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Brotherly love, justice and clemency,
And all things that make tender hardest hearts,
Make thine hard, brother. Answer not-farewell.
A mean apartment in GIACOMO's house.
'T is midnight, and Orsino comes not yet.
[Thunder, and the sound of a storm.
What! can the everlasting elements
Feel with a worm like man? If so, the shaft
Of mercy-winged lightning would not fall
On stones and trees. My wife and children sleep:
They are now living in unmeaning dreams:
But I must wake, still doubting if that deed
Be just which was most necessary. O,
Thou unreplenished lamp! whose narrow fire
Is shaken by the wind, and on whose edge
Devouring darkness hovers! Thou small flame,
Which, as a dying pulse rises and falls,
Still flickerest and down, how very soon,
Did I not feed thee, wouldst thou fail and be
As thou hadst never been! So wastes and sinks
Even now, perhaps, the life that kindled mine:
But that no power can fill with vital oil
That broken lamp of flesh. Ha! 't is the blood
Which fed these veins that ebbs till all is cold:
It is the form that moulded mine that sinks
Into the white and yellow spasms of death:
It is the soul by which mine was array'd
In God's immortal likeness which now stands
Naked before Heaven's judgment-seat!
[A bell strikes. One! Two!
The hours crawl on; and when my hairs are white My son will then perhaps be waiting thus, Tortured between just hate and vain remorse; Chiding the tardy messenger of news
Like those which I expect. I almost wish
He be not dead, although my wrongs are great;
Yet 't is Orsino's step-
It is my wife complaining in her sleep:
The hours when we should act? Then wind and thun- I doubt not she is saying bitter things
If God, to punish his enormous crimes, Harden his dying heart!
Why-such things are
No doubt divine revealings may be made.
'T is plain I have been favoured from above,
For when I cursed my sons they died.-Aye—so—
As to the right or wrong, that's talk. Repentance-
Repentance is an easy moment's work,
And more depends on God than me. Well-well-
I must give up the greater point, which was
To poison and corrupt her soul.
[[A pause; LUCRETIA approaches anxiously, and
then shrinks back as he speaks.
Aye-Rocco and Cristofano my curse Strangled: and Giacomo, I think, will find Life a worse Hell than that beyond the grave: Beatrice shall, if there be skill in hate,
Die in despair, blaspheming to Bernardo,
He is so innocent, I will bequeath
The memory of these deeds, and make his youth
The sepulchre of hope, where evil thoughts
Shall grow like weeds on a neglected tomb.
When all is done, out in the wide Campagna,
I will pile up my silver and my gold;
My costly robes, paintings, and tapestries;
My parchments and all records of my wealth,
And make a bonfire in my joy, and leave
Of my possessions nothing but my nam
Which shall be an inheritance to strip
Its wearer bare as infamy. That done,
My soul, which is a scourge, will I resign
Into the hands of him who wielded it;
Be it for its own punishment or theirs,
He will not ask it of me till the lash
Be broken in its last and deepest wound;
Until its hate be all inflicted. Yet,
Lest death outspeed my purpose, let me make
Short work and sure.
Oh, stay! It was a feint: She had no vision, and she heard no voice. I said it but to awe thee.
Vile palterer with the sacred truth of God,
Be thy soul choked with that blaspheming lie!
For Beatrice worse terrors are in store
To bend her to my will.
What cruel sufferings more than she has known Canst thou inflict?
Andrea! go, call my daughter;
And if she comes not, tell her that I come.
What sufferings? I will drag her, step by step,
Through infamies unheard of among men ;
She shall stand shelterless in the broad noon
Of public scorn, for acts blazon'd abroad,
which shall be-What? Canst thou guess?
She shall become (for what she most abhors
Shall have a fascination to entrap
Her loathing will), to her own conscious self
All she appears to others; and when dead,
Hear me! If this most specious mass of flesh,
Which thou hast made my daughter; this my blood,
This particle of my divided being;
Or rather, this my bane and my disease,
Whose sight infects and poisons me; this devil
Which sprung from me as from a hell, was meant
To aught good use; if her bright loveliness
Was kindled to illumine this dark world;
If, nursed by thy selectest dew of love,
Such virtues blossom in her as should make
The peace of life, I pray thee for my sake,
As thou the common God and Father art
Of her, and me, and all; reverse that doom!
Earth, in the name of God, let her food be
Poison, until she be encrusted round
With leprous stains! Heaven, rain upon her head
The blistering drops of the Maremma's dew,
Till she be speckled like a toad; parch up
Those love-enkindled lips, warp those fine limbs
To loathed lameness! All-beholding sun,
Strike in thine envy those life-darting eyes
With thine own blinding beams!
For thine own sake unsay those dreadful words.
When high God grants he punishes such prayers.
CENCI (leaping up, and throwing his right hand towards
He does his will, I mine! This in addition,
That if she have a child-
That if she ever have a child; and thou,
Quick Nature! I adjure thee by thy God,
That thou be fruitful in her, and encrease
And multiply, fulfilling his command,
And my deep imprecation! May it be
A hideous likeness of herself, that as
From a distorting mirror, she may see
Her image mixed with what she most abhors,
Smiling upon her from her nursing breast.
And that the child may from its infancy
Grow, day by day, more wicked and deform'd,
Turning her mother's love to misery:
And that both she and it may live until
It shall repay her care and pain with hate,
Or what may else be more unnatural,
So he may hunt her through the clamorous scoffs
Of the loud world to a dishonour'd grave.
Shall I revoke this curse? Go, bid her come,
Before my words are chronicled in heaven.
I do not feel as if I were a man,
But like a fiend appointed to chastise
The offences of some unremember'd world.
My blood is running up and down my
A fearful pleasure makes it prick and tingle :
I feel a giddy sickness of strange awe;
My heart is beating with an expectation
Of horrid joy.
Enter LUCRETIA. What? Speak!
And if thy curses, as they cannot do, Could kill her soul
She would not come. 'T is well,
I can do both first take what I demand,
And then extort concession. To thy chamber!
Fly ere I spurn thee: and beware this night
That thou cross not my footsteps. It were safer
To come between the tiger and his prey.
It must be late; mine eyes grow weary
With unaccustom'd heaviness of sleep.
Conscience! Oh! thou most insolent of lies!
They say that sleep, that healing dew of heaven,
Steeps not in balm the foldings of the brain
Which thinks thee an impostor. I will go
First to belie thee with an hour of rest,
Which will be deep and calm, I feel: and then-
O, multitudinous Hell, the fiends will shake
Thine arches with the laughter of their joy!
There shall be lamentation heard in Heaven
As o'er an angel fallen; and upon Earth
Enter OLIMPIO and MARZIO.
Where, if ye dare not kill a sleeping man,
Found ye the boldness to return to me
With such a deed undone? Base palterers!
Cowards and traitors! Why, the very conscience
Which ye would sell for gold and for revenge
Is an equivocation: it sleeps over
A thousand daily acts disgracing men ;
And when a deed where mercy insults heaven-
Why do I talk ?
[Snatching a dagger from one of them and
Hadst thou a tongue to say, She murder'd her own father, I must do it! But never dream ye shall outlive him long!
We strangled him, that there might be no blood;
And then we threw his heavy corpse i' the garden
Under the balcony; 't will seem it fell.
BEATRICE (giving them a bag of coin).
Here take this gold, and hasten to your homes.
And, Marzio, because thou wast only awed
By that which made me tremble, wear thou this!
[Clothes him in a rich mantle.
It was the mantle which my grandfather
Wore in his high prosperity, and men
Envied his state: so may they envy thine.
Thou wert a weapon in the hand of God
To a just use. Live long and thrive! And, mark,
If thou hast crimes, repent: this deed is none.
[A horn is sounded.
Hark, 't is the castle horn; my God! it sounds Like the last trump.
Some tedious guest is coming.
The drawbridge is let down; there is a tramp
Of horses in the court; fly, hide yourselves!
[Exeunt OLIMPIO and MARZIO.
Let us retire to counterfeit deep rest;
I scarcely need to counterfeit it now:
The spirit which doth reign within these limbs
Seems strangely undisturb'd. I could even sleep
Fearless and calm: all ill is surely past.
Another apartment in the Castle.
Enter on one side the Legate SAVELLA introduced by a Servant, and on the other LUCRETIA and BER
Lady, my duty to his Holiness
Be my excuse, that thus unseasonably
I break upon your rest. I must speak with
Count Cenci; doth he sleep?
LUCRETIA (in a hurried and confused manner).
I think he sleeps ;
Yet wake him not; I pray, spare me awhile,
He is a wicked and wrathful man;
Should he be roused out of his sleep to-night,
Which is, I know, a hell of angry dreams,
It were not well; indeed it were not well.
Wait till day break.-
(Aside.) O, I am deadly sick!
I grieve thus to distress you, but the Count
Must answer charges of the gravest import,
And suddenly; such my commission is.
LUCRETIA (with increased agitation).
I dare not rouse him: I know none who dare'T were perilous;-you might as safely waken