The Ladies of Castile
My Dear Sir,
You have often requested something in the stile of the drama, from the hand of one ever fond of gratifying her friends; though not certain whether this request arose from a love of literary productions; from a curiosity that has affection for its basis; or the strong attachment of friendship; yet I have no doubt you will be pleased with the compliance.
I am sensible the writing an unexceptionable Tragedy, requires judgement, genius, and taste; and have felt such a diffidence in the attempt, as nothing would have overcome but the repeated request of a very dear friend.
Though the piece now put into your hand may not afford equal entertainment with the compositions of a Corneille, a Racine, or a Crebillon, yet I dare say, from your partiality, you will find pleasure in your closet, though it should not be encored on the stage.
You have never named me a subject, though you prohibited an American, and seemed to have no predilection in favour of British incident; therefore, notwithstanding events in the western world have outran imagination; notwithstanding the magnitude of prospect a rising empire displays, and the many tragical scenes exhibited on an island whence it derived its origin, I have recurred to an ancient story in the annals of Spain, in her last struggles for liberty, previous to the complete establishment of despotism by the family of Ferdinand.
The history of Charles the fifth, the tyranny of his successors, and the exertions of the Spanish Cortes, will ever be interesting to an American ear, so long as they triumph in their independence, pride themselves in the principles that instigated their patriots, and glory in the characters of their heroes, whose valour completed a revolution that will be the wonder of ages.
What a field for genius! What a display of capacity, both in science, in business, and in politics, does this revolution exhibit! Certainly, enough to fire the ambition, and light up every noble spark in the bosom of those who are in the morning of life.
The nations have now resheathed the sword; the European world is hushed in peace; America stands alone:---May she long stand, independent of every foreign power; superiour to the spirit of intrigue, or the corrupt principles of usurpation that may spring from the successful exertions of her own sons:---May their conduct never contradict the professions of the patriots who have asserted the rights of human nature; nor cause a blush to pervade the cheek of the children of the martyrs who have fallen in defense of the liberties of their country.
Perhaps the subject I have chosen for the machinery of a tragedy, may be more proper for an epic, than a dramatic poem; yet I hope it will be acceptable in its present garb, and that the candor of the public will be exercised, not so much for the sake of the sex, as the design of the writer, who wishes only to cultivate the sentiments of public and private virtue in whatsoever falls from her pen.
I am most affectionately, Yours,
February 20, 1784.
- Don Velasco: Regent of Spain in the absence of Charles fifth
- Conde Haro: Son to Velasco, Commander of the royal Army
- Don Juan De Padilla: Commander of the Troops raised by the States of Spain
- Don Francis: Friend to Padilla, Brother of Donna Maria, in love with Louisa
- Don Pedro Ghiron: a young Nobleman in love with Louisa
- Zamora: Bishop of Toledo
- Socia: confidential Servant to Don Juan de Padilla.
- Donna Maria: Wife of Don Juan de Padilla, Sister to Don Francis
- Donna Louisa: Daughter of Don Velasco