Obrazy na stronie

of S. Peter in Montorio by the Brotherhood of the Order of Mercy, and followed by many Franciscan monks, with great pomp and innumerable torches; she was there buried before the high altar, after the customary ceremony had By reason of the distance of the church from the bridge, it was four hours after dark tefore the ceremony was finished. Afterwards the body of Lucretia, accompanied in the same manner, was carried to the church of S. Gregorio upon the Celian Hill; where, after the ceremony, it was honourably buried.

Beatrice was rather tall, of a fair complexion; and she had a dimple on each cheek, which, especially when she smiled, added a grace to her lovely countenance that transported every one who beheld her. Her hair appeared like threads of gold: and, because they were extremely long, she used to tie it up, and, when afterwards she loosened it, the splendid ringlets dazzled the eyes of the spectator. Her eyes were of a deep blue, pleasing, and full of fire. To all these beauties she added, both in words and actions, a spirit and a majestic vivacity that captivated every one. She was twenty years of age when she died.

Lucretia was as tall as Beatrice, but her full make made her appear less : she was also fair, and so fresh-complexioned that at fifty, which was her age when she died, she did not appear above thirty. Her hair was black, and her teeth regular and white to an extraordinary degree.

Giacomo was of a middle size ; fair but ruddy, and with black eyebrows; affable in his nature, of good address, and well skilled in every science and in all knightly exercises. He was not more than twenty-eight years of age when he died.

Lastly, Bernardo so closely resembled Beatrice in complexion, features, and everything else, that if they had changed clothes the one might easily have been taken for the other. His mind also seemed formed in the same model as that of his sister ; and at the time of her death he was six-and-twenty years old.

He remained in the prison of Tordinona until the month of September of the same year; after which time, at the intercession of the Most Venerable Grand Brotherhood of the Most Holy Crucifix of St. Marcellus, he obtained the favour of his liberty upon paying the sum of 25,000 crowns to the Hospital of the Most Holy Trinity of Pilgrims. Thus he, as the sole remnant of the Cenci family, became heir to all their possessions. He is now married, and has a son named Cristoforo.

The most faithful portrait of Beatrice exists in the Palace of the Villa Pamfili, without the gate of San Pancrazio : if any other is to be found in the Palazzo Cenci, it is not shown to any one ;--so as not to renew the memory of so horrible an event,

This was the end of this family. And until the time when this account is put together it has not been possible to find the Marquis Paolo Santa Croce ; but there is a rumour that he dwells in Brescia, a city of the Venetian states.




SAVELLA, the Pope's Legate.

his Sons. BERNARDO,



ANDREA, Servant to CENCI.

Nobles, Fudges, 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 Petrella, a Castle among the doulian Apennines.

TIME.-During the Pontificate of Clement VIII.

SCENE I. -An Apartment in the Cenci Palace.
Enter Count Cenci and CARDINAL CAMILLO.
Camillo. That matter of the murder is hushed 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,
Enriched 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.

Cenci. The third of my possessions—let it go!
Ay, I once heard the nephew of the Pope
Had sent his architect to view the ground,
Meaning to build a villa on my vines
The next time I compounded with his uncle :
I little thought he should outwit me so !
Henceforth no witness—not the lamp_shall see
That which the vassal threatened to divulge
Whose throat is choked with dust for his reward.
The deed he saw could not have rated higher
Than his most worthless life :-it angers me!

“Respited me from hell !"—So may the Devil
Respite their souls from heaven! No doubt Pope Clement.
And his most charitable nephews pray
That the Apostle Peter and the saints
Will grant for their sakes that I long enjoy
Strength, wealth, and pride, and lust, and length of days
Wherein to act the deeds which are the stewards
Of their revenue.—But much yet remains
To which they show no title.

O Count Cenci !
So much that you might honourably live,
And reconcile yourself with your own heart,
And with your 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 your 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 barred 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 vanished not; I marked
Your desperate and remorseless manhood ; now
Do I behold you, in dishonoured 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.

Cenci. 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.
He was accustomed 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.

Camillo 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 hals reformed 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 debarred Until it be accomplished. Camillo,

Art thou not Most miserable?

Cenci. . Why miserable ? — No. I am what your theologians call “Hardened ;” which they must be in impudence, So to revile a man's peculiar taste. True, I was happier than I am, while yet Manhood remained to act the thing I thought,While lust was sweeter than revenge. And now Invention palls; ay, 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 grew tired : yet, till I killed 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 fixed eyeball, 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.

Camillo. Hell's most abandoned 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.

Andrea. My lord, a gentleman from Salamanca
Would speak with you.

Bid him attend me in
The grand saloon.

Camillo. Farewell; and I will pray
Almighty God that thy false impious words
Tempt not his Spirit to abandon thee. [Exit CAMILLO.

Cenci. The third of my possessions !-I must use
Close husbandry, or gold, the old man's sword,
Falls from my withered 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, -
Hoping 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 damned. 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 shalt not hear
What now I think! thou pavement, which I tread
Towards her chamber ! let your echoes talk

« PoprzedniaDalej »