what she would be like in thirty years' time. I
noted the gleam of gold from a dead tooth in the laughing mouth:
I made curious observations of the strange odors of the
chemistry of the nerves. The visions of my romantic reveries,
in which I had trod the plains of heaven with a deathless,
ageless creature of coral and ivory, deserted me in that supreme
hour. I remembered them and desperately strove to recover their
illusion; but they now seemed the emptiest of inventions: my
judgment was not to be corrupted: my brain still said No on
every issue. And whilst I was in the act of framing my excuse to
the lady, Life seized me and threw me into her arms as a sailor
throws a scrap of fish into the mouth of a seabird.
THE STATUE You might as well have gone without thinking such a lot
about it, Juan. You are like all the clever men; you have more
brains than is good for you.
THE DEVIL And were you not the happier for the experience, senor
DON JUAN The happier, no: the wiser, yes. That moment introduced me
for the first time to myself, and, through myself, to the world.
I saw then how useless it is to attempt to impose conditions on
the irresistible force of Life; to preach prudence, careful
selection, virtue, honor, chastity-
ANA DON JUAN: a word against chastity is an insult to me.
DON JUAN I say nothing against your chastity, senora, since it took
the form of a husband and twelve children. What more could you
have done had you been the most abandoned of women?
ANA I could have had twelve husbands and no children: thats what I
could have done, Juan. And let me tell you that that would have
made all the difference to the earth which I replenished.
THE STATUE Bravo Ana! Juan: you are floored, quelled, annihilated.
DON JUAN No: for though that difference is the true essential
difference - Dona Ana has, I admit, gone straight to the real
point - yet it is not a difference of love or chastity, or even
constancy; for twelve children by twelve different husbands
would have replenished the earth perhaps more effectively.
Suppose my friend Ottavio had died when you were thirty, you
would never have remained a widow: you were too beautiful.
Suppose the successor of Ottavio had died when you were forty,
you would still have been irresistible; and a woman who marries
twice marries three times if she becomes free to do so. Twelve
lawful children borne by one highly respectable lady to three
different fathers is not impossible nor condemned by public
opinion. That such a lady may be more law abiding than the poor
girl whom we used to spurn into the gutter for bearing one
unlawful infant is no doubt true; but dare you say she is less
ANA She is more virtuous: that is enough for me.
DON JUAN In that case, what is virtue but the Trade Unionism of the
married? Let us face the facts, dear Ana. The Life Force
respects marriage only because marriage is a contrivance of its
own to secure the greatest number of children and the closest
care of them. For honor, chastity, and all the rest of your
moral figments it cares not a rap. Marriage is the most
licentious of human institutions -
THE STATUE [protesting] Really!-
DON JUAN [determinedly] I say the most licentious of human
institutions: that is the secret of its popularity. And a woman
seeking a husband is the most unscrupulous of all the beasts of
prey. The confusion of marriage with morality has done more to
destroy the conscience of the human race than any other single
error. Come, Ana! do not look shocked: you know better than any
of us that marriage is a mantrap baited with simulated
accomplishments and delusive idealizations. When your sainted
mother, by dint of scoldings and punishments, forced you to
learn how to play half a dozen pieces on the spinet - which she
hated as much as you did - had she any other purpose than to
delude your suitors into the belief that your husband would have
in his home an angel who would fill it with melody, or at least
play him to sleep after dinner? You married my friend Ottavio:
well, did you ever open the spinet from the hour when the Church
united him to you?
ANA You are a fool, Juan. A young married woman has something else
to do than sit at the spinet without any support for her back;
so she gets out of the habit of playing.
DON JUAN Not if she loves music. No: believe me, she only throws
away the bait when the bird is in the net.
ANA [bitterly] And men, I suppose, never throw off the mask when
their bird is in the net. The husband never becomes negligent,
selfish, brutal - oh, never!
DON JUAN What do these recriminations prove, Ana? Only that the
hero is as gross an imposture as the heroine.
ANA It is all nonsense: most marriages are perfectly comfortable.
DON JUAN "Perfectly" is a strong expression, Ana. What you mean is
that sensible people make the best of one another. Send me to
the galleys and chain me to the felon whose number happens to
be next before mine; and I must accept the inevitable and make
the best of the companionship. Many such companionships, they
tell me, are touchingly affectionate; and most are at least
tolerably friendly. But that does not make a chain a desirable
ornament nor the galleys an abode of bliss. Those who talk most
about the blessings of marriage and the constancy of its vows
are the very people who declare that if the chain were broken
and the prisoners left free to choose, the whole social fabric
would fly asunder. You cannot have the argument both ways. If
the prisoner is happy, why lock him in? If he is not, why
pretend that he is?
ANA At all events, let me take an old woman's privilege again, and
tell you flatly that marriage peoples the world and debauchery
DON JUAN How if a time come when this shall cease to be true? Do
you not know that where there is a will there is a way? that
whatever Man really wishes to do he will finally discover a
means of doing? Well, you have done your best, you virtuous
ladies, and others of your way of thinking, to bend Man's mind
wholly towards honorable love as the highest good, and to
understand by honorable love, romance and beauty and happiness
in the possession of beautiful, refined, delicate, affectionate
women. You have taught women to value their own youth, health,
shapeliness, and refinement above all things. Well, what place
have squalling babies and household cares in this exquisite
paradise of the senses and emotions? Is it not the inevitable
end of it all that the human will shall say to the human brain:
Invent me a means by which I can have love, beauty, romance,
emotion, passion, without their wretched penalties, their
expenses, their worries, their trials, their illnesses and
agonies and risks of death, their retinue of servants and nurses
and doctors and schoolmasters.
THE DEVIL All this, senor DON JUAN, is realized here in my realm.
DON JUAN Yes, at the cost of death. Man will not take it at that
price: he demands the romantic delights of your hell whilst he
is still on earth. Well, the means will be found: the brain will
not fail when the will is in earnest. The day is coming when
great nations will find their numbers dwindling from census to
census; when the six roomed villa will rise in price above the
family mansion; when the viciously reckless poor and the
stupidly pious rich will delay the extinction of the race only
by degrading it; whilst the boldly prudent, the thriftily
selfish and ambitious, the imaginative and poetic, the lovers
of money and solid comfort, the worshippers of success, of art,
and of love, will all oppose to the Force of Life the device of
THE STATUE That is all very eloquent, my young friend; but if you
had lived to Ana's age, or even to mine, you would have learned
that the people who get rid of the fear of poverty and children
and all the other family troubles, and devote themselves to
having a good time of it, only leave their minds free for the
fear of old age and ugliness and impotence and death. The
childless laborer is more tormented by his wife's idleness and
her constant demands for amusement and distraction than he could
be by twenty children; and his wife is more wretched than he. I
have had my share of vanity; for as a young man I was admired
by women; and as a statue I am praised by art critics. But I
confess that had I found nothing to do in the world but wallow
in these delights I should have cut my throat. When I married
Ana's mother - or perhaps, to be strictly correct, I should
rather say when I at last gave in and allowed Ana's mother to
marry me - I knew that I was planting thorns in my pillow, and
that marriage for me, a swaggering young officer thitherto
unvanquished, meant defeat and capture.
ANA [scandalized] Father!
THE STATUE I am sorry to shock you, my love; but since Juan has
stripped every rag of decency from the discussion I may as well
tell the frozen truth.
ANA Hmf! I suppose I was one of the thorns.
THE STATUE By no means: you were often a rose. You see, your mother
had most of the trouble you gave.
DON JUAN Then may I ask, Commander, why you have left Heaven to
come here and wallow, as you express it, in sentimental
beatitudes which you confess would once have driven you to cut
THE STATUE [struck by this] Egad, thats true.
THE DEVIL [alarmed] What! You are going back from your word! [To Don
Juan] And all your philosophizing has been nothing but a mask
for proselytizing! [To the Statue] Have you forgotten already
the hideous dulness from which I am offering you a refuge here?
[To DON JUAN] And does your demonstration of the approaching
sterilization and extinction of mankind lead to anything better
than making the most of those pleasures of art and love which
you yourself admit refined you, elevated you, developed you?
DON JUAN I never demonstrated the extinction of mankind. Life
cannot will its own extinction either in its blind amorphous
state or in any of the forms into which it has organized itself.
I had not finished when His Excellency interrupted me.
THE STATUE I begin to doubt whether you ever will finish, my
friend. You are extremely fond of hearing yourself talk.
DON JUAN True; but since you have endured so much, you may as well
endure to the end. Long before this sterilization which I
described becomes more than a clearly foreseen possibility, the
reaction will begin. The great central purpose of breeding the
race: ay, breeding it to heights now deemed superhuman: that
purpose which is now hidden in a mephitic cloud of love and
romance and prudery and fastidiousness, will break through into
clear sunlight as a purpose no longer to be confused with the
gratification of personal fancies, the impossible realization
of boys' and girls' dreams of bliss, or the need of older people
for companionship or money. The plain-spoken marriage services
of the vernacular Churches will no longer be abbreviated and
half suppressed as indelicate. The sober decency, earnestness,
and authority of their declaration of the real purpose of
marriage will be honored and accepted, whilst their romantic
vowings and pledgings and until-death-do-us-partings and the
like will be expunged as unbearable frivolities. Do my sex the
justice to admit, senora, that we have always recognized that
the sex relation is not a personal or friendly relation at all.
ANA Not a personal or friendly relation! What relation is more
personal? more sacred? more holy?
DON JUAN Sacred and holy, if you like, Ana, but not personally
friendly. Your relation to God is sacred and holy: dare you call
it personally friendly? In the sex relation the universal
creative energy, of which the parties are both the helpless
agents, over-rides and sweeps away all personal considerations,
and dispenses with all personal relations. The pair may be utter
strangers to one another, speaking different languages,
differing in race and color, in age and disposition, with no
bond between them but a possibility of that fecundity for the
sake of which the Life Force throws them into one another's arms
at the exchange of a glance. Do we not recognize this by
allowing marriages to be made by parents without consulting the
woman? Have you not often expressed your disgust at the
immorality of the English nation, in which women and men of
noble birth become acquainted and court each other like
peasants? And how much does even the peasant know of his bride
or she of him before he engages himself? Why, you would not make
a man your lawyer or your family doctor on so slight an
acquaintance as you would fall in love with and marry him!
ANA Yes, Juan: we know the libertine's philosophy. Always ignore
the consequences to the woman.
DON JUAN The consequences, yes: they justify her fierce grip of the
man. But surely you do not call that attachment a sentimental
one. As well call the policeman's attachment to his prisoner a
ANA You see you have to confess that marriage is necessary, though,
according to you, love is the slightest of all human relations.
DON JUAN How do you know that it is not the greatest of all human
relations? far too great to be a personal matter. Could your
father have served his country if he had refused to kill any
enemy of Spain unless he personally hated him? Can a woman serve
her country if she refuses to marry any man she does not
personally love? You know it is not so: the woman of noble birth
marries as the man of noble birth fights, on political and
family grounds, not on personal ones.
THE STATUE [impressed] A very clever point that, Juan: I must think
it over. You are really full of ideas. How did you come to think
of this one?
DON JUAN I learnt it by experience. When I was on earth, and made
those proposals to ladies which, though universally condemned,
have made me so interesting a hero of legend, I was not
infrequently met in some such way as this. The lady would say
that she would countenance my advances, provided they were
honorable. On inquiring what that proviso meant, I found that
it meant that I proposed to get possession of her property if
she had any, or to undertake her support for life if she had
not; that I desired her continual companionship, counsel, and
conversation to the end of my days, and would take a most solemn
oath to be always enraptured by them above all, that I would
turn my back on all other women for ever for her sake. I did not
object to these conditions because they were exorbitant and
inhuman: it was their extraordinary irrelevance that prostrated
me. I invariably replied with perfect frankness that I had never
dreamt of any of these things; that unless the lady's character
and intellect were equal or superior to my own, her conversation
must degrade and her counsel mislead me; that her constant
companionship might, for all I knew, become intolerably tedious
to me; that I could not answer for my feelings for a week in
advance, much less to the end of my life; that to cut me off
from all natural and unconstrained intercourse with half my
fellow creatures would narrow and warp me if I submitted to it,
and, if not, would bring me under the curse of clandestinity;
that, finally, my proposals to her were wholly unconnected with
any of these matters, and were the outcome of a perfectly simple
impulse of my manhood towards her womanhood.
ANA You mean that it was an immoral impulse.
DON JUAN Nature, my dear lady, is what you call immoral. I blush
for it; but I cannot help it. Nature is a pandar, Time a
wrecker, and Death a murderer. I have always preferred to stand
up to those facts and build institutions on their recognition.
You prefer to propitiate the three devils by proclaiming their
chastity, their thrift, and their loving kindness; and to base
your institutions on these flatteries. Is it any wonder that the
institutions do not work smoothly?
THE STATUE What used the ladies to say, Juan?
DON JUAN Oh, come! Confidence for confidence. First tell me what
you used to say to the ladies.
THE STATUE I! Oh, I swore that I would be faithful to the death;
that I should die if they refused me; that no woman could ever
be to me what she was -
ANA She! Who?
THE STATUE Whoever it happened to be at the time, my dear. I had
certain things I always said. One of them was that even when I
was eighty, one white hair of the woman I loved would make me
tremble more than the thickest gold tress from the most
beautiful young head. Another was that I could not bear the
thought of anyone else being the mother of my children.
DON JUAN [revolted] You old rascal!
THE STATUE [stoutly] Not a bit; for I really believed it with all my
soul at the moment. I had a heart: not like you. And it was this
sincerity that made me successful.
DON JUAN Sincerity! To be fool enough to believe a ramping,
stamping, thumping lie: that is what you call sincerity! To be
so greedy for a woman that you deceive yourself in your
eagerness to deceive her: sincerity, you call it!
THE STATUE Oh damn your sophistries! I was a man in love, not a
lawyer. And the women loved me for it, bless them!
DON JUAN They made you think so. What will you say when I tell you
that though I played the lawyer so callously, they made me think
so too? I also had my moments of infatuation in which I gushed
nonsense and believed it. Sometimes the desire to give pleasure
by saying beautiful things so rose in me on the flood of emotion
that I said them recklessly. At other times I argued against
myself with a devilish coldness that drew tears. But I found it
just as hard to escape when I was cruel as when I was kind. When
the lady's instinct was set on me, there was nothing for it but
lifelong servitude or flight.
ANA You dare boast, before me and my father, that every woman found
DON JUAN Am I boasting? It seems to me that I cut the most pitiable
of figures. Besides, I said "when the lady's instinct was set on
me." It was not always so; and then, heavens! what transports of
virtuous indignation! what overwhelming defiance to the
dastardly seducer! what scenes of Imogen and Iachimo!
ANA I made no scenes. I simply called my father.
DON JUAN And he came, sword in hand, to vindicate outraged honor
and morality by murdering me.
THE STATUE Murdering! What do you mean? Did I kill you or did you
DON JUAN Which of us was the better fencer?
THE STATUE I was.
DON JUAN Of course you were. And yet you, the hero of those
scandalous adventures you have just been relating to us, you had
the effrontery to pose as the avenger of outraged morality and
condemn me to death! You would have slain me but for an
THE STATUE I was expected to, Juan. That is how things were
arranged on earth. I was not a social reformer; and I always did
what it was customary for a gentleman to do.
DON JUAN That may account for your attacking me, but not for the
revolting hypocrisy of your subsequent proceedings as a statue.
THE STATUE That all came of my going to heaven.
THE DEVIL I still fail to see, senor DON JUAN, that these episodes
in your earthly career and in that of the senor Commander in any
way discredit my view of life. Here, I repeat, you have all that
you sought without anything that you shrank from.
DON JUAN On the contrary, here I have everything that disappointed
me without anything that I have not already tried and found
wanting. I tell you that as long as I can conceive something
better than myself I cannot be easy unless I am striving to
bring it into existence or clearing the way for it. That is the
law of my life. That is the working within me of Life's
incessant aspiration to higher organization, wider, deeper,
intenser self-consciousness, and clearer self-understanding. It
was the supremacy of this purpose that reduced love for me to
the mere pleasure of a moment, art for me to the mere schooling
of my faculties, religion for me to a mere excuse for laziness,
since it had set up a God who looked at the world and saw it was
good, against the instinct in me that looked through my eyes at
the world and saw that it could be improved. I tell you that in
the pursuit of my own pleasure, my own health, my own fortune,
I have never known happiness. It was not love for Woman that
delivered me into her hands: it was fatigue, exhaustion. When I
was a child, and bruised my head against a stone, I ran to the
nearest woman and cried away my pain against her apron. When I
grew up, and bruised my soul against the brutalities and
stupidities with which I had to strive, I did again just what I
had done as a child. I have enjoyed, too, my rests, my
recuperations, my breathing times, my very prostrations after
strife; but rather would I be dragged through all the circles
of the foolish Italian's Inferno than through the pleasures of
Europe. That is what has made this place of eternal pleasures
so deadly to me. It is the absence of this instinct in you that
makes you that strange monster called a Devil. It is the success
with which you have diverted the attention of men from their
real purpose, which in one degree or another is the same as
mine, to yours, that has earned you the name of The Tempter. It
is the fact that they are doing your will, or rather drifting
with your want of will, instead of doing their own, that makes
them the uncomfortable, false, restless, artificial, petulant,
wretched creatures they are.
THE DEVIL [mortified] senor DON JUAN: you are uncivil to my friends.
DON JUAN Pooh! why should I be civil to them or to you? In this
Palace of Lies a truth or two will not hurt you. Your friends
are all the dullest dogs I know. They are not beautiful: they
are only decorated. They are not clean: they are only shaved and
starched. They are not dignified: they are only fashionably
dressed. They are not educated: they are only college passmen.
They are not religious: they are only pewrenters. They are not
moral: they are only conventional. They are not virtuous: they
are only cowardly. They are not even vicious: they are only
"frail." They are not artistic: they are only lascivious. They
are not prosperous: they are only rich. They are not loyal, they
are only servile; not dutiful, only sheepish; not public
spirited, only patriotic; not courageous, only quarrelsome; not
determined, only obstinate; not masterful, only domineering; not
self-controlled, only obtuse; not self-respecting, only vain;
not kind, only sentimental; not social, only gregarious; not
considerate, only polite; not intelligent, only opinionated; not
progressive, only factious; not imaginative, only superstitious;
not just, only vindictive; not generous, only propitiatory; not
disciplined, only cowed; and not truthful at all: liars every
one of them, to the very backbone of their souls.
THE STATUE Your flow of words is simply amazing, Juan. How I wish
I could have talked like that to my soldiers.
THE DEVIL It is mere talk, though. It has all been said before; but
what change has it ever made? What notice has the world ever
taken of it?
DON JUAN Yes, it is mere talk. But why is it mere talk? Because, my
friend, beauty, purity, respectability, religion, morality, art,
patriotism, bravery, and the rest are nothing but words which I
or anyone else can turn inside out like a glove. Were they
realities, you would have to plead guilty to my indictment; but
fortunately for your self-respect, my diabolical friend, they
are not realities. As you say, they are mere words, useful for
duping barbarians into adopting civilization, or the civilized
poor into submitting to be robbed and enslaved. That is the
family secret of the governing caste; and if we who are of that
caste aimed at more Life for the world instead of at more power
and luxury for our miserable selves, that secret would make us
great. Now, since I, being a nobleman, am in the secret too,
think how tedious to me must be your unending cant about all
these moralistic figments, and how squalidly disastrous your
sacrifice of your lives to them! If you even believed in your
moral game enough to play it fairly, it would be interesting to
watch; but you don't: you cheat at every trick; and if your
opponent outcheats you, you upset the table and try to murder
THE DEVIL On earth there may be some truth in this, because the
people are uneducated and cannot appreciate my religion of love
and beauty; but here -
DON JUAN Oh yes: I know. Here there is nothing but love and beauty.
Ugh! it is like sitting for all eternity at the first act of a
fashionable play, before the complications begin. Never in my
worst moments of superstitious terror on earth did I dream that
hell was so horrible. I live, like a hair-dresser, in the
continual contemplation of beauty, toying with silken tresses.
I breathe an atmosphere of sweetness, like a confectioner's
shopboy. Commander: are there any beautiful women in Heaven?
THE STATUE None. Absolutely none. All dowdies. Not two pennorth of
jewellery among a dozen of them. They might be men of fifty.
DON JUAN I am impatient to get there. Is the word beauty ever
mentioned; and are there any artistic people?
THE STATUE I give you my word they wont admire a fine statue even
when it walks past them.
DON JUAN I go.
THE DEVIL DON JUAN: shall I be frank with you?
DON JUAN Were you not so before?
THE DEVIL As far as I went, yes. But I will now go further, and
confess to you that men get tired of everything, of heaven no
less than of hell; and that all history is nothing but a record
of the oscillations of the world between these two extremes. An
epoch is but a swing of the pendulum; and each generation thinks
the world is progressing because it is always moving. But when
you are as old as I am; when you have a thousand times wearied
of heaven, like myself and the Commander, and a thousand times
wearied of hell, as you are wearied now, you will no longer
imagine that every swing from heaven to hell is an emancipation,
every swing from hell to heaven an evolution. Where you now see
reform, progress, fulfilment of upward tendency, continual
ascent by Man on the stepping stones of his dead selves to
higher things, you will see nothing but an infinite comedy of
illusion. You will discover the profound truth of the saying of
my friend Koheleth, that there is nothing new under the sun.
Vanitas vanitatum -
DON JUAN [out of all patience] By Heaven, this is worse than your
cant about love and beauty. Clever dolt that you are, is a man
no better than a worm, or a dog than a wolf, because he gets
tired of everything? Shall he give up eating because he destroys
his appetite in the act of gratifying it? Is a field idle when
it is fallow? Can the Commander expend his hellish energy here
without accumulating heavenly energy for his next term of
blessedness? Granted that the great Life Force has hit on the
device of the clockmaker's pendulum, and uses the earth for its
bob; that the history of each oscillation, which seems so novel
to us the actors, is but the history of the last oscillation
repeated; nay more, that in the unthinkable infinitude of time
the sun throws off the earth and catches it again a thousand
times as a circus rider throws up a ball, and that our agelong
epochs are but the moments between the toss and the catch, has
the colossal mechanism no purpose?
THE DEVIL None, my friend. You think, because you have a purpose,
Nature must have one. You might as well expect it to have
fingers and toes because you have them.
DON JUAN But I should not have them if they served no purpose. And
I, my friend am as much a part of Nature as my own finger is a
part of me. If my finger is the organ by which I grasp the sword
and the mandoline, my brain is the organ by which Nature strives
to understand itself. My dog's brain serves only my dog's
purposes; but my own brain labors at a knowledge which does
nothing for me personally but make my body bitter to me and my
decay and death a calamity. Were I not possessed with a purpose
beyond my own I had better be a ploughman than a philosopher;
for the ploughman lives as long as the philosopher, eats more,
sleeps better, and rejoices in the wife of his bosom with less
misgiving. This is because the philosopher is in the grip of the
Life Force. This Life Force says to him "I have done a thousand
wonderful things unconsciously by merely willing to live and
following the line of least resistance: now I want to know
myself and my destination, and choose my path; so I have made a
special brain - a philosopher's brain - to grasp this knowledge
for me as the husbandman's hand grasps the plough for me. And
this" says the Life Force to the philosopher "must thou strive
to do for me until thou diest, when I will make another brain
and another philosopher to carry on the work."
THE DEVIL What is the use of knowing?
DON JUAN Why, to be able to choose the line of greatest advantage
instead of yielding in the direction of the least resistance.
Does a ship sail to its destination no better than a log drifts
nowhither? The philosopher is Nature's pilot. And there you have
our difference: to be in hell is to drift: to be in heaven is to
THE DEVIL On the rocks, most likely.
DON JUAN Pooh! which ship goes oftenest on the rocks or to the
bottom? the drifting ship or the ship with a pilot on board?
THE DEVIL Well, well, go your way, senor DON JUAN. I prefer to be
my own master and not the tool of any blundering universal
force. I know that beauty is good to look at; that music is good
to hear; that love is good to feel; and that they are all good
to think about and talk about. I know that to be well exercised
in these sensations, emotions, and studies is to be a refined
and cultivated being. Whatever they may say of me in churches on
earth, I know that it is universally admitted in good society
that the Prince of Darkness is a gentleman; and that is enough
for me. As to your Life Force, which you think irresistible, it
is the most resistible thing in the world for a person of any
character. But if you are naturally vulgar and credulous, as
all reformers are, it will thrust you first into religion, where
you will sprinkle water on babies to save their souls from me;
then it will drive you from religion into science, where you
will snatch the babies from the water sprinkling and inoculate
them with disease to save them from catching it accidentally;
then you will take to politics, where you will become the
catspaw of corrupt functionaries and the henchman of ambitious
humbugs; and the end will be despair and decrepitude, broken
nerve and shattered hopes, vain regrets for that worst and
silliest of wastes and sacrifices, the waste and sacrifice of
the power of enjoyment: in a word, the punishment of the fool
who pursues the better before he has secured the good.
DON JUAN But at least I shall not be bored. The service of the Life
Force has that advantage, at all events. So fare you well, senor
THE DEVIL [amiably] Fare you well, DON JUAN. I shall often think of
our interesting chats about things in general. I wish you every
happiness: Heaven, as I said before, suits some people. But if
you should change your mind, do not forget that the gates are
always open here to the repentant prodigal. If you feel at any
time that warmth of heart, sincere unforced affection, innocent
enjoyment, and warm, breathing, palpitating reality -
DON JUAN Why not say flesh and blood at once, though we have left
those two greasy commonplaces behind us?
THE DEVIL [angrily] You throw my friendly farewell back in my teeth,
then, DON JUAN?
DON JUAN By no means. But though there is much to be learnt from a
cynical devil, I really cannot stand a sentimental one. senor
Commander: you know the way to the frontier of hell and heaven.
Be good enough to direct me.
THE STATUE Oh, the frontier is only the difference between two ways
of looking at things. Any road will take you across it if you
really want to get there.
DON JUAN Good. [Saluting Dona Ana] senora: your servant.
ANA But I am going with you.
DON JUAN I can find my own way to heaven, Ana; not yours [he
ANA How annoying!
THE STATUE [calling after him] Bon voyage, Juan! [He wafts a final
blast of his great rolling chords after him as a parting salute.
A faint echo of the first ghostly melody comes back in
acknowledgment]. Ah! there he goes. [Puffing a long breath out
through his lips] Whew! How he does talk! They'll never stand it
THE DEVIL [gloomily] His going is a political defeat. I cannot keep
these Life Worshippers: they all go. This is the greatest loss
I have had since that Dutch painter went: a fellow who would
paint a hag of 70 with as much enjoyment as a Venus of 20.
THE STATUE I remember: he came to heaven. Rembrandt.
THE DEVIL Ay, Rembrandt. There is something unnatural about these
fellows. Do not listen to their gospel, senor Commander: it is
dangerous. Beware of the pursuit of the Superhuman: it leads to
an indiscriminate contempt for the Human. To a man, horses and
dogs and cats are mere species, outside the moral world. Well,
to the Superman, men and women are a mere species too, also
outside the moral world. This DON JUAN was kind to women and
courteous to men as your daughter here was kind to her pet cats
and dogs; but such kindness is a denial of the exclusively human
character of the soul.
THE STATUE And who the deuce is the Superman?
THE DEVIL Oh, the latest fashion among the Life Force fanatics. Did
you not meet in Heaven, among the new arrivals, that German
Polish madman? what was his name? Nietzsche?
THE STATUE Never heard of him.
THE DEVIL Well, he came here first, before he recovered his wits.
I had some hopes of him; but he was a confirmed Life Force
worshipper. It was he who raked up the Superman, who is as old
as Prometheus; and the 20th century will run after this newest
of the old crazes when it gets tired of the world, the flesh,
and your humble servant.
THE STATUE Superman is a good cry; and a good cry is half the
battle. I should like to see this Nietzsche.
THE DEVIL Unfortunately he met Wagner here, and had a quarrel with
THE STATUE Quite right, too. Mozart for me!
THE DEVIL Oh, it was not about music. Wagner once drifted into Life
Force worship, and invented a Superman called Siegfried. But he
came to his senses afterwards. So when they met here, Nietzsche
denounced him as a renegade; and Wagner wrote a pamphlet to
prove that Nietzsche was a Jew; and it ended in Nietzsche's
going to heaven in a huff. And a good riddance too. And now, my
friend, let us hasten to my palace and celebrate your arrival
with a grand musical service.
THE STATUE With pleasure: you're most kind.
THE DEVIL This way, Commander. We go down the old trap [he places
himself on the grave trap].
THE STATUE Good. [Reflectively] All the same, the Superman is a
fine conception. There is something statuesque about it. [He
places himself on the grave trap beside The Devil. It begins to
descend slowly. Red glow from the abysss]. Ah, this reminds me
of old times.
THE DEVIL And me also.
ANA Stop! [The trap stops].
THE DEVIL You, senora, cannot come this way. You will have an
apotheosis. But you will be at the palace before us.
ANA That is not what I stopped you for. Tell me: where can I find
THE DEVIL He is not yet created, senora.
THE STATUE And never will be, probably. Let us proceed: the red
fire will make me sneeze. [They descend].
ANA Not yet created! Then my work is not yet done. [Crossing
herself devoutly] I believe in the Life to Come. [Crying to the
universe] A father! a father for the Superman!