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So men sit shivering on the dewy bank, What every nerve of you now trembles And try the chill stream with their feet; once in . . .
How the delighted spirit pants for joy! Lucretia (advancing timidly towards Few dare to stand between their grave him). O husband! Pray forgive poor Beatrice.
She meant not any ill.
Nor you perhaps?
Nor those two most unnatural sons, who
Enmity up against me with the Pope?
You were not here conspiring? You
Of how I might be dungeoned as a madman;
Or be condemned to death for some
You judged that men were bolder than they are;
Lucretia. Look not so dreadfully!
knew not aught that Beatrice designed;
Nor do I think she designed any thing Nor Until she heard you talk of her dead brothers.
How just it were to hire assassins, or
That savage rock, the Castle of Petrella: And you would be the witnesses?-This 'Tis safely walled, and moated round
Its dungeons underground, and its thick
Never told tales; though they have heard and seen
What might make dumb things speak.—
Make speediest preparation for the
But you to be the executioners
Of his decree enregistered in heaven?
So help me God, I never thought the things you charge me with! Cenci. If you dare speak that wicked It is a garish, broad, and peering day; lie again Loud, light, suspicious, full of eyes and I'll kill you. What! It was not by
And every little corner, nook, and hole That Beatrice disturbed the feast last Is penetrated with the insolent light. Come darkness! Yet, what is the day to me?
You did not hope to stir some enemies
A deed which shall confound both night
Of horror: if there be a sun in heaven
SCENE II.-A CHAMBER IN THE
The act I think shall soon extinguish all
In which I walk secure and unbeheld
Camillo. There is an obsolete and doubtful law
By which you might obtain a bare provision
Of food and clothing
Giacomo. Nothing more? Alas! Bare must be the provision which strict law
Awards, and agèd, sullen avarice pays.
Have a dear wife, a lady of high birth,
The fairest creatures in this breathing
And she and they reproach me not.
An hundred servants, and six palaces,
And stretch authority beyond the law? Camillo. Though your peculiar case is hard, I know
The Pope will not divert the course of law.
Your father's cruel hand; he frowned
Their fathers' hearts to madness and
Requiting years of care with contumely.
And thus he is exasperated to ill.
In the great war between the old and young
I, who have white hairs and a tottering body,
Been trained in no highborn necessities Will keep at least blameless neutrality."
He has wide wants, and narrow powers.
You, my good Lord Orsino, heard those words.
Orsino. What words?
not again! There then is no redress for me, at least None but that which I may achieve myself, Since I am driven to the brink.-But, say,
Camillo. Nay, there is reason in My innocent sister and my only brother your plea; 'twere hard. Are dying underneath my father's eye. Giacomo. 'Tis hard for a firm man to The memorable torturers of this land, bear: but I Galeaz Visconti, Borgia, Ezzelin,
Any belief-have turned the Pope's
Upon the accusers from the criminal:
A priest who has forsworn the God he
A judge who makes Truth weep at his decree;
But as the mantle of some selfish guile;
Feigns often what it would not; and we
Imagination with such phantasies
Which have no words, their horror
To the mind's eye. My heart denies
I know you are my friend, and all I dare Giacomo. My friend, that palace- Speak to my soul that will I trust with walking devil Gold
Has whispered silence to his Holiness: And we are left, as scorpions ringed with fire.
What should we do but strike ourselves
For he who is our murderous persecutor
Words are but holy as the deeds they
To think what you demand.
But a friend's bosom
And from the all-communicating air.
The path across the wilderness, lest he,
But now my heart is heavy, and would
Pardon me, that I say farewell-farewell!
I would that to my own suspected self
[Exit GIACOMO. I had disposed the Cardinal Camillo To feed his hope with cold encourage
It fortunately serves my close designs
A friend who should weave counsel, To analyse their own and other minds.
as I now,
Such self-anatomy shall teach the will
Dangerous secrets: for it tempts our Till weak imagination half The self-created shadow. longer
Knowing what must be thought, and may be done,
Into the depth of darkest purposes:
Show a poor figure to my own esteem,
Her bright form kneels beside me at the altar,
And follows me to the resort of men, And fills my slumber with tumultuous dreams,
So when I wake my blood seems liquid fire;
And if I strike my damp and dizzy head
As little mischief as I can; that thought
By a dark secret, surer than the grave; Her mother scared and unexpostulating From the dread manner of her wish achieved: (After a pause.) Now what harm And she!-Once more take courage my If Cenci should be murdered ?--Yet, if faint heart; murdered,
What dares a friendless maiden matched with thee?
Wherefore by me? And what if I could
The profit, yet omit the sin and peril
I have such foresight as assures success:
To black suggestions; and he prospers
And such is Cenci: and while Cenci lives
Not who becomes the instrument of ill,
His daughter's dowry were a secret grave
But spoken by a stranger, makes my
Sicken and pant; and thus unprofitably
Will I not nurse this life of feverous hours:
From the unravelled hopes of Giacomo
Its empire and its prey of other hearts
END OF THE SECOND ACT.
That starts from your dear brow.
Alas! Alas! What has befallen? Beatrice.
Lucretia. What ails thee, my poor child? She answers not :
Her spirit apprehends the sense of pain, How comes this hair But not its cause; suffering has dried away The source from which it sprung Its wandering strings must be what Beatrice (franticly). Like Parriblind me so, fide...
And yet I tied it fast.-O, horrible!
Spin round! I see a woman weeping there,
And standing calm and motionless, whilst I
Slide giddily as the world reels.
The beautiful blue heaven is flecked It is a piteous office.
with blood! The sunshine on the floor is black! The air
(To LUCRETIA, in a slow, subdued voice.) Do you know I thought I was that wretched Beatrice Is changed to vapours such as the dead Men speak of, whom her father somebreathe times hales
Misery has killed its father: yet its father Never like mine . . . O, God! What thing am I?
Lucretia. My dearest child, what has your father done?
Beatrice (doubtfully). Who art thou, questioner? I have no father.
(Aside.) She is the madhouse nurse who tends on me,
In charnel pits! Pah! I am choked! From hall to hall by the entangled hair;
'Tis gone; and yet its burthen remains
O'er these dull eyes.
I cannot pluck it from me, for it glues
My God! I never knew what the mad
Before; for I am mad beyond all doubt!
Than ever there was found a heart to do.
Which would burst forth into the wander-
Till she will eat strange flesh.
So did I overact in my sick dreams,
Of good and ill; and worse have been conceived
Who art thou? Swear to me, ere
With fearful expectation, that indeed
Lucretia. upon this sweary My sweet child, know you Beatrice. Yet speak it not: O, world! O, life! O, day! O, misery! For then if this be truth, that other too