« PoprzedniaDalej »
Is as the inmost cave of our own mind,
Where we sit shut from the wide gaze of day,
And from the all-communicating air.
You look what I suspected-
Spare me now.
I am as one lost in a midnight wood,
Who dares not ask some harmless passenger
The path across the wilderness, lest he,
As my thoughts are, should be-a murderer.
I know thou art my friend; and all I dare
Speak to my soul, that will I trust with thee.
But now my heart is heavy, and would take
Lone counsel from a night of sleepless care.
Pardon me that I say farewell-farewell.
I would that to my own suspected self
I could address a word so full of peace.
Orsino. Farewell !- Be your thoughts better-or more bold.
I had disposed the Cardinal Camillo [Exit GIACOMO.
To feed his hope with cold encouragement.
It fortunately serves my close designs
That 'tis a trick of this same family
To analyse their own and other minds.
Such self-anatomy shall teach the will
Dangerous secrets: for it tempts our powers,
Knowing what must be thought and may be done,
Into the depth of darkest purposes.
So Cenci fell into the pit : even 1-
Since Beatrice unveiled me to myself,
And made me shrink from what I cannot shun-
Show a poor figure to my own esteem,
To which I grow half reconciled. I'll do
As little mischief as I can; that thought
Shall fee the accuser Conscience.
[After a pause.
Now what harm
If Cenci should be murdered?—Yet, if murdered,
Wherefore by me? And what if I could take
The profit, yet omit the sin and peril
In such an action? Of all earthly things
I fear a man whose blows outspeed his words;
And such is Cenci: and, while Cenci lives,
His daughter's dowry were a secret grave,
If a priest wins her.- fair Beatrice!
Would that I loved thee not, or, loving thee,
Could but despise danger, and gold, and all
That frowns between my wish and its effect,
Or smiles beyond it !—There is no escape.
Her bright form kneels beside me at the altar,
And follows me to the resort of men,
And fills my slumber with tumultuous dreams,
So when I wake my blood seems liquid fire;
And, if I strike my damp and dizzy head,
My hot palm scorches it: her very name,
But spoken by a stranger, makes my heart
Sicken and pant; and thus unprofitably
I clasp the phantom of unfelt delights,
Till weak imagination half possesses
The self-created shadow. Yet much longer
Will I not nurse this life of feverous hours:
From the unravelled hopes of Giacomo
I must work out my own dear purposes.
I see, as from a tower, the end of all :-
Her father dead; her brother bound to me
By a dark secret, surer than the grave;
Her mother scared and unexpostulating
From the dread manner of her wish achieved:
And she !—Once more take courage, my faint heart;
What dares a friendless maiden matched with thee?
I have such foresight as assures success.
Some unbeheld divinity doth ever,
When dread events are near, stir up men's minds
To black suggestions; and he prospers best,
Not who becomes the instrument of ill,
But who can flatter the dark spirit that makes
Its empire and its prey of other hearts,
Till it become his slave-as I will do.
ACT III. SCENE I.-An Apartment in the Cenci Palace. LUCRETIA; to her enter BEATRICE (she enters staggering, and
speaks wildly). Beatrice. Reach me that handkerchief!- My brain is hurt, My eyes are full of blood; just wipe them for me
I see but indistinctly.-
My sweet child,
You have no wound; 'tis only a cold dew
That starts from your dear brow.-Alas! Alas!
What has befallen?
Beatrice. How comes this hair undone?
Its wandering strings must be what blind me so,
And yet I tied it fast.-Oh horrible!
The pavement sinks under my feet! the walls
Spin round! I see a woman weeping there,
And standing calm and motionless, whilst I
Slide giddily as the world reels !—My God!
The beautiful blue heaven is flecked with blood !
The sunshine on the floor is black! the air
Is changed to vapours such as the dead breathe
In charnel-pits! Pah! I am choked! There creeps
A clinging, black, contaminating mist
About me—'tis substantial, heavy, thick;
I cannot pluck it from me, for it glues
My fingers and my limbs to one another,
And eats into my sinews, and dissolves
My flesh to a pollution, poisoning
The subtle, pure, and inmost spirit of life!
My God! I never knew what the mad felt
Before; for I am mad beyond all doubt! [More wildly.
No, I am dead! These putrefying limbs
Shut round and sepulchre the panting soul
Which would burst forth into the wandering air! [A pause.
What hideous thought was that I had even now?
'Tis gone; and yet its burthen remains here,
O'er these dull eyes—upon this weary heart!
Oh world! Oh life! Oh day! Oh misery!
Lucretia. What ails thee, my poor child? She answers not.
Her spirit apprehends the sense of pain,
But not its cause; suffering has dried away
The source from which it sprung.
Misery has killed its father: yet its father
Never like mine-O God! What thing am I?
Lucretia. My dearest child, what has your father done?
Beatrice (doubtfully). Who art thou, questioner? I have no
(Aside.) She is the madhouse nurse who tends on me;
It is a piteous office. [To LUCRETIA, in a slow subdued voice.
Do you know,
I thought I was that wretched Beatrice
Men speak of, whom her father sometimes hales
From hall to hall by the entangled hair;
At others, pens up naked in damp cells
Where scaly reptiles crawl, and starves her there
Till she will eat strange flesh. This woful story
So did I overact in my sick dreams
That I imagined- no, it cannot be!
Horrible things have been in this wild world,
Prodigious mixtures, and confusions strange
Of good and ill; and worse have been conceived
Than ever there was found a heart to do.
But never fancy imaged such a deed
[Pauses, suddenly recollecting herself.
Who art thou? Swear to me, ere I die
With fearful expectation, that indeed
Thou art not what thou seemest— Mother!
Lucretia. Oh my sweet child ! know you-
Yet speak it not:
For then, if this be truth, that other too
Must be a truth, a firm enduring truth,
Linked with each lasting circumstance of life,
Never to change, never to pass away.
Why, so it is. This is the Cenci Palace;
Thou art Lucretia; I am Beatrice.
I have talked some wild words, but will no more.
Mother, come near me: from this point of time,
[Her voice dies away faintly.
Lucretia. Alas! what has befallen thee, child?
What has thy father done?
What have I done?
Am I not innocent? Is it my crime
That one with white hair and imperious brow,
Who tortured me from my forgotten years
As parents only dare, should call himself
My father, yet should be-Oh! what am I?
What name, what place, what memory, shall be mine?
What retrospects, outliving even despair?
Lucretia. He is a violent tyrant, surely, child:
We know that death alone can make us free,-
His death or ours. But what can he have done
Of deadlier outrage or worse injury?
Thou art unlike thyself; thine eyes shoot forth
A wandering and strange spirit. Speak to me,
Unlock those pallid hands whose fingers twine
With one another.
Beatrice 'Tis the restless life
Tortured within them. If I try to speak,
I shall go mad. Ay, something must be done ;
What, yet I know not--something which shall make
The thing that I have suffered but a shadow
In the dread lightning which avenges it ;
Bries, rapid, irreversible, destroying
The consequence of what it cannot cure.
Some such thing is to be endured or done :
When I know what, I shall be still and calm,
And never anything will move me more.
But now !–O blood, which art my father's blood,
Circling through these contaminated veins,
If thou, poured forth on the polluted earth,
Couldst wash away the crime, and punishment
By which I suffer-no, that cannot be !
Many might doubt there were a God above,
Who sees and permits evil, and so die :
That faith no agony shall obscure in me.
Lucretia. It must indeed have been some bitter wrong:
Yet what I dare not guess. Oh! my lost child,
Hide not in proud impenetrable grief
Thy sufferings from my fear.
I hide them not.
What are the words which you would have me speak?
I, who can feign no image in my mind
Of that which has transformed me I, whose thought
Is like a ghost shrouded and folded up
In its own formless horror! Of all words
That minister to mortal intercourse,
Which wouldst thou hear? for there is none to tell
My misery. If another ever knew
Aught like to it, she died as I will die,
And left it, as I must, without a name.
Death! Death ! our law and our religion call thee