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Cardinal Camillo, were reduced at once
From thrice-driven beds of down, and

delicate food,
An hundred servants, and six palaces,
To that which nature doth indeed re-

quire ? Cam. Nay, there is reason in your plea;

't were hard. Giac. 'T is hard for a firm man to bear:

but I
Have a dear wife, a lady of high birth,
Whose dowry in ill hour I lent my father,
Without a bond of witness to the deed :
And children, who inherit her fine senses,
The fairest creatures in this breathing

And she and they reproach me not. Car-

dinal, Do you not think the Pope would inter

pose, And stretch authority beyond the law! Cam. Though your peculiar case is hard,

I know
The Pope will not divert the course of

After that impious feast the other night
I spoke with him, and urged him then to

check Your father's cruel hand; he frowned

and said,
“Children are disobedient, and they sting
Their fathers' hearts to madness and de-

Requiting years of care with contumely.
I pity the Count Cenci from my heart;
His outraged love perhaps awakened

And thus he is exasperated to ill.
In the great war between the old and

young, I, who have white hairs and a tottering

body, Will keep at least blameless neutrality."

(Enter Orsino.) You, my good lord Orsino, heard those

words. Orsino. What words? Giac.

Alas, repeat them not again! There then is no redress for me; at least None but that which I may achieve my

Since I am driven to the brink. But,

My innocent sister and my only brother
Are dying underneath my father's eye.
The memorable torturers of this land,
Galeaz Visconti, Borgia, Ezzelin,
Never inflicted on the meanest slave

That will not bear delay.

(Exit Camillo.) 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 they might well

baffle Any belief) have turned the Pope's dis

pleasure 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 we are left, as scorpions ringed with

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

(Stops abruptly.) Ors.

What? Fear not to speak your thought. Words are but holy as the deeds they


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 un

willing brain Feigns often what it would not; and we

trust Imagination with such fantasies As the tongue dares not fashion into




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 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. Giac.

Spare me now! I am as one lost in a midnight wood, Who dares not ask some harmless pas

senger The path across the wilderness, lest he, As my thoughts are, should be-a mur

derer. 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

The profit, yet omit the sin and peril
In such action? Of all earthly

things I fear a man whose blows outspeed bis

words; And such is Cenci: and while Cenci lives His daughter's dowry were secret

grave, If a priest wins her.-Oh, 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, O 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 bead, 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


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Pardon me that I say farewell-fare

well! I would that to my own suspected self

I could address a word so full of peace. Ors. Farewell !-Be your thoughts better or more bold.

(Erit Giacomo.) I had disposed the Cardinal Camillo To feed his hope with cold encourage

ment: It fortunately serves my close designs That 't is a trick of this same family To analyze their own and other minds. Such self-anatomy shall teach the will Danderous 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 can

not shun, Show a poor figure to my own esteem, To which I grow half reconciled. I'll


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.



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



SCENE 1. An Apartment in the Cenci

Palace. Lucretia, to her enter Beatrice.

Lucr. 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. Beatr. (Frantically.) .

Like parricideMisery has killed its father: yet its father Never like mine—0, God! What thing


am I?

Beatrice. (She enters staggering, and

speaks wildly.) Reach that

handkerchief !--My brain is hurt; My eyes are full of blood; just wipe

them for me I see but indistinctly:Lucretia.

My sweet child, You have no wound; 't is 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 so, And yet I tied it fast.—0, 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 vapors such as the dead

breathe In charnel-pits! Pah! I am choked !

There creeps A clinging, black, contaminating mist About me 't is 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 wander

ing air! (A pause.) What hideous thought was

that I had even now? 'T is gone; and yet its burthen remains

here O'er these dull eyes—upon this weary

heart! 0, world! O, life! O, day! O, misery!

Lucr. My dearest child, what has your

father done? Beatr. (Doubtfully.) Who art thou, ques

tioner. I have no father. (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 some

times 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 wo-

ful story
So did I overact in my sick dreams,
That I imagined-no, it cannot be!
Horrible things have been in this wild

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 As(Pauses, suddenly recollecting herself.)

Who art thou? Swear to me, ere I die With fearful expectation, that indeed Thou art not what thou seemest


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

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, I am

(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, 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? Lucr. 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. Beatr.

'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; Brief, 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 any thing will move me more. But now!-Oh blood, which art my

father's blood, Circling through these contaminated

veins, If thou, poured forth on the polluted

earth, Could wash away the crime, and punish

ment By which I suffer-no, that cannot be! Many might doubt there were

above Who sees and permits evil, and so die:

That faith no agony shall obscure in me. Lucr. It must indeed have been some bit

ter wrong;

Yet what, I dare not guess. Oh, my lost

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 re-

ligion call thee A punishment and a reward.—Oh, which

Have I deserved ? Lucr.

The peace of innocence: Till in your season you be called to

heaven. Whate'er you may have suffered, you

have done No evil. Death must be the punishment Of crime, or the reward of trampling

down The thorns which God has strewed upon

the path Which leads to immortality. Beatr.

Ay, death-
The punishment of crime. I pray thee,

Let me not be bewildered while I judge.
If I must live day after day, and keep
These limbs, the unworthy temple of thy

As a foul den from which what thou ab-

horrest May mock thee, unavenged-it shall not

be! Self-murder? no, that might be no es

For thy decree yawns like a Hell be-

Our will and it. 0! in this mortal world
There is no vindication and no law
Which can adjudge and execute the doom
Of that through which I suffer.

(Enter Orsino.)
(She approaches him solemnly.) Wel-

come, friend! I have to tell you that, since last we met, I have endured a wrong so great and


a God

That neither life nor death can give me

rest. Ask me not what it is, for there are deeds Which have no form, sufferings which

have no tongue. Orsino. And what is he who has thus in

jured you? Beatr. The man they call my father: a

dread name. Ors. It cannot beBeatr.

What it can be, or not, Forbear to think. It is, and it has been; Advise me how it shall not be again. I thought to die, but a religious awe Restrains me, and the dread lest death

itself Might be no refuge from the conscious


Of what is yet unexpiated. Oh, speak ! Ors. Accuse him of the deed, and let the

law A venge thee. Beatr.

Oh, ice-hearted counsellor ! If I could find a word that might make

known The crime of my destroyer; and that

done, My tongue should, like a knife, tear out

the secret Which cankers my heart's core; ay, lay

all bare, So that my unpolluted fame should be With vilest gossips a stale mouthed story; A mock, a bye-word, an astonishment:If this were done, which never shall be

done, Think of the offender's gold, his dreaded

hate, And the strange horror of the accuser's

tale, Baffling belief, and overpowering speech; Scarce whispered, unimaginable, wrapt In hideous hints—Oh, most assured

redress! Ors. You will endure it then? Beatr.

Endure! Orsino, It seems your counsel is small profit. (Turns from him, and speaks half to her

self.) Ay, All must be suddenly resolved and done What is this undistinguishable mist Of thoughts, which rise, like shadow after

shadow, Darkening each other? Ors.

Should the offender live? Triumph in his misdeed ? and make, by

use, His crime, whate'er it is, dreadful no


Thine element; until thou mayest become Utterly lost; subdued even to the hue

Of that which thou permittest? Beatr. (To herself.) Mighty death! Thou double-visaged shadow! Only

judge! Rightfullest arbiter!

(She retires absorbed in thought.) Lucr.

If the lightning Of God has e'er descended to avengeOrs. Blaspheme not! His high Provi

dence commits Its glory on this earth, and their own

wrongs Into the hands of men; if they neglect

To punish crimeLucr.

But if one, like this wretch, Should mock, with gold, opinion, law,

and power? If there be no appeal to that which makes The guiltiest tremble? If, because our

wrongs, For that they are unnatural, strange,

and monstrous, Exceed all measure of belief? Oh, God! If, for the very reasons which should

make Redress most swift and sure, our injurer

triumphs ? And we, the victims, bear worse punish

ment Than that appointed for their torturer? Ors.

Think not But that there is redress where there is

wrong, So we be bold enough to seize it. Lucr.

How? If there were any way to make all sure, I know not-but I think it might be good

ToOrs. Why, his late outrage to Beatrice;

For it is such, as I but faintly guess, As makes remorse dishonor, and leaves

her Only one duty, how she may avenge: You, but one refuge from ills ill en

dured; Me, but one counselLucr.

For we cannot hope That aid, or retribution, or resource, Will arise thence, where every other one Might find them with less need.

(Beatrice advances.) Ors.


Peace, Orsino! And, honored Lady, while I speak, I pray That you put off, as garments overworn, Forbearance and respect, remorse and


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