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MXIv. • ‘Aye, ye may fear not now the Pestilence, From fabled hell as by a charm withdrawn. All power and faith must pass, since calmly hence In pain and fire have unbelievers gone; And ye must sadly turn away, and moan In secret, to his home each one returning, And to long ages shall this hour be known; And slowly shall its memory, ever burning,

The fond and long embrace which did their hearts unite. Fill this dark night of things with an eternal morning

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xxx. • ‘For me the world is grown too void and cold, Since hope pursues immortal destiny with steps thus slow—therefore shall ye behold How those who love, yet fear not, dare to die; Tell to your children this!' then suddenly He sheathed a dagger in his heart and fell; My brain grew dark in death, and yet to me There came a murmur from the crowd, to tell Of deep and mighty change which suddenly befell.

xxxi. • Then suddenly I stood a winged Thought Before the immortal Senate, and the seat of that star-shining spirit, whence is wrought The strength of its dominion, good and great, The better Genius of this world's estate. His realin around one mighty Fane is spread, Elysian islands bright and fortunate, Calm dwellings of the free and happy dead, where I am sent to lead!... these winged words she said,

Xxxii. And with the silence of her eloquent smile, Bade us embark in her divine canoe; Then at the helm we took our seat, the while Above her head those plumes of dazzling hue into the winds invisible stream she threw, Sitting beside the prow: like gossamer, On the swift breath of morn, the vessel flew O'er the bright whirlpools of that fountain fair, whose shores receded fast, whilst we seem'd lingering there; xxxiii. Till down that mighty stream dark, calm, and fleet, Between a chasm of cedar mountains riven, Chased by the thronging winds whose viewless feet As swift as twinkling beams, had, under Heaven, From woodsandwaves wild sounds and odours driven, The boat led visibly—three nights and days, Borne like a cloud through morn, and noon, and even, we sail'd along the winding watery ways of the vast stream, a long and labyrinthine maze.

xxxiv. A scene of joy and wonder to behold That river's shapes and shadows changing ever, where the broad sunrise, fill'd with deepening gold, Its whirlpools, where all hues did spread and quiver, And where melodious falls did burst and shiver Among rocks clad with flowers, the foam and spray Sparkled like stars upon the sunny river, Or when the moonlight pour’d a holier day, One vast and glittering lake around green islandslay.


Morn, noon, and even, that boat of pearl outran The streams which bore it, like the arrowy cloud of tempest, or the speedier thought of man, which fli-th forth and cannot make abode. Sometimes through forests, deep like night, we glode, Between the walls of mighty mountains crown'd with Cyclopean piles, whose turrets proud, The homes of the departed, dimly frown'd

O'er the bright waves which girt their dark foundations


xxxvi. Sometimes between the wide and flowering meadows, Mile after mile we sail'd, and 't was delight To see far off the sunbeams chase the shadows Over the grass; sometimes beneath the night of wide and vaulted caves, whose roofs were bright With starry gems, we fled, whilst from their deep And dark-green chasms, shades beautiful and white, Amid sweet sounds across our path would sweep, Like swift and lovely dreams that walk the waves of sleep.

xxxvii. And ever as we sail'd, our minds were full Of love and wisdom, which would overflow In converse wild, and sweet, and wonderful; And in quick smiles whose light would come and go, Like music o'er wide waves, and in the flow Of sudden tears, and in the mute caress— For a deep shade was cleft, and we did know, That virtue, though obscured on Earth, not less Survives all mortal change in lasting loveliness.

xxxviii. Three days and nights wesaird, as thought and feeling Number delightful hours—for through the sky The sphered lamps of day and night, revealing New changes and new glories, roll'd on high, Sun, Moon, and moonlike lamps, the progeny Of a diviner Heaven, serene and fair: On the fourth day, wild as a wind-wrought sea The stream became, and fast and faster bare The spirit-winged boat, steadily speeding there. xxxix. Steadily and swift, where the waves roll'd like -ountains within the vast ravine, whose rifts did pour Tumultuous floods from their ten thousand fountains, The thunder of whose earth-uplifting roar Made the air sweep in whirlwinds from the shore, Calm as a shade, the boat of that fair child Securely fled, that rapid stress before, Amid the topmost spray, and sunbows wild, wreathed in the silver mist: in joy and pride we smiled.

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I inscribe with your name, from a distant country, and after an absence whose months have seemed years, this the latest of my literary efforts.

Those writings which I have hitherto published, have been little else than visions which impersonate my own apprehensions of the beautiful and the just. I can also perceive in them the literary defects incidental to youth and impatience; they are dreams of what ought to be, or may be. The drama which I now present to you is a sad reality. I lay aside the presumptuous attitude of an instructor, and am content to paint, with such colours as my own heart furnishes, that which has been.

Had I known a person more highly endowed than yourself with all that it becomes a man to possess, I had solicited for this work the ornament of his name. One more gentle, honourable, innocent and brave; one of more exalted toleration for all who do and think evil, and yet himself more free from evil; one who knows better how to receive, and how to confer a benefit though he must ever confer far more than he can receive; one of simpler, and, in the highest sense of the word, of purer life and manners I never knew : and I had already been fortunate in friendships when your name was added to the list.

In that patient and irreconcileable enmity with domestic and political tyranny and imposture which the tenor of your life has illustrated, and which, had I health and talents should illustrate mine, let us, comforting each other in our task, live and die.

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A Manuscript was communicated to me during my travels in Italy which was copied from the archives of the Cenci Palace at Rome, and contains a detailed account of the horrors which ended in the extinction of one of the noblest and richest families of that city during the Pontificate of Clement Will, in the year, 1599. The story is, that an old man having spent his life in debauchery and wickedness, conceived at length an implacable hatred towards his children; which showed itself towards one daughter under the form of an incestuous passion, aggravated by every circumstance of cruelty and violence. This daughter, after long and vain attempts to

escape from what she considered a perpetual contamination both of body and mind, at length plotted with her mother-in-law and brother to murder their common tyrant. The young maiden, who was urged to this tremendous deed by an impulse which overpowered its horror, was evidently a most gentle and antiable being; a creature formed to adorn and be admired, and thus violently thwarted from her nature by the necessity of circumstance and opinion. The deed was quickly discovered; and in spite of the most earnest prayers made to the Pope by the highest personsin Rome, the criminals were put to death. The old man had during his life repeatedly bought his pardon from the Pope for capital crimes of the most enormous and unspeakable kind, at the price of a hundred thousand crowns; the death therefore of his victims can scarcely be accounted for by the love of justice. The Pope, among other motives for severity, probably felt that whoever killed the Count Cenci deprived his treasury of a certain and copious source of revenue. The Papal Government formerly took the most extraordinary precautions against the publicity of facts which offer so tragical a demonstration of its own wickedness and weakness; so that the communication of the M. S. had become, until very lately, a matter of some difficulty. Such a story, if told so as to present to the reader all the feelings of those who once acted it, their hopes and fears, their confidences and misgivings, their various interests, passions and opinions, acting upon and with each other, yet all conspiring to one tremendous end, would be as a light to make apparent some of the most dark and secret caverns of the human heart. On my arrival at Rome I found that the story of the Cenci was a subject not to be mentioned in Italian society without awakening a deep and breathless interest: and that the feelings of the company never failed to incline to a romantic pity for the wrongs, and a paosionate exculpation of the horrible decd to which they urged her, who has been mingled two centuries with the common dust. All ranks of people knew the outlines of this history, and participated in the overwhelming interest which it seems to have the magic of exciting in the human heart. I had a copy of Guido's picture of Beatrice which is preserved in the Colonna Palace, and my servant instantly recognized it as the portrait of La Cenci. This national and universal interest which the story produces and has produced for two centuries, and among all ranks of people in a great City, where the imaginotion is kept for ever active and awake, first suggested to me the conception of its fitness for a dramatic purpose. In fact it is a tragedy which has already received, from its capacity of awakening and sustaining the sympathy of men, approbation and success. Nothing remained, as I imagined, but to clothe it to the apprehensions of my countrymen in such language and action as would bring it home to their hearts. The deepest and the

sublimest tragic compositions, King Lear and the two Plays in which the tale of OEdipus is told, were stories which already existed in tradition, as matters of popular belief and interest, before Shakspeare and Sophocles made them familiar to the sympathy of all succeeding generations of mankind. This story of the Cenci is indeed eminently fearful and monstrous: any thing like a dry exhibition of it on the stage would be insupportable. The person who would treat such a subject must increase the ideal, and diminish the actual horror of the events, so that the pleasure which arises from the poetry which exists in these tempestuous sufferings and crimes, may mitit;ate the pain of the contemplation of the moral deformity from which they spring. There must also be nothing attempted to make the exhibition subservient to what is vulgarly termed a moral purpose. The highest moral purpose aimed at in the highest species of the drama, is the teaching the human lieart, through its sympathies and antipathics, the knowledge of itself; in proportion to the possession of which knowledge, every human being is wise, just, sincere, tolerant, and kind. If dogmas can do more, it is well ; but a draina is no fit place for the enforcement of them. Undoubtedly, no person can be truly dishonoured by the act of another; and the fit return to make to the most enormous injuries is kindness and forbearance, and a resolution to convert the injurer from his dark passions by peace and love. Revenge, retaliation, atonement, are pernicious mistakes. If Beatrice had thought in this manner she would have been wiser and better; but she would never have been a tragic character: the few whom such an exhibition would have interested, could never have been sufficiently interested for a dramatic purpose, from the want of finding sympathy in their interest among the mass who surround them. It is in the restless and anatomizing casuistry with which men seek the justification of Beatrice, yet feel that she has done what needs justification; it is in the superstitious horror with which they contemplate alike her wrongs and their revenge, that the dramatic character of what she did and suffered consists. I have endeavoured as nearly as possible to represent the characters as they probably were, and have sought to avoid the error of making them actuated by my own conceptions of right or wrong, false or true: thus under a thin veil converting names and actions of the sixteenth century into cold impersonations of my own mind. They are represented as Catholics, and as Catholics deeply tinged with religion. To a protestant apprehension there will appear something unnatural in the earnest and perpetual sentiment of the relations between God and man which pervade the tragedy of the Cenci. It will especially be startled at the combination of an undoubting persuasion of the truth of the popular religion, with a cool and determined perseverance in enormous guilt. But religion in Italy is not, as in protestant countries, a cloak to be worn on particular days; or a passport which those who do not wish to be railed at carry with them to exhibit; or a gloomy passion for penetrating the impenetrable mysteries of our being, which terrifies its possessor at the darkness of the abyss to the brink of which it has conducted him. Religion co-exists, as it were, in the mind of an Italian Catholic with a faith in that of which all men have the nost certain knowledge. It is interwoven with the

whole fabric of life. . It is adoration, faith, submission, penitence, blind admiration; not a rule for moral conduct. It has no necessary connexion with any one virtue. The most atrocious villain may be rigidly devout, and, without any shock to established faith, confess himself to be so. Religion pervades intensely the whole frame of society, and is, according to the temper of the mind which it inhabits, a passion, a persuasion, an excuse; a refuge: never a check. Cenci himself built a chapel in the court of his Palace, and dedicated it to St Thomas the Apostle, and established masses for the peace of his soul. Thus in the first scene of the fourth act Lucretia's design in exposing herself to the consequences of an expostulation with Cenci after having administered the opiate, was to induce him by a feigned tale to confess himself before death; this being esteemed by Catholics as essential to salvation; and she only relinquishes her purpose when she perceives that her perseverance would expose Beatrice to new outrages. I have avoided with great care in writing this play the introduction of what is commonly called mere poetry, and I imagine there will scarcely be found a detached simile or a single isolated description, unless Beatrice's description of the chasm appointed for her father's murder should be judged to be of that nature." In a dramatic composition the imagery and the passion should interpenetrate one another, the former being reserved simply for the full development and illustration of the latter. Imagination is as the immortal God which should assume flesh for the redemption of mortal passion. It is thus that the most remote and the most familiar imagery may alike be fit for dramatic purposes when employed in the illustration of strong feeling, which raises what is low, and levels to the apprehension that which is lofty, casting over all the shadow of its own greatness. In other respects I have written more carelessly; that is, without an over-fastidious and learned choice of words. In this respect I entirely agree with those modern critics who assert, that in order to move men to true sympathy we must use the familiar language of men; and that our great ancestors the ancient English poets are the writers, a study of whom might incite us to do that for our own age which they have done for theirs. But it must be the real language of men in general and not that of any particular class to whose society the writer happens to belong. So much for what I have attempted: I need not be assured that success is a very different matter; particularly for one whose attention has but newly been awakened to the study of dramatic literature. I endeavoured whilst at Rome to observe such monuments of this story as might be accessible to a stranger. The portrait of Beatrice at the Colonna Palace is most admirable as a work of art: it was taken by Guido during her confinement in prison. But it is most interesting as a just representation of one of the loveliest specimens of the workmanship of Nature. There is a fixed and pale composure upon the features: she seems sad and strickeri down in spirit, yet the despair thus expressed is lightened by the patience of gentleness. Her head is bound with folds of white drapery, from which the yellow strings of her golden hair escape, and fall about her neck. The moulding of her face is exquisitely delicate; the eye-brows

An idea in this speech was suggested by a most sublime passage in . El Purgatorio de San Patricio- of Calderon: the only plagiarism which I have intentionally committed in the whole piece.

are distinct and arched: the lips have that permanent meaning of imagination and sensibility which suffering has not repressed, and which itseems as if death scarcely could extinguish. Her forehead is large and clear; her eyes, which we are told were remarkable for their vivacity, are swollen with weeping and lustreless, but beautifully tender and serene. In the whole mien there is a simplicity and dignity which, united with her exquisite loveliness and deep sorrow, are inexpressibly pathetic. Beatrice Cenci appears to have been one of those rare persons in whom energy and gentleness dwell together without destroying one another: her nature was simple and profound. The crimes and miseries in which she was an actor and a sufferer are as the mask and the mantle in which circumstances clothed her for her impersonation on the scene of the world. The Cenci Palace is of great extent; and though in part modernized, there yet remains a vast and gloomy pile of feudal architecture in the same state as during the dreadful scenes which are the subject of this tragedy. The Palace is situated in an obscure corner of Rome, near the quarter of the Jews, and from the upper windows you see the immense ruins of Mount Palatine half hidden under their profuse overgrowth of trees. There is a court in one part of the palace (perhaps that in which Cenci built the Chapel to St Thomas), supported by granite columns and adorned with antique friezes of fine workmanship, and built up, according to the ancient Italian fashion, with balcony over balcony of open work.


ACT I. SCENE i. An Apartment in the Cexci Palace. Enter CouxT CENci, and CARDINAL CAMillo

cantillo. That matter of the murder is hush’d up If you consent to yield his Holiness Your fief that lies beyond the Pincian gate.— It needed all my interest in the conclave To bend him to this point: he said that you Bought perilous impunity with your gold; That crimes like yours if once or twice compounded Enrich'd the Church, and respited from hell An erring soul which might repent and live — But that the glory and the interest Of the high throne he fills, little consist With making it a daily mart of guilt So manifold and hideous as the deeds Which you scarce hide from men's revolted eyes.

ce Nici.

The third of my possessions—let it go!
Aye, I once heard the nephew of the Pope
Had sent his architect to view the ground,

One of the gates of the palace formed of immense stones | \leaning to build a villa on my vines and leading through a passage, dark and lofty and The next time I compounded with his uncle :

opening into gloomy subterranean chambers, struck me particularly.

Of the Castle of Petrella, I could obtain no further information than that which is to be found in the manuscript.

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Wherein to act the deeds which are the stewards
Of their revenue.—But much yet remains
To which they show no title.


Oh, Count Cencio

So much that thou might'st honourably live,
And reconcile thyself with thine own heart, -
And with thy God, and with the offended world.
How hideously look deeds of lust and blood
Through those snow-white and venerable hairs!—
Your children should be sitting round you now,
But that you fear to read upon their looks
The shame and misery you have written there.
Where is vour wife? Where is your gentle daughter?
Methinks her sweet looks, which make all things else
Beauteous and glad, might kill the fiend within you.
Why is she barr'd from all society
But her own strange and uncomplaining wrongs?
Talk with me, Count, you know I mean you well.
I stood beside your dark and fiery youth
Watching its bold and bad career, as men
Watch meteors, but it vanish’d not—I mark'd
Your desperate and remorseless manhood; now

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