2 2005 Dějiny English
obálka čísla

I was born the 25th of February, 1817, and I lived an ordinary life, except for two years which linked my fate with the fate of the poet Karel Hynek Macha.

My father, Josef Somek, an invalid from the war, used to make little boxes at home for pharmacists and for the little Zizkov box factory Sebera and Bellota. My mother who was ten years older than my father also bore my two brothers and three sisters. We lived in Truhlarska Street number 1099/11. Our parents raised us according to the customs of that time, they led especially us girls to humility and obedience. Respect for our parents did not allow us to rebel or to oppose. I was not interested in men; for a long time I was not allowed to be interested in them. I actually only associated with the family and girls of my age, daughters of neighbours and acquaintances, until my older friend Magdalena Forchheimova introduced me to the predominantly male society of amateur actors who were preparing a Czech play which was to be performed in Svestka Street at St. Nicholas’ in the Old Town. I was shy with people I did not know, but nevertheless I was given the role of the lover Libina in the play by Vaclav Kliment Klicpera “Kytka (the flower).We rehearsed in Tyl’s apartment at the corner of “our” Truhlarska Street. Young literati also used to go to Tyl’s. One day after the rehearsal we stopped in the coffee house “u Suchych”. Tyl ordered a hot chocolate for me and his fiancée Magdalena. I was embarrassed among so many young men. One of them, about twenty-three years old, followed me with an evil-eyed look. He sat in the middle of the room. When they brought me the chocolate, he suddenly got up, walked over to us and said :”Please drink, panno (literally maiden), this will make you pleasantly warm”’. I shall never forget that sentence, because it brought me the love of my fate, Karel Hynek Macha.

After several meetings I fell in love, and he also flared up violently and passionately. He soon forced me to promise to marry him, that otherwise he would kill himself. At that time he did not want to lose me; he was afraid. He seemed kind and attentive, but his jealousy was destructive for me. His jealousy was as strong as his love. He forbade me to act in plays, so that supposedly others would not ogle me; so I did not even finish the rehearsals for Libina. He liked to boss me; I had to wear the clothes he liked, and do everything as he wished. In my naivete and being in love, I was not conscious of my self-destruction. Paradoxically, he acted in theaters all the time- under the pseudonym Milihaj. As a student in the faculty of law he was not allowed to act in theaters. Having no particular talent, he ended his career of a charismatic actor in November, 1835, after a disagreement with Tyl. As I remember, he studied all in all 18 roles. I went to almost every performance, but was not allowed to go anywhere without his permission. He however used to meet his friends, went on excursions all over Bohemia, painted and wrote verses, which I did not understand very well. People did not like him, because he behaved and dressed eccentrically. He wore an unusual coat with a red lining. He rarely walked in a street without being noticed by others.

In the course of time his behavior toward me became worse; perhaps his feelings for me cooled off. My heart sometimes almost burst with pain, because he was so insensitive toward me. I could not imagine leaving him, but staying at his side became increasingly unbearable. How many bitter tears I cried then! Since I yielded to him entirely, I became pregnant in early 1836. I was horrified at the thought of bearing a child to a man who did not love me, and hoped secretly that he loved me secretly a little. Already in Fall he told his friend Hindl, that he does not love me, and only controls me without love, that only sex remained, but that he could not bring love back.

At that time he wrote his “Maj”. He did not love, but he still could create a work full of gentleness and at the same time of human cruelty. Day after day and more and more he filled me with sorrow. I used to go to my mother, who always found a kind word for me. However she, the only person who tried to console me, died in spring, before she could see her little grandson. After her death Hynek took me to her grave, where I had to swear at midnight over her grave if I was a virgin when he met me. I was horrified, collapsed and only was able to say one word: no. With a diabolic gleam in his eye he looked at me and then misused my admission to continue torturing me. He could not stand the thought that I ever belonged to another. I was so afraid of him, that at that moment I would have sworn anything to him. I could not tell my mother about the horror through which I lived. My father was embarrassed about my condition and used bad language about Hynek, who was responsible for my shame of an unmarried mother. I had an argument with him and went almost empty handed to stay with Hynek’s parents. He was already living in Litomerice as a new graduate, working for the lawyer Duras. He had told Duras that he was married, and did not tell him about our marriage which was to take place in Prague. So I lived in his little room which was as dark as a cell, where my son Ludvicek was born after a difficult childbirth on October 1, 1836. Hynek came on foot from Litomerice for the baptism and then returned on foot. According to his instructions I went with his brother Michal to the rectory about the banns of matrimony. The priest first asked me where I was baptized, and if my father agreed with the marriage, and then he asked Michal. I was afraid that they might marry me to him, and said that he is the brother of my fiancé. Then the priest asked why Hynek didn’t take me there himself, and Michal explained everything to him. The permission had to go to Litomerice, where it would be signed by the local dean and then sent back. Due to my naivete I put Hynek in a desperate situation, for he had told everybody about his marriage having taken place long ago, and I had revealed how things really were. He was furious, and Michal tried to speak on my behalf, and asked him not to punish me. Hynek wrote me a cruel letter, in which he threatened me that he would take his things and go away, and that I would never find out where he was, if I did not obey him and go out of the house. So I obeyed. He wanted to take revenge on my family, which did not speak well of him. He took revenge on me and most of all on our Ludvicek, who always had problems with his eyes. I had no place to stay. Hynek’s mother could not stand me. I lived between four walls with people who just tolerated me. My suffering did not last long. In the night from the fifth to the sixth November 1936, two years after our relationship began, Hynek died.. He had helped extinguish a fire in Litomerice, and somehow caught a cold. He eked out a living at that time and his body was not strong. Art first they thought that he had died of pneumonia, then of cholera. It doesn’t matter, he won’t regain life. The official letter from the Litomerice dean came after Hynek’s death. There were no banns. Instead of a marriage there was a funeral. Ludvicek, my only joy and hope, left me less than a year later.


Eleonora Somkova married the police official Frantisek Sieh, and moved with him to Lvov. She never learned Czech properly. Even with Macha she corresponded in German. She died childless and unnoticed in Prague at the age of 74.

Vydavatelem Českého dialogu je Mezinárodní český klub

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