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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;
at? once in ..
You judged that men were bolder than How the delighted spirit pants for joy! they are; Lucretia (advancing timidly towards Few dare to stand between their grave him). O husband ! Pray forgive
Lucretia. Look not so dreadfully! She meant not any ill.
By my salvation Cenci.
Nor you perhaps? I knew not aught that Beatrice deNor that young imp, whom you have signed; taught by rote
Nor do I think she designed any thing Parricide with his alphabet ? Nor Until she heard you talk of her dead Giacomo?
brothers. Nor those two most unnatural sons, who Cenci. Blaspheming liar! You are stirred
damned for this ! Enmity up against me with the Pope ? But I will take you where you may Whom in one night merciful God cut persuade
The stones you tread on to deliver Innocent lambs! They thought not any
For men shall there be none but those You were not here conspiring? You who dare said nothing
All things-not question that which I Of how I might be dungeoned as a
On Wednesday next I shall set out: you Or be condemned to death for some
That savage rock, the Castle of Petrella: And you would be the witnesses ?-This 'Tis safely walled, and moated round failing,
about: How just it were to hire assassins, or Its dungeons underground, and its thick Put sudden poison in my evening drink? Or smother me when overcome by wine? Never told tales ; though they have Seeing we had no other judge but God, heard and seen And he had sentenced me, and there What might make dumb things speak.
Why do you linger? But you to be the executioners
Make speediest preparation for the Of his decree enregistered in heaven?
journey! [Exit LUCRETIA. Oh, no! You said not this?
The all-beholding sun yet shines; I hear Lucretia,
So help me God, A busy stir of men about the streets; I never thought the things you charge I see the bright sky through the window me with!
panes: Cenci. If you dare speak that wicked It is a garish, broad, and peering day; lie again
Loud, light, suspicious, full of eyes and What! It was not by
And every little corner, nook, and hole That Beatrice disturbed the feast last Is penetrated with the insolent light. night?
Come darkness! Yet, what is the day You did not hope to stir some enemies
to me? Against me, and escape, and laugh to And wherefore should I wish for night,
I'll kill you.
A deed which shall confound both night Have a dear wife, a lady of high birth, and day?
Whose dowry in ill hour I lent my father 'Tis she shall grope through a bewilder. Without a bond or witness to the deed : ing mist
And children, who inherit her fine Of horror: if there be a sun in heaven
senses, She shall not dare to look upon its beams; The fairest creatures in this breathing Nor feel its warmth. Let her then wish
world; for night;
And she and they reproach me not. The act I think shall soon extinguish all Cardinal, For me: I bear a darker deadlier gloom Do you not think the Pope would interThan the earth's shade, or interlunar air,
pose Or constellations quenched in murkiest And stretch authority beyond the law? cloud,
Camillo. Though your peculiar case In which I walk secure and unbeheld
is hard, I know Towards my purpose. - Would that it The Pope will not divert the course of law. were done!
[Exit. After that impious feast the other night
I spoke with him, and urged him then SCENE II.-A CHAMBER IN THE Your father's cruel hand; he frowned
to check VATICAN. Enter CAMILLO and
and said, GIACOMO, in conversation.
“Children are disobedient, and they Camillo. There is an obsolete and
sting doubtful law
Their fathers' hearts to madness and By which you might obtain a bare
Requiting years of care with contumely. of food and clothing
I pity the Count Cenci from my heart; Giacomo. Nothing more? Alas! His outraged love perhaps awakened Bare must be the provision which strict hate, law
And thus he is exasperated to ill. Awards, and agèd, sullen avarice pays. In the great war between the old and Why did my father not apprentice me
young To some mechanic trade? I should I, who have white hairs and a tottering have then
body, Been trained in no highborn necessities will keep at least blameless neutrality.” Which I could meet not by my daily toil.
Enter ORSINO. The eldest son of a rich nobleman
You, my good Lord Orsino, heard those Is heir to all his incapacities;
words. Ile has wide wants, and narrow powers. Orsino. What words?
Alas, repeat them Cardinal Camillo, were reduced at once not again! From thrice-driven beds of down, and There then is no redress for me, at least delicate food,
None but that which I may achieve my. An hundred servants, and six palaces,
self, To that which nature doth indeed re. Since I am driven to the brink. - But, quire ?-
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,
Never inflicted on the meanest slave But as the mantle of some selfish guile; What these endure; shall they have no A father who is all a tyrant seems, protection ?
Were the profaner for his sacred name. Camillo. Why, if they would peti- Giacomo. Ask me not what I think; tion to the Pope
the unwilling brain I see not how he could refuse it-yet Feigns often what it would not; and we He holds it of most dangerous example
trust In aught to weaken the paternal power, Imagination with such phantasies Being, as 'twere, the shadow of his own. As the tongue dares not fashion into I pray you now excuse me. I have
Which have no words, their horror That will not bear delay.
makes them dim (Exit Camillo. To the mind's eye.—My heart denies Giacomo. But you, Orsino,
itself Have the petition: wherefore not present To think what you demand. it?
Orsino. But a friend's bosom Orsino. I have presented it, and is as the inmost cave of our own mind backed it with
Where we sit shut from the wide gaze My earnest prayers, and urgent interest ;
of day, It was returned unanswered. I doubt And from the all-communicating air. not
You look what I suspectedBut that the strange and execrable deeds Giacomo.
Spare me now! Alleged in it--in truth they might well I am as one lost in a midnight wood, baffle
Who dares not ask some harmless pas. Any belief — have turned the Pope's senger displeasure
The path across the wilderness, lest he, Upon the accusers from the criminal : As my thoughts are, should be a So I should guess from what Camillo murderer. said.
I know you are my friend, and all I dare Giacomo. My friend, that palace. Speak to my soul that will trust with walking devil Gold
thee. Has whispered silence to his Holiness : But now my heart is heavy, and would And we are left, as scorpions ringed take with fire.
Lone counsel from a night of sleepless What should we do but strike ourselves to death?
Pardon me, that I say farewell —-fareFor he who is our murderous persecutor
well! Is shielded by a father's holy name, I would that to my own suspected self Or I would
(Stops abruptly.) I could address a word so full of peace. Orsino. What? Fear not to speak Orsino. Farewell!— Be your thoughts your thought.
better or more bold. Words are but holy as the deeds they
I had disposed the Cardinal Camillo A priest who has forsworn the God he To feed his hope with cold encourageserves ;
ment: A judge who makes Truth weep at his It fortunately serves my close designs decree;
That 'tis a trick of this same family 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 possesses powers,
The self-created shadow. Yet much Knowing what must be thought, and longer may be done,
Will I not nurse this life of feverous Into the depth of darkest purposes :
hours: So Cenci fell into the pit; even I, From the unravelled hopes of Giacomo Since Beatrice unveiled me to self, I must work out my own dear purposes. And made me shrink from what I can I see, as from a tower, the end of all: not shun,
Her father dead; her brother bound to Show a poor figure to my own esteem, To which I grow half reconciled. I'll | By a dark secret, surer than the grave;
Her mother scared and unexpostulating As little mischief as I can; that thought From the dread manner of her wish Shall fee the accuser conscience.
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 Wherefore by me? And what if I could
with thee? take
I have such foresight as assures success : The profit, yet omit the sin and peril Some unbeheld divinity doth ever, In such an action? Of all earthly things When dread events are near, stir up I fear a man whose blows outspeed his
men's minds words;
To black suggestions; and he prospers And such is Cenci : and while Cenci
Not who becomes the instrument of ill, His daughter's dowry were a secret grave But who can flatter the dark spirit, If a priest wins her. -Oh, fair Beatrice ! that makes Would that I loved thee not, or loving Its empire and its prey of other hearts thee
Till it become his slave
as I will Could but despise danger and gold and
[Exit. all That frowns between my wish and its
END OF THE SECOND ACT. effect, Or smiles beyond it! There is no escape
ACT III Her bright forin kneels beside me at the altar,
SCENE 1.-AN APARTMENT IN THE And follows me to the resort of men, CENCI PALACE. LUCRETIA, to her And fills my slumber with tumultuous
enter BEATRICE. dreams, So when I wake my blood seems liquid Beatrice. (She enters staggering, and fire;
speaks wildly.) Reach me that And if I strike my damp and dizzy head handkerchief !—My brain is hurt; My hot palm scorches it: her very My eyes are full of blood; just wipe name,
them for me But spoken by a stranger, makes my I see but indistinctly heart
My sweet child, Sicken and pant; and thus unprofitably You have no wound; 'tis only a cold I clasp the phantom of unfelt delights
That starts from your dear brow . . Lucretia. What ails thee, my poor Alas! Alas!
child ? She answers not : What has befallen?
Her spirit apprehends the sense of pain, Beatrice. How comes this hair But not its cause ; suffering has dried away undone?
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.-0, horrible! Misery has killed its father : yet its father The pavement sinks under my feet! Never like mine O, God! What The walls
thing am I? Spin round! I see a woman weeping Lucretia. My dearest child, what there,
has your father done? And standing calm and motionless, Beatrice (doubtfully). Who art thou, whilst I
questioner ? I have no father. Slide giddily as the world reels. . . (Aside.) She is the madhouse nurse who My God!
tends on me, The beautiful blue heaven is flecked It is a piteous office. with blood !
(To LUCRETIA, in a slow, subdued voice.) The sunshine on the floor is black! The
Do you know air
I thought I was that wretched Beatrice Is changed to vapours such as the dead Men speak of, whom her father somebreathe
times hales In charnel pits! Pah! I am choked! From hall to hall by the entangled hair;
At others, pens up naked in damp cells A clinging, black, contaminating mist Where scaly reptiles crawl, and starves About me 'tis substantial, heavy, her there, thick,
Till she will eat strange flesh. This I cannot pluck it from me, for it glues My fingers and my limbs to one another, So did I overact in my sick dreams, And eats into my sinews, and dissolves That I imagined . .
no, it cannot be! My flesh to a pollution, poisoning Horrible things have been in this wild The subtle, pure, and inmost spirit of world, life!
Prodigious mixtures, and confusions My God! I never knew what the mad
Of good and ill; and worse have been Before; for I am mad beyond all doubt! conceived (More wildly.) No, I am dead ! These Than ever there was found a heart to do. putrefying limbs
But never fancy imaged such a deed Shut round and sepulchre the panting As ... (Pauses, suddenly recollecting soul
herself.) Which would burst forth into the wander- Who art thou? Swear to me, ere ing air !
I die What hideous thought was that I had With fearful expectation, that indeed even now?
Thou art not what thou seémest 'Tis gone; and yet its burthen remains
Oh! O'er these dull eyes . . . upon this weary My sweet child, know you . heart!
Yet speak it not : O, world! O, lise! O, day! O, misery! | For then if this be truth, that other 100