I spent the whole morning reading the papers. Strange things are happening in Spain. I read the throne has been left vacant and that the nobility are having a great deal of trouble choosing an heir, with the result that there’s a lot of civil commotion. This strikes me as very strange. They’re saying some ‘donna’ must succeed to the throne: that’s impossible. A king must inherit the throne. And they say there’s no king anyway. But there must be a king. There can’t be a government without one. There’s a king all right, but he’s hiding in some obscure place. He must be somewhere, but is forced to stay in hiding for family reasons, or perhaps because he’s in danger from some foreign country, such as France. Or there may be another explanation.December 8th
I was about to go to the office but various reasons and considerations held me back. I couldn’t get that Spanish business out of my head. How could a woman inherit the throne? They wouldn’t allow it. Firstly, England wouldn’t stand for it. And what’s more, it would affect the whole of European policy: the Austrian Emporor, our Tsar, . . . I must confess, these events shook me up so much I couldn’t put my mind to anything all day. Mavra pointed out that I was very absent-minded during supper. And, in fact, in a fit of distraction I threw two plates on the floor, and they broke immediately. After dinner I walked along a street that led downhill. Discovered nothing very edifying. Afterwards I lay on my bed for a long time and pondered the Spanish question.
From Blog of a Diary of a Madman by Nikoláy Vasilévich Gógol, Penguin Classics edition, translation copyright © Ronald Wilks 1972.
We went to the theatre this week. Matthew Jure made a great madman at the Pleasance.
I love going to the theatre. As long as I’ve a kopeck in my pocket you can’t stop me. But these civil servants of ours are such ignorant pigs, you’d never catch those peasants going, even if you gave them a ticket for nothing.