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Enter LUCRETIA, BEATRICE, and BERNARDO.
SAVELLA. Knowest thou this writing, lady?
Strange thoughts beget strange deeds; and here are
I judge thee not
And yet, if you arrest me,
Nor thou ? You are the judge and executioner LUCRETIA (her conduct throughout the scene is marked or that which is the life of life: the breath by extreme agitation).
Of accusation kills an innocent name, Where was it found ? What is it? It should be
And leaves for lame acquittal the poor life,
Which is a mask without it. "Tis most false
Although I must rejoice, for justest cause,
That other hands have sent my father's soul
To ask the mercy he denied to me.
Now leave us free : stain not a noble house
With vague surmises of rejected crime; Such outrages as to awaken in thee
Add to our sufferings and your own neglect Unfilial hate.
No heavier sum; let them have been 'enough:
Leave us the wreck we have.
I dare not, lady. SAVELLA.
I pray that you prepare yourselves for Rome : There is a deed demanding question done ; There the Pope's further pleasure will be known. Thou hast a secret which will answer not.
O, not to Rome! O, take us not to Rome!
Why not to Rome, dear mother? There, as here,
Our innocence is as an armed heel
To trample accusation. God is there
As here, and with his shadow ever clothes
And such are we. Cheer up, dear lady, lean
On me; collect your wandering thoughts. My lord Guilty! Who dares talk of guilt? My lord,
As soon as you have taken some refreshment, I am more innocent of parricide
And had all such examinations made
Upon the spot, as may be necessary
To the full understanding of this matter,
We shall be ready. Mother; will you come ? Which seems, but is not. What! will human laws, Rather will ye who are their ministers,
LUCRETIA. Bar all access to retribution first,
Ha! they will bind us to the rack, and wrest And then, when Heaven doih interpose to do
Self-accusation from our agony ! What ye neglect, arming familiar things
Will Giacomo be there? Orsino ? Marzio ? To the redress of an unwonted crime,
All present; all confronted; all demanding Make ye the victims who demanded it
Each from the other's countenance the thing Culprits ? 'Tis ye are culprits! That poor wretch
Which is in every heart! O, misery! Who stands so pale, and trembling, and amazed,
[She faints, and is borne out If it be true he murder'd Cenci, was A sword in the right hand of justest God.
She fears that power is as a beast which grasps That you desired his death?
And loosens not: a snake whose look transmutes BEATRICE.
All things to guilt which is its nutriment.
It would have been She cannot know how well the supine slaves A crime no less than his, if for one moment Of blind authority read the truth of things That fierce desire had faded in my heart.
When written on a brow of guilelessness : "l'is true I did believe, and hope, and pray, She sees not yet triumphant Innocence Ay, I even knew—for God is wise and just, Stand at the judgment-seat of mortal man, That some strange sudden death hung over him. A judge and an accuser of the wrong Tis true that this did happen, and most true Which drags it there. Prepare yourself, my lord There was no other rest for me on earth,
Our suite will join yours in the court beluw. No other hope in Heaven-now what of this?
Whilst we for basest ends—I fear, Orsino,
While I consider all your words and looks,
Comparing them with your proposal now,
That you must be a villain. For what end
Training me on with hints, and signs, and smiles
Even to this gulf? Thou art no liar: No,
Thou art a lie! traitor and murderer! Do evil deeds thus quickly come to end?
Coward and slave! But, no—defend thyself; (Drawing 0, that the vain remorse which must chastise
Let the sword speak what the indignant tongue Crimes done, had but as loud a voice to warn
Disdains to brand thee with. As its keen sting is mortal to avenge! 0, that the hour when present had cast off
ORSINO. The mantle of its mystery, and shown
Put up your weapon. The ghastly form with which it now returns
Is it the desperation of your fear When ils scared game is roused, cheering the hounds Makes you thus rash and sudden with your friend, Of conscience to their prey! Alas! alas!
Now ruin'd for your sake? If honest anger It was a wicked thought, a piteous deed,
Have moved you, know, that what I just proposed To kill an old and hoary-headed father.
Was but to try you. As for me, I think,
From which, is my firm temper could repent,
I cannot now recede. Even whilst we speak, GIACOMO.
The ministers of justice wait below: To violate the sacred doors of sleep;
They grant me these brief moments. Now, if you To cheat kind Nature of the placid death Have any word of melancholy comfort Which she prepares for over-wearied age;
To speak to your pale wise, 't were best to pass To drag from Heaven an unrepentant soul,
Out at the postern, and avoid them so.
Oh, generous friend! How canst thou pardon me? You cannot say
Would that my life could purchase thine! I urged you to the deed.
That wish O, had I never
Now comes a day too late. Haste; fare thee well! Found in thy smooth and ready countenance Hear’st thou not steps along the corridor ? The mirror of my darkest thoughts ; hadst thou
[Erit GIACOMO Never with hints and questions made me look I'm sorry for it; but the guards are waiting Upon the monster of my thought, until
At his own gate, and such was my contrivance It grew familiar to desire
That I might rid me both of him and them.
I thought to act a solemn comedy 'Tis thus
Upon the painted scene of this new world, Men cast the blame of their un prosperous acts
And to attain my own peculiar ends Upon the abettors of their own resolve,
By some such plot of mingled good and ill
As others weave; but there arose a Power Or any thing but their weak, guilty selves.
Which grasp'd and snapp'd the threads of my device, And yet, confess the truth, it is the peril In which you stand that gives you this pale sickness And turn'd it to a net of ruin-Ha! Of penitence; confess, 't is fear disguised
[A shout is heard. From its own shame that takes the mantle now
Is that my name I hear proclaim'd abroad? Of thin remorse. What if we yet were safe?
But I will pass, wrapt in a vile disguise ;
Rags on my back, and a false innocence
Upon my face, through the misdeeming crowd How can that be? Already Beatrice,
Which judges by what seems. "T is easy then Lucretia, and the murderer, are in prison.
For a new name and for a country new, I doubt not officers are, whilst we speak,
And a new life, fashion'd on old desires,
To change the honors of abandon'd Rome.
And these must be the masks of that within.
Which must remain unalter'd.-Oh, I fear
That what is pass d will never let me rest! Sc we take fleet occasion by the hair.
Why, when none else is conscious, but myself,
of my misdeeds, should my own heart's contempt GIACOMO.
Trouble me? Have I not the power to fly Rather expire in tortures, as I may.
My own reproaches ? Shall I be the slave What! will you cast by self-accusing flight of-what? A word? which those of this false world Assured conviction upon Beatrice?
Employ against each other, not themselves; She. who alone in this unnatural work,
As men wear daggers not for self-offence.
But if I am mistaken, where shall I
As now I skulk from every other eye? (Exit
Poor wretch! I pity thee: yet stay awhile.
You have a good repute for gentleness
And wisdom : can it be that you sit here I ask you, are you innocent, or guilty?
To countenance a wicked farce like this? I demand who were the participators In your offence ? Speak truth, and the whole truth. From sufferings which might shake the sternest heart
When some obscure and trembling slave is dragg'd MARZIO.
And bade to answer, not as he believes, My God! I did not kill him ; I know nothing ; But as those may suspect or do desire, Olimpio sold the robe to me from which
Whose questions thence suggest their own reply: You would infer my guilt.
And that in peril of such hideous torments
As merciful God spares even the damn'd. Speak now
If your fine frame were stretch'd upon that wheel, Dare you, with lips yet white from the rack's kiss,
And you were told, Confess that you did poison Speak false? Is it so soft a questioner,
Your little nephew: that fair blue-eyed child That you would bandy lover's talk with it,
Who was the load-star of your life; and though Till it wind out your life and soul ? Away!
All see, since his most swift and piteous death,
That day and night, and heaven and earth, and time MARZIO.
And all things hoped for or done therein Spare me! O, spare! I will confess.
Are changed to you, through your exceeding grief,
Yet you would say, I confess any thing-
The refuge of dishonorable death.
I pray thee, Cardinal, that thou assert
CAMILLO (much moved).
What shall we think, my lords ? His own son Giacomo, and the young prelate Shame on these tears ! I thought the heart was frozen Orsino sent me to Petrella ; there
Which is their fountain. I would pledge my soul The ladies Beatrice and Lucretia
That she is guildess. Tempted me with a thousand crowns, and I
JUDGE And my companion forthwith murder'd him.
Yet she must be tortured. Now let me die.
I would as soon have tortured mine own nephew Lead forth the prisoners !
(If he now lived, he would be just her age;
His hair, too, was her color, and his eyes Enter LUCRETIA, BEATRICE, and Giacomo, guarded. Like hers in shape, but blue, and not so deep) : Look upon this man ;
As that most perfect image of God's love When did you see him last?
That ever came sorrowing upon the earth.
She is as pure as speechless infancy!
Well, be her purity on your head, my lord, You know me too well, Lady Beatrice.
If you forbid the rack. His Holiness
Enjoin'd us to pursue this monstrous crimo
By the severest forms of law; nay even
To stretch a point against the criminals.
The prisoners stand accused of parricide,
You know 'twas 1 Upon such evidence as justifies
What evidence? This man's ? And bade me thrive: how I have thriven, you see.
JUDGE You, my lord Giacomo, Lady Lucretia,
Even so You know that what I speak is true. [BEATRICE advances towards him; he covers his
BEATRICE (to Marzio). face, and shrinks back.
Come near. And who art thou, thus chosen furth
Out of the multitude of living men
Oh, dart The terrible resentment of those eyes
To kill the innocent ? On the dread earth! Turn them away from me!
MARZIO. They wound: 'twas torture forced the truth. My lords,
I am Marzio, Having said this, let me be led to death.
Thy father's vassal.
Over the trampled laws of God and man, Fix thine eyes on mine; Rush not before thy Judge, and say: “ My Maker, Answer to what I ask. [Turning to the Judges. I have done this and more; for there was one I prithee mark
Who was most pure and innocent on earth; His countenance: unlike bold calumny
And because she endured what never any Which sometimes dares not speak the thing it looks, Guilty or innocent endured before ; He dares not look the thing he speaks, but bends Because her wrongs could not be told, nor thought, His gaze on the blind earth.
Because thy hand at length did rescue her; (To Marzio.) What! wilt thou say I with my words kill'd her and all her kin." That I did murder my own father?
Think, I adjure you, what it is to slay
The reverence living in the minds of men
Towards our ancient house, and stainless fame! Spare me! My brain swims round—I cannot speak— Cradled in the belief of guileless looks,
Think what it is to strangle infant pity,
Till it become a crime to suffer. Think
What 't is to blot with infamy and blood
All that which shows like innocence, and is,
Hear me, great God! I swear, most innocent,
So that the world lose all discrimination
Between the sly, fierce, wild regard of guilt, So stern, as to have plann'd the crime alleged, And that which now compels thee to reply Which your suspicions dictate to this slave,
To what I ask: Am I, or am I not And the rack makes him utter, do you think
A parricide ? I should have left this two-edged instrument
MARZIO. Of my misdeed; this man, this bloody knife
Thou art not ! With my own name engraven on the heft,
What is this?
I here declare those whom I did accuse
Are innocent. "Tis I alone am guilty.
Drag him away to torments; let them be Had trampled them like dust; and see, he lives ! Subtle and long drawn out, to tear the folds
[Turning to MarzIO. Of the heart's inmost cell. Unbind him not And thou
Till he confess.
Torture me as ye will:
A keener pain has wrung a higher truth Wound worse than torture.
From my last breath. She is most innocent! (To the Judges). I have told it all; Bloodhounds, not men, glut yourselves well with me! For pity's sake, lead me away to death.
I will not give you that fine piece of nature
(Exit Marzio, guarded.
What say ye now, my lords?
Let tortures strain the truth till it be white
As snow thrice-sifted by the frozen wind.
Yet stain'd with blood. Have lived but on this earth a few sad years,
JUDGE (to BEATRICE). And so my lot was order'd that a father
Know you this paper, lady? First turnd the moments of awakening life To drops, each poisoning youth's sweet hope; and then Slabb’d with one blow my everlasting soul; Entrap me not with questions. Who stands here And my untainted fame; and even that peace As my accuser? Ha! wilt thou be he, Which sleeps within the core of the heart's heart. Who art my judge ? Accuser, witness, judge, But the wound was not mortal; so my hate
What, all in one? Here is Orsino's name; Became the only worship I could lift
Where is Orsino? Let his eye meet mine. To our great Faiher, who in pity and love,
What means this scrawl? Alas! ye know not what,
Enter an Officer.
To'flatter their tormentors. Have they said What did he say?
That they were guilty ? O white Innocence!
That thou shouldst wear the mask of guilt to hide
Enter JUDGE with LUCRETIA and Giacomo, guarded
Ignoble hearts !
For some brief spasms of pain, which are at least
As mortal as the limbs through which they pass, But to apply the question to those prisoners,
Are centuries of high splendor laid in dust ?.
And that eternal honor which should live
Sunlike, above the reek of mortal fame,
Changed to a mockery and a byword? What'
Will you give up these bodies to be dragg’d Of these most innocent and noble persons
At horses' heels, so that our hair should sweep
Who, that they may make our calamity
As their own hearts? Shall the light multitude
Fling, at their choice, curses or faded pity, Pious and just as once, I'll wring the truth Sad funeral flowers to deck a living corpse, Out of those nerves and sinews, groan by groan. Upon us as we pass to pass away,
(Exeunt. And leave—what memory of our having been?
Infamy, blood, terror, despair ? O thou,
Who wert a mother to the parentless,
Kill not thy child! Let not her wrongs kill thee!
Brother, lie down with me upon the rack,
And let us each be silent as a corpse ; BEATRICE 18 discovered asleep on a couch. It soon will be as soft as any grave. Enter BERNARDO.
"Tis but the falsehood it can wring from fear
Makes the rack cruel.
They will tear the truth
Even from thee at last, those cruel pains :
For pity's sake, say thou art guilty now.
O, speak the truth! Let us all quickly die;
And after death, God is our judge, not they ;
And then the Pope will surely pardon you, After our father's presence.
And all be well.
Confess, or I will warp
The rack henceforth into a spinning-wheel!
Torture your dog, that he may tell when last Look not so calm and happy, or, even whilst
He lapp'd the blood his master shed—not me! I stand considering what I have to say,
My pangs are of the mind, and of the heart, My heart will break.
And of the soul; ay, of the mmost soul,
Which weeps within tears as of burning gall See now, thou makest me weep: To sec, in this ill world where none are true, How very friendless thou wouldst be, dear child,
My kindred false to their deserted selves, If I were dead! Say what thon hast to say. And with considering all the wretched life
Which I have lived, and its now wretched end, They have confess'd ; they could endure no more And the small justice shown by Heaven and Earth The tortures
To me or mine; and what a tyrant thou art,
And what slaves these ; and what a world we maka Ha! What was there to confess? The oppressor and the oppress'd—such pangs compel They must have told some weak and wicked lie My answer. What is it thou wouldst with me?