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Poems of Percy Bysshe Shelley

THE CENCI: ACT 5.


ACT 5.

SCENE 5.1:
AN APARTMENT IN ORSINO'S PALACE.
ENTER ORSINO AND GIACOMO.

GIACOMO:
Do evil deeds thus quickly come to end?
O, that the vain remorse which must chastise
Crimes done, had but as loud a voice to warn
As its keen sting is mortal to avenge!
O, that the hour when present had cast off _5
The mantle of its mystery, and shown
The ghastly form with which it now returns
When its scared game is roused, cheering the hounds
Of conscience to their prey! Alas! Alas!
It was a wicked thought, a piteous deed, _10
To kill an old and hoary-headed father.

ORSINO:
It has turned out unluckily, in truth.

GIACOMO:
To violate the sacred doors of sleep;
To cheat kind Nature of the placid death
Which she prepares for overwearied age; _15
To drag from Heaven an unrepentant soul
Which might have quenched in reconciling prayers
A life of burning crimes...

ORSINO:
You cannot say
I urged you to the deed.

GIACOMO:
O, had I never
Found in thy smooth and ready countenance _20
The mirror of my darkest thoughts; hadst thou
Never with hints and questions made me look
Upon the monster of my thought, until
It grew familiar to desire...

ORSINO:
'Tis thus
Men cast the blame of their unprosperous acts _25
Upon the abettors of their own resolve;
Or anything but their weak, guilty selves.
And yet, confess the truth, it is the peril
In which you stand that gives you this pale sickness
Of penitence; confess 'tis fear disguised _30
From its own shame that takes the mantle now
Of thin remorse. What if we yet were safe?

GIACOMO:
How can that be? Already Beatrice,
Lucretia and the murderer are in prison.
I doubt not officers are, whilst we speak, _35
Sent to arrest us.

ORSINO:
I have all prepared
For instant flight. We can escape even now,
So we take fleet occasion by the hair.

GIACOMO:
Rather expire in tortures, as I may.
What! will you cast by self-accusing flight _40
Assured conviction upon Beatrice?
She, who alone in this unnatural work,
Stands like God's angel ministered upon
By fiends; avenging such a nameless wrong
As turns black parricide to piety; _45
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
Could you engage in such a perilous crime, _50
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!
Coward and slave! But no, defend thyself;
[DRAWING.]
Let the sword speak what the indignant tongue _55
Disdains to brand thee with.

ORSINO:
Put up your weapon.
Is it the desperation of your fear
Makes you thus rash and sudden with a friend,
Now ruined for your sake? If honest anger
Have moved you, know, that what I just proposed _60
Was but to try you. As for me, I think,
Thankless affection led me to this point,
From which, if my firm temper could repent,
I cannot now recede. Even whilst we speak
The ministers of justice wait below: _65
They grant me these brief moments. Now if you
Have any word of melancholy comfort
To speak to your pale wife, 'twere best to pass
Out at the postern, and avoid them so.

NOTE:
_58 a friend edition 1821; your friend edition 1839.

GIACOMO:
O, generous friend! How canst thou pardon me? _70
Would that my life could purchase thine!

ORSINO:
That wish
Now comes a day too late. Haste; fare thee well!
Hear'st thou not steps along the corridor?
[EXIT GIACOMO.]
I'm sorry for it; but the guards are waiting
At his own gate, and such was my contrivance _75
That I might rid me both of him and them.
I thought to act a solemn comedy
Upon the painted scene of this new world,
And to attain my own peculiar ends
By some such plot of mingled good and ill _80
As others weave; but there arose a Power
Which grasped and snapped the threads of my device
And turned it to a net of ruin...Ha!
[A SHOUT IS HEARD.]
Is that my name I hear proclaimed abroad?
But I will pass, wrapped in a vile disguise; _85
Rags on my back, and a false innocence
Upon my face, through the misdeeming crowd
Which judges by what seems. 'Tis easy then
For a new name and for a country new,
And a new life, fashioned on old desires, _90
To change the honours of abandoned Rome.
And these must be the masks of that within,
Which must remain unaltered...Oh, I fear
That what is past will never let me rest!
Why, when none else is conscious, but myself, _95
Of my misdeeds, should my own heart's contempt
Trouble me? Have I not the power to fly
My own reproaches? Shall I be the slave
Of...what? A word? which those of this false world
Employ against each other, not themselves; _100
As men wear daggers not for self-offence.
But if I am mistaken, where shall I
Find the disguise to hide me from myself,
As now I skulk from every other eye?

[EXIT.]

SCENE 5.2:
A HALL OF JUSTICE.
CAMILLO, JUDGES, ETC., ARE DISCOVERED SEATED;
MARZIO IS LED IN.

FIRST JUDGE:
Accused, do you persist in your denial?
I ask you, are you innocent, or guilty?
I demand who were the participators
In your offence? Speak truth, and the whole truth.

MARZIO:
My God! I did not kill him; I know nothing; _5
Olimpio sold the robe to me from which
You would infer my guilt.

SECOND JUDGE:
Away with him!

FIRST JUDGE:
Dare you, with lips yet white from the rack's kiss
Speak false? Is it so soft a questioner,
That you would bandy lover's talk with it _10
Till it wind out your life and soul? Away!

MARZIO:
Spare me! O, spare! I will confess.

FIRST JUDGE:
Then speak.

MARZIO:
I strangled him in his sleep.

FIRST JUDGE:
Who urged you to it?

MARZIO:
His own son Giacomo, and the young prelate
Orsino sent me to Petrella; there _15
The ladies Beatrice and Lucretia
Tempted me with a thousand crowns, and I
And my companion forthwith murdered him.
Now let me die.

FIRST JUDGE:
This sounds as bad as truth. Guards, there,
Lead forth the prisoner!
[ENTER LUCRETIA, BEATRICE AND GIACOMO, GUARDED.]
Look upon this man; _20
When did you see him last?

BEATRICE:
We never saw him.

MARZIO:
You know me too well, Lady Beatrice.

BEATRICE:
I know thee! How? where? when?

MARZIO:
You know 'twas I
Whom you did urge with menaces and bribes
To kill your father. When the thing was done _25
You clothed me in a robe of woven gold
And bade me thrive: how I have thriven, you see.
You, my Lord Giacomo, Lady Lucretia,
You know that what I speak is true.
[BEATRICE ADVANCES TOWARDS HIM;
HE COVERS HIS FACE, AND SHRINKS BACK.]
Oh, dart
The terrible resentment of those eyes _30
On the dead earth! Turn them away from me!
They wound: 'twas torture forced the truth. My Lords,
Having said this let me be led to death.

BEATRICE:
Poor wretch, I pity thee: yet stay awhile.

CAMILLO:
Guards, lead him not away.

BEATRICE:
Cardinal Camillo, _35
You have a good repute for gentleness
And wisdom: can it be that you sit here
To countenance a wicked farce like this?
When some obscure and trembling slave is dragged
From sufferings which might shake the sternest heart _40
And bade to answer, not as he believes,
But as those may suspect or do desire
Whose questions thence suggest their own reply:
And that in peril of such hideous torments
As merciful God spares even the damned. Speak now _45
The thing you surely know, which is that you,
If your fine frame were stretched upon that wheel,
And you were told: 'Confess that you did poison
Your little nephew; that fair blue-eyed child
Who was the lodestar of your life:'--and though _50
All see, since his most swift and piteous death,
That day and night, and heaven and earth, and time,
And all the things hoped for or done therein
Are changed to you, through your exceeding grief,
Yet you would say, 'I confess anything:' _55
And beg from your tormentors, like that slave,
The refuge of dishonourable death.
I pray thee, Cardinal, that thou assert
My innocence.

CAMILLO [MUCH MOVED]:
What shall we think, my Lords?
Shame on these tears! I thought the heart was frozen _60
Which is their fountain. I would pledge my soul
That she is guiltless.

JUDGE:
Yet she must be tortured.

CAMILLO:
I would as soon have tortured mine own nephew
(If he now lived he would be just her age;
His hair, too, was her colour, and his eyes _65
Like hers in shape, but blue and not so deep)
As that most perfect image of God's love
That ever came sorrowing upon the earth.
She is as pure as speechless infancy!

JUDGE:
Well, be her purity on your head, my Lord, _70
If you forbid the rack. His Holiness
Enjoined us to pursue this monstrous crime
By the severest forms of law; nay even
To stretch a point against the criminals.
The prisoners stand accused of parricide _75
Upon such evidence as justifies
Torture.

BEATRICE:
What evidence? This man's?

JUDGE:
Even so.

BEATRICE [TO MARZIO]:
Come near. And who art thou thus chosen forth
Out of the multitude of living men
To kill the innocent?

MARZIO:
I am Marzio, _80
Thy father's vassal.

BEATRICE:
Fix thine eyes on mine;
Answer to what I ask.
[TURNING TO THE JUDGES.]
I prithee mark
His countenance: unlike bold calumny
Which sometimes dares not speak the thing it looks,
He dares not look the thing he speaks, but bends _85
His gaze on the blind earth.
[TO MARZIO.]
What! wilt thou say
That I did murder my own father?

MARZIO:
Oh!
Spare me! My brain swims round...I cannot speak...
It was that horrid torture forced the truth.
Take me away! Let her not look on me! _90
I am a guilty miserable wretch;
I have said all I know; now, let me die!

BEATRICE:
My Lords, if by my nature I had been
So stern, as to have planned the crime alleged,
Which your suspicions dictate to this slave, _95
And the rack makes him utter, do you think
I should have left this two-edged instrument
Of my misdeed; this man, this bloody knife
With my own name engraven on the heft,
Lying unsheathed amid a world of foes, _100
For my own death? That with such horrible need
For deepest silence, I should have neglected
So trivial a precaution, as the making
His tomb the keeper of a secret written
On a thief's memory? What is his poor life? _105
What are a thousand lives? A parricide
Had trampled them like dust; and, see, he lives!
[TURNING TO MARZIO.]
And thou...

MARZIO:
Oh, spare me! Speak to me no more!
That stern yet piteous look, those solemn tones,
Wound worse than torture.
[TO THE JUDGES.]
I have told it all; _110
For pity's sake lead me away to death.

CAMILLO:
Guards, lead him nearer the Lady Beatrice;
He shrinks from her regard like autumn's leaf
From the keen breath of the serenest north.

BEATRICE:
O thou who tremblest on the giddy verge _115
Of life and death, pause ere thou answerest me;
So mayst thou answer God with less dismay:
What evil have we done thee? I, alas!
Have lived but on this earth a few sad years,
And so my lot was ordered, that a father _120
First turned the moments of awakening life
To drops, each poisoning youth's sweet hope; and then
Stabbed with one blow my everlasting soul;
And my untainted fame; and even that peace
Which sleeps within the core of the heart's heart; _125
But the wound was not mortal; so my hate
Became the only worship I could lift
To our great father, who in pity and love,
Armed thee, as thou dost say, to cut him off;
And thus his wrong becomes my accusation; _130
And art thou the accuser? If thou hopest
Mercy in heaven, show justice upon earth:
Worse than a bloody hand is a hard heart.
If thou hast done murders, made thy life's path
Over the trampled laws of God and man, _135
Rush not before thy Judge, and say: 'My maker,
I have done this and more; for there was one
Who was most pure and innocent on earth;
And because she endured what never any
Guilty or innocent endured before: _140
Because her wrongs could not be told, not thought;
Because thy hand at length did rescue her;
I with my words killed her and all her kin.'
Think, I adjure you, what it is to slay
The reverence living in the minds of men _145
Towards our ancient house, and stainless fame!
Think what it is to strangle infant pity,
Cradled in the belief of guileless looks,
Till it become a crime to suffer. Think
What 'tis to blot with infamy and blood _150
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,
And that which now compels thee to reply _155
To what I ask: Am I, or am I not
A parricide?

MARZIO:
Thou art not!

JUDGE:
What is this?

MARZIO:
I here declare those whom I did accuse
Are innocent. 'Tis I alone am guilty.

JUDGE:
Drag him away to torments; let them be _160
Subtle and long drawn out, to tear the folds
Of the heart's inmost cell. Unbind him not
Till he confess.

MARZIO:
Torture me as ye will:
A keener pang has wrung a higher truth
From my last breath. She is most innocent! _165
Bloodhounds, not men, glut yourselves well with me;
I will not give you that fine piece of nature
To rend and ruin.

NOTE:
_164 pang edition 1821; pain editions 1819, 1839.

[EXIT MARZIO, GUARDED.]

CAMILLO:
What say ye now, my Lords?

JUDGE:
Let tortures strain the truth till it be white
As snow thrice sifted by the frozen wind. _170

CAMILLO:
Yet stained with blood.

JUDGE [TO BEATRICE]:
Know you this paper, Lady?

BEATRICE:
Entrap me not with questions. Who stands here
As my accuser? Ha! wilt thou be he,
Who art my judge? Accuser, witness, judge,
What, all in one? Here is Orsino's name; _175
Where is Orsino? Let his eye meet mine.
What means this scrawl? Alas! ye know not what,
And therefore on the chance that it may be
Some evil, will ye kill us?

[ENTER AN OFFICER.]

OFFICER:
Marzio's dead.

JUDGE:
What did he say?

OFFICER:
Nothing. As soon as we _180
Had bound him on the wheel, he smiled on us,
As one who baffles a deep adversary;
And holding his breath, died.

JUDGE:
There remains nothing
But to apply the question to those prisoners,
Who yet remain stubborn.

CAMILLO:
I overrule _185
Further proceedings, and in the behalf
Of these most innocent and noble persons
Will use my interest with the Holy Father.

JUDGE:
Let the Pope's pleasure then be done. Meanwhile
Conduct these culprits each to separate cells; _190
And be the engines ready; for this night
If the Pope's resolution be as grave,
Pious, and just as once, I'll wring the truth
Out of those nerves and sinews, groan by groan.

[EXEUNT.]

SCENE 5.3:
THE CELL OF A PRISON.
BEATRICE IS DISCOVERED ASLEEP ON A COUCH.
ENTER BERNARDO.

BERNARDO:
How gently slumber rests upon her face,
Like the last thoughts of some day sweetly spent
Closing in night and dreams, and so prolonged.
After such torments as she bore last night,
How light and soft her breathing comes. Ay me! _5
Methinks that I shall never sleep again.
But I must shake the heavenly dew of rest
From this sweet folded flower, thus...wake, awake!
What, sister, canst thou sleep?

BEATRICE [AWAKING]:
I was just dreaming
That we were all in Paradise. Thou knowest _10
This cell seems like a kind of Paradise
After our father's presence.

BERNARDO:
Dear, dear sister,
Would that thy dream were not a dream! O God!
How shall I tell?

BEATRICE:
What wouldst thou tell, sweet brother?

BERNARDO:
Look not so calm and happy, or even whilst _15
I stand considering what I have to say
My heart will break.

BEATRICE:
See now, thou mak'st me weep:
How very friendless thou wouldst be, dear child,
If I were dead. Say what thou hast to say.

BERNARDO:
They have confessed; they could endure no more _20
The tortures...

BEATRICE:
Ha! What was there to confess?
They must have told some weak and wicked lie
To flatter their tormentors. Have they said
That they were guilty? O white innocence,
That thou shouldst wear the mask of guilt to hide _25
Thine awful and serenest countenance
From those who know thee not!
[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,
Are centuries of high splendour laid in dust? _30
And that eternal honour 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 dragged
At horses' heels, so that our hair should sweep _35
The footsteps of the vain and senseless crowd,
Who, that they may make our calamity
Their worship and their spectacle, will leave
The churches and the theatres as void
As their own hearts? Shall the light multitude _40
Fling, at their choice, curses or faded pity,
Sad funeral flowers to deck a living corpse,
Upon us as we pass to pass away,
And leave...what memory of our having been?
Infamy, blood, terror, despair? O thou, _45
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;
It soon will be as soft as any grave. _50
'Tis but the falsehood it can wring from fear
Makes the rack cruel.

GIACOMO:
They will tear the truth
Even from thee at last, those cruel pains:
For pity's sake say thou art guilty now.

LUCRETIA:
Oh, speak the truth! Let us all quickly die; _55
And after death, God is our judge, not they;
He will have mercy on us.

BERNARDO:
If indeed
It can be true, say so, dear sister mine;
And then the Pope will surely pardon you,
And all be well.

JUDGE:
Confess, or I will warp _60
Your limbs with such keen tortures...

BEATRICE:
Tortures! Turn
The rack henceforth into a spinning-wheel!
Torture your dog, that he may tell when last
He lapped the blood his master shed...not me!
My pangs are of the mind, and of the heart, _65
And of the soul; ay, of the inmost soul,
Which weeps within tears as of burning gall
To see, in this ill world where none are true,
My kindred false to their deserted selves.
And with considering all the wretched life _70
Which I have lived, and its now wretched end,
And the small justice shown by Heaven and Earth
To me or mine; and what a tyrant thou art,
And what slaves these; and what a world we make,
The oppressor and the oppressed...such pangs compel _75
My answer. What is it thou wouldst with me?

JUDGE:
Art thou not guilty of thy father's death?

BEATRICE:
Or wilt thou rather tax high-judging God
That He permitted such an act as that
Which I have suffered, and which He beheld; _80
Made it unutterable, and took from it
All refuge, all revenge, all consequence,
But that which thou hast called my father's death?
Which is or is not what men call a crime,
Which either I have done, or have not done; _85
Say what ye will. I shall deny no more.
If ye desire it thus, thus let it be,
And so an end of all. Now do your will;
No other pains shall force another word.

JUDGE:
She is convicted, but has not confessed. _90
Be it enough. Until their final sentence
Let none have converse with them. You, young Lord,
Linger not here!

BEATRICE:
Oh, tear him not away!

JUDGE:
Guards! do your duty.

BERNARDO [EMBRACING BEATRICE]:
Oh! would ye divide
Body from soul?

OFFICER:
That is the headsman's business. _95

[EXEUNT ALL BUT LUCRETIA, BEATRICE, AND GIACOMO.]

GIACOMO:
Have I confessed? Is it all over now?
No hope! No refuge! O weak, wicked tongue
Which hast destroyed me, would that thou hadst been
Cut out and thrown to dogs first! To have killed
My father first, and then betrayed my sister; _100
Ay, thee! the one thing innocent and pure
In this black, guilty world, to that which I
So well deserve! My wife! my little ones!
Destitute, helpless, and I...Father! God!
Canst Thou forgive even the unforgiving, _105
When their full hearts break thus, thus!...

[COVERS HIS FACE AND WEEPS.]

LUCRETIA:
O my child!
To what a dreadful end are we all come!
Why did I yield? Why did I not sustain
Those torments? Oh, that I were all dissolved
Into these fast and unavailing tears, _110
Which flow and feel not!

BEATRICE:
What 'twas weak to do,
'Tis weaker to lament, once being done;
Take cheer! The God who knew my wrong, and made
Our speedy act the angel of His wrath,
Seems, and but seems, to have abandoned us. _115
Let us not think that we shall die for this.
Brother, sit near me; give me your firm hand,
You had a manly heart. Bear up! Bear up!
O dearest Lady, put your gentle head
Upon my lap, and try to sleep awhile: _120
Your eyes look pale, hollow, and overworn,
With heaviness of watching and slow grief.
Come, I will sing you some low, sleepy tune,
Not cheerful, nor yet sad; some dull old thing,
Some outworn and unused monotony, _125
Such as our country gossips sing and spin,
Till they almost forget they live: lie down!
So, that will do. Have I forgot the words?
Faith! They are sadder than I thought they were.

SONG:
False friend, wilt thou smile or weep _130
When my life is laid asleep?
Little cares for a smile or a tear,
The clay-cold corpse upon the bier!
Farewell! Heighho!
What is this whispers low? _135
There is a snake in thy smile, my dear;
And bitter poison within thy tear.

Sweet sleep, were death like to thee,
Or if thou couldst mortal be,
I would close these eyes of pain; _140
When to wake? Never again.
O World! Farewell!
Listen to the passing bell!
It says, thou and I must part,
With a light and a heavy heart. _145

[THE SCENE CLOSES.]

SCENE 5.4:
A HALL OF THE PRISON.
ENTER CAMILLO AND BERNARDO.

CAMILLO:
The Pope is stern; not to be moved or bent.
He looked as calm and keen as is the engine
Which tortures and which kills, exempt itself
From aught that it inflicts; a marble form,
A rite, a law, a custom: not a man. _5
He frowned, as if to frown had been the trick
Of his machinery, on the advocates
Presenting the defences, which he tore
And threw behind, muttering with hoarse, harsh voice:
'Which among ye defended their old father _10
Killed in his sleep?' Then to another: 'Thou
Dost this in virtue of thy place; 'tis well.'
He turned to me then, looking deprecation,
And said these three words, coldly: 'They must die.'

BERNARDO:
And yet you left him not?

CAMILLO:
I urged him still; _15
Pleading, as I could guess, the devilish wrong
Which prompted your unnatural parent's death.
And he replied: 'Paolo Santa Croce
Murdered his mother yester evening,
And he is fled. Parricide grows so rife _20
That soon, for some just cause no doubt, the young
Will strangle us all, dozing in our chairs.
Authority, and power, and hoary hair
Are grown crimes capital. You are my nephew,
You come to ask their pardon; stay a moment; _25
Here is their sentence; never see me more
Till, to the letter, it be all fulfilled.'

BERNARDO:
O God, not so! I did believe indeed
That all you said was but sad preparation
For happy news. Oh, there are words and looks _30
To bend the sternest purpose! Once I knew them,
Now I forget them at my dearest need.
What think you if I seek him out, and bathe
His feet and robe with hot and bitter tears?
Importune him with prayers, vexing his brain _35
With my perpetual cries, until in rage
He strike me with his pastoral cross, and trample
Upon my prostrate head, so that my blood
May stain the senseless dust on which he treads,
And remorse waken mercy? I will do it! _40
Oh, wait till I return!

[RUSHES OUT.]

CAMILLO:
Alas, poor boy!
A wreck-devoted seaman thus might pray
To the deaf sea.

[ENTER LUCRETIA, BEATRICE, AND GIACOMO, GUARDED.]

BEATRICE:
I hardly dare to fear
That thou bring'st other news than a just pardon.

CAMILLO:
May God in heaven be less inexorable _45
To the Pope's prayers than he has been to mine.
Here is the sentence and the warrant.

BEATRICE [WILDLY]:
O
My God! Can it be possible I have
To die so suddenly? So young to go
Under the obscure, cold, rotting, wormy ground! _50
To be nailed down into a narrow place;
To see no more sweet sunshine; hear no more
Blithe voice of living thing; muse not again
Upon familiar thoughts, sad, yet thus lost--
How fearful! to be nothing! Or to be... _55
What? Oh, where am I? Let me not go mad!
Sweet Heaven, forgive weak thoughts! If there should be
No God, no Heaven, no Earth in the void world;
The wide, gray, lampless, deep, unpeopled world!
If all things then should be...my father's spirit, _60
His eye, his voice, his touch surrounding me;
The atmosphere and breath of my dead life!
If sometimes, as a shape more like himself,
Even the form which tortured me on earth,
Masked in gray hairs and wrinkles, he should come _65
And wind me in his hellish arms, and fix
His eyes on mine, and drag me down, down, down!
For was he not alone omnipotent
On Earth, and ever present? Even though dead,
Does not his spirit live in all that breathe, _70
And work for me and mine still the same ruin,
Scorn, pain, despair? Who ever yet returned
To teach the laws of Death's untrodden realm?
Unjust perhaps as those which drive us now,
Oh, whither, whither?

LUCRETIA:
Trust in God's sweet love, _75
The tender promises of Christ: ere night,
Think, we shall be in Paradise.

BEATRICE:
'Tis past!
Whatever comes, my heart shall sink no more.
And yet, I know not why, your words strike chill:
How tedious, false, and cold seem all things. I _80
Have met with much injustice in this world;
No difference has been made by God or man,
Or any power moulding my wretched lot,
'Twixt good or evil, as regarded me.
I am cut off from the only world I know, _85
From light, and life, and love, in youth's sweet prime.
You do well telling me to trust in God;
I hope I do trust in him. In whom else
Can any trust? And yet my heart is cold.

[DURING THE LATTER SPEECHES GIACOMO HAS RETIRED CONVERSING WITH
CAMILLO, WHO NOW GOES OUT;
GIACOMO ADVANCES.]

GIACOMO:
Know you not, Mother...Sister, know you not? _90
Bernardo even now is gone to implore
The Pope to grant our pardon.

LUCRETIA:
Child, perhaps
It will be granted. We may all then live
To make these woes a tale for distant years:
Oh, what a thought! It gushes to my heart _95
Like the warm blood.

BEATRICE:
Yet both will soon be cold.
Oh, trample out that thought! Worse than despair,
Worse than the bitterness of death, is hope:
It is the only ill which can find place
Upon the giddy, sharp, and narrow hour _100
Tottering beneath us. Plead with the swift frost
That it should spare the eldest flower of spring:
Plead with awakening earthquake, o'er whose couch
Even now a city stands, strong, fair, and free;
Now stench and blackness yawn, like death. Oh, plead _105
With famine, or wind-walking Pestilence,
Blind lightning, or the deaf sea, not with man!
Cruel, cold, formal man; righteous in words,
In deeds a Cain. No, Mother, we must die:
Since such is the reward of innocent lives; _110
Such the alleviation of worst wrongs.
And whilst our murderers live, and hard, cold men,
Smiling and slow, walk through a world of tears
To death as to life's sleep; 'twere just the grave
Were some strange joy for us. Come, obscure Death, _115
And wind me in thine all-embracing arms!
Like a fond mother hide me in thy bosom,
And rock me to the sleep from which none wake.
Live ye, who live, subject to one another
As we were once, who now...

NOTE:
_105 yawn edition 1821; yawns editions 1819, 1839.

[BERNARDO RUSHES IN.]

BERNARDO:
Oh, horrible! _120
That tears, that looks, that hope poured forth in prayer,
Even till the heart is vacant and despairs,
Should all be vain! The ministers of death
Are waiting round the doors. I thought I saw
Blood on the face of one...What if 'twere fancy? _125
Soon the heart's blood of all I love on earth
Will sprinkle him, and he will wipe it off
As if 'twere only rain. O life! O world!
Cover me! let me be no more! To see
That perfect mirror of pure innocence _130
Wherein I gazed, and grew happy and good,
Shivered to dust! To see thee, Beatrice,
Who made all lovely thou didst look upon...
Thee, light of life ... dead, dark! while I say, sister,
To hear I have no sister; and thou, Mother, _135
Whose love was as a bond to all our loves...
Dead! The sweet bond broken!
[ENTER CAMILLO AND GUARDS.]
They come! Let me
Kiss those warm lips before their crimson leaves
Are blighted...white...cold. Say farewell, before
Death chokes that gentle voice! Oh, let me hear _140
You speak!

NOTE:
_136 was as a Rossetti cj.; was a editions 1819, 1821, 1839.


BEATRICE:
Farewell, my tender brother. Think
Of our sad fate with gentleness, as now:
And let mild, pitying thoughts lighten for thee
Thy sorrow's load. Err not in harsh despair,
But tears and patience. One thing more, my child: _145
For thine own sake be constant to the love
Thou bearest us; and to the faith that I,
Though wrapped in a strange cloud of crime and shame,
Lived ever holy and unstained. And though
Ill tongues shall wound me, and our common name _150
Be as a mark stamped on thine innocent brow
For men to point at as they pass, do thou
Forbear, and never think a thought unkind
Of those, who perhaps love thee in their graves.
So mayest thou die as I do; fear and pain _155
Being subdued. Farewell! Farewell! Farewell!

BERNARDO:
I cannot say, farewell!

CAMILLO:
Oh, Lady Beatrice!

BEATRICE:
Give yourself no unnecessary pain,
My dear Lord Cardinal. Here, Mother, tie
My girdle for me, and bind up this hair _160
In any simple knot; ay, that does well.
And yours I see is coming down. How often
Have we done this for one another; now
We shall not do it any more. My Lord,
We are quite ready. Well, 'tis very well. _165

THE END.