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Cardinal Camillo,

You have a good repute for gentleness
And wisdom: can it be that you sit here
To countenance a wicked farce like this?

From sufferings which might shake the sternest heart,
When some obscure and trembling slave is dragg'd

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 damn'd. Speak now
The thing you surely know, which is that you,
If your fine frame were stretch'd upon that wheel,
And you were told, Confess that you did poison
Your little nephew: that fair blue-eyed child
Who was the load-star of your life; and though
All see, since his most swift and piteous death,
That day and night, and heaven and earth, and time,
And all things hoped for or done therein
Are changed to you, through your exceeding grief,
Yet you would say, I confess any thing-

And beg from your tormentors, like that slave,
The refuge of dishonorable death.


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 Which is their fountain. I would pledge my soul That she is guiltless.


Yet she must be tortured.

I would as soon have tortured mine own nephew
(If he now lived, he would be just her age;
His hair, too, was her color, and his eyes
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!


Well, be her purity on your head, my lord,
If you forbid the rack. His Holiness
Enjoin'd 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,
You know 'twas I Upon such evidence as justifies

I know thee! How? where? when?


Whom you did urge with menaces and bribes
To kill your father. When the thing was done,
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
On the dread earth! Turn them away from me!
They wound: 't was torture forced the truth. My lords,
Having said this, let me be led to death.

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My lords, if by my nature I had been
So stern, as to have plann'd the crime alleged,
Which your suspicions dictate to this slave,
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,

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?
What are a thousand lives? A parricide
Had trampled them like dust; and see, he lives!
[Turning to MARZIO.

And thou


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; For pity's sake, lead me away to death.


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


Oh, thou who tremblest on the giddy verge
Of life and death, pause ere thou answerest me ;
So mayest 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 order'd that a father
First turn'd the moments of awakening life

To drops, each poisoning youth's sweet hope; and then
Stabb'd with one blow my everlasting soul;
And my untainted fame; and even that peace
Which sleeps within the core of the heart's heart.
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,
Arm'd thee, as thou dost say, to cut him off;
And thus his wrong becomes my accusation:
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,
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;

Because her wrongs could not be told, nor thought,
Because thy hand at length did rescue her;
I with my words kill'd her and all her kin."
Think, I adjure you, what it is to slay
The reverence living in the minds of men
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
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
To what I ask: Am I, or am I not
A parricide?

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Marzio's dead.

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To flatter their tormentors. Have they said
That they were guilty? O white Innocence!
That thou shouldst wear the mask of guilt to hide
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 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
At horses' heels, so that our hair should sweep
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
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,
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.
"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; He will have mercy on us.


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


Confess, or I will warp Your limbs with such keen tortures


Tortures' Turn

The rack henceforth into a spinning-wheel!
Torture your dog, that he may tell when last
He lapp'd the blood his master shed-not me!
My pangs are of the mind, and of the heart,
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
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 oppress'd-such pangs compel
My answer. What is it thou wouldst with me?

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Have I confess'd? Is it all over now?
No hope! No refuge! O, weak, wicked tongue
Which hast destroy'd me, would that thou hadst been
Cut out and thrown to dogs first! To have kill'd
My father first, and then betray'd my sister;
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,
When their full hearts break thus, thus!-

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The Pope is stern; not to be moved or bent.
He look'd 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.
He frown'd, 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
Kill'd in his sleep?" Then to another: "Thou
[Covers his face and weeps. Dost this in virtue of thy place; 'tis well."
He turn'd to me then, looking deprecation,
O, my child! And said these three words, coldly: "They must die."


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,
Which flow and feel not!


"Tis weaker to lament, once being done;
Take cheer! The God who knew my wrong, and


And yet you left him not?


I urged him still;
Pleading, as I could guess, the devilish wrong

What 't was weak to do, Which prompted your unnatural parent's death:
And he replied, "Paolo Santa Croce
Murder'd his mother yester-evening,
And he is fled. Parricide grows so rife
That soon, for some just cause no doubt, the young
Will strangle us all, dozing in our chairs.
Authority, and power, and hoary hair

Our speedy act the angel of his wrath,
Seems, and but seems to have abandon'd us.
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!
Oh! dearest Lady, put your gentle head
Upon my lap, and try to sleep awhile:
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 old monotony,

Are grown crimes capital. You are my nephew,
You come to ask their pardon; stay a moment;
Here is their sentence; never see me more
Till, to the letter, it be all fulfill'd."


O, God, not so! I did believe indeed
That all you said was but sad preparation
For happy news. O, there are words and looks
To bend the sternest purpose! Once I knew them,

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My God! Can it be possible I have
To die so suddenly! So young to go
Under the obscure, cold, rotting, wormy ground!
To be nail'd 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-
What? O, where am I? Let me not go mad!
Sweet Heaven, forgive weak thoughts! if there
should be

I am cut off from the only world I know,
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.


Know you not, Mother-Sister, know you not?
Bernardo even now has gone to implore
The Pope to grant our pardon.


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


Yet both will soon be cold.
O, 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
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 yawns, like death. O,

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; 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; 't were just the grave Were some strange joy for us. Come, obscure Death, 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 His eyes on mine, and drag me down, down, down! As we were once, who nowFor was he not alone omnipotent

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
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,
Mask'd in gray hairs and wrinkles, he should come
And wind me in his hellish arms, and fix

On Earth, and ever present? even though dead,
Does not his spirit live in all that breathe,

And work for me and mine still the same ruin,
Scorn, pain, despair? Who ever yet return'd
To teach the laws of death's untrodden realm?
Unjust perhaps as those which drive us now,
O, whither, whither?


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


"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
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.

BERNARDO rushes in.


Oh, horrible!

That tears, that looks, that hope pour'd 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 't were fancy?
Soon the heart's blood of all I love on earth
Will sprinkle him, and he will wipe it off
As if 't were only rain. O, life! O, world!
Cover me! let me be no more! To see
That perfect mirror of pure innocence
Wherein I gazed, and grew happy and good,
Shiver'd 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,
Whose love was as a bond to all our loves-
Dead! The sweet bond broken!

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