Do I behold you in dishonour'd age
Charged with a thousand unrepented crimes.
Yet I have ever hoped you would amend,
And in that hope have saved your life three times.
For which Aldobrandino owes you now
My fief beyond the Pincian.—Cardinal,
One thing, I pray you, recollect henceforth,
And so we shall converse with less restraint.
A man you knew spoke of my wife and daughter—
tie was accustom'd to frequent my house;
So the next day his wife and daughter came
And asked if I had seen him; and I smiled:
I think they never saw him any more.
cAM it, Lo.
Thou execrable man, beware!—
Of thee!
Nay this is idle:–We should know each other.
As to my character for what men call crime,
Seeing I please my senses as I list,
And vindicate that right with force or guile,
It is a public matter, and I care not
if I discuss it with you. I may speak
Alike to you and my own conscious heart—
For you give out that you have half reform'd me,
Therefore strong vanity will keep you silent
If fear should not; both will, I do not doubt.
All men delight in sensual luxury,
All men enjoy revenge; and most exult
Over the tortures they can never feel—
Flattering their secret peace with others' pain.
But I delight in nothing else. I love
The sight of agony, and the sense of joy,
When this shall be another's, and that mine.
And I have no remorse and little fear,
Which are, I think, the checks of other men.
This mood has grown upon me, until now
Any design my captious fancy makes
The picture of its wish, and it forms none
But such as men like you would start to know,
Is as my natural food and rest debarr'd
Until it be accomplish'd.
Art thou not
Most miserable?
Why miserable?—
No.—I am what your theologians call
Hardend;—which they must be in impudence,
So to revile a man's peculiar taste.
True, I was happier than I am, while yet
Manhood remain'd to act the thing I thought;
While lust was sweeter than revenge; and now
Invention palls:–Aye, we must all grow old—
But that there yet remains a deed to act
Whose horror might make sharp an appetite
Duller than mine—I’d do, I know not what.
When I was young I thought of nothing else
But pleasure; and I fed on honey sweets:
Men, by St Thomas' cannot live like bees,
And I brew tired:—yet, till I kill'd a foe,
And heard his groans, and heard his children's groans,
Knew I not what delight was else on earth,
Which now delights me little. I the rather
Look on such pangs as terror ill conceals,

The dry fix’d eye-ball; the pale quivering lip,
Which tell me that the spirit weeps within
Tears bitterer than the bloody sweat of Christ.
I rarely kill the body which preserves,
Like a strong prison, the soul within my power,
Wherein I feed it with the breath of fear
For hourly pain.

Hell's most abandon'd fiend
Did never, in the drunkenness of guilt,
Speak to his heart as now you speak to me,
I thank my God that I believe you not.


A.N. de E.A. My Lord, a gentleman from Salamanca Would speak with you. ce N ci. Bid him attend me in the grand saloon. [Exit Andaea. cAM it, Lo Farewell; and I will pray Almighty God that thy false, impious words Tempt not his spirit to abandon thee. [Exit CAMillo. ce N ci. The third of my possessions! I must use Close husbandry, or gold, the old man's sword, Falls from my wither'd hand. But yesterday There came an order from the Pope to make Fourfold provision for my cursed sons; Whom I have sent from Rome to Salamanca, Iloping some accident might cut them off; And meaning, if I could, to starve them there. I pray thee, God, send some quick death upon them : Bernardo and my wife could not be worse If dead and damn'd : —then, as to Beatrice— [Looking around him suspiciously. I think they cannot hear me at that door; What if they should And yet I need not speak Though the heart triumphs with itself in words. O, thou most silent air, that shall not hear What now I think! Thou, pavement, which I tread Towards her chamber, let your echoes talk Of my imperious step scorning surprise, But not of my intent —Andreas Enter ANDne A. A.N. de EA. My lord? cenci. Bid Beatrice attend me in her chamber This evening:—no, at midnight and alone. [Exeunt.

SC E N E II. A garden of the Cenci Palace. Enter BEAT Rice and Oasino, as in conversation. BEAttal ce. Pervert not truth, Orsino. You remember where we held That conversation;–nay, we see the spot Even from this cypress;–two long years are past Since, on an April midnight, underneath The moon-light ruins of Mount Palatine, I did confess to you my secret mind.

orsi No. You said you loved me then. Beath ice. You are a Priest: Speak to me not of love. oftsino.

I may obtain
The dispensation of the Pope to marry.
Because I am a Priest, do you believe
Your image, as the hunter some struck deer,
Follows me not whether I wake or sleep?


As I have said, speak to me not of love;
Had you a dispensation, I have not;
Nor will I leave this home of misery
Whilst my poor Bernard, and that gentle lady
To whom I owe life, and these virtuous thoughts,
Must suffer what I still have strength to share.
Alas, Orsino! All the love that once
I felt for you, is turned to bitter pain.
Ours was a youthful contract, which you first
Broke, by assuming vows no Pope will loose.
And yet I love you still, but holily,
Even as a sister or a spirit might;
And so I swear a cold fidelity.
And it is well perhaps we shall not marry.
You have a sly, equivocating vein
That suits me not.—Ah, wretched that I am |
Where shall I turn ? Even now you look on me
As you were not my friend, and as if you
Discover'd that I thought so, with false smiles
Making my true suspicion seem your wrong.
Ah! No, forgive me; sorrow makes me seem
Sterner than else iny nature might have been;
I have a weight of melancholy thoughts,
And they forebode,-but what can they forebode

| Worse than I now endure?

ORsi No.

All will be well.
Is the petition yet prepared? You know
My zeal for all you wish, sweet Beatrice;
Doubt not but I will use my utmost skill
So that the Pope attend to your complaint.

Your zeal for all I wish;-Ah me, you are cold!
Your utmost skill—speak but one word—
(Aside.) Alas!
Weak and deserted creature that I ann,
Ilere I stand bickering with my only friend!
(To Orsino.)

This night my father gives a sumptuous feast,
Orsino; he has heard some happy news
From Salamanca, from my brothers there,
And with this outward show of love he mocks
His inward hate. T is bold hypocrisy
For he would gladlier celebrate their deaths,
Which I have heard him pray for on his knees:
Great God! that such a father should be mine!
But there is mighty preparation made,
And all our kin, the Cenci, will be there,
And all the chief nobility of Rome.
And he has bidden me and my pale Mother
Attire ourselves in festival array.
Poor lady! She expects some happy change
In his dark spirit from this act; I none.

At supper I will give you the petition:
Till when—farewell.
[Exit BEAraice.

- I know the Pope
Will ne'er absolve me from my priestly vow
But by absolving me from the revenue
Of many a wealthy see; and, Beatrice,
I think to win thee at an easier rate.
Nor shall he read her eloquent petition:
He might bestow her on some poor relation
Of his sixth cousin, as he did her sister,
And I should be debarr'd from all access.
Then as to what she suffers from her father,
In all this there is much exaggeration:—
Old men are testy and will have their way;
A man may stab his enemy, or his slave,
And live a free life as to wine or women,
And with a peevish temper may return
To a dull home, and rate his wife and children :
Daughters and wives call this foul tyranny.
I shall be well content if on my conscience
There rest no heavier sin than what they suffer
From the devices of my love—A net
From which she shall escape not. Yet I fear
Her subtle mind, her awe-inspiring gaze,
Whose beams anatomize me nerve by nerve
And lay me bare, and make me blush to see
My hidden thoughts.-Ah, no! A friendless girl
Who clings to me, as to her only hope:–
I were a fool, not less than if a panther
Were panic-stricken by the Antelope's eye,
If she escape me. [Exit.


S C E N E III. A magnificent Hall in the Cenci Palace. A Banquet. Enter CENci, Lucasri A, BEArRice, Orsino, CAMillo, Nobles.

cenci. Welcome, my friends and kinsmen; welcome ye, Princes and Cardinals, Pillars of the church, Whose presence honours our festivity. I have too long lived like an Anchorite, And in my absence from your merry meetings An evil word is gone abroad of me; But I do hope that you, my noble friends, When you have shared the entertainment here, And heard the pious cause for which "t is biven, And we have pledged a health or two together, Will think me flesh and blood as well as you; Sinful indeed, for Adam made all so, But tender-hearted, meek and pitiful. First Guest. In truth, my Lord, you seem too light of heart, Too sprightly and companionable a man, To act the deeds that rumour pins on you. [To his companion. I never saw such blithe and open cheer In any eye!

second Guest. Some most desired event, In which we all demand a common joy, Hasbrought us hither; let us hear it, Count.

cenci. It is indeed a most desired event. If when a parent from a parent's heart Lifts from this earth to the great Father of all A praver, both when he lays him down to sleep, And when he rises up from dreaming it; One supplication, one desire, one hope, That he would grant a wish for his two sons Even all that he demands in their regard— And suddenly beyond his dearest hope, It is accomplish'd, he should then rejoice, And call his friends and kinsmen to a feast, And task their love to grace his merriment, Then honour me thus far—for I am he. beatrice (to Lucheti A). Great God! How horrible" Some dreadful ill Must have befallen my brothers. Lu CRETIA. Fear not, Child, He speaks too frankly. beatnice. Ah! My blood runs cold. I fear that wicked laughter round his eye, which wrinkles up the skin even to the hair. cenci. Here are the letters brought from Salamanca; Beatrice, read them to your mother. God! 1 thank thee! In one night didst thou perform, By ways inscrutable, the thing I sought. My disobedient and rebellious sons ! Are dead!—why dead!—what means this change of cheer! You hear me not, I tell you they are dead; And they will need no food or raiment more: The tapers that did light them the dark wav ! Are their last cost. The Pope, I think, will not Expect I should maintain them in their coffins. r.xpec Rejoice with me—my heart is wondrous blad. as Araics. (Lucaeria sinks, half fainting ; Bearance o supports her.) It is not true!—Dear lady, pray look up. Had it been true, there is a God in Heaven, He would not live to boast of such a boon. t'unatural man, thou knowest that it is false. ckxcl. Aye, as the word of God; whom here I call | To witness that I speak the sober truth:And whose most favouring Providence was shown Even in the manner of their deaths. For Rocco Was kneeling at the mass, with sixteen others, When the Church fell and crush'd him to a mummy, The rest escaped unhurt. Cristofano

was stablo in error by a jealous man,

[ocr errors]

whilst she he loved was sleeping with his rival; All in the self same hour of the same night;

which shows that Heaven has special care of me. I beg those friends who love me, that they mark The day a feast upon their calendars. It was the twenty-seventh of December: Aye, read the letters if you doubt my oath. [The assembly appears confused; several of the o guests rise. t riast guest. * Oh, horrible! I will depart.—

second othest.

And I.

third Guest. No, stay! I do believe it is some jest; though faith ! 'T is mocking us somewhat too solemnly. I think his son has married the Infanta, Or found a mine of gold in El Dorado 'T is but to season some such news; stay, stay! I see t is only raillery by his smile. cenci (filling a bowl of wine, and lifting it up). Oh, thou bright wine, whose purple splendor leaps And bubbles gaily in this golden bowl Under the lamp-light, as my spirits do, To hear the death of my accursed sons: Could I believe thou wert their mingled blood, Then would I taste thee like a sacrament, And pledge with thee the mighty Devil in hell, Who, if a father's curses, as men say, Climb with swift wings after their childrens souls, And drag them from the very throne of Heaven, Now triumphs in my triumph!—But thou art Superfluous; I have drunken deep of joy, And I will taste no other wine to night. Here, Andrea Bear the bowl around. A guest (rising). Thou wretch! Will none among this noble company Check the abandon'd villain : cant illo. For God's sake, Let me dismiss the guests! You are insane, Some ill will come of this. second guest. Seize, silence him ' f inst Guest. I will tai ad Guest. And I cenci (addressing those who rise with a threatening gesture). Who moves? Who speaks? [Turning to the Company. T is nothing, Enjoy yourselves.—Beware' for my revenge Is as the seal’d commission of a king, That kills, and none dare name the nurderer. [The Banquet is broken up; several of the Guests are departing. pearance. I do entreat you, go not, noble guests; what although tyranny, and impious hate Stand shelter'd by a father's hoary hair? What if "t is he who clothed us in these limbs who tortures them, and triumphs What, if we, The desolate and the dead, were his own flesh, His children and his wife, whom he is bound To love and shelter? Shall we therefore find No refuge in this merciless wide world ! Oh, think what deep wrongs must have blotted out First love, then reverence in a child's prone mind Till it thus vanquish shame and fear ! Oh, think I have borne much, and kiss'd the sacred hand Which crush d us to the earth, and thought its stroke Was perhaps some paternal chastisement' Have excused much. doubted ; and when no doubt Remain'd, have sought by patience, love and tears To soften him; and when this could not be

I have knelt down through the long sleepless nights
And lifted up to God, the father of all,
Passionate prayers: and when these were not heard
I have still borne,—until I meet you here,
Princes and kinsmen, at this hideous feast
Given at my brothers deaths. Two yet remain,
His wife remains and I, whom if ye save not,
Ye may soon share such merriment again
As fathers make over their children's graves.
Oh! Prince Colonna, thou art our near kinsman,
Cardinal, thou art the Pope's chamberlain,
Camillo, thou art chief justiciary,
Take us away :

he hears the conclusion, and now advances. I hope my good friends here Will think of their own daughters—or perhaps Of their own throats—before they lend an ear To this wild girl. bearance (not noticing the words of CENci). Dare not one look on me? None answer? Can one tyrant overbear The sense of many best and wisest men? Or is it that I sue not in some form Of scrupulous law, that ye deny inv suit? Oh, God! that I were buried with my brothers! And that the flowers of this departed spring Were fading on my grave! And that my father Were celebrating now one feast for all! cAM 1 LL0. A bitter wish for one so young and gentle; Can we do nothing?— co-oxx A. Nothing that I see. Count Cenci were a dangerous enemy : Yet I would second any one. A can Dix AL. And I. ce Nici. Retire to your chamber, insolent girl! B-ATR1ce. Retire, thou impious man! Ave, hide thyself Where never eye can look upon thee more! Wouldst thou have honour and obedience Who art a torturer? Father, never dream Though thou mayst overbear this company, But ill must come of ill.—Frown not on me! Haste, hide thyself, lest with avenging looks My brothers' ghosts should hunt thee from thy seat! Cover thy face from every living eye, And start if thou but hear a human step: Seek out some dark and silent corner, there, Bow thy white head before offended God, And we will kneel around, and fervently Pray that he pity both ourselves and thee. cenci. My friends, I do lament this insane girl Has spoilt the mirth of our festivity. Good night, farewell; I will not make you longer Spectators of our dull domestic quarrels, Another time.— [Exeunt all but Cexci and BEATRice. My brain is swimming round; Give me a bowl of wine! (To BEATaics.) Thou painted viper!

during the first part of Bearnice's speech;

Beast that thou art! Fair and yet terrible!
I know a charm shall make thee meek and tame-
Now get thee from my sight! [Exit BEArauci.
Here, Andrea,
Fill up this goblet with Greek wine. I said
I would not drink this evening, but I must;
For, strange to say, I feel my spirits fail
With thinking what I have decreed to do.
[Drinking the wine.
Be thou the resolution of quick youth
Within my veins, and manhood's purpose stern,
And age's firm, cold, subtle villany;
As if thou wert indeed my children's blood

[he has been conversing with Camillo which I did thirst to drink. The charm works well:

It must be done, it shall be done, I swear. [Exit

ACT II. S CENE i. An Apartment in the Cenci Palace. Enter Luckeria and BERNARDo.

Luca e TIAWeep not, my gentle boy; he struck but me, who have borne deeper wrongs. In truth, if he Had kill'd me, he had done a kinder deed. Oh, God Almighty, do thou look upon us, we have no other friend but only thee! Yet weep not ; though I love you as my own, I am not your true mother.

seen Anto.

Oh, more, more,

Than ever mother was to any child
That have you been to me! Had he not been
My father, do you think that I should weep?

luc Retia. Alas! poor boy, what else couldst thou have done

Enter Be ATRice.

teatrice (in a hurried voice). Did he pass this way: Ilave you seen him, brother? Ah! no, that is his step upon the stairs; 'T is nearer now; his hand is on the door; Mother, if I to thee have ever been A duteous child, now save me! Thou, great God, whose image upon earth a father is, Dost thou indeed abandon me! He comes; The door is opening now: I see his face; He frowns on others, but he smiles on me, Even as he did after the feast last night. Enter a SeavaNT. Almighty God, how merciful thou art 'T is but Orsino's servant.—Well, what news? seawaxt. My master bids me say, the Holy father Has sent back your petition thus unopen'd. [Giving a Paper. And he demands at what hour 't were secure To visit you again? Luciaetia. At the Ave Mary. [Exit Stavaxr. So, daughter, our last hope has fail'd! Ah me! i How pale you look; you tremble and you stand Wrapp'd in some fix’d and fearful meditation,

As if one thought were over strong for you: Your eyes have a chill glare; oh, dearest child! Are you gone mad? If not, pray speak to me. dr Athick. You see I am not mad; I speak to you. Luc to ETI.A. You talk'd of something that your father did After that dreadful feast? Could it be worse Than when he smiled, and cried, My sons are dead! And every one look'd in his neighbour's face To see if others were as white as he? At the first word he spoke I felt the blood Rush to my heart, and fell into a trance; And when it past I sat all weak and wild; Whilst you alone stood up, and with strong words Check'd his unnatural pride; and I could see The devil was rebuked that lives in him. Until this hour thus you have ever stood Between us and your father's moody wrath Like a protecting presence: your firm mind Ilas been our only refuge and defence: What can have thus subdued it? What can now Have given you that cold melancholy look, Succeeding to your unaccustom'd fear? BeAt Ric E. What is it that you say? I was just thinking T were better not to struggle any more. Men, like my father, have been dark and bloody, Yet never–O! before worse comes of it, "T were wise to die: it ends in that at last. Luca eria. Oh, talk not so, dear child Tell me at once What did your father do or say to you! He stay'd not after that accursed feast One moment in your chamber.—Speak to me. bean ARD0. Oh, sister, sister, prithee, speak to us! heatrick [speaking very slowly with a forced calmness. It was one word, Mother, one little word; One look, one smile. [Wildly. Oh! he has trampled me Under his feet, and made the blood stream down My pallid cheeks. And he has given us all Ditch-water, and the fever-stricken flesh Of buffaloes, and bade us eat or starve, And we have eaten.—He has made me look On my beloved Bernardo, when the rust Of heavy chains has gangrened his sweet limbs, And I have never yet despair’d—but now ! What would I say? / [Recovering herself. Ah! no, "t is nothing new. The sufferings we all share have made me wild: He only struck and cursed me as he pass'd ; He said, he look'd, he did, nothing at all Beyond his wont, yet it disorder'd me. Alas! I am forgetful of my duty, I should preserve my senses for your sake. Luca et IA. Nay, Beatrice; have courage, my sweet girl. If any one despairs it should be I, Who loved him once, and now must live with him Till God in pity call for him or me; For you may, like your sister, find some husband, And smile, years hence, with children round your knees;

Whilst I, then dead, and all this hideous coil,
Shall be remenber'd only as a dream.

Talk not to me, dear lady, of a husband:
Did you not nurse me when my mother died ?
Did you not shield me and that dearest boy?
And had we any other friend but you
In infancy, with gentle words and looks
To win our father not to murder us?
And shall I now desert you? May the ghost
Of my dead Mother plead against my soul
If I abandon her who fill'd the place
She left, with more, even, than a mother's love!

BERNA to do. And I am of my sister's mind. Indeed I would not leave you in this wretchedness, Even though the Pope should make me free to live In some blithe place, like others of my age, With sports, and delicate food, and the fresh air. Oh, never think that I will leave you, Mother!

Lucreti.A. My dear, dear children!

Enter Cesci, suddenly.

cenci. What, Beatrice here! [She shrinks back, and covers her face. Nay, hide not your face, "t is fair; Look up! Why, yesternight you dared to look With disobedient insolence upon me, Bending a stern and an inquiring brow On what I meant; whilst I then sought to hide That which I came to tell you—but in vain. beatrice (wildly, staggering touards the door). Oh, that the earth would gape! Hide me, oh God! ce Nici. Then it was I whose inarticulate words Fell from my lips, who with tottering steps Fled from your presence, as you now from mine. Stay, I command you—from this day and hour Never again, I think, with fearless eye, And brow superior, and unalter'd cheek, And that lip made for tenderness or scorn, Shalt thou strike dumb the meanest of mankind; Me least of all. Now get thee to thy chamber, Thou too, loathed image of thy cursed mother, [To Branando.

Thy milky, meek face makes me sick with hate!

[Exeunt BEAT Rice and BERN Anno. (Aside.) So much has past between us as must make Me bold, her fearful.—"T is an awful thing To touch such mischief as I now conceive: So men sit shivering on the dewy bank, And try the chill stream with their feet; once in— How the delighted spirit pants for joy!

lucartia (advancing timidly towards him).

Oh, husband! Pray forgive poor Beatrice,
She meant not any ill.

Come hither!


Nor you perhaps? Nor that young imp, whom you have taught by rote Parricide with his alphabet? Nor Giacomo Nor those two most unnatural sons, who stirr'd Enmity up against me with the Pope? Whom in one night merciful God cut off: Innocent lambs! They thought not any ill.


« ForrigeFortsett »