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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.
Why so it is. This is the Cenci Palace;
Thou art Lucretia; I am Beatrice.
I have talked some wild words, but
will no more.

In the dread lightning which avenges it;
Brief, rapid, irreversible, destroying
The consequence of what it cannot cure.
Some such thing is to be endured or

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,

of time,

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


What have I done?
Am I not innocent? Is it my crime
That one with white hair and imperious

By which I suffer
Many might doubt there were a God

Who tortured me from my forgotten
As parents only dare, should call him-
My father, yet should be!-Oh, what
am I?

What name, what place, what memory
shall be mine?

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no, that cannot

Who sees and permits evil, and so die:
That faith no agony shall obscure in me.
Lucretia. It must indeed have been
some bitter wrong;

Oh, my

Yet what, I dare not guess.
lost child,

Hide not in proud impenetrable grief
What retrospects, outliving even despair? | Thy sufferings from my fear.
Lucretia. He is a violent tyrant,
surely, child:


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

whose thought

Of deadlier outrage or worse injury?
Thou art unlike thyself; thine eyes shoot


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

to me,

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

be done;

What, yet I know not . . . something Have I deserved?
which shall make
The thing that I have suffered but a

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

Avenge thee.

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Of crime, or the reward of trampling
The thorns which God has strewed up-
on the path

Which leads to immortality.
Ay, death. . .
The punishment of crime. I pray thee,

Let me not be bewildered while I judge.
If I must live day after day, and keep
These limbs, the unworthy temple of
thy spirit,

Which cankers my heart's core; ay,
lay all bare

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.
(She approaches him solemnly.)
come, Friend!

I have to tell you that, since last we met,
I have endured a wrong so great and



no, that might be no A mock, a bye-word, an astonishment :-
If this were done, which never shall be

Think of the offender's gold, his dreaded
And the strange horror of the accuser's

Baffling belief, and overpowering speech;
Scarce whispered, unimaginable, wrapt
In hideous hints . . . Oh, most assured



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
Which have no form, sufferings which
have no tongue.

Orsino. And what is he who has
thus injured you?
Beatrice. The man they call my
father: a dread name.
Orsino. It cannot be

What it can be, or not,
Forbear to think. It is, and it has been;
Advise me how it shall not be again.

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.
(Turns from him, and speaks half to


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?
Beatrice (to herself). Mighty death!
Thou double-visaged shadow? Only
Rightfullest arbiter!

(She retires absorbed in thought.)
If the lightning
Of God has e'er descended to avenge.
Orsino. Blaspheme not! His high
Providence commits


For that they are unnatural, strange, and monstrous,

Its glory on this earth, and their own


Into the hands of men; if they neglect
To punish crime

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 ?
Think not
But that there is redress where there is

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.


False or

Art thou my friend, Orsino?

Pledge thy salvation ere I speak.

I swear
To dedicate my cunning, and my strength,
My silence, and whatever else is mine,
To thy commands.

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.
(BEATRICE advances.)
Peace, Orsino!
And, honoured Lady, while I speak,
I pray

That you put off, as garments overworn,
Forbearance and respect, remorse and

And all the fit restraints of daily life, Which have been borne from childhood, but which now

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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,
As makes remorse dishonour, and leaves And suddenly.
Orsino. And yet most cautious.
For the jealous laws
Would punish us with death and infamy

Only one duty, how she may avenge:
You, but one refuge from ills ill endured;
Me, but one counsel

For that which it became themselves to Crosses the chasm; and high above there


do. Beatrice.

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,

fierce outlaws,

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

and they


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
What we now want.

Lucretia. To-morrow before dawn,
Cenci will take us to that lonely rock,
Petrella, in the Apulian Apennines.
If he arrive there.

He must not arrive.
Orsino. Will it be dark before you
reach the tower?

Orsino. Before you reach that bridge make some excuse


Raging among the caverns, and a bridge

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Lucretia. The sun will scarce be set.
But I remember
Two miles on this side of the fort, the


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,
Which has, from unimaginable years,
Sustained itself with terror and with toil
Over a gulph, and with the agony
With which it clings seems slowly com-
ing down;

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


you then

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


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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
home was hell.
And to that hell will I return no more
Until mine enemy has rendered up
Atonement, or, as he gave life to me
I will, reversing nature's law.
Trust me,
The compensation which thou seekest
Will be denied.



And then denied the loan; and left me so
In poverty, the which I sought to mend
By holding a poor office in the state.
It had been promised to me, and already
I bought new clothing for my ragged

And my wife smiled; and my heart
knew repose.

When Cenci's intercession, as I found,
Conferred this office on a wretch, whom

He paid for vilest service. I returned
With this ill news, and we sate sad to-


Solacing our despondency with tears
Of such affection and unbroken faith
As temper life's worst bitterness; when

The sum in secret riot; and he saw
My wife was touched, and he went
smiling forth.

And when I knew the impression he
had made,

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 ?

Are you

Did you not hint at the alternative,
Upon the brink of which you see I stand,
The other day when we conversed to-

That word

My wrongs were then less.
Although I am resolved, haunts me like

Orsino. It must be fear itself, for
the bare word
Is hollow mockery. Mark, how wisest

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