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Earth, in the name of God, let her So he may hunt her through the clamorfood be

ous scoffs

Poison, until she be encrusted round With leprous stains! Heaven, rain upon her head

Of the loud world to a dishonoured grave. Shall I revoke this curse? Go, bid her come,

The blistering drops of the Maremma's

Before my words are chronicled in

Till she be speckled like a toad; parch

Those love-enkindled lips, warp those
fine limbs
To loathed lameness! All-beholding


Strike in thine envy those life-darting

Turning her mother's love to misery: And that both she and it may live until

[Exit LUCRETIA. I do not feel as if I were a man, But like a fiend appointed to chastise The offences of some unremembered world.


With thine own blinding beams!
Peace! Peace!
For thine own sake unsay those dread-
ful words.

When high God grants he punishes such


Cenci (leaping up, and throwing his right hand towards Heaven). | He does his will, I mine! This in addition,

That if she have a child. ..

Horrible thought!
Cenci. That if she ever have a
child; and thou,

Quick Nature! I adjure thee by thy

That thou be fruitful in her, and increase
And multiply, fulfilling his command,
And my deep imprecation! May it be To come between the tiger and his prey.
A hideous likeness of herself, that as
From a distorting mirror, she may see It must be late; mine eyes grow weary dim
Her image mixed with what she most With unaccustomed heaviness of sleep.
Conscience! Oh, thou most insolent
of lies!

Smiling upon her from her nursing breast.

They say that sleep, that healing dew of Heaven,

And that the child may from its infancy Grow, day by day, more wicked and deformed,

Steeps not in balm the foldings of the brain

It shall repay her care and pain with hate,

Or what may else be more unnatural.

My blood is running up and down my veins;

A fearful pleasure makes it prick and

I feel a giddy sickness of strange awe;
My heart is beating with an expectation
Of horrid joy.

What? Speak!

She bids thee curse;
And if thy curses, as they cannot do,
Could kill her soul . . .
She would not
come. 'Tis well,

I can do both: first take what I demand,
And then extort concession.
To thy


Fly ere I spurn thee: and beware this night

That thou cross not my footsteps. It were safer

Which thinks thee an impostor. I will go
First to belie thee with an hour of rest,
Which will be deep and calm, I feel:
and then..

O, multitudinous Hell, the fiends will shake

Thine arches with the laughter of their

There shall be lamentation heard in

As o'er an angel fallen; and upon Earth
All good shall droop and sicken, and
ill things

Shall with a spirit of unnatural life
Stir and be quickened. . . even as I

am now.

LUCRETIA above on the Ramparts.

The minutes pass.
If he should wake before the deed is

For one so wicked; as a man believing
In God, yet recking not of good or ill.
And yet to die without confession! . .
Believe that Heaven is merciful and just,
And will not add our dread necessity
To the amount of his offences.

Enter OLIMPIO and MARZIO, below.

They come.


Beatrice. They come not yet. Ay. Lucretia. 'Tis scarce midnight. If one should bribe me with a thousand How slow Behind the course of thought, even sick To kill a serpent which had stung my with speed,




Lags leaden-footed time!

I could not be more willing.

Enter BEATRICE and LUCRETIA, below.
Noble ladies!
Beatrice. Are ye resolved?

Is he asleep?
Is all


As one who thinks A thousand crowns excellent market price

For an old murderer's life. Your cheeks are pale.

Olimpio. It is the white reflection of

Beatrice. O, mother! He must never wake again.

What thou hast said persuades me that Quiet?

our act

Will but dislodge a spirit of deep hell
Out of a human form.
'Tis true he spoke
Of death and judgment with strange


All mortal things must
hasten thus

To their dark end. Let us go down.
[Exeunt LUCRETIA and BEA-
TRICE from above.
Olimpio. How feel you to this work?

your own,

Which you call pale.

Marzio. Is that their natural hue?
Olimpio. Or 'tis my hate and the

deferred desire

To wreak it, which extinguishes their blood.

Marzio. You are inclined then to this business?

I mixed an opiate with

his drink:

He sleeps so soundly

Beatrice. That his death will be But as a change of sin-chastising dreams, A dark continuance of the Hell within


Which God extinguish! But ye are

Ye know it is a high and holy deed?
Olimpio. We are resolved.
As to the how this act
Be warranted, it rests with you.

Well, follow!
Olimpio. Hush! Hark! What noise

is that?
Ha! some one comes!
Beatrice. Ye conscience-stricken
cravens, rock to rest

Your baby hearts. It is the iron gate, Which ye left open, swinging to the wind,

That enters whistling as in scorn. Come, Stirred in his sleep, and said, "God! follow! hear, O, hear,

And be your steps like mine, light, A father's curse! What, art thou not quick and bold. our father?"

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I ask if all is over?

Olimpio. We dare not kill an old and sleeping man ;

His thin gray hair, his stern and reverent brow,

And could not kill him.
Miserable slaves!
Where, if ye dare not kill a sleeping man,
Found ye the boldness to return to me
With such a deed undone? Base

Cowards and traitors! Why, the very

Which ye would sell for gold and for

kill him.

Olimpio. Give me the weapon, we must do thy will.

His veined hands crossed on his heaving breast, And the calm innocent sleep in which he lay, Quelled me. do it. Marzio. But I was bolder; for I chid Olimpio, And bade him bear his wrongs to his That doubt is passing through your

Indeed, indeed, I cannot

Would it were done!
Even whilst

And now

own grave mind, the world And leave me the reward. Is conscious of a change. Darkness my knife and Hell Touched the loose wrinkled throat, when Have swallowed up the vapour they sent forth

the old man

Beatrice. Take it! Depart! Return!
How pale thou art!
We do but that which 'twere a deadly
To leave undone.

To blacken the sweet light of life. My SCENE IV.-ANOTHER APARTMENT

IN THE CASTLE. Enter on one side the LEGATE SAVELLA, introduced by a Servant, and on the other LUCRETIA and BERNARDO.

Savella. Lady, my duty to his


Comes, methinks, lighter, and the jellied blood

Runs freely thro' my veins.

He is . . .
Marzio. We strangled him that
there might be no blood;
And then we threw his heavy corpse i'
the garden

Under the balcony; 'twill seem it fell.
Beatrice (giving them a bag of coin).
Here, take this gold, and hasten
to your homes.

And, Marzio, because thou wast only awed
By that which made me tremble, wear
thou this!

[Clothes him in a rich mantle. It was the mantle which my grandfather Wore in his high prosperity, and men Envied his state: so may they envy thine.

Thou wert a weapon in the hand of God
To a just use. Live long and thrive!
And, mark,

If thou hast crimes, repent: this deed
is none.

[A horn is sounded. Lucretia. Hark, 'tis the castle horn; my God! it sounds Like the last trump. Beatrice.

Some tedious guest

is coming. Lucretia. The drawbridge is let down; there is a tramp Of horses in the court; fly, hide yourselves!

[Exeunt OLIMPIO and MARZIO. Beatrice. Let us retire to counterfeit deep rest;


Be my excuse that thus unseasonably
I break upon your rest. I must speak

Savella. I grieve thus to distress you, but the Count

Must answer charges of the gravest

And suddenly; such my commission is.
Lucretia (with increased agitation).
I dare not rouse him: I know
none who dare...
'Twere perilous;
safely waken
A serpent; or a corpse in which some
Were laid to sleep.

you might as

Savella. Lady, my moments here Are counted. I must rouse him from

his sleep,

Since none else dare.
Lucretia (aside).

O, terror! O, de

I scarcely need to counterfeit it now: The spirit which doth reign within these |(To Bernardo) Bernardo, conduct you the Lord Legate to

even sleep Fearless and calm: all ill is surely past.


Count Cenci; doth he sleep?

Lucretia (in a hurried and confused manner). I think he sleeps; Yet wake him not, I pray, spare me awhile,

He is a wicked and a wrathful man; Should he be roused out of his sleep to-night,

Which is, I know, a hell of angry dreams,

It were not well; indeed it were not well. Wait till day break . . . (aside) O, I am deadly sick!


Seems strangely undisturbed. I could Your father's chamber.



'Tis a messenger

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O, horrible, 'tis all discovered!

Beatrice. Mother, What is done wisely, is done well. Be bold As thou art just. child

To fear that others know what thou hast


Even from thine own strong consciousness, and thus

Write on unsteady eyes and altered cheeks

But shakes it not.

[A cry within and tumult. Voices. Murder! Murder! Murder! Enter BERNARDO and Savella, Savella (to his followers). Go search the castle round; sound the alarm;

Look to the gates that none escape!
What now?
Bernardo. I know not what to
say.. my father's dead.
Beatrice. How; dead! he only sleeps;
you mistake, brother.

His sleep is very calm, very like death;
'Tis wonderful how well a tyrant sleeps.

Even now they search the tower, and He is not dead?

find the body;


Now they suspect the truth; now they

Dead; murdered. Lucretia (with extreme agitation). Oh no, no,


Before they come to tax us with the He is not murdered though he may be fact;

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to me,

Is as the wind which strikes the solid rock


I have alone the keys of those apartments.
Savella. Ha! Is it so?

My Lord, I pray excuse us; 'Tis like a truant We will retire; my mother is not well: She seems quite overcome with this strange horror.

[Exeunt LUCRETIA and BEATRICE. Savella. Can you suspect who may have murdered him?

Bernardo. I know not what to

All thou wouldst hide. Be faithful to

And fear no other witness but thy fear.
For if, as cannot be, some circumstance
Should rise in accusation, we can blind
Suspicion with such cheap astonishment, Who most lament that such a deed is
Or overbear it with such guiltless pride,
As murderers cannot feign. The deed


is done,
And what may follow now regards not me.
I am as universal as the light;
Free as the earth-surrounding air; as firm
As the world's centre. Consequence,

Can you name any
Who had an interest in his death?

Alas! I can name none who had not, and those most

My mother, and my sister, and myself.
Savella. 'Tis strange! There were
clear marks of violence.

I found the old man's body in the moon-
Hanging beneath the window of his
Among the branches of a pine: he
could not

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