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Being, as 'twere, the shadow of his own
I pray you now excuse me. I have business
That will not bear delay.
Giac. But you, Orsino,
Have the petition: wherefore not present it?
Ors. I have presented it, and backed it with
My earnest prayers and urgent interest;
It was returned unanswered. I doubt not
But that the strange and execrable deeds
Alleged in it (in truth tliey might well baile
Any belief) have turned the Pope's displeasure
Upon the accusers from the criminal:
So I should guess from what Camillo said.
Giac. My friend, that palace-walking devil, Gold,
Has whispered silence to his Holiness,
And, being left as scorpions ringed with fire,
What should we do but strike ourselves to death?
For he who is our murderous persecutor
Is shielded by a father's holy name,
Or I would
Ors. What? Fear not to speak your thought.
Words are but holy as the deeds they cover:
A priest who has forsworn the God he serves;
A judge who makes truth weep at his decree,
A friend who should weave counsel, as I now,
But as the mantle of some selfish guile;
A father who is all a tyrant seems,
Were the profaner for his sacred name.
Giac. Ask me not what I think ; the unwilling bra!
Feigns often what it would not; and we trust
Imagination with such fantasies
As the tongue dares not fashion into words;
Which have no words, their horror makes them dim
To the mind's eye. My heart denies itself
To think what you demand.
Ors. But a friend's bosom
Is as the in most 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,
Giac, Spare me, now!
I am as one lost in a midnight wood,
Who dares pot ask some harmless passenger
The path across the wilderness, lest nie,
As my thoughts are, should be a muriterer.
I know you are 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—larewell!
I would that to my own suspected sell
I could address a word so full of peace.
Ors. Farewell !-Be your thoughts better or more bold.
I had disposed the Cardinal Camillo
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 I,
Since Beatrice unveiled me to myself,
And made me shrink from what i cannot shun,
Shew a poor figure to my own esteein,
To which I grow half reconciled. I'll do
As little mischief as I can : that thought
Shall see the accuser conscience. (After a peuse.)
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.-0 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 dreanis,
So, when I awake, 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 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 add its prey of other hearts,
Till it become his slave-as I will do.
SCENE I. an apartment in the Cenci Palace. LUCRETIA ; to her
enter BEATRICE. Beatr. (She enters staggering, and speaks wildly.) Reacn me the handkerchief!-My brain is hurt;
My eyes are full of blood; , ust wipe them for mo-
I see but ind.stinctly :
Lucr. My sweet child,
You have no wound; 'tis only a cold dew
That starts from your dear brow-Alas! alas.
What has befallen ?
Beatr. How comes this hair undone ?
Its wandering strings must be what blind me
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 fieor 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 putrifying limbs
Shut round and sepulchre the panting soul. [a pause.
Which would burst forth into the wandering air !
What hideous thought was that I had e'en now?
'Tis gone; and yet its burthen remains here
O'er these dull eyes—upon this weary heart!
O world! O life! O day! O misery !
(not: Lucr. What ails thee, my poor child ?-She answers Her spirit apprehends the sense of pain, But notits cause; suffering has dried away The source from which it sprung.
Beatr. (franticly.) Like parricideMisery has killed its father: yet, its father, Never like minemo God! what thing am I?
Lucr. My dearest child what has your father done?
Who art thou, questioner ? I have no father. (aside.)
She is the mad-house 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 ;
It others, pens up naked in damp cells
Where scaly reptiles crawl, and starves her there,
Till she will eat strange flesh. This woeful 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 imagined 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!
My sweet child, know you-
Beatr. 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.; Lucr. Alas! what has befallen thee, child ? What has thy father done?
Beatr. 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,