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THIRD GUEST. It is indeed a most desired event.
I do believe it is some jest; though, faith!
I think his son has married the Infanta,
Or found a mine of gold in El Dorado. One supplication, one desire, one hope,
"Tis but to season some such news; stay, stay! That he would grant a wish for his two sons
I see 'tis only raillery by his smile. Even all that he demands in their regard
CENCI (filling a bowl of wine, and lifting it up). And suddenly beyond his dearest hope
Oh, thou bright wine, whose purple splendor leaps It is accomplish’d, he should then rejoice,
And bubbles gaily in this golden bowl
Could I believe thou wert their mingled blood,
Then would I taste thee like a sacrament,
Who, if a father's curses, as men say,
And drag them from the very throne of Heaven,
Fear not, child, He speaks 100 frankly.
Now triumphs in my triumph-But thou art
Superfluous; I have drunken deep of joy,
And I will taste no other wine to-night.
A GUEST (rising).
Will none among this noble company
For God's sake,
Let me dismiss the guests! You are insane, Are dead Why dead What means this change Some ill will come of this. of cheer?
SECOND GUEST. You hear me not, I tell you they are dead;
Seize, silence him! And they will need no food or raiment more:
FIRST GUEST. The tapers that did light them the dark way
I will! Are their last cost. The Pope, I think, will not
CENCI (addressing those who rise with a threatening
gesture). supports her).
Who moves? Who speaks? It is not true-Dear lady, pray look up.
[Turning to the Company Had it been true, there is a God in Heaven,
Enjoy yourselves.—Beware! for my revenge
That kills, and none dare name the murderer.
[The Banquet is broken up; several of the To witness that I speak the sober truth ;
guests are departing.
I do entreat you, go not, noble guests :
Stand shelter'd by a father's hoary hair? Was stabb'd in error by a jealous man,
What if 't is he who clothed us in these limbs Whilst she he loved was sleeping with his rival;
Who tortures them, and triumphs ? What, if we, All in the self-same hour of the same night;
The desolate and the dead, were his own flesh, Which shows that Heaven has special care of me.
His children and his wife, whom he is bound I beg those friends who love me, that they mark
To love and shelter ? Shall we therefore find The day a feast upon their calendars.
No refuge in this merciless wide world ? It was the twenty-seventh of December :
Oh, think what deep wrongs must have blotted out Ay, read the letters if you doubt my oath.
First love, then reverence in a child's prone mind [The assembly appears confused ; several of Till it thus vanquish shame and fear! Oh, think the guests rise.
I have borne much, and kiss'd the sacred hand
Which crush'd us to the earth, and thought its stroke
Was perhaps some paternal chastisement !
Remain'd, have sought by patience, love and tears
I have knelt down through the long sleepless nights Beast that thou art! Fair and yet terrible!
I know a charm shall make thee meek and tame. Passionate prayers : and when these were not heard Now get thee from my sight! [Erit BEATRICE I have still borne,-until I meet you here,
Fill up this goblet with Greek wine. I said
With thinking what I have decreed to do.
(Drinking the wine Oh! Prince Colonna, thou art our near kinsman, Be thou the resolution of quick youth Cardinal, thou art the Pope's chamberlain,
Within my veins, and manhood's purpose stern, Camillo, thou art chief justiciary,
And age's firm, cold, subtle villany;
As if thou wert indeed my children's blood
during the first part of BEATRICE's speech ; It must be done, it shall be done, I swear!
An Apartment in the Cenci Palace.
Enter LUCRETIA and BERNARDO.
LUCRETIA. Of scrupulous law, that ye deny my suit?
Weep not, my gentle boy; he struck but me, Oh, God! that I were buried with my brothers!
Who have borne deeper wrongs. In truth, if he And that the flowers of this departed spring
Had kill'd me, he had done a kinder deed. Were fading on my grave! And that my father
Oh, God Almighty, do thou look upon us,
We have no other friend but only thee!
Yet weep not; though I love you as my own,
Oh, more, more
That have you been to me! Had he not been Yet I would second any one.
My father, do you think that I should weep?
Alas! poor boy, what else couldst thou have done!
BEATRICE (in a hurried voice).
Did he pass this way? Have you seen him, brother!
Mother, if I to thee have ever been Who art a torturer? Father, never dream, A duteous child, now save me! Thou, great God, Though thou mayst overbear this company, Whose image upon earth a father is, But ill must come of ill.–Frown not on me! Dost thou indeed abandon me? He comes ; Haste, hide thyself, lest with avenging looks The door is opening now; I see his face; My brothers' ghosts should hunt thee from thy seat! He frowns on others, but he smiles on me, Cover thy face from every living eye,
Even as he did after the feast last night.
Enter a SERVANT.
Almighty God, how merciful thou art!
"Tis but Orsino's servant.-Well, what news Pray that he pity both ourselves and thee. CENCI.
My master bids me say, the Holy Father My friends, I do lament this insane girl
Has sent back your petition thus unopen'd. Has spoilt the mirth of our festivity.
[Giving a Paper Good night, farewell ; I will not make you longer
And he demands at what hour 't were secure Spectators of our dull domestic quarrels.
To visit you again? Another time.
LUCRETIA. (Exeunt all but CENCI and BEATRICE.
At the Ave-Mary. (Exit SERVANT My brain is swimming round; So, daughter, our last hope has fail'd! Ah me! Give me a bowl of wine!
How pale you look; you tremble, and you stand (To BEATRICE). Thou painted viper ! Wrapp'd in some fix'd and fearful meditation,
As if one thought were over-strong for you : Whilst I, then dead, and all this hideous coil,
Talk not to me, dear lady, of a husband :
Did you not nurse me when my mother died ?
And had we any other friend but you
In infancy, with gentle words and looks
To win our father not to murder us?
Of my dead mother plead against my soul f'o see if others were as white as he ?
If I abandon her who fill'd the place
She left, with more, even, than a mother's love!
I would not leave you in this wretchedness,
Even though the Pope should make me free to live Until this hour thus you have ever stood
In some blithe place, like others of my age, Between us and your father's moody wrath With sports, and delicate food, and the fresh air. Like a protecting presence : your firm mind Oh, never think that I will leave you, Mother! Has been our only refuge and defence : What can have thus subdued it? What can now My dear, dear children! Have given you that cold melancholy look, Succeeding to your unaccustom'd fear?
Enter CENCI, suddenly.
CENCI. What is it that you say? I was just thinking
What, Beatrice here! Twere better not to struggle any more.
Come hither! (She shrinks back, and covers her face. Men, like my father, have been dark and bloody,
Nay, hide not your face, 'tis fair ; Yet never-O! before worse comes of it,
Look up! Why, yester-night you dared to look Twere wise to die: it ends in that at last.
With disobedient insolence upon me,
Bending a stern and an inquiring brow
On what I meant; whilst I then sought to hide
That which I came to tell you—but in vain.
BEATRICE (wildly, staggering towards the door). One inoment in your chamber.-Speak to me. Oh, that the earth would gape! Hide me, oh God! BERNARDO.
CENCI. Oh, sister, sister, prithee, speak to us!
Then it was I whose inarticulate words
Fell from my lips, who with toitering steps BEATRICE (speaking very slowly with a forced Fled from your presence, as you now from mine. calmness.
Stay, I command you—from this day and hour It was one word, mother, one little word ;
Never again, I think, with fearless eye, One look, one smile.
[Wildly. And brow superior, and unalter'd cheek, Oh! he has trampled me And that lip made for tenderness or scorn, Under his feet, and made the blood stream down
Shalt thou strike dumb the meanest of mankind; My pallid cheeks. And he has given us all
Me least of all. Now get thee to thy chamber, Ditch-water, and the fever-stricken flesh
Thou too, lothed image of thy cursed mother, Of buffaloes, and bade us eat or starve,
[To BERNARDO. And we have eaten.--He has made me look
Thy milky, meek face makes me sick with hate ! On my beloved Bernardo, when the rust
(Exeunt BEATRICE and BERNARDO. Of heavy chains has gangrened his sweet limbs,
(Aside). So much has past between us as must make And I have never yet des pair'd—but now!
Me bold, her fearful.-"Tis an awful thing What would I say?
[Recovering herself. To touch such mischief as I now conceive: Ah! no, 'tis nothing new.
So men sit shivering on the dewy bank, The sufferings we all share have made me wild :
And try the chill stream with their feet; once inHe only struck and cursed me as he pass'd ;
How the delighted spirit pants for joy!
LUCRETIA (advancing timidly founrds him). Alas! I am forgetful of my duty,
Oh, husband ! Pray forgive poor Beatrice, I should preserve my senses for your sake.
She meant not any ill.
Nay, Beatrice; have courage, my sweet girl.
Nor you perhaps ? If any one despairs, it should be I,
Nor that young imp, whom you have taught by rote Who loved him once, and now must live with him Parricide with his alphabet? Nor Giacomo? Till God in pity call for him or me;
Nor those two most unnatural sons, who stirr'u For you may, like your sister, find some husband, Enmity up against me with the Pope ! And smile, years hence, with children round your Whom in one night merciful God cut off: knees;
Innocent lambs! They thought not any ill,
You were not here conspiring? You said nothing
A Chamber in the Vatican.
Enter CAMILLO and Giacomo, in conversation.
There is an obsolete and doubtful law,
By which you might obtain a bare provision
Of food and clothing.
Nothing more? Alas!
Bare must be the provision which strict law
Awards, and aged sullen avarice pays.
So help me God, Why did my father not apprentice me I never thought the things you charge me with! To some mechanic trade ? I should have then
Been train'd in no high-born necessities
Which I could meet not by my daily toil. If you dare speak that wicked lie again,
The eldest son of a rich nobleman I'll kill you. What! it was not by your counsel Is heir to all his incapacities; That Beatrice disturb'd the feast last night? He has wide wants, and narrow powers. If you, You did not hope to stir some enemies
Cardinal Camillo, were reduced at once
Nay, there is reason in your plea ; 't were hard
'Tis hard for a firm man to bear: but I Until she heard you talk of her dead brothers.
Have a dear wife, a lady of high birth,
Whose dowry in ill hour I lent my father,
Without a bond or witness to the deed ;
And children, who inherit her fine senses, But I will take you where you may persuade
The fairest creatures in this breathing world; The stones you tread on to deliver you :
And she and they reproach me not. Cardinal, For men shall there be none but those who dare
Do you not think the Pope would interpnse All things—not question that which I command.
And stretch authority beyond the law? On Wednesday next I shall set out: you know
CAMILLO. That savage rock, the Castle of Petrella,
Though your peculiar case is hard, I know "Tis safely wall'd, and moated round about :
The Pope will not divert the course of law. Its dungeons under ground, and its thick towers
After that impious feast the other night Never told tales; though they have heard and seen I spoke with him, and urged him then to check What might make dumb things speak.-Why do you Your father's cruel hand; he frown'd, and said linger?
Children are disobedient, and they sting Make speediest preparation for the journey! Their fathers' hearts to madness and despair,
[Evil LUCRETIA. Requiting years of care with contumely. The all-beholding sun yet shines; I hear
I pity the Count Cenci from my heart; A busy stir of men about the streets;
His outraged love perhaps awaken'd hate, I see the bright sky through the window-panes :
And thus he is exasperated to ill. It is a garish, broad, and peering day ;
In the great war between the old and young, Loud, light, suspicious, full of eyes and ears, I, who have white hairs and a tontering body, And every little corner, nook and hole
Will keep at least blameless neutrality."
You, my good lord Orsino, heard those words
Alas, repeat them not again!
There then is no redress for me, at least For me: I bear a darker deadlier gloom
None but that which I may achieve myself, 'Than the earth's shade, or interlunar air,
Since I am driven to the brink.—But say,
Are dying underneath my father's eye,
(Erit. Galeaz Visconti, Borgia, Ezzelin,
Never inflicted on their meanest slave
Lone counsel from a night of sleepless care
I would that to my own suspected self
I could address a word so full of peace.
Farewell -Be your thoughts better or more bold. In aught to weaken the paternal power,
(Exit GIACOMO Being, as 't were, the shadow of his own.
I had disposed the Cardinal Camillo
(Exit CAMILLO. It fortunately serves my close designs
That 'tis a trick of this same family
To analyze 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, I have presented it, and back'd it with
Into the depth of darkest purposes : My earnest prayers, and urgent interest :
So Cenci fell into the pit; even I, It was return'd unanswer'd. I doubt not
Since Beatrice unveil'd me to myself, But that the strange and execrable deeds
And made me shrink from what I cannot shun, Alleged in it—in truth they might well baffle
Show a poor figure to my own esteem, Any belief-have turn'd the Pope's displeasure
To which I grow half reconciled. I'll do Upon the accusers from the criminal :
As little mischief as I can; that thought So I should guess from what Camillo said.
Shall fee the accuser Conscience. [After a pause.
Now what harm My friend, that palace-walking devil Gold
If Cenci should be murder'd ?-Yet, if murder'd, Has whisper'd silence to his Holiness :
Wherefore by me? And what if I could take
I fear a man whose blows outspeed his words;
And such is Cenci : and while Cenci lives, Or I would
[Stops abruptly. His daughter's dowry were a secret grave
If a priest wins her.--Oh, fair Beatrice!
Would that I loved thee not, or loving thee
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,
I clasp the phantom of unfelt delights,
Will I not nurse this life of feverous hours:
From the unravell'd hopes of Giacomo
I must work out my own dear purposes.
I see, as from a tower, the end of all :
But a friend's bosom Her father dead; her brother bound to me Is as the inmost cave of our own mind,
By a dark secret, surer than the grave; Where we sit shut from the wide gaze of day, Her mother scared and unexpostulating, And from the all-communicating air.
From the dread manner of her wish achieved: You look what I suspected.
And she Once more take courage, my faint heart;
What dares a friendless maiden match'd with thee?
Spare me now! I have such foresight as assures success! I am as one lost in a midnight wood,
Some unbeheld divinity doth ever,
To black suggestions; and he prospers best,
But who can flatter the dark spirit, that makes