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That they were guilty ? O white innocence,
That thou shouldst wear the mask of guilt to hide
Thine awful and serenest countenance
From those who know thee not!
Enter JUDGE, with LUCRETIA and Giacomo, guarded.
Ignoble hearts !
For some brief spasms of pain, which are at least
As mortal as the limbs through which they pass,
Are centuries of high splendour laid in dust?
And that eternal honour which should live
Sunlike, above the reek of mortal fame,
Changed to a mockery and a by-word? What !
Will you give up these bodies to be dragged
At horses' heels, so that our hair should sweep
The footsteps of the vain and senseless crowd,
Who, that they may make our calamity
Their worship and their spectacle, will leave
The churches and the theatres as void
As their own hearts? Shall the light multitude
Fling, at their choice, curses or faded pity,
Sad funeral flowers to deck a living corpse,
Upon us as we pass, to pass away,
And leave—what memory of our having been?
Infamy, blood, terror, despair? O thou,
Who wert a mother to the parentless,
Kill not thy child! Let not her wrongs kill thee!
Brother, lie down with me upon the rack,
And let us each be silent as a corpse;
It soon will be as soft as any grave.
'Tis but the falsehood it can wring from fear
Makes the rack cruel.
They will tear the truth
Even from thee at last, those cruel pains:
For pity's sake say thou art guilty now.
Lucretia. O, speak the truth! Let us all quickly die :
And after death, God is our judge, not they;
He will bave mercy on us.
It can be true, say so, dear sister mine;
And then the Pope will surely pardon you,
And all be well.
Judge. Confess, or I will warp
Your limbs with such keen tortures-
Tortures! Turn The rack henceforth into a spinning-wheel ! Torture your dog, that he may tell when last He lapped the blood his master shed-not me! My pangs are of the mind, and of the heart
And of the soul; ay, of the inmost soui,
Which weeps within tears as of burning gall
To see, in this ill world where none are true,
My kindred false to their deserted selves.
And with considering all the wretched life
Which I have lived, and its now wretched end;
And the small justice shown by Heaven and Earth
To me or mine; and what a tyrant thou art,
And what slaves these; and what a world we make,
The oppressor and the oppressed-such pangs compel
My answer. What is it thou wouldst with me?
Judge. Art thou not guilty of thy father's death?
Beatrice. 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,
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!
Beatrice. 0, tear him not away !
Judge. Guards ! do your duty.
Bernardo (embracing BEATRICE). Oh! would ye divide
Body from soul ?
That is the headsman's business.
[E.ceunt all but LUCRETIA, BEATRICE, and Giacomo. Giacomo. 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 ?
(Covers his face and wcops Lucretia.
O, my child :
To what a dreadful end are we all come !
Why did I yield ? Why did I not sustain
Those torments? Oh I that I were all dissolved
Into these fast and unavailing tears,
Which flow and feel not!
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,
Seems, 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 !
Oh! 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! Heigh ho!
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 Worid ! 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.
Enter CAMILLO and BERNARDO.
Camillo. 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."
Bernardo. And yet you left him not?
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.”
Bernardo. O, God, not so ! I did believe indeed
That all you said was but sad preparation
For happy news. 0, 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 tramplo
Upon my prostrate head, so that my blood
May stain the senseless dust on which he troads,
And remorse waken mercy? I will do it !
0, wait till I return !
(Rushes out. Camillo.
Alas! poor boy! A wreck-devoted seaman thus might pray To the deaf sea.
Enter LUCRETIA, BEATRICE, and GIACOMO guarded.
I hardly dare to fear
That thou bring'st other news than a just pardon.
Camillo. 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.
My God! Can it be possible I bave
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,
0, whither, whither ?
Trust in God's sweet love,
The tender promises of Christ : ere night
Think we shall be in Paradise.
'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 Glacomo has retired conversing
with CAMILLO, who now goes out ; Giacomo advances.
Giacomo. Know you not, mother-sister, know you not?
Bernardo even now is gone to implore
The Pope to grant our pardon.
It will be granted. We may all then live
To make these woes a tale for distant years :
3. what a thought! It gushes to my heart
Like the warm blood.