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It is indeed a most desired event.
BEATRICE (to LUCRETIA).
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
You hear me not, I tell you they are dead;
BEATRICE (LucRETIA sinks, half fainting; BEATRice
Ay, as the word of God; whom here I call
[The assembly appears confused; several of
the guests rise.
First Guest. Oh, horrible! I will depart—
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.
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
To soften him; and when this could not be
I have knelt down through the long sleepless nights
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!
Fill up this goblet with Greek wine. I said
[Drinking the trine.
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
The sufferings we all share have made me wild :
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;
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).
You were not here conspiring You said nothing
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.
Nothing more ? Alas!
Bare must be the provision which strict law
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
My friend, that palace-walking devil Gold
What? Fear not to speak your thought.
Lone counsel from a night of sleepless care
I had disposed the Cardinal Camillo
Now what harm
Till it become his slave—as I will do.