Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

contemporary rivals in the art ; and it is to be lamented that his life was so short, as there is a sublimity in many of his ideas-a rich vein of deep thought, and powerful feeling running through most of his productions-it may render them perfect studies for the poet

The poem of “ Queen Mab," which has been styled “ his glory as a poet, and his shame as a man," was penned at the early age of 18; and it contains many parts written in the most gorgeous and masterly style; and for imaginative description, perhaps is not excelled in any poem ever produced ; but (as has been well ob served,) the titles of the Divine Being are so often inde. corously sported with in such outrageous paradoxes, coupled with much that is decidedly vile and detestable, that it may be safely asserted no singleindividual retaining one spark of religious feeling, can ever have that spark extinguished by a perusal of the poem."-It is this feeling that has caused its retention in the present pages; as it contains beauties of a most transcendent nature; and no edition of his poems could be deemed perfect without it.

THE CENCI.

ACT I

SCENE I.

en apartment in the Cenci Palace. Enter COUNT CENC:

and CARDINAL CAMILLO. Cam. 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 As manifold and hideous as the deeds Which you scarce hide from men’s revolted eyes,

Cen. The third of my possessions !-let it go! Ah, 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 That his most worthless life:-it angers me! Respited me from Hell !So may the Devil iment. Respite their souls from Heaven. No doubt Pope Cie And his most charitable nephews, pray

b

That the Apostle Peter and the saints
Will grant for their sake that I long enjoy
Strength, wealth, and pride, and lust, and length of day,
Wherein to act the deeds which are the stewards
of their revenue.---But much yet remains
To which they show no title.
Ca...

0 Count Cenci!
So much that thou mightst honourably live,
And reconcile thyself with thine own heart,
And with thy God, and with the offended world.
How hideously look deeds of Just and blood
Thro' 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 have I ever hoped you would amend,
And in that hope have saved your life three times.

Cen. 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.

Cam. Thou execrable man, beware!

Cen. Of thee?
Nay, this is idle: we should know each other.

[ocr errors]

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 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 forms none
But such as men like you would start to know,
Is as my natural food and rest debarred
Until it be accomplished.
Cam....

Art thou not
Most miserable ?

Cen. 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 : And but that there yet remains a deed to act Whose horror might make sharp an appetíte 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. Sudore
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.

incelante
Cam. .....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.

Enter ANDREA.
Andr. My Lord, a gentleman from Salamanca
Would speak with you.
Cen. Bid him attend me in the grand saloon.

(Exit Andrea.)
Cam. Farewell; and I will pray
Almighty God that thy false, impious words
Tempt not his spirit to abandon thee. (Exit Camillo

Cen. The third of my possessions! I must use

Close husbandry, or gold, the old man's sword, mavidireFalls from my withered hand. But yesterday

There came an order from the Pope to make
Whom I had 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

wadruplo Fourfold provision

for my cursed son ;

« PoprzedniaDalej »