Peter Gill, playwright and theatre director
Beaumarchais's Career
Home | Up | News | Productions | Pieces | Résumé | Pictures | Studio | Publications | Links


Bookmark and Share

The Marriage of Figaro

Beaumarchais's career

Beaumarchais' own summary and explanation of his career. This account was found, written in his own hand, amongst his papers after his death:-

From the period of my thoughtless youth I have played every instrument, but I belonged to no body of musicians; the professors of the art detested me.

I have invented some good machines; but I did not belong to the body of engineers and they spoke ill of me.

I composed verses, songs; but who would recognize me as a poet? I was the son of a watch-maker.

Not caring about the game of Loto, I wrote some pieces for the stage, but people said; 'What is he interfering with? He is not an author, for he has immense speculations, and enterprises without number.'

Unable to meet anyone who would undertake my defence, I printed long pamphlets, in order to gain actions which had been brought against me. and which may be called atrocious; but people said: 'You see very well that these are not like those our advocates produce; he does not tire you to death. Will such a man be allowed to prove without us that he is in the right?'

I have treated with Ministers on the subject of great points of reform of which our finances were in need; but people said: "What is he interfering in? This man is not a financier.'

Struggling against all the powers, I have raised the art of printing in France by my superb editions of Voltaire — the enterprise having been regarded as beyond the capabilities of one individual; but I was not a printer, and they said the devil about me. I had constructed at the same time the first establishments of three or four paper factories without being a manufacturer; I had the manufacturers and dealers for my adversaries.

I have traded in the four quarters of the globe; but I was not a regular merchant. I had forty ships at sea at one time, but it was not a ship-owner, and I was calumniated in all our seaports.

A ship of war of fifty-two guns belonging to me had the honour of fighting in line with those of His Majesty at the taking of Grenada. Notwithstanding the pride of the Navy, they gave the cross to the captain of my vessel, and military rewards to my other officers, and what I, who was looked upon as an intruder, gained was the loss of my flotilla, which this vessel was convoying.

And nevertheless, of a Frenchmen ... I am the one who has done the most for the liberty of America, the begetter of our own; for I was the only person who dared to form the plan and commence its execution, in spite of England, Spain, and even France: but I did not belong to the class of negotiators, and I was a stranger in the bureaux of the Ministers.

Weary of seeing our uniform habitations, and our gardens without poetry. I built a house which is spoken of; but I did not belong to the arts.

What was I then? I was nothing but myself and myself I have remained, free in the midst of fetters, calm in the greatest of dangers, making head against all storms, directing speculations with one hand, and war with the other as lazy as an ass, and always working: the object of a thousand calumnies, but happy in my home, having never belonged to any set, either literary or political or mystical: having never paid court to anyone, and yet rebelled by all.


Home | Up | Résumé | Synopsis | Characters | Figaro's Marriage | Figaro's Act V speech | Beaumarchais's Career | Beaumarchais | Da Ponte memoirs | Mozart on marriage

Send mail to with questions or comments about this web site.  Copyright © 1999-2012

Last modified: 2012-03-15