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You come to ask their pardon. Stay a moment;
Bernardo. O God, not so ! I did believe indeed
[Rushes out. Camillo.
Alas! poor boy! A wreck-devoted seaman thus might pray To the deaf sea.
Enter LUCRETIA, BEATRICE, and GIACOMO, guarded.
I hardly dare to fear
Camillo, May God in heaven be less inexorable
The atmosphere and breath of my dead life !
Trust in God's sweet love,
... 'Tis past !
with CAMILLO, who now goes out ; GIACOMO advances.
Yet both will soon be cold.
Worse than the bitterness of death, is hope :
BERNARDO rushes in.
Oh horrible! That tears, that looks, that hope poured forth in prayer Even till the heart is vacant and despairs, Should all be vain! The ministers of death Are waiting round the doors. I thought I saw Blood on the face of one.- What if 'twere fancy? Soon the heart's blood of all I love on earth Will sprinkle him, and he will wipe it off As if 'twere only rain. O life ! O world ! Cover me ! let me be no more! To see That perfect mirror of pure innocence, Wherein I gazed, and grew happy and good, Shivered to dust! To see thee, Beatrice, Who mad'st all lovely thou didst look uponThee, light of life-dead, dark ! while I say “Sister," To hear I have no sister! And thou, mother, Whose love was as a bond to all our lovesDead-the sweet bond broken !
Enter Camillo and Guards.
They come! Let me
Beatrice. Farewell, my tender brother. Think
Bernardo. I cannot say farewell !
Oh Lady Beatrice !
NOTE ON THE CENCI, BY MRS. SHELLEY.
The sort of mistake that Shelley made as to the extent of his own genius and powers, which led him deviously at first, but lastly into the direct tract that enabled him fully to develop them, is a curious instance of his modesty of feeling, and of the methods which the human mind uses at once to deceive itself, and yet, in its very delusion, to make its way out of error into the path which Nature has marked out as its right one. He often incited me to attempt the writing a tragedy: he conceived that I
possessed some dramatic talent, and he was always most earnest and energetic in his exhortations that I should cultivate any talent I possessed, to the utmost. I entertained a truer estimate of my powers; and above all (though at that time not exactly aware of the fact) I was far too young to have any chance of succeeding, even moderately, in a species of composition that requires a greater scope of experience in, and sympathy with, human passion than could then have fallen to my lot, or than any perhaps, except Shelley, ever possessed, even at the age of twenty-six, at which he wrote The Cenci.
On the other hand, Shelley most erroneously conceived himself to be destitute of this talent. He believed that one of the first requisites was the capacity of forming and following up a story or plot. He fancied himself to be defective in this portion of imagination: it was that which gave him least pleasure in the writings of others, though he laid great store by it, as the proper framework to support the sublimest efforts of poetry. He asserted that he was too metaphysical and abstract, too fond of the theoretical and the ideal, to succeed as a tragedian. Jt perhaps is not s that I shared this opinion with himself ; for he had hitherto shown no inclination for, nor given any specimen of his powers in, framing and supporting the interest of a story, either in prose or verse. Once or twice, when he attempted such, he had speedily thrown it aside, as being even disagreeable to him as an occupation
ect he had suggested for a tragedy was Cbarles I.; and he had written to me; “Remember, remember Charles I. I have been already imagining how you would conduct some scenes. The second volume of St. Leon begins with this proud and true sentiment, “There is nothing which the human mind can conceive which it may not execute.' Shakspeare was only a human being.” These words were w in 1818, while we were in Lombardy, when he little thought how soon a work of his own would prove a proud comment on the passage he quoted. When in Rome, in 1819, a friend put into our hands the old manuscript account of the story of the Cenci. We visited the Colonna and Doria palaces, where the portraits of Beatrice were to be found; and her beauty cast the reflection of its own grace over her appalling story. Shelley's imagination became strongly excited, and he urged the subject to me as one fitted for a tragedy. More than ever, I felt my incompetence ; but I entreated him to write it instead ; and he began and proceeded swiftly, urged on by intense sympathy with the sufferings of the human beings whose passions, so long cold in the tomb, he revived, and gifted with poetic language. This tragedy is the only one of his works that he communicated to me during its progress. We talked over the arrangement of the scenes together. I speedily saw the great mistake we had made, and triumphed in the discovery of the new talent brought to light from that mine of wealth (never, alas! through his untimely death, worked to its depths) his richly. gifted mind.
We suffered a severe affliction in Rome by the loss of our eldest child, who was of such beauty and promise as to cause him deservedly to be the idol of our hearts. We left the capital of the world, anxious for a time to escape a spot associated too intimately with his presence and loss. * Some friends of ours were residing in the neighbourhood of Leghorn, and we took a small house, Villa Valsovano, about halfway between the town and Monte Nero, where we remained during the summer.
* Such feelings haunted him when, in The Cenci, he makes Beatrice speak to Cardinal Camillo of
" that fair blue-eyed child Who was the lodestar of your life"and say
"All see, since his most swift and piteous death,
That day and night, and heaven and carth, and time,