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It is indeed a most desired event.
Is when a parent from a parent's heart
Lists from this earth to the great Father of all
A prayer, both when he lays him down to sleep,
And when he rises up from dreaming it;
One supplication, one desire, one hope,
That he would grant a wish for his two sons
Even all that he demands in their regard—
And suddenly beyond his dearest hope
It is accomplish'd, he should then rejoice,
And call his friends and kinsmen to a feast,
And task their love to grace his merriment,
Then honor me thus far—for I am he.

Great God! How horrible! Some dreadful ill
Must have befallen my brothers.

Lucretia. Fear not, child, He speaks too frankly.

BEATRice. Ah! My blood runs cold. I fear that wicked laughter round his eye, Which wrinkles up the skin even to the hair.

cenci. Here are the letters brought from Salamanca; Beatrice, read them to your mother. God! I thank thee! In one night didst thou perform By ways inscrutable, the thing I sought. My disobedient and rebellious sons Are dead!—Why dead!—What means this change

of cheer?

You hear me not, I tell you they are dead;
And they will need no food or raiment more:
The tapers that did light them the dark way
Are their last cost. The Pope, I think, will not
Expect I should maintain them in their coffins.
Rejoice with me—my heart is wondrous glad.

BEATRICE (LucRETIA sinks, half fainting; BEATRice
supports her).
It is not true!—Dear lady, pray look up.
Had it been true, there is a God in Heaven,
He would not live to boast of such a boon.
Unnatural man, thou knowest that it is false.


Ay, as the word of God; whom here I call
To witness that I speak the sober truth;-
And whose most favoring Providence was shown
Even in the manner of their deaths. For Rocco
Was kneeling at the mass, with sixteen others,
When the church fell and crush'd him to a mummy,
The rest escaped unhurt. Cristofano
Was stabb'd in error by a jealous man,
Whilst she he loved was sleeping with his rival;
All in the self-same hour of the same night;
Which shows that Heaven has special care of me.
I leg those friends who love me, that they mark
The day a feast upon their calendars.
It was the twenty-seventh of December:
Ay, read the letters if you doubt my oath.

[The assembly appears confused; several of

the guests rise.

First Guest. Oh, horrible! I will depart—

second GurST.

Third Guest. No, stay! I do believe it is some jest; though, faith ! "Tis mocking us somewhat too solemnly. I think his son has married the Infanta, Or found a mine of gold in El Dorado. "Tis but to season some such news; stay, stay! I see 'tis only raillery by his smile. cENci (filling a bowl of wine, and lifting it up). Oh, thou bright wine, whose purple splendor leaps And bubbles gaily in this golden bowl Under the lamplight, as my spirits do, To hear the death of my accursed sons! Could I believe thou wert their mingled blood, Then would I taste thee like a sacrament, And pledge with thee the mighty Devil in Hell, Who, if a father's curses, as men say, Climb with swift wings after their children's souls, And drag them from the very throne of Heaven, Now triumphs in my triumph!—But thou art Superfluous; I have drunken deep of joy, And I will taste no other wine to-night. Here, Andrea: Bear the bowl around.

A GUEst (rising). Thou wretch! Will none among this noble company Check the abandon'd villain

CAMILLO. For God's sake, Let me dismiss the guests! You are insane, Some ill will come of this.

Second Gurst.
Seize, silence him!

first GUEST. I will! Third Guest. And I:

cENci (addressing those who rise with a threatening gesture). Who moves? Who speaks? [Turning to the Company. "Tis nothing, Enjoy yourselves—Beware! for my revenge Is as the seal’d commission of a king, That kills, and none dare name the murderer. [The Banquet is broken up; several of the guests are departing. BEATRICE. I do entreat you, go not, noble guests: What although tyranny, and impious hate Stand shelter'd by a father's hoary hair? What if 'tis he who clothed us in these limbs Who tortures them, and triumphs? What, if we, The desolate and the dead, were his own flesh, His children and his wife, whom he is bound To love and shelter Shall we therefore find No refuge in this merciless wide world ! Oh, think what deep wrongs must have blotted out First love, then reverence in a child's prone mind Till it thus vanquish shame and fear! Oh, think 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! Have excused much ; doubted; and when no doubt Remain'd, have sought by patience, love and tears

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To soften him; and when this could not be

I have knelt down through the long sleepless nights
And lifted up to God, the father of all,
Passionate prayers; and when these were not heard
I have still borne,—until I meet you here,
Princes and kinsmen, at this hideous feast
Given at my brothers' deaths. Two yet remain,
His wife remains and I, whom if ye save not,
Ye may soon share such merriment again
As fathers make over their children's graves.
Oh! Prince Colonna, thou art our near kinsman,
Cardinal, thou art the Pope's chamberlain,
Camillo, thou art chief justiciary,
Take us away!
cENci. [He has been conversing with CAMILlo
during the first part of BEATRice's speech;
he hears the conclusion, and now advances.
I hope my good friends here
Will think of their own daughters—or perhaps
Of their own throats—before they lend an ear
To this wild girl.
BEATRICE (not naticing the words of CENCI).
Dare not one look on me?
None answer? Can one tyrant overbear
The sense of many best and wisest men
Or is it that I sue not in some form
Of scrupulous law, that ye deny my suit?
Oh, God! that I were buried with my brothers!
And that the flowers of this departed spring
Were fading on my grave! And that my father
Were celebrating now one feast for all!

CAMillo. A bitter wish for one so young and gentle; Can we do nothing?—

colonna. Nothing that I see. Count Cenci were a dangerous enemy: Yet I would second any one. A CARDINAL. And I. Cenci. Retire to your chamber, insolent girl!

Beatrice. Retire, thou impious man! Ay, hide thyself Where never eye can look upon thee more! Wouldst thou have honor and obedience Who art a torturer? Father, never dream, Though thou mayst overbear this company, But ill must come of ill.—Frown not on me! Haste, hide thyself, lest with avenging looks My brothers' ghosts should hunt thee from thy seat! Cover thy face from every living eye, And start if thou but hear a human step: Seek out some dark and silent corner, there Bow thy white head before offended God, And we will kneel around, and servently Pray that he pity both ourselves and thee.

cENci. My friends, I do lament this insane girl Has spoilt the mirth of our festivity. Good night, farewell; I will not make you longer Spectators of our dull domestic quarrels. Another time.— [Ereunt all but CENCI and BEATRICE. My brain is swimming round; Give me a bowl of wine! (To BEATRICE). Thou painted viper!

Beast that thou art! Fair and yet terrible!
I know a charm shall make thee meek and tame.
Now get thee from my sight! [Erit BEATRico.
Here, Andrea,

Fill up this goblet with Greek wine. I said
I would not drink this evening, but I must;
For, strange to say, I feel my spirits sail
With thinking what I have decreed to do.

[Drinking the trine.
Be thou the resolution of quick youth
Within my veins, and manhood's purpose stern,
And age's firm, cold, subtle villany;
As if thou wert indeed my children's blood
Which I did thirst to drink. The charm works well;
It must be done, it shall be done, I swear!


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As if one thought were over-strong for you: Your eyes have a chill glare; oh, dearest child! Are you gone mad? If not, pray speak to me.

Beatrice. You see I am not mad; I speak to you.

Lucitetia. You talk'd of something that your father did After that dreadful feast ! Could it be worse Than when he smiled, and cried, My sons are dead! And every one look'd in his neighbor's face To see if others were as white as he At the first word he spoke, I felt the blood Rush to my heart, and fell into a trance; And when it past, I sat all weak and wild; Whilst you alone stood up, and with strong words Check'd his unnatural pride; and I could see The devil was rebuked that lives in him. Until this hour thus you have ever stood Between us and your father's moody wrath Like a protecting presence: your firm mind Has been our only refuge and defence: What can have thus subdued it ! What can now Have given you that cold melancholy look, Succeeding to your unaccustom'd fear?

beatrice. What is it that you say ' I was just thinking Twere better not to struggle any more. Men, like my father, have been dark and bloody, Yet never—O! before worse comes of it, Twere wise to die: it ends in that at last.

LUCR.Eti A. Oh, talk not so, dear child ! Tell me at once What did your father do or say to you ? He stay’d not after that accursed feast One moment in your chamber—Speak to me.

BERNARDO. Oh, sister, sister, prithee, speak to us!

BEATRICE [speaking very slowly with a forced
It was one word, mother, one little word;
One look, one smile. [Wildly.
Oh! he has trampled me
Under his feet, and made the blood stream down
My pallid cheeks. And he has given us all
Ditch-water, and the sever-stricken flesh
Of buffaloes, and bade us eat or starve,
And we have eaten.—He has made me look
On my beloved Bernardo, when the rust
Of heavy chains has gangrened his sweet limbs,
And I have never yet despair’d—but now!
What would I say? [Recovering herself.
Ah! no, 'tis nothing new.

The sufferings we all share have made me wild :
He only struck and cursed me as he pass'd;
He said, he look'd, he did, nothing at all
Beyond his wont, yet it disorder'd me.
Alas! I am forgetful of my duty,
I should preserve my senses for your sake.

Lucrotia. Nay, Beatrice; have courage, my sweet girl. If any one despairs, it should be I, Who loved him once, and now must live with him Till God in pity call for him or me; For you may, like your sister, find some husband, And smile, years hence, with children round your knees;

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CENci. Then it was I whose inarticulate words Fell from my lips, who with tottering steps Fled from your presence, as you now from mine. Stay, I command you—from this day and hour Never again, I think, with fearless eye, And brow superior, and unalter'd cheek, And that lip made for tenderness or scorn, Shalt thou strike dumb the meanest of mankind; Me least of all. Now get thee to thy chamber, Thou too, lothed image of thy cursed mother, [To BERNARDo. Thy milky, meek face makes me sick with hate: [Ereunt BEATRICE and BERNARDo. (Aside). So much has past between us as must make Me bold, her fearful—"Tis an awful thing To touch such mischief as I now conceive: So men sit shivering on the dewy bank, And try the chill stream with their feet; once in—

|How the delighted spirit pants for joy!

Lucretia (advancing timidly towards him).
Oh, husband! Pray forgive poor Beatrice,
She meant not any ill.

Nor you perhaps?
Nor that young imp, whom you have taught by rote
Parricide with his alphabet? Nor Giacomof
Nor those two most unnatural sons, who stirr'd
Enmity up against me with the Pope?
Whom in one night merciful God cut off:
Innocent lambs! They thought not any ill,

You were not here conspiring You said nothing
Of how I might be dungeon'd as a madman;
Or be condemn'd to death for some offence,
And you would be the witnesses —This failing,
How just it were to hire assassins, or
Put sudden poison in my evening's drink?
Or smother me when overcome by wine?
Seeing we had no other judge but God,
And he had sentenced me, and there were none
But you to be the executioners
Of his decree enregister'd in Heaven?
Oh, no! You said not this?

LU CRETIA. o So help me God, I never thought the things you charge me with !

cenci. If you dare speak that wicked lie again, I'll kill you. What! it was not by your counsel That Beatrice disturb’d the seast last night? You did not hope to stir some enemies Against me, and escape, and laugh to scorn What every nerve of you now trembles at 1 You judged that men were bolder than they are: Few dare to stand between their grave and me.

LUCRETIA. Look not so dreadfully! By my salvation I knew not aught that Beatrice design'd; Nor do I think she design'd any thing Until she heard you talk of her dead brothers.

CEN Cli. Blaspheming liar! You are damn'd for this! But I will take you where you may persuade The stones you tread on to deliver you : For men shall there be none but those who dare All things—not question that which I command. On Wednesday next I shall set out: you know That savage rock, the Castle of Petrella, "Tis safely wall'd, and moated round about: Its dungeons under ground, and its thick towers Never told tales; though they have heard and seen What might make dumb things speak—Why do you linger? Make speediest preparation for the journey! [Erit LUCRETIA. The all-beholding sun yet shines; I hear A busy stir of men about the streets; I see the bright sky through the window-panes: It is a garish, broad, and peering day; Loud, light, suspicious, full of eyes and ears, And every little corner, nook and hole Is penetrated with the insolent light. Cone, darkness! Yet, what is the day to me? And wherefore should I wish for night, who do A deed which shall confound both night and day ! "Tis she shall grope through a bewildering mist Of horror: if there be a sun in heaven, She shall not dare to look upon its beams; Nor feel its warmth. Let her then wish for night; The act I think shall soon extinguish all For me: I bear a darker deadlier gloom Than the earth's shade, or interlunar air, Or constellations quench'd in murkiest cloud, In which I walk secure and unbeheld Towards my purpose.—Would that it were done! [Erit.

SCENE II. 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.

Gia Coxio.

Nothing more ? Alas!

Bare must be the provision which strict law
Awards, and aged sullen avarice pays.
Why did my father not apprentice me
To some mechanic trade 2 I should have then
Been train'd in no high-born necessities
Which I could meet not by my daily toil.
The eldest son of a rich nobleman
Is heir to all his incapacities;
He has wide wants, and narrow powers. If you,
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 require?

CAMILlo. Nay, there is reason in your plea; 't were hard.

GIACOMO. "Tis 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 or witness to the deed ; And children, who inherit her fine senses, The fairest creatures in this breathing world; And she and they reproach me not. Cardinal, Do you not think the Pope would interpose And stretch authority beyond the law

CAMILLo. Though your peculiar case is hard, I know The Pope will not divert the course of law. After that impious feast the other night I spoke with him, and urged him then to check Your father's cruel hand; he frown'd, and said “Children are disobedient, and they sting Their fathers' hearts to madness and despair, Requiting years of care with contumely. I pity the Count Cenci from my heart; His outraged love perhaps awaken'd hate, 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

orsi No. What words : Giacovio.

Alas, repeat them not again! There then is no redress for me, at least None but that which I may achieve myself, Since I am driven to the brink–But say, 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 their meanest slave
What these endure: shall they have no protection?

Why, if they would petition to the Pope,
I see not how he could refuse it—yet
He holds it of most dangerous example
In aught to weaken the paternal power,
Being, as 'twere, the shadow of his own.
I pray you now excuse me. I have business
That will not bear delay. [Erit CAMILLo.

But you, Orsino,
Have the petition; wherefore not present it?

I have presented it, and back'd it with
My earnest prayers, and urgent interest:
It was return'd unanswer'd. I doubt not
But that the strange and execrable deeds
Alleged in it—in truth they might well baffle
Any belief—have turn'd the Pope's displeasure
Upon the accusers from the criminal:
So I should guess from what Camillo said.


My friend, that palace-walking devil Gold
Has whisper'd silence to his Holiness:
And we are left, as scorpions ring'd 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— [Stops abruptly.

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 the 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.

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Lone counsel from a night of sleepless care
Pardon me, that I say farewell—farewell!
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.
[Erit GIAcomo.

I had disposed the Cardinal Camillo
To seed his hope with cold encouragement:
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,
Into the depth of darkest purposes:
So Cenci fell into the pit; even I,
Since Beatrice unveil'd me to myself,
And made me shrink from what I cannot shun,
Show a poor figure to my own esteem,
To which I grow half reconciled. I’ll do
As little mischief as I can; that thought
Shall fee the accuser Conscience. [After a pause.

Now what harm
If Cenci should be murder'd?—Yet, if murder'd,
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.--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,
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,
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 unravell'd 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 match'd 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.


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