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Camilo José Cela

Prince of Asturias Award for Literature 1987

Your Majesties,
President of the Principality of Asturias Foundation,
Church, civil and military authorities,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

In Lope de Vega's Arcadia we read:

'Ah, kindly and beloved Spain
Stepmother of your true sons,
But with mercy passing strange,
Kind mother and host to foreigners'

In Spain, I tell you Your Highness, because you are young and Spanish, he who resists, wins. I also tell you because you will have to struggle during your life - which I hope for the good of all will be long and crowned with success - with the three attacks which always tear at and crash into the souls of the elect: that of the impatient man, that of adverse times and that of outrageous and hurtful circumstances.

Your Royal Highness, let us not fuel either inert feeling or benumbing and deforming nostalgia. Let us give wing to hope and expectation which are the two wings of that healthful happiness which neither ends nor is interrupted.

'He who hopes has a good companion at his side, time' said Saavedra Fajardo in his 'Empresas Políticas' commenting on some words uttered with elegant and noble delight by your ancestor Philip II: 'I and time against all'.

As Cervantes thought and wrote in 'La Gitanilla', 'Time will give time which is normally a gentle way out of many bitter difficulties'. In 'Las dos doncellas': 'Leave care to time which is the great master in finding solutions'. In 'Don Quixote': 'Leaving all to time which is the best doctor for these and other and greater difficulties'. An illustrious Spaniard and friend, María Zambrano, a Prince of Asturias Award winner and a sincere and thoughtful voice, tells us that perhaps no experience gives greater maturity to man than the discovery of time. Another winner of the awards that bear your name - I refer to Mario Bunge - is surprised that time, being imperceptible and immaterial, can be so precisely measured. Note, Prince Philip, that it is only the extent of time that can be measured precisely and exactly not its intensity, for a minute for lovers is not the same as for a condemned man.

From that historic 3rd October 1981, when for the first time in your still short life so rich in promise, you came publicly within these walls now hallowed with memories for our fellow countrymen, until today, time, with its inexorable measured tread, has passed with such ease and generosity that I have attained the honour, by any reckoning undeserved, of saying these few but very sincere words, and in Oviedo, the beloved capital of Asturias, with the purpose that brings us here today and in the presence of Your august parents, the King and Queen of Spain, Spain's joyful symbol.

On the face of some old watch, you can read words, as certain as they are fateful, referring to the hours that pass and pass without effort or hesitation: Every hour hurts, the last kills!'. I thank God, Your Highness, because, though hurt, my final hour has not yet struck and I can speak to you in front of all, my heart swelling with emotion and pleasure.

Your Royal Highness, listen to what I am going to tell you, what I have come to tell you and bear in mind that no other desire moves me but the truth I owe to myself and the loyalty I owe to you.

Yours is the title of this ancient Principality of sailors and miners, of agricultural and livestock farmers, of men of industry and commerce, of literary men, of noble men and commoners, this Principality which is today our host. I am sure that, as a Prince of Asturias award winner and discerning the sentiments of my more worthy and justly recognised companions, the other award winners, it is my duty to express gratitude for your presence here and your patronage in the name of all. We are grateful not only for the award we receive but also for the fact that the Tirians who command and we Trojans who obey and think and work and do what we must and believe we can, for better or worse, are capable of meeting together with honest heart and will, to celebrate a joyful event: the concord that alone will be the salvation of us all. My words are of peace because nothing better subjugates war than moderation in judgement and bearing. Seneca required of those who find their delight in thought moderation even in suffering.

Another illustrious Spaniard and friend, Don José Ferrater Mora, from this very place regretted the policy of intellectual waste in Spain, fortunately now being remedied, compared with the policy of respect for intellect in other countries were recognition of the harvest of intellect is supreme over every other consideration. We still have a long way to go, I know, but I think, in my patriotic optimism, that we may be on the right track to learning a lesson whose fruit is the success to which your Royal Highness is eloquent testimony. We have crossed the Rubicon from that proud and barren attitude which said, 'Let others do the discovering' and we are beginning to see that ours is another way. I should like to tell you, Your Royal Highness, that we Spaniards are now taking upon ourselves the will to discover and are finding joy in discovery.

Yet another Spaniard and friend, Don Severo Ochoa, pleaded from this very platform, for a favourable attitude and stimulus, and understanding and interest in creative activity. Ochoa requested that the promotion of science in Spain be linked to the Crown so that it may have the desired stability. I allow myself to suggest now with conviction and respect that that link be widened to include other areas of endeavour represented here today.

Your Royal Highness, your father set out to be King of all Spaniards and in truth he achieved it. There are many of us who would like to see him as a mirror of good conduct and aims, as a shining light that at each moment lights up the way of intelligence in pursuit of its finest fruit. For in all good polity there is no patrimony to dispense that has no first been rigorously, vigorously and healthily created.

Your Royal Highness, you are now a man but, from being a boy, even a child, you have been in contact with the best in Spain: first with the military and the workers, more recently with sailors and sportsmen and presently with our men and poets. Shortly you will be among university men and the learned but always with the Spaniards who live and dream within our ambit, that ambit which rightly seen is not ours or theirs, but held in common and shared.

This is the landscape where your historic steps must be taken according to the rigorous law of fate, the landscape called Spain. We have no other and we cannot nor do we wish to change it for any other. Our cards are on the table and with them we have to play the game where the present and future will go in our favour. On our wisdom and prudence will depend the result, tears or happiness.

Your Royal Highness, we Spaniards are proud of your father, the King, and we have the diffuse but also sure conviction that, without his presence among us, we would not be holding this celebration of concord and peace.

Your Royal Highness, you are called to be King of Spain when God decrees and I pray God that the decree will be made only after many long years: remember what I quoted from Saavedra Fajardo and Cervantes. Then I will not be in the land of the living, but believe me when I assure you I shall die in peace and comforted when I see our homeland on the way to quiet accord and profitable and fruitful tranquillity.

Your Majesties, Your Royal Highness, thank you for having deigned to listen to the words of a Spaniard with no more merit than his will and his patience or, if you wish it better put, his hope. And thank you for your presence here, an unequivocal sign of the Crown's link with the Spain of science, thought and the arts that the outstanding Asturian, Severo Ochoa, sought with such noble eloquence.

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