Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

Have met with much injustice in this Blind lightning, or the deaf sea, not world ;

with man! No difference has been made by God or Cruel, cold, formal man ; righteous in man,

words, Or any power moulding my wretched lot, In deeds a Cain. No, Mother, we 'Twixt good or evil, as regarded me. I must die : I am cut off from the only world I know, Since such is the reward of innocent From light, and life, and love, in youth's

lives; sweet prime.

Such the alleviation of worst wrongs. You do well telling me to trust in God, And whilst our murderers live, and hard, I hope I do trust in him. In whom else I cold men, Can any trust? And yet my heart is Smiling and slow, walk thro' a world of cold.

tears [During the latter speeches GIACOMO | To death as to life's sleep ; 'twere just has retirect conversing with

the grave CAMILLO, who now goes out; Were some strange joy for us. Come, GIACOMO advances.

obscure Death, Giacomo. Know you not, Mother ... And wind me in thine all-embracing Sister, know you not ?

arms! Bernardo even now is gone to implore Like a fond mother hide me in thy The Pope to grant our pardon.

bosom, Lucretia.

Child, perhaps And rock me to the sleep from which It will be granted. We may all then none wake. live

Live ye, who live, subject to one To make these woes a tale for distant another years :

As we were once, who now ... Oh, what a thought! It gushes to my

[BERNARDO rushes in. heart

Bernardo.

Oh, horrible, Like the warm blood.

That tears, that looks, that hope poured Beatrice. Yet both will soon

forth in prayer, be cold.

Even till the heart is vacant and despairs, Oh, trample out that thought! Worse Should all be vain! The ministers of than despair,

death Worse than the bitterness of death, is Are waiting round the doors. I thought hope :

I saw It is the only ill which can find place Blood on the face of one . . . What if Upon the giddy, sharp and narrow hour

'twere fancy? Tottering beneath us. Plead with the Soon the heart's blood of all I love on swift frost

earth That it should spare the eldest flower Will sprinkle him, and he will wipe it of spring :

off Plead with awakening earthquakc, o'er As if'twere only rain. O life! O world ! whose couch

Cover me ! let me be no more! To see Even now a city stands, strong, fair, and That perfect mirror of pure innocence free ;

| Wherein I gazed, and grew happy and Now stench and blackness yawn, like

good, death. Oh, plead

Shivered to dust! To see thee, Beatrice, With famine, or wind-walking Pestil. Who made all lovely thou didst look ence,

upon ...

NIN

Thee, light of life . . . dead, dark ! Beatrice. Give yourself no unneces. while I say, sister,

sary pain, To hear I have no sister; and thou, My dear Lord Cardinal. Here, Mother, Mother,

tie Whose love was as a bond to all our My girdle for me, and bind up this hair loves ...

In any simple knot; ay, that does well. Dead! The sweet bond broken! And yours I see is coming down. How

often Enter Camillo and Guards.

Have we done this for one another, They come ! Let me

now Kiss those warm lips before their crimson We shall not do it any more. My Lord, leaves

We are quite ready. Well, 'tis very Are blighted ... white . . . cold. well. Say farewell, before

THE END Death chokes that gentle voice! Oh,

let me hear You speak!

NOTE ON "THE CENCI," BY Beatrice. Farewell, my tender

MRS. SHELLEY brother. Think

... The sort of mistake that Shelley made Of our sad sate with gentleness, as now:

as to the extent of his own genius and And let mild, pitying thoughts lighten

powers, which led him deviously at first, for thee

but lastly into the direct track that enabled Thy sorrow's load. Err not in harsh him fully to develop them, is a curious despair,

instance of his modesty of feeling, and of But tears and patience. One thing the methods which the human mind usos more, my child,

at once to deceive itself, and yet, in its For thine own sake be constant to the very delusion, to make its way out of love

error into the path which Nature has Thou bearest us: and to the faith that I, marked out as its right one. He often Tho' wrapt in a strange cloud of crime

w of crime incited me to attempt the writing a

tragedy: he conceived that I possessed and shame,

some dramatic talent, and he was always Lived ever holy and unstained. And

most earnest and energetic in his exhortatho'

tions that I should cultivate any talent I III tongues shall wound me, and our

id me, and our possessed, to the utmost. I entertained a common name

truer estimate of my powers ; and above Be as a mark stamped on thine innocent all (though at that time not exactly aware brow

of the fact) I was far too young to have For men to point at as they pass, do any chance of succeeding, even moderately, thou

in a species of composition that requires Forbear, and never think a thought un. a greater scope of experience in, and kind

sympathy with, human passion than could Of those, who perhaps love thee in their then have fallen to my lot, - or than any

perhaps, except Shelley, ever possessed, graves.

even at the age of twenty-six, at which So mayest thou die as I do; fear and

he wrote The Cenci.

On the other hand, Shelley most errone. Being subdued. Farewell: Farewell : ously conceived himself to be destitute of Farewell!

this talent. He believed that one of the Bernardo. I cannot say, farewell! 'first requisites was the capacity of forming Camillo.

O Lady Beatrice! and following-up a story or plot. He

pain

fancied himself to be defective in this together. I speedily saw the great misportion of imagination: it was that which take we had made, and triumphed in the gave him least pleasure in the writings of discovery of the new talent brought to others, though he laid great store by it as | light from that mine of wealth (never, the proper framework to support the alas, through his untimely death, worked sublimest efforts of poetry. He asserted to its depths)— his richly gifted mind. that he was too metaphysical and abstract, We suffered a severe affliction in Rome too fond of the theoretical and the ideal, by the loss of our eldest child, who was to succeed as a tragedian. It perhaps is of such beauty and promise as to cause not strange that I shared this opinion him deservedly to be the idol of our hearts. with himself ; for he had hitherto shown We left the capital of the world, anxious no inclination for, nor given any specimen for a time to escape a spot associated too of his powers in framing and supporting intimately with his presence and loss. 1 the interest of a story, either in prose or Some friends of ours were residing in the verse. Once or twice, when he attempted neighbourhood of Leghorn, and we took such, he had speedily thrown it aside, as a small house, Villa Valsovano, about being even disagreeable to him as an half-way between the town and Monte occupation.

Nero, where we remained during the The subject he had suggested for a summer. Our villa was situated in the tragedy was Charles I. : and he had midst of a podere; the peasants sang as written to me: "Remember, remember they worked beneath our windows, during Charles I. I have been already imagin- the heats of a very hot season, and in the ing how you would conduct some scenes. | evening the water-wheel creaked as the The second volume of St. Leon begins process of irrigation went on, and the with this proud and true sentiment : | fire-flies flashed from among the myrtle • There is nothing which the human mind hedges : Nature was bright, sunshiny, can conceive which it may not execute.' and cheerful, or diversified by storms of a Shakespeare was only a human being." | majestic terror, such as we had never These words were written in 1818, while before witnessed. we were in Lombardy, when he little | At the top of the house there was a thought how soon a work of his own sort of terrace. There is often such in would prove a proud comment on the Italy, generally roofed : this one was very passage he quoted. When in Rome, in small, yet not only roofed but glazed. 1819, a friend put into our hands the This Shelley made his study; it looked old manuscript account of the story of the out on a wide prospect of fertile country, Cenci. We visited the Colonna and and commanded a view of the near sea. Doria palaces, where the portraits of | The storms that sometimes varied our Beatrice were to be found; and her day showed themselves most picturesquely beauty cast the reflection of its own grace as they were driven across the ocean; over her appalling story. Shelley's im- sometimes the dark lurid clouds dipped agination became strongly excited, and towards the waves, and became waterhe urged the subject to me as one fitted spouts that churned up the waters beneath, for a tragedy. More than ever I felt my as they were chased onward and scattered incompetence; but I entreated him to i Such feelings haunted him when, in The write it instead; and he began, and pro- Cenci, he makes Beatrice speak to Cardinal ceeded swiftly, urged on by intense sym

Camillo of pathy with the sufferings of the human

"that fair blue-eyed child

Who was the lodestar of your life"beings whose passions, so long cold in and saythe tomb, he revived, and gifted with “All see, since his most swift and piteous death, poetic language. This tragedy is the That day and night, and heaven and earth, and only one of his works that he communi

1 time, cated to me during its progress. We Are changed to you, through your exceeding

And all the things hoped for or done therein, talked over the arrangement of the scenes grief.'

by the tempest. At other times the greatest degree of popular effect to kee dazzling sunlight and heat made it almost produced by such a development. I send intolerable to every other; but Shelley you a translation of the Italian MS. on basked in both, and his health and spirits which my play is founded; the chic! revived under their influence. In this circumstance of which I have touched airy cell he wrote the principal part of very delicately; for my principal doubt as

The Cenci. He was making a study of to whether it would succeed as an acting Calderon at the time, reading his best play hangs entirely on the question as to tragedies with an accomplished lady living whether any such a thing as incest in this near us, to whom his letter from Leghorn shape, however treated, would be admitted was addressed during the following year. on the stage. I think, however, it will He admired Calderon, both for his poetry form no objection; considering, first, that and his dramatic genius; but it shows his the facts are matter of history, and, judgment and originality that, though secondly, the peculiar delicacy with which greatly struck by his first acquaintance I have treated it. with the Spanish poet, none of his peculi- "I am exceedingly interested in the arities crept into the composition of The question of whether this attempt of mine Cenci; and there is no trace of his new will succeed or not. I am strongly instudies, except in that passage to which clined to the affirmative at present; foundhe himself alludes as suggested by one in ing my hopes on this--that, as a composiEl Purgatorio de San Patricio.

tion, it is certainly not inferior to any of · Shelley wished The Cenci to be acted. the modern plays that have been acted, He was not a playgoer, being of such with the exception of Remorse; that the fastidious taste that he was easily dis- interest of the plot is incredibly greater gusted by the bad filling-up of the inferior and more real; and that there is nothing parts. While preparing for our departure beyond what the multitude are contented from England, however, he saw Miss to believe that they can understand, either O'Neil several times. She was then in in imagery, opinion, or sentiment. I the zenith of her glory; and Shelley was wish to preserve a complete incognito, deeply moved by her impersonation of and can trust to you that, whatever else several parts, and by the graceful sweet. you do, you will at least favour me on ness, the intense pathos, and sublime this point. Indeed, this is essential, vehemence of passion, she displayed. deeply essential, to its success. After it She was often in his thoughts as he wrote: had been acted, and successfully (could I and, when he had finished, he became hope for such a thing), I would own it if anxious that his tragedy should be acted, I pleased, and use the celebrity it might and receive the advantage of having this acquire to my own purposes. accomplished actress to fill the part of the “What I want you to do is to procure heroine. With this view he wrote the for me its presentation at Covent Garden. following letter to a friend in London: The principal character, Beatrice, is pre.

"The object of the present letter is to cisely fitted for Miss O'Neil, and it might ask a favour of you. I have written a even seem to have been written for her tragedy on a story well known in Italy, (God forbid that I should see her play it and, in my conception, eminently dramatic. it would tear my nerves to pieces); and I have taken some pains to make my play in all respects it is fitted only for Covent fit for representation, and those who have Garden. The chief male character I conalready seen it judge favourably. It is

1 In speaking of his mode of treating this written without any of the peculiar feelings

main incident, Shelley said that it might be and opinions which characterise my other remarked that, in the course of the play, he had compositions; I have attended simply to never mentioned expressly Cenci's worst crime. the impartial development of such char. I Every one knew what it must be, best it was fess I should be very unwilling that any not less instinct with truth and genius. one but Kean should play. That is But the bent of his mind went the other impossible, and I must be contented with way; and, even when employed on suban inferior actor."

never imaged in words the nearest alluson to acters as it is probable the persons repreit being that portion of Cenciscurse beginningsented really were, together with the "That, if she have a child," etc.

jects whose interest depended on character The play was accordingly sent to Mr. and incident, he would start off in another Harris. He pronounced the subject to direction, and leave the delineations of be so objectionable that he could not even human passion, which he could depict in submit the part to Miss O'Neil for perusal, so able a manner, for fantastic creations but expressed his desire that the author of his fancy, or the expression of those would write a tragedy on some other opinions and sentiments, with regard to subject, which he would gladly accept. human nature and its destiny, a desire to Shelley printed a small edition at Leghorn, diffuse which was the master passion of to ensure its correctness; as he was much his soul. annoyed by the many mistakes that crept into his text when distance prevented him from correcting the press.

THE MASK OF ANARCHY Universal approbation soon stamped The Cenci as the best tragedy of modern

WRITTEN ON THE OCCASION times. Writing concerning it, Shelley said: “I have been cautious to avoid the OF THE MASSACRE AT introducing faults of youthful composition;

MANCHESTER diffuseness, a profusion of inapplicable imagery, vagueness, generality, and, as Hamlet says, words, words." There is nothing that is not purely dramatic

As I lay asleep in Italy throughout; and the character of Beatrice,

There came a voice from over the Sea, proceeding, from vehement struggle, to

And with great power it forth led me horror, to deadly resolution, and lastly to

To walk in the visions of Poesy. the elevated dignity of calm suffering,

II joined to passionate tenderness and pathos, is touched with hues so vivid and so I met Murder on the waybeautiful that the poet seems to have read | He had a mask like Castlereaghintimately the secrets of the noble heart | Very smooth he looked, yet grim : imaged in the lovely countenance of the

Seven blood-hounds followed him : unfortunate girl. The Fifth Act is a masterpiece. It is the finest thing he ever

III wrote, and may claim proud comparison not only with any contemporary, but

All were fat; and well they might preceding, poet. The varying feelings of Be in admirable plight, Beatrice are expressed with passionate, | For one by one, and two by two, heart-reaching eloquence. Every char lle tossed them human hearts to chew acter has a voice that echoes truth in its | Which from his wide cloak he drew. tones. It is curious, to one acquainted with the written story, to mark the success

IV with which the poet has inwoven the real | Next came Fraud, and he had on, incidents of the tragedy into his scenes, | Like Eldon, an ermined gown; and yet, through the power of poetry, has

His big tears, for he wept well,

is hier obliterated all that would otherwise have

Turned to mill-stones as they fell. shown too harsh or too hideous in the picture. His success was a double triumph ; and often after he was earnestly entreated to write again in a style that | And the little children, who commanded popular favour, while it was | Round his feet played to and fro,

« PoprzedniaDalej »