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Their hungry rest with bitterness, now sleeps
Lapp'd in bad pleasures, and triumphantly
Mocks thee in visions of successful hate
Too like the truth of day.
If e'er he wakes
Again, I will not trust to hireling hands.
Why, that were well. I must be gone; good night!
When next we meet—
May all be done—and all
Forgotten.—Oh, that I had never been
ACT IV. SCENE i. An Apartment in the Castle of Petrella. Enter CENci.
cenci. She comes not; yet I left her even now Wanquish'd and faint. She knows the penalty Of her delay: yet what if threats are vain? Am I now not within Petrella's moat? Or fear I still the eyes and ears of Rome? Might I not drag her by the golden hair? Stamp on her? Keep her sleepless till her brain Be overworn ? Tame her with chains and famine? Less would suffice. Yet so to leave undone What I most seek " No, "t is her stubborn will, Which by its own consent shall stoop as low As that which drags it down.
Thou loathed wretch! Hide thce from my abhorrence; Fly, bebone! Yet stay! Bid Beatrice come hither. Lucia Eti A. o Oh, IIusband' I pray, for thine own wretched sake, Heed what thou dost. A man who walks like thee Through crimes, and through the danger of his crimes, Each hour may stumble o'er a sudden grave. And thou art old; thy hairs are hoary grey; As thou wouldst save thyself from death and hell, Pity thy daughter; give her to some friend In marriage : so that she may tempt thee not To hatred, or worse thoughts, if worse there be. cENct. . What! like her sister, who has found a home To mock my hate from with prosperity? Strange ruin shall destroy both her and thee, And all that yet remain. My death may be stapid, her destiny outspeeds it. Go, Bid her come hither, and before my mood Be changed, lest I should drag her by the hair. LU castiA. She sent me to thee, husband. At thy presence Slic fell, as thou dost know, into a trance; And in that trance she heard a voice which said, • Cenci must die! Let him confess himself! Even now the accusing Angel waits to hear
If God, to punish his enormous crimes,
Harden his dying heart -
Why—such things are—
No doubt divine revealings may be made.
'T is plain I have been favoured from above,
For when I cursed my sons they died.—Aye—so—
As to the right or wrong, that's talk. Repentance—
Repentance is an easy moment's work,
And more depends on God than me. Well—well—
I must give up the greater point, which was
To poison and corrupt her soul.
[A pause; Lucretia approaches anxiously, and
then shrinks back as he speaks.
Ayc—Rocco and Cristofano my curse
Strangled: and Giacomo, I think, will find
Life a worse Hell than that beyond the grave:
Beatrice shall, if there be skill in hate,
Die in despair, blaspheming : to Bernardo,
He is so innocent, I will bequeath
The memory of these deeds, and make his youth
The sepulchre of hope, where evil thoughts
Shall grow like weeds on a neglected tomb.
When all is done, out in the wide Campagna,
I will pile up my silver and my gold;
My costly robes, paintings, and tapestries;
My parchments and all records of my wealth,
And make a bonfire in my joy, and leave
Of my possessions nothing but my nam
Which,shall be an inheritance to strip
Its wearer bare as infamy. That done,
My soul, which is a scourge, will I resign
Into the hands of him who wielded it;
Be it for its own punishment or theirs,
IIe will not ask it of me till the lash
Be broken in its last and deepest wound;
Until its hate be all inflicted. Yet,
Lest death outspeed my purpose, let me make
Short work and sure.
lucretia (stops him).
Oh, stay ! It was a feint:
She had no vision, and she leard no voice.
I said it but to awe thee.
That is well.
Wile palterer with the sacred truth of God,
Be thy soul choked with that blaspheming lie!
For Beatrice worse terrors are in store
To bend her to my will.
Oh! to what will?
What cruel sufferings more than she has known
Canst thou inflict?
Andrea' go, call my daughter; And if she comes not, tell her that I come. What sufferings? I will drag her, step by step, Through infamies unheard of among men; She shall stand shelterless in the broad noon Of public scorn, for acts blazon'd abroad, One among which shall be—What? Canst thou guess? She shall become (for what she most abliors Shall have a fascination to entrap * Her loathing will), to her own conscious self All she appears to others; and when dead,
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All good shall droop and sicken, and ill things Shall with a spirit of unnatural life
Stir and be quicken'd—even as I am now. [Exit.
SCENE II. Before the Castle of Petrella. Enter DEAthick and Lucaeria above on the ramparts.
They come not yet.
Luca Eti A.
'T is scarce midnight.
Behind the course of thought, even sick with speed,
Lags leaden-footed time!
The minutes pass—
If he should wake before the deed is done?
O, Mother! He must never wake again.
What thou hast said persuades me that our act
Will but dislodge a spirit of deep hell
Out of a human form.
'T is true he spoke
Of death and judgment with strange confidence
For one so wicked; as a man believing
In God, yet recking not of good or ill.
And yet to die without confession'—
BEAt it ice.
Believe that heaven is merciful and just,
And will not add our dread necessity
To the amount of his offences.
Enter Oli Mpio and MA azio, below. LUCRET1A. See, They come. BEAttice. All mortal things must hasten thus To their dark end. Let us go down. [Exeunt Lucaeria and BEAT Rice from above. Olimpio. How feel you to this work MAHzio. As one who thinks A thousand crowns excellent market price For an old murderer's life. Your cheeks are pale. olini pio. It is the white reflection of your own, Which you call pale. m.A. azio. Is that their natural hue? oli Mi pio. Or’t is my hate and the deferr'd desire To wreak it, which extinguishes their blood. MAnzio. You are inclined then to this business? olivipio. Aye. If one should bribe me with a thousand crowns To kill a serpent which had stung my child, I could not be more willing.
Enter BEAtaice and Lucaeria, below.
be ATRice. Are ye resolved 0 LiMPIo. Is he asleep MARZio. Is all Quiet Lucreti A.
I mixed an opiate with his drink: He sleeps so soundly— BEAtri cr. That his death will be But as a change of sin-chastising dreams, A dark continuance of the Hell within him, Which God extinguish' But ye are resolved? Ye know it is a high and holy deed! ol, IM pio. We are resolved. MARzio. As to the how this act Be warranted, it rests with you. Be A Trice. Well, follow : Olimpio. Hush | Hark! What noise is that? MARzto. Ha! some one comes' be Atal ce. 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, follow! And be your steps like mine, light, quick, and bold. [Exeunt.
SCENE iii. An Apartment in the Castle. Enter BEAT Rice and LucastiA.
Luciaetia. They are about it now.
Nay, it is done.
Luck ETIA. I have not heard him groan.
He will not groan.
Luc Reti.A. What sound is that?
List' 't is the tread of feet
About his bed.
If he be now a cold stiff corpse—
O, fear not
What may be done, but what is left undone:
The act seals all.
Enter Olimpio and MARzio. *" Is it accomplished 2
You were not here conspiring You said nothing
Of how I might be dungeon'd as a madman;
Or be condemn'd to death for some offence,
And you would be the witnesses!—This failing,
How just it were to hire assassins, or
Put sudden poison in my evening drink?
Or smother me when overcome by wine?
Seeing we had no other judge but God,
And he had sentenced me, and there were none
But you to be the executioners
Of his decree enregister'd in heaven?
Oh, no! You said not this?
So help me God,
I never thought the things you charge me with !
cEN ci. -
If you dare speak that wicked lie again,
I'll kill you. What! it was not by your counsel
That Beatrice disturb’d the feast last night?
You did not hope to stir some enemies
Against me, and escape, and laugh to scorn
What every nerve of you now trembles at
You judged that men were bolder than they are;
Few dare to stand between their grave and me.
Look not so dreadfully By my salvation
I knew not aught that Beatrice design'd;
Nor do I think she design'd any thing
Until she heard you talk of her dead brothers.
Blaspheming liar! You are damn'd for this!
But I will take you where you may persuade
The stones you tread on to deliver you:
For men shall there be none but those who dare
All things—not question that which I command.
On Wednesday next I shall set out: you know
That savage rock, the Castle of Petrella,
'T is safely wall'd, and moated round about:
Its dungeons under ground, and its thick towers
Never told tales; though they have heard and seen
What might make dumb things speak.-Why do you
Make specdiest preparation for the journey!
The all beholding sun yet shines; I hear
A busy stir of men about the streets;
I see the bright sky through the window panes:
It is a garish, broad, and peering day;
Loud, light, suspicious, full of eyes and ears,
And every little corner, nook and hole
Is penetrated with the insolent light.
Come darkness! Yet, what is the day to me?
And wherefore should I wish for night, who do
A deed which shall confound both night and day?
"T is she shall grope through a bewildering mist
Of horror: if there be a sun in heaven,
She shall not dare to look upon its beams;
Nor feel its warmth. Let her then wish for night;
The act I think shall soon extinguish all
For me: I bear a darker deadlier gloom
Than the earth's shade, or interlunar air,
Or constellations quench'd in murkiest cloud,
In which I walk secure and unbeheld
Towards my purpose.—Would that it were done!
S C E N E i I. A Chamber in the Patican. Enter CAMillo and G1 Acomo, in conversation.
cAM is. Lo. There is an obsolete and doubtful law, By which you might obtain a bare provision Of food and clothing. GIA como. Nothing more? Alas' Bare must be the provision which strict law Awards, and aged sullen avarice pays, Why did my father not apprentice me To some mechanic trade I should have then Been trained in no high-born necessities Which I could meet not by my daily toil. The eldest son of a rich nobleman Is heir to all his incapacities; He has wide wants, and narrow powers. If you, Cardinal Camillo, were reduced at once From thrice-driven beds of down, and delicate food, An hundred servants, and six palaces, To that which nature doth indeed require CAMI LL0. Nay, there is reason in your plea; 't were hard. Giacomo. 'T is hard for a firm man to bear : but I Have a dear wife, a lady of high birth, Whose dowry in ill hour I lent my father, Without a bond or witness to the deed : And children, who inherit her fine senses, The fairest creatures in this breathing world; And she and they reproach me not. Cardinal, Do you not think the Pope would interpose And stretch authority beyond the law? cAM illo. Though your peculiar case is hard, I know The Pope will not divert the course of law. After that impious feast the other night I spoke with him, and urged him then to check
| Your father's cruel hand; he frown'd and said,
• Children are disobedient, and they sting
Their father's hearts to madness and despair,
Requiting years of care with contumely.
I pity the Count Cenci from my heart;
His outraged love perhaps awaken'd hate,
And thus he is exasperated to ill.
In the great war between the old and voung,
I, who have white hairs and a tottering body,
Will keep at least blameless neutrality."
You, my good lord Orsino, heard those words. oasi No.
Giaco M. o.
Alas, repeat them 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,
My innocent sister and my only brother
Are dying underneath my father's eye,
The memorable torturers of this land,
Galeaz Wisconti, Borgia, Ezzelin,
Never inflicted on their meanest slave
What these endure: shall they have no protection?
CAM il. Lo.
Why, if they would petition to the Pope
I see not how he could refuse it—yet
He holds it of most dangerous example
In aught to weaken the paternal power,
Being, as 't were, the shadow of his own.
I pray you now excuse me. I have business
That will not bear delay. [Exit CAMillo.
But you, Orsino,
Have the petition; wherefore not present it?
I have presented it, and backed it with
My earnest prayers, and urgent interest;
It was return'd unanswer'd. I doubt not
But that the strange and execrable deeds
Alleged in it—in truth they might well baffle
Any belief—have turn'd the Pope's displeasure
Upon the accusers from the criminal:
So I should ouess from what Camillo said.
My friend, that palace-walking devil Gold
IIas whispered silence to his Holiness:
And we are left, as scorpions ringed with fire.
What should we do but strike ourselves to death?
For he who is our murderous persecutor
Is shielded by a father's holy name,
Or I would— [Stops abruptly.
What? Fear not to speak your thought.
Words are but holy as the deeds they cover:
A priest who has forsworn the God he serves;
A judge who makes the truth weep at his decree;
A friend who should weave counsel, as I now,
But as the mantle of some selfish guile;
A father who is all a tyrant seems,
Were the profaner for his sacred name.
o, IA Como.
Ask me not what I think; the unwilling brain
Feigns often what it would not; and we trust
Homagination with such phantasies
As the tongue dares not fashion into words,
Which have no words, their horror makes them dim
To the mind's eye—My heart denies itself
To think what you demand.
But a friend's bosom
Is as the inmost cave of our own mind
where we sit shut from the wide gaze of day,
And from the all-communicating air.
You look what I suspected.—
Spare me now!
I am as one lost in a midnight wood,
Who dares not ask some harmless passenger
The path across the wilderness, lest he,
As my thoughts are, should be—a murderer.
I know you are my friend, and all I dare
Speak to my soul that will I trust with thee.
But now my heart is heavy and would take
Lone counsel from a night of sleepless care.
Pardon me, that I say farewell-farewell!
I would that to my own suspected self
I could address a word so full of peace.
Farewell!—Be your thoughts better or more bold.
I had disposed the Cardinal Camillo
To feed his hope with cold encouragement:
It fortunately serves my close designs
That "t is a trick of this same family
To analyse their own and other minds,
Such self-anatomy shall teach the will
Dangerous secrets: for it tempts our powers,
Knowing what must be thought, and may be done,
Into the depth of darkest purposes:
So Cenci fell into the pit; even I,
Since Beatrice unveil'd me to myself,
And made me shrink from what I cannot shun,
Show a poor figure to my own esteem,
To which I grow half reconciled. I'll do
As little mischief as I can; that thought
Shall fee the accuser conscience. [After a pause.
Now what harm
If Cenci should be murdered?—Yet, if murdered,
Wherefore by me? And what if I could take
The profit, yet omit the sin and peril
In such an action? Of all earthly things
I fear a man whose blows outspeed his words;
And such is Cenci: and while Cenci lives
His daughter's dowry were a secret grave
If a priest wins her.—Oh, fair Beatrice!
Would that I loved thee not, or loving tree
Could but despise danger and gold and all,
That frowns between my wish and its effect,
Or smiles beyond it! There is no escape—
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
My hot palm scorches it: her very name,
But spoken by a stranger, makes my heart
Sicken and pant; and thus unprofitably
I clasp the phantom of unfelt delights,
Till weak imagination half possesses
The self-created shadow. Yet much longer
Will I not nurse this life of feverous hours:
From the unravell'd hopes of Giacomo
I must work out my own dear purposes.
I see, as from a tower, the end of all:
Her father dead; her brother bound to me
By a dark secret, surer than the grave;
Her mother scared and unexpostulating,
From the dread manner of her wish achieved:
And shel–Once more take courage, my faint heart;
What dares a friendless maiden match'd with thee?
I have such foresight as assures success!
Some unbeheld divinity doth ever,
When dread events are near, stir up men's minds
To black suggestions; and lie prospers best,
Not who becomes the instrument of ill,
But who can flatter the dark spirit, that makes
Its empire and its prey of other hearts
Till it become his slave—as I will do.