CONTENTS      BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD


The Cenci: A Tragedy in Five Acts.



DRAMATIS PERSONÆ

      COUNT FRANCESCO CENCI.
      GIACOMO, BERNARDO, his Sons.
      CARDINAL CAMILLO.
      PRINCE COLONNA.
      ORSINO, a Prelate.
      SAVELLA, the Pope's Legate.
      OLIMPIO, MARZIO, Assassins.
      ANDREA, Servant to CENCI.
      NOBLES. JUDGES. GUARDS, SERVANTS.
      LUCRETIA, Wife of CENCI and Stepmother of his children.
      BEATRICE, his Daughter.
      The SCENE lies principally in Rome, but changes during the fourth 
                Act to Pretrella, a castle among the Apulian Apennines.
      TIME. During the Pontificate of Clement VIII.


Act V



SCENE I.--An Apartment in ORSINO'S Palace. Enter ORSINO and GIACOMO.

GIACOMO
      Do evil deeds thus quickly come to end?
      Oh, that the vain remorse which must chastise
      Crimes done had but as loud a voice to warn
      As its keen sting is mortal to avenge!
      Oh, that the hour when present had cast off
      The mantle of its mystery, and shown
      The ghastly form with which it now returns
      When its scared game is roused, cheering the hounds
      Of conscience to their prey! Alas, alas!
      It was a wicked thought, a piteous deed,                        10
      To kill an old and hoary-headed father.

ORSINO
      It has turned out unluckily, in truth.

GIACOMO
      To violate the sacred doors of sleep;
      To cheat kind nature of the placid death
      Which she prepares for overwearied age;
      To drag from Heaven an unrepentant soul,
      Which might have quenched in reconciling prayers
      A life of burning crimes--

ORSINO
                                  You cannot say
      I urged you to the deed.

GIACOMO
                                Oh, had I never
      Found in thy smooth and ready countenance                       20
      The mirror of my darkest thoughts; hadst thou
      Never with hints and questions made me look
      Upon the monster of my thought, until
      It grew familiar to desire--

ORSINO
                                    'T is thus
      Men cast the blame of their unprosperous acts
      Upon the abettors of their own resolve;
      Or anything but their weak, guilty selves.
      And yet, confess the truth, it is the peril
      In which you stand that gives you this pale sickness
      Of penitence; confess 't is fear disguised                      30
      From its own shame that takes the mantle now
      Of thin remorse. What if we yet were safe?

GIACOMO
      How can that be? Already Beatrice,
      Lucretia and the murderer are in prison.
      I doubt not officers are, whilst we speak,
      Sent to arrest us.

ORSINO
                          I have all prepared
      For instant flight. We can escape even now,
      So we take fleet occasion by the hair.

GIACOMO
      Rather expire in tortures, as I may.
      What! will you cast by self-accusing flight                     40
      Assured conviction upon Beatrice?
      She who alone, in this unnatural work
      Stands like God's angel ministered upon
      By fiends; avenging such a nameless wrong
      As turns black parricide to piety;
      Whilst we for basest ends--I fear, Orsino,
      While I consider all your words and looks,
      Comparing them with your proposal now,
      That you must be a villain. For what end
      Could you engage in such a perilous crime,                      50
      Training me on with hints, and signs, and smiles,
      Even to this gulf? Thou art no liar? No,
      Thou art a lie! Traitor and murderer!
      Coward and slave! But no--defend thyself;
                                                             (Drawing)
      Let the sword speak what the indignant tongue
      Disdains to brand thee with.

ORSINO
                                    Put up your weapon.
      Is it the desperation of your fear
      Makes you thus rash and sudden with a friend,
      Now ruined for your sake? If honest anger
      Have moved you, know, that what I just proposed                 60
      Was but to try you. As for me, I think
      Thankless affection led me to this point,
      From which, if my firm temper could repent,
      I cannot now recede. Even whilst we speak,
      The ministers of justice wait below;
      They grant me these brief moments. Now, if you
      Have any word of melancholy comfort
      To speak to your pale wife, 't were best to pass
      Out at the postern, and avoid them so.

GIACOMO
      O generous friend! how canst thou pardon me?                    70
      Would that my life could purchase thine!

ORSINO
                                                That wish
      Now comes a day too late. Haste; fare thee well!
      Hear'st thou not steps along the corridor?
                                                        [Exit GIACOMO.
      I 'm sorry for it; but the guards are waiting
      At his own gate, and such was my contrivance
      That I might rid me both of him and them.
      I thought to act a solemn comedy
      Upon the painted scene of this new world,
      And to attain my own peculiar ends
      By some such plot of mingled good and ill                       80
      As others weave; but there arose a Power
      Which grasped and snapped the threads of my device,
      And turned it to a net of ruin--Ha!
                                                    (A shout is heard)
      Is that my name I hear proclaimed abroad?
      But I will pass, wrapped in a vile disguise,
      Rags on my back and a false innocence
      Upon my face, through the misdeeming crowd,
      Which judges by what seems. 'T is easy then,
      For a new name and for a country new,
      And a new life fashioned on old desires,                        90
      To change the honors of abandoned Rome.
      And these must be the masks of that within,
      Which must remain unaltered.--Oh, I fear
      That what is past will never let me rest!
      Why, when none else is conscious, but myself,
      Of my misdeeds, should my own heart's contempt
      Trouble me? Have I not the power to fly
      My own reproaches? Shall I be the slave
      Of--what? A word? which those of this false world
      Employ against each other, not themselves,                     100
      As men wear daggers not for self-offence.
      But if I am mistaken, where shall I
      Find the disguise to hide me from myself,
      As now I skulk from every other eye?
                                                                [Exit.

SCENE II.--A Hall of Justice. CAMILLO, JUDGES, etc., are discovered seated; MARZIO is led in.

FIRST JUDGE
      Accused, do you persist in your denial?
      I ask you, are you innocent, or guilty?
      I demand who were the participators
      In your offence. Speak truth, and the whole truth.

MARZIO
      My God! I did not kill him; I know nothing;
      Olimpio sold the robe to me from which
      You would infer my guilt.

SECOND JUDGE
                                 Away with him!

FIRST JUDGE
      Dare you, with lips yet white from the rack's kiss,
      Speak false? Is it so soft a questioner
      That you would bandy lover's talk with it,                      10
      Till it wind out your life and soul? Away!

MARZIO
      Spare me! Oh, spare! I will confess.

FIRST JUDGE
                                            Then speak.

MARZIO
      I strangled him in his sleep.

FIRST JUDGE
                                     Who urged you to it?

MARZIO
      His own son Giacomo and the young prelate
      Orsino sent me to Petrella; there
      The ladies Beatrice and Lucretia
      Tempted me with a thousand crowns, and I
      And my companion forthwith murdered him.
      Now let me die.

FIRST JUDGE
      This sounds as bad as truth.
      Guards, there, lead forth the prisoners.

Enter LUCRETIA, BEATRICE and GIACOMO, guarded
      Look upon this man;                                             20
      When did you see him last?

BEATRICE
                                  We never saw him.

MARZIO
      You know me too well, Lady Beatrice.

BEATRICE
      I know thee! how? where? when?

MARZIO
                                      You know 't was I
      Whom you did urge with menaces and bribes
      To kill your father. When the thing was done,
      You clothed me in a robe of woven gold,
      And bade me thrive; how I have thriven, you see.
      You, my Lord Giacomo, Lady Lucretia,
      You know that what I speak is true.
[BEATRICE advances towards him; he covers his face, and shrinks back.
                                           Oh, dart
      The terrible resentment of those eyes                           30
      On the dead earth! Turn them away from me!
      They wound; 't was torture forced the truth. My Lords,
      Having said this, let me be led to death.

BEATRICE
      Poor wretch, I pity thee; yet stay awhile.

CAMILLO
      Guards, lead him not away.

BEATRICE
                                  Cardinal Camillo,
      You have a good repute for gentleness
      And wisdom; can it be that you sit here
      To countenance a wicked farce like this?
      When some obscure and trembling slave is dragged
      From sufferings which might shake the sternest heart            40
      And bade to answer, not as he believes,
      But as those may suspect or do desire
      Whose questions thence suggest their own reply;
      And that in peril of such hideous torments
      As merciful God spares even the damned. Speak now
      The thing you surely know, which is, that you,
      If your fine frame were stretched upon that wheel,
      And you were told, 'Confess that you did poison
      Your little nephew; that fair blue-eyed child
      Who was the lodestar of your life;' and though                  50
      All see, since his most swift and piteous death,
      That day and night, and heaven and earth, and time,
      And all the things hoped for or done therein,
      Are changed to you, through your exceeding grief,
      Yet you would say, 'I confess anything,'
      And beg from your tormentors, like that slave,
      The refuge of dishonorable death.
      I pray thee, Cardinal, that thou assert
      My innocence.

CAMILLO (much moved)
                     What shall we think, my Lords?
      Shame on these tears! I thought the heart was frozen            60
      Which is their fountain. I would pledge my soul
      That she is guiltless.

JUDGE
                              Yet she must be tortured.

CAMILLO
      I would as soon have tortured mine own nephew
      (If he now lived, he would be just her age;
      His hair, too, was her color, and his eyes
      Like hers in shape, but blue and not so deep)
      As that most perfect image of God's love
      That ever came sorrowing upon the earth.
      She is as pure as speechless infancy!

JUDGE
      Well, be her purity on your head, my Lord,                      70
      If you forbid the rack. His Holiness
      Enjoined us to pursue this monstrous crime
      By the severest forms of law; nay, even
      To stretch a point against the criminals.
      The prisoners stand accused of parricide
      Upon such evidence as justifies
      Torture.

BEATRICE
                What evidence? This man's?

JUDGE
                                            Even so.

BEATRICE (to MARZIO)
      Come near. And who art thou, thus chosen forth
      Out of the multitude of living men,
      To kill the innocent?

MARZIO
                             I am Marzio,                             80
      Thy father's vassal.

BEATRICE
                            Fix thine eyes on mine;
      Answer to what I ask.
                                               (Turning to the Judges)
                             I prithee mark
      His countenance; unlike bold calumny,
      Which sometimes dares not speak the thing it looks,
      He dares not look the thing he speaks, but bends
      His gaze on the blind earth.

(To MARZIO)
                                    What! wilt thou say
      That I did murder my own father?

MARZIO
                                        Oh!
      Spare me! My brain swims round--I cannot speak--
      It was that horrid torture forced the truth.
      Take me away! Let her not look on me!                           90
      I am a guilty miserable wretch!
      I have said all I know; now, let me die!

BEATRICE
      My Lords, if by my nature I had been
      So stern as to have planned the crime alleged,
      Which your suspicions dictate to this slave
      And the rack makes him utter, do you think
      I should have left this two-edged instrument
      Of my misdeed; this man, this bloody knife,
      With my own name engraven on the heft,
      Lying unsheathed amid a world of foes,                         100
      For my own death? that with such horrible need
      For deepest silence I should have neglected
      So trivial a precaution as the making
      His tomb the keeper of a secret written
      On a thief's memory? What is his poor life?
      What are a thousand lives? A parricide
      Had trampled them like dust; and see, he lives!
                                                   (Turning to MARZIO)
      And thou--

MARZIO
                  Oh, spare me! Speak to me no more!
      That stern yet piteous look, those solemn tones,
      Wound worse than torture.
(To the Judges)
                                 I have told it all;                 110
      For pity's sake lead me away to death.

CAMILLO
      Guards, lead him nearer the Lady Beatrice;
      He shrinks from her regard like autumn's leaf
      From the keen breath of the serenest north.

BEATRICE
      O thou who tremblest on the giddy verge
      Of life and death, pause ere thou answerest me;
      So mayst thou answer God with less dismay.
      What evil have we done thee? I, alas!
      Have lived but on this earth a few sad years,
      And so my lot was ordered that a father                        120
      First turned the moments of awakening life
      To drops, each poisoning youth's sweet hope; and then
      Stabbed with one blow my everlasting soul,
      And my untainted fame; and even that peace
      Which sleeps within the core of the heart's heart.
      But the wound was not mortal; so my hate
      Became the only worship I could lift
      To our great Father, who in pity and love
      Armed thee, as thou dost say, to cut him off;
      And thus his wrong becomes my accusation.                      130
      And art thou the accuser? If thou hopest
      Mercy in heaven, show justice upon earth;
      Worse than a bloody hand is a hard heart.
      If thou hast done murders, made thy life's path
      Over the trampled laws of God and man,
      Rush not before thy Judge, and say: 'My Maker,
      I have done this and more; for there was one
      Who was most pure and innocent on earth;
      And because she endured what never any,
      Guilty or innocent, endured before,                            140
      Because her wrongs could not be told, nor thought,
      Because thy hand at length did rescue her,
      I with my words killed her and all her kin.'
      Think, I adjure you, what it is to slay
      The reverence living in the minds of men
      Towards our ancient house and stainless fame!
      Think what it is to strangle infant pity,
      Cradled in the belief of guileless looks,
      Till it become a crime to suffer. Think
      What 't is to blot with infamy and blood                       150
      All that which shows like innocence, and is--
      Hear me, great God!--I swear, most innocent;
      So that the world lose all discrimination
      Between the sly, fierce, wild regard of guilt,
      And that which now compels thee to reply
      To what I ask: Am I, or am I not
      A parricide?

MARZIO
                    Thou art not!

JUDGE
                                   What is this?

MARZIO
      I here declare those whom I did accuse
      Are innocent. 'T is I alone am guilty.

JUDGE
      Drag him away to torments; let them be                         160
      Subtle and long drawn out, to tear the folds
      Of the heart's inmost cell. Unbind him not
      Till he confess.

MARZIO
                        Torture me as ye will;
      A keener pang has wrung a higher truth
      From my last breath. She is most innocent!
      Bloodhounds, not men, glut yourselves well with me!
      I will not give you that fine piece of nature
      To rend and ruin.
                                             [Exit MARZIO, guarded.

CAMILLO
                         What say ye now, my Lords?

JUDGE
      Let tortures strain the truth till it be white
      As snow thrice-sifted by the frozen wind.                      170

CAMILLO
      Yet stained with blood.

JUDGE (to BEATRICE)
                               Know you this paper, Lady?

BEATRICE
      Entrap me not with questions. Who stands here
      As my accuser? Ha! wilt thou be he,
      Who art my judge? Accuser, witness, judge,
      What, all in one? Here is Orsino's name;
      Where is Orsino? Let his eye meet mine.
      What means this scrawl? Alas! ye know not what.
      And therefore on the chance that it may be
      Some evil, will ye kill us?

Enter an Officer

OFFICER
                                   Marzio 's dead.

JUDGE
      What did he say?

OFFICER
                        Nothing. As soon as we                       180
      Had bound him on the wheel, he smiled on us,
      As one who baffles a deep adversary;
      And holding his breath died.

JUDGE
                                    There remains nothing
      But to apply the question to those prisoners
      Who yet remain stubborn.

CAMILLO
                                I overrule
      Further proceedings, and in the behalf
      Of these most innocent and noble persons
      Will use my interest with the Holy Father.

JUDGE
      Let the Pope's pleasure then be done. Meanwhile
      Conduct these culprits each to separate cells;                 190
      And be the engines ready; for this night,
      If the Pope's resolution be as grave,
      Pious, and just as once, I 'll wring the truth
      Out of those nerves and sinews, groan by groan.
                                                              [Exeunt.

SCENE III.--The Cell of a Prison. BEATRICE is discovered asleep on a couch.

Enter BERNARDO

BERNARDO
      How gently slumber rests upon her face,
      Like the last thoughts of some day sweetly spent,
      Closing in night and dreams, and so prolonged.
      After such torments as she bore last night,
      How light and soft her breathing comes. Ay me!
      Methinks that I shall never sleep again.
      But I must shake the heavenly dew of rest
      From this sweet folded flower, thus--wake, awake!
      What, sister, canst thou sleep?

BEATRICE (awaking)
                                       I was just dreaming
      That we were all in Paradise. Thou knowest                      10
      This cell seems like a kind of Paradise
      After our father's presence.

BERNARDO
                                    Dear, dear sister,
      Would that thy dream were not a dream! Oh, God,
      How shall I tell?

BEATRICE
                         What wouldst thou tell, sweet brother?

BERNARDO
      Look not so calm and happy, or even whilst
      I stand considering what I have to say,
      My heart will break.

BEATRICE
                            See now, thou mak'st me weep;
      How very friendless thou wouldst be, dear child,
      If I were dead. Say what thou hast to say.

BERNARDO
      They have confessed; they could endure no more                  20
      The tortures--

BEATRICE
                      Ha! what was there to confess?
      They must have told some weak and wicked lie
      To flatter their tormentors. Have they said
      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 splendor laid in dust?                    30
      And that eternal honor, which should live
      Sunlike, above the reek of mortal fame,
      Changed to a mockery and a byword? 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                  40
      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.                           50
      'T is but the falsehood it can wring from fear
      Makes the rack cruel.

GIACOMO
                             They will tear the truth
      Even from thee at last, those cruel pains;
      For pity's sake say thou art guilty now.

LUCRETIA
      Oh, speak the truth! Let us all quickly die;
      And after death, God is our judge, not they;
      He will have mercy on us.

BERNARDO
                                 If indeed
      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                       60
      Your limbs with such keen tortures--

BEATRICE
                                            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 soul,
      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                      70
      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;                     80
      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.                        90
      Be it enough. Until their final sentence
      Let none have converse with them. You, young Lord,
      Linger not here!

BEATRICE
                        Oh, tear him not away!

JUDGE
      Guards! do your duty.

BERNARDO (embracing BEATRICE)
                             Oh! would ye divide
      Body from soul?

OFFICER
                       That is the headsman's business.
                   [Exeunt 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--                 100
      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 weeps)

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, that I were all dissolved
      Into these fast and unavailing tears,                          110
      Which flow and feel not!

BEATRICE
                                What 't was weak to do,
      'T is 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!
      O dearest Lady, put your gentle head
      Upon my lap, and try to sleep awhile;                          120
      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.

SONG
        False friend, wilt thou smile or weep                        130
        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;                            140
        When to wake? Never again.
          O World! farewell!
          Listen to the passing bell!
        It say, thou and I must part,
        With a light and a heavy heart.
                                                    (The scene closes)

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                       10
      Killed in his sleep?' then to another--'Thou
      Dost this in virtue of thy place; 't is well.'
      He turned to me then, looking deprecation,
      And said these three words, coldly--'They must die.'

BERNARDO
      And yet you left him not?

CAMILLO
                                 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,                        20
      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
      Oh, God, not so! I did believe indeed
      That all you said was but sad preparation
      For happy news. Oh, there are words and looks                   30
      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!                          40
      Oh, 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

BEATRICE
                        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.

BEATRICE (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!                 50
      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? Oh, 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, gray, lampless, deep, unpeopled world!
      If all things then should be--my father's spirit,               60
      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 gray 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,                   70
      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,
      Oh, whither, whither?

LUCRETIA
                             Trust in God's sweet love,
      The tender promises of Christ; ere night,
      Think we shall be in Paradise.

BEATRICE
                                      'T is 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                 80
      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)

GIACOMO
      Know you not, mother--sister, know you not?                     90
      Bernardo even now is gone to implore
      The Pope to grant our pardon.

LUCRETIA
                                     Child, perhaps
      It will be granted. We may all then live
      To make these woes a tale for distant years.
      Oh, what a thought! It gushes to my heart
      Like the warm blood.

BEATRICE
                            Yet both will soon be cold.
      Oh, 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                         100
      Tottering beneath us. Plead with the swift frost
      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. Oh, plead
      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,                    110
      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; 't were just the grave
      Were some strange joy for us. Come, obscure Death,
      And wind me in thine all-embracing arms!
      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

BERNARDO
                                  Oh, horrible!                      120
      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 't were fancy?
      Soon the heart's blood of all I love on earth
      Will sprinkle him, and he will wipe it off
      As if 't were only rain. O life! O world!
      Cover me! let me be no more! To see
      That perfect mirror of pure innocence                          130
      Wherein I gazed, and grew happy and good,
      Shivered to dust! To see thee, Beatrice,
      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 as 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! Oh, let me hear                140
      You speak!

BEATRICE
                  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 wrapped in a strange cloud of crime and shame,
      Lived ever holy and unstained. And though
      Ill tongues shall wound me, and our common name                150
      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!

BERNARDO
      I cannot say farewell!

CAMILLO
                              O Lady Beatrice!

BEATRICE
      Give yourself no unnecessary pain,
      My dear Lord Cardinal. Here, mother, tie
      My girdle for me, and bind up this hair                        160
      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--'t is very well.


CONTENTS      BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD


 
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