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Must be a truth, a firm enduring truth, Linked with each lasting circumstance of life,
Never to change, never to pass away.
In the dread lightning which avenges it;
When I know what, I shall be still and
And never any thing will move me more. Mother, come near me: from this point But now!-Oh blood, which art my father's blood,
I am... (Her voice dies away faintly.) | Circling thro' these contaminated veins, Lucretia. Alas! What has befallen If thou, poured forth on the polluted thee, child? earth,
What has thy father done?
Could wash away the crime, and punish
By which I suffer
Who tortured me from my forgotten
What name, what place, what memory
no, that cannot
Who sees and permits evil, and so die:
Yet what, I dare not guess.
Hide not in proud impenetrable grief
I hide them not. What are the words which you would have me speak?
We know that death alone can make us
I, who can feign no image in my mind His death or ours. But what can he Of that which has transformed me: I, have done
Of deadlier outrage or worse injury?
Is like a ghost shrouded and folded up | In its own formless horror: of all words, That minister to mortal intercourse,
A wandering and strange spirit. Speak Which wouldst thou hear? For there is none to tell
Unlock those pallid hands whose fingers My misery: if another ever knew
With one another.
Aught like to it, she died as I will die, And left it, as I must, without a name. Beatrice. 'Tis the restless life Death! Death! Our law and our religion Tortured within them. If I try to speak call thee I shall go mad. Ay, something must A punishment and a reward . . . Oh, which
What, yet I know not . . . something Have I deserved?
Lucretia. The peace of innocence; Till in your season you be called to
Whate'er you may have suffered, you I thought to die; but a religious awe have done No evil. Death must be the punish
Restrains me, and the dread lest death itself
Might be no refuge from the conscious
Of what is yet unexpiated. Oh, speak! Orsino. Accuse him of the deed, and let the law
Of crime, or the reward of trampling
Which leads to immortality.
Let me not be bewildered while I judge.
Which cankers my heart's core; ay,
As a foul den from which what thou abhorrest
So that my unpolluted fame should be May mock thee, unavenged it shall With vilest gossips a stale mouthed not be! Self-murder..
escape, For thy decree yawns like a Hell be
Our will and it:-O! In this mortal world
There is no vindication and no law Which can adjudge and execute the doom
Of that through which I suffer.
I have to tell you that, since last we met,
no, that might be no A mock, a bye-word, an astonishment :-
Think of the offender's gold, his dreaded
Baffling belief, and overpowering speech;
Beatrice. Oh, ice-hearted counsellor ! If I could find a word that might make known
Ask me not what it is, for there are deeds
Orsino. And what is he who has
What it can be, or not,
The crime of my destroyer; and that done, My tongue should like a knife tear out the secret
Orsino. You will endure it then?
It seems your counsel is small profit.
That neither life nor death can give me All must be suddenly resolved and done. What is this undistinguishable mist Of thoughts, which rise, like shadow after shadow, Darkening each other? Orsino. Should the offender live? Triumph in his misdeed? and make, by use, His crime, whate'er it is, dreadful no doubt,
Thine element; until thou mayest be
Utterly lost; subdued even to the hue
Of that which thou permittest?
(She retires absorbed in thought.)
For that they are unnatural, strange, and monstrous,
Its glory on this earth, and their own
Into the hands of men; if they neglect
Lucretia. But if one, like this wretch, Should mock, with gold, opinion, law, and power?
Would be a mockery to my holier plea.
If there be no appeal to that which As I have said, I have endured a wrong, Which, though it be expressionless, is
The guiltiest tremble? If because our
As asks atonement; both for what is past,
And lest I be reserved, day after day,
Exceed all measure of belief? O To load with crimes an overburthened
If, for the very reasons which should make
Redress most swift and sure, our injurer triumphs?
Than that appointed for their torturer ?
So we be bold enough to seize it.
For we cannot hope That aid, or retribution, or resource Will arise thence, where every other
be . . . what ye can dream not. I have prayed
God, and I have talked with my own heart,
And we, the victims, bear worse punish- And have unravelled my entangled will, And have at length determined what is right.
Art thou my friend, Orsino?
Pledge thy salvation ere I speak.
Lucretia. You think we should devise
How? If there were any way to make all sure, I know not . . . but I think it might be good
Might find them with less need.
That you put off, as garments overworn,
And all the fit restraints of daily life, Which have been borne from childhood, but which now
Orsino. Why, his late outrage to His death?
Beatrice. And execute what is
We must be brief and
For it is such, as I but faintly guess,
Only one duty, how she may avenge:
For that which it became themselves to Crosses the chasm; and high above there
Be cautious as ye may, but With intersecting trunks, from crag to prompt. Orsino, crag, What are the means?
Cedars, and yews, and pines; whose tangled hair
I know two dull,
Is matted in one solid roof of shade
Who think man's spirit as a worm's, By the dark ivy's twine. At noonday
Would trample out, for any slight caprice, 'Tis twilight, and at sunset blackest The meanest or the noblest life. This
Is marketable here in Rome. They sell
Lucretia. To-morrow before dawn,
Orsino. Before you reach that bridge make some excuse
Raging among the caverns, and a bridge
Lucretia. The sun will scarce be set.
The bridge of which we spoke.
Crosses a deep ravine; 'tis rough and
[Exeunt LUCRETIA and BEATRICE. Orsino. What shall I do? And winds with short turns down the Cenci must find me here, and I must precipice; bear
And in its depth there is a mighty rock,
Beatrice. (ToORSINO, as she goes out.) That step we hear approach must never
The imperious inquisition of his looks As to what brought me hither: let me mask
Mine own in some inane and vacant smile.
Enter GIACOMO, in a hurried manner. Even as a wretched soul hour after How! Have you ventured hither? Know
Clings to the mass of life; yet clinging, That Cenci is from home?
Giacomo. I sought him here; And leaning, makes more dark the dread And now must wait till he returns. abyss Orsino. Great God! Weigh you the danger of this rashness? Giacomo. Ay ! Does my destroyer know his danger? We
In which it fears to fall: beneath this crag
Huge as despair, as if in weariness, The melancholy mountain yawns . below,
You hear but see not an impetuous
Are now no more, as once, parent and child,
But man to man; the oppressor to the oppressed;
The slanderer to the slandered; foe to Such was God's scourge for disobedient foe:
He has cast Nature off, which was his And then, that I might strike him dumb shield, with shame,
And Nature casts him off, who is her I spoke of my wife's dowry; but he shame; coined
And I spurn both. Is it a father's A brief yet specious tale, how I had throat
Though all these hast thou torn from me, and more;
But only my fair fame; only one hoard Of peace, which I thought hidden from thy hate,
Under the penury heaped on me by thee, Or I will... God can understand and My children her harsh thoughts, and pardon,
they all cried, "Give us clothes, father! Give us better food!
Why should I speak with man?
Orsino. Be calm, dear friend. Giacomo. Well, I will calmly tell What you in one night squander were you what he did. enough This old Francesco Cenci, as you know, For months!" Borrowed the dowry of my wife from
I looked, and saw that
And then denied the loan; and left me so
And my wife smiled; and my heart
When Cenci's intercession, as I found,
He paid for vilest service. I returned
Solacing our despondency with tears
The sum in secret riot; and he saw
And when I knew the impression he
And felt my wife insult with silent scorn My ardent truth, and look averse and cold,
I went forth too: but soon returned again; Yet not so soon but that my wife had taught
As he is wont, came to upbraid and
Mocking our poverty, and telling us
Then not my friend ?
Did you not hint at the alternative,
My wrongs were then less.
Orsino. It must be fear itself, for