Imatges de pàgina

My answer.

The oppressor and the oppressed-such pangs compel
What is it thou wouldst with me?
Judge. Art thou not guilty of thy father's death?
Beatr. Or wilt thou rather tax high judging God
That he permitted such an act as that

Which I have suffered, and which he beheld;
Made it unutterable, and took from it

All refuge, all revenge, all consequence,

But that which thou hast called my father's death?
Which is or is not what men call a crime,
Which either I have done, or have not done;
Say what ye will. I shall deny no more.

If ye desire it thus, thus let it be.

And so an end of all. Now do your will;

No other pains shall force another word.

Judge. She is convicted, but has not confessed.

Be it enough. Until their final sentence

Let none have converse with them. You, young lord,
Linger not here!

Beatr. O, tear him not away!

Judge. Guards do your duty.

Ber. [Embracing BEATRICE]. Oh! would ye divide body from soul?

Officer. That is the headsman's business."

[Exeunt all but LUCRETIA, BEATRICE, and GIACOMO.

Giac. Have I confessed? Is it all over now?

No hope! No refuge! O weak, wicked tongue,

Which hast destroyed me, would that thou hadst been

Cut out and thrown to dogs first? To have killed

My father first, and then betrayed my sister;
Ay, thee! the one thing innocent and pure
In this black guilty world, to that which I
So well deserve! My wife! my little ones!
Destitute, helpless, and I-Father! God!
Canst thou forgive even the unforgiving,
When their full hearts break thus, thus !

Lucr. O, my child!

[Covers his face, and weeps.

To what a dreadful end are we all come !

Why did I yield? Why did I not sustain

Those torments? Oh, that I were all dissolved
Into these fast and unavailing tears,

Which flow and feel not!

Beatr. What 'twas weak to do,

'Tis weaker to lament, once being done;

Take cheer! The God who knew my wrong, and made
Our speedy act the angel of his wrath,

Secms, and but seems to have abandoned us.

Let us not think that we shall die for this.
Brother, sit near me; give me your firm hand,
You had a manly heart. Bear up! Bear up!
O, dearest lady, put your gentle head
Upon my lap, and try to sleep awhile:
Your eyes look pale, hollow, and overworn,
With heaviness of watching and slow grief.
Come, I will sing you some low, sleepy tune,
Not cheerful, nor yet sad; some dull old thing,
Some outworn and unused monotony,
Such as our country gossips sing and spin,

Till they almost forget they live: lie down !

So, that will do.

Have I forgot the words?
Faith! They are sadder than I thought they were.


False friend, wilt thou smile or weep
When my life is laid asleep?

Little cares for a smile or a tear,
The clay-cold corpse upon the bier!
Farewell! Heigho!

What is this whispers low?
There is a snake in thy smile, my dear;
And bitter poison within thy tear.

Sweet sleep, were death like to thee,
Or if thou couldst mortal be,

I would close these eyes of pain;
When to wake? Never again.
O world! Farewell!

Listen to the passing bell!

It says, thou and I must part,
With a light and a heavy heart.

SCENE IV.-A Hall of the Prison.


[The scene closes

Cam. The Pope is stern; not to be moved or bent.
He looked as calm and keen as is the engine
Which tortures and which kills, exempt itself

From aught that it inflicts; a marble form,

A rite, a law, a custom: not a man.

He frowned, as if to frown had been the trick

Of his machinery, on the advocates

Presenting the defences, which he tore

And threw behind, muttering with hoarse, harsh voice:
Which among ye defended their old father,

Killed in his sleep?" Then to another: "Thou

Dost this in virtue of thy place; 'tis well."

He turned to me then, looking deprecation,

And said these three words, coldly: "They must die."

Ber. And yet you left him not?

Cam. I urged him still;

Pleading, as I could guess, the devilish wrong

Which prompted your unnatural parent's death.

And he replied: "Paolo Santa Croce

Murdered his mother yester evening,

And he is fled. Parricide grows so rife,

That soon, for some just cause, no doubt, the young
Will strangle us all, dozing in our chairs.

Authority, and power, and hoary hair,

Are grown crimes capital. You are my nephew,
You come to ask their pardon; stay a moment;

Here is their sentence; never see me more

Till, to the letter, it be all fulfilled."

Ber. O God, not so! I did believe indeed That all you said was but sad preparation

For happy news. O, there are words and looks
To bend the sternest purpose! Once I knew them,
Now I forget them at my dearest need.

What think you if I seek him out, and bathe
His feet and robe with hot and bitter tears?
Importune him with prayers, vexing his brain
With my perpetual cries, until in rage

He strike me with his pastoral cross, and trample
Upon my prostrate head, so that my blood
May stain the senseless dust on which he treads,
And remorse waken mercy? I will do it!
O, wait till I return!

Cam. Alas! poor boy!

A wreck-devoted seaman thus might pray
To the deaf sea.

[Rushes out.


Beatr. I hardly dare to fear

That thou bring'st other news than a just pardon.

Cam. May God in heaven be less inexorable

To the Pope's prayers, than he has been to mine.
Here is the sentence and the warrant.

Beatr. [Wildly]. Oh,

My God! can it be possible I have

To die so suddenly? So young to go

Under the obscure, cold, rotting, wormy ground!

To be nailed down into a narrow place;

To see no more sweet sunshine; hear no more
Blithe voice of living thing; muse not again
Upon familiar thoughts, sad, yet thus lost-
How fearful! To be nothing! Or to be-
What? O, where am I? Let me not go mad!

Sweet Heaven, forgive weak thoughts! If there should be
No God, no Heaven, no Earth in the void world;
The wide, grey, lampless, deep, unpeopled world!
If all things then should be-my father's spirit,
His eye, his voice, his touch, surrounding me;
The atmosphere and breath of my dead life!
If sometimes, as a shape more like himself,
Even the form which tortured me on earth,
Masked in grey hairs and wrinkles, he should come
And wind me in his hellish arms, and fix

His eyes on mine, and drag me down, down, down
For was he not alone omnipotent

On earth and ever present? Even though dead,
Does not his spirit live in all that breathe,
And work for me and mine still the same ruin,
Scorn, pain, despair? Who ever yet returned
To teach the laws of death's untrodden realm ?
Unjust perhaps as those which drive us now,
O, whither, whither?

Lucr. Trust in God's sweet love,

The tender promises of Christ: ere night
Think we shall be in Paradise.

Beatr. "Tis past!

Whatever comes, my heart shall sink no more.

And yet, I know not why, your words strike chill:
How tedious, false, and cold seem all things. I

Have met with much injustice in this world;
No difference has been made by God or man,
Or any power moulding my wretched lot,
"Twixt good or evil, as regarded me.

I am cut off from the only world I know,

From light, and life, and love, in youth's sweet prime.

You do well telling me to trust in God:

I hope I do trust in him. In whom else

Can any trust? And yet my heart is cold.

[During the latter speeches GIACOMO has retired conversing with CAMILLO, who now goes out. GIACOMO advances],

Giac. Know you not, mother-sister, know you not? Bernardo even now is gone to implore

The Pope to grant our pardon.

Lucr. Child, perhaps

It will be granted. We may all then live
To make these woes a tale for distant years:

O, what a thought! It gushes to my heart
Like the warm blood.

Beatr. Yet both will soon be cold.

O, trample out that thought! Worse than despair,
Worse than the bitterness of death, is hope:

It is the only ill which can find place

Upon the giddy, sharp and narrow hour

Tottering beneath us.

Plead with the swift frost

O, plead

That it should spare the eldest flower of spring:
Plead with awakening earthquake, o'er whose couch
Even now a city stands, strong, fair and free;
Now stench and blackness yawn, like death.
With famine, or wind-walking pestilence,
Blind lightning, or the deaf sea, not with man!
Cruel, cold, formal man! righteous in words,
In deeds a Cain. No, mother, we must die:
Since such is the reward of innocent lives;
Such the alleviation of worst wrongs.

And whilst our murderers live, and hard, cold men,
Smiling and slow, walk through a world of tears
To death as to life's sleep; 'twere just the grave

Were some strange joy for us. Come, obscure Death,
And wind me in thine all-embracing armis !

Like a fond mother hide me in thy bosom,

And rock me to the sleep from which none wake.
Live ye, who live, subject to one another

As we were once, who now


BERNARDO rushes in.

Oh, horrible!

That tears, that looks, that hope poured forth in prayer,
Even till the heart is vacant and despairs,

Should all be vain! The ministers of death

Are waiting round the doors. I thought I saw
Blood on the face of one-what if 'twere fancy?
Soon the heart's blood of all I love on earth
Will sprinkle him, and he will wipe it off
As if 'twere only rain. O life! O world!
Cover me! let me be no more! To see
That perfect mirror of pure innocence
Wherein I gazed, and grew happy and good,

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Who made all lovely thou didst look upon-
Thee, light of life-dead, dark! while I say, sister,
To hear I have no sister; and thou, mother,

Whose love was a bond to all our loves

Dead! The sweet bond broken!

Enter CAMILLO and Guards.

They come! Let me

Kiss those warm lips before their crimson leaves
Are blighted-white-cold. Say farewell, before
Death chokes that gentle voice! O, let me hear
You speak!

Beatr. Farewell, my tender brother. Think
Of our sad fate with gentleness, as now:

And let mild pitying thoughts lighten for thee
Thy sorrow's load. Err not in harsh despair,
But tears and patience. One thing more, my child,
For thine own sake be constant to the love
Thou bearest us; and to the faith that I,

Though wrapt in a strange cloud of crime and shame,
Lived ever holy and unstained. And though

Ill tongues shall wound me, and our common name
Be as a mark stamped on thine innocent brow
For men to point at as they pass, do thou
Forbear, and never think a thought unkind
Of those, who perhaps love thee in their graves.
So mayest thou die as I do; fear and pain
Being subdued. Farewell! farewell! farewell!
Ber. I cannot say, farewell!

Cam. O, Lady Beatrice!

Beatr. Give yourself no unnecessary pain,
My dear Lord Cardinal. Here, mother, tie
My girdle for me, and bind up this hair
In any simple knot; ay, that does well.

And yours I see is coming down. How often
Have we done this for one another! now
We shall not do it any more. My lord,
We are quite ready. Well, 'tis very well.


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