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Full Online Book HomePlaysThe Cenci: A Tragedy In Five Acts - ACT 4 - SCENE 4.4
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The Cenci: A Tragedy In Five Acts - ACT 4 - SCENE 4.4 Post by :chris26 Category :Plays Author :Percy Bysshe Shelley Date :May 2012 Read :614

Click below to download : The Cenci: A Tragedy In Five Acts - ACT 4 - SCENE 4.4 (Format : PDF)

The Cenci: A Tragedy In Five Acts - ACT 4 - SCENE 4.4

SCENE 4.4:
ANOTHER APARTMENT IN THE CASTLE.
ENTER ON ONE SIDE THE LEGATE SAVELLA,
INTRODUCED BY A SERVANT,
AND ON THE OTHER LUCRETIA AND BERNARDO.


SAVELLA:
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, _5
He is a wicked and a 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.)
Oh, I am deadly sick! _10


NOTE:
_6 a wrathful edition 1821; wrathful editions 1819, 1839.


SAVELLA:
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...
'Twere perilous;...you might as safely waken _15
A serpent; or a corpse in which some fiend
Were laid to sleep.


SAVELLA:
Lady, my moments here
Are counted. I must rouse him from his sleep,
Since none else dare.


LUCRETIA (ASIDE):
O, terror! O, despair!
(TO BERNARDO.)
Bernardo, conduct you the Lord Legate to _20
Your father's chamber.


(EXEUNT SAVELLA AND BERNARDO.)


(ENTER BEATRICE.)


BEATRICE:
'Tis a messenger
Come to arrest the culprit who now stands
Before the throne of unappealable God.
Both Earth and Heaven, consenting arbiters,
Acquit our deed.


LUCRETIA:
Oh, agony of fear! _25
Would that he yet might live! Even now I heard
The Legate's followers whisper as they passed
They had a warrant for his instant death.
All was prepared by unforbidden means
Which we must pay so dearly, having done. _30
Even now they search the tower, and find the body;
Now they suspect the truth; now they consult
Before they come to tax us with the fact;
O, horrible, 'tis all discovered!


BEATRICE:
Mother,
What is done wisely, is done well. Be bold _35
As thou art just. 'Tis like a truant child
To fear that others know what thou hast done,
Even from thine own strong consciousness, and thus
Write on unsteady eyes and altered cheeks
All thou wouldst hide. Be faithful to thyself, _40
And fear no other witness but thy fear.
For if, as cannot be, some circumstance
Should rise in accusation, we can blind
Suspicion with such cheap astonishment,
Or overbear it with such guiltless pride, _45
As murderers cannot feign. The deed is done,
And what may follow now regards not me.
I am as universal as the light;
Free as the earth-surrounding air; as firm
As the world's centre. Consequence, to me, _50
Is as the wind which strikes the solid rock,
But shakes it not.


(A CRY WITHIN AND TUMULT.)


VOICES:
Murder! Murder! Murder!


(ENTER BERNARDO AND SAVELLA.)


SAVELLA (TO HIS FOLLOWERS):
Go search the castle round; sound the alarm;
Look to the gates, that none escape!


BEATRICE:
What now?


BERNARDO:
I know not what to say...my father's dead. _55


BEATRICE:
How; dead! he only sleeps; you mistake, brother.
His sleep is very calm, very like death;
'Tis wonderful how well a tyrant sleeps.
He is not dead?


BERNARDO:
Dead; murdered.


LUCRETIA (WITH EXTREME AGITATION):
Oh no, no!
He is not murdered though he may be dead; _60
I have alone the keys of those apartments.


SAVELLA:
Ha! Is it so?


BEATRICE:
My Lord, I pray excuse us;
We will retire; my mother is not well:
She seems quite overcome with this strange horror.


(EXEUNT LUCRETIA AND BEATRICE.)


SAVELLA:
Can you suspect who may have murdered him? _65


BERNARDO:
I know not what to think.


SAVELLA:
Can you name any
Who had an interest in his death?


BERNARDO:
Alas!
I can name none who had not, and those most
Who most lament that such a deed is done;
My mother, and my sister, and myself. _70


SAVELLA:
'Tis strange! There were clear marks of violence.
I found the old man's body in the moonlight
Hanging beneath the window of his chamber,
Among the branches of a pine: he could not
Have fallen there, for all his limbs lay heaped _75
And effortless; 'tis true there was no blood...
Favour me, Sir; it much imports your house
That all should be made clear; to tell the ladies
That I request their presence.


(EXIT BERNARDO.)


(ENTER GUARDS, BRINGING IN MARZIO.)


GUARD:
We have one.


OFFICER:
My Lord, we found this ruffian and another _80
Lurking among the rocks; there is no doubt
But that they are the murderers of Count Cenci:
Each had a bag of coin; this fellow wore
A gold-inwoven robe, which, shining bright
Under the dark rocks to the glimmering moon _85
Betrayed them to our notice: the other fell
Desperately fighting.


SAVELLA:
What does he confess?


OFFICER:
He keeps firm silence; but these lines found on him
May speak.


SAVELLA:
Their language is at least sincere.
(READS.)
'To the Lady Beatrice. _90
That the atonement of what my nature sickens to conjecture
may soon arrive, I send thee, at thy brother's desire,
those who will speak and do more than I dare write...
'Thy devoted servant, Orsino.'
(ENTER LUCRETIA, BEATRICE, AND BERNARDO.)
Knowest thou this writing, Lady?


BEATRICE:
No.


SAVELLA:
Nor thou? _95


LUCRETIA
(HER CONDUCT THROUGHOUT THE SCENE
IS MARKED BY EXTREME AGITATION):
Where was it found? What is it? It should be
Orsino's hand! It speaks of that strange horror
Which never yet found utterance, but which made
Between that hapless child and her dead father
A gulf of obscure hatred.


SAVELLA:
Is it so? _100
Is it true, Lady, that thy father did
Such outrages as to awaken in thee
Unfilial hate?


BEATRICE:
Not hate, 'twas more than hate:
This is most true, yet wherefore question me?


SAVELLA:
There is a deed demanding question done; _105
Thou hast a secret which will answer not.


BEATRICE:
What sayest? My Lord, your words are bold and rash.


SAVELLA:
I do arrest all present in the name
Of the Pope's Holiness. You must to Rome.


LUCRETIA:
O, not to Rome! Indeed we are not guilty. _110

 

BEATRICE:
Guilty! Who dares talk of guilt? My Lord,
I am more innocent of parricide
Than is a child born fatherless...Dear mother,
Your gentleness and patience are no shield
For this keen-judging world, this two-edged lie, _115
Which seems, but is not. What! will human laws,
Rather will ye who are their ministers,
Bar all access to retribution first,
And then, when Heaven doth interpose to do
What ye neglect, arming familiar things _120
To the redress of an unwonted crime,
Make ye the victims who demanded it
Culprits? 'Tis ye are culprits! That poor wretch
Who stands so pale, and trembling, and amazed,
If it be true he murdered Cenci, was _125
A sword in the right hand of justest God.
Wherefore should I have wielded it? Unless
The crimes which mortal tongue dare never name
God therefore scruples to avenge.


SAVELLA:
You own
That you desired his death?


BEATRICE:
It would have been _130
A crime no less than his, if for one moment
That fierce desire had faded in my heart.
'Tis true I did believe, and hope, and pray,
Ay, I even knew...for God is wise and just,
That some strange sudden death hung over him. _135
'Tis true that this did happen, and most true
There was no other rest for me on earth,
No other hope in Heaven...now what of this?


SAVELLA:
Strange thoughts beget strange deeds; and here are both:
I judge thee not.


BEATRICE:
And yet, if you arrest me, _140
You are the judge and executioner
Of that which is the life of life: the breath
Of accusation kills an innocent name,
And leaves for lame acquittal the poor life
Which is a mask without it. 'Tis most false _145
That I am guilty of foul parricide;
Although I must rejoice, for justest cause,
That other hands have sent my father's soul
To ask the mercy he denied to me.
Now leave us free; stain not a noble house _150
With vague surmises of rejected crime;
Add to our sufferings and your own neglect
No heavier sum: let them have been enough:
Leave us the wreck we have.


SAVELLA:
I dare not, Lady.
I pray that you prepare yourselves for Rome: _155
There the Pope's further pleasure will be known.


LUCRETIA:
O, not to Rome! O, take us not to Rome!


BEATRICE:
Why not to Rome, dear mother? There as here
Our innocence is as an armed heel
To trample accusation. God is there _160
As here, and with His shadow ever clothes
The innocent, the injured and the weak;
And such are we. Cheer up, dear Lady, lean
On me; collect your wandering thoughts. My Lord,
As soon as you have taken some refreshment, _165
And had all such examinations made
Upon the spot, as may be necessary
To the full understanding of this matter,
We shall be ready. Mother; will you come?


LUCRETIA:
Ha! they will bind us to the rack, and wrest _170
Self-accusation from our agony!
Will Giacomo be there? Orsino? Marzio?
All present; all confronted; all demanding
Each from the other's countenance the thing
Which is in every heart! O, misery! _175


(SHE FAINTS, AND IS BORNE OUT.)


SAVELLA:
She faints: an ill appearance this.


BEATRICE:
My Lord,
She knows not yet the uses of the world.
She fears that power is as a beast which grasps
And loosens not: a snake whose look transmutes
All things to guilt which is its nutriment. _180
She cannot know how well the supine slaves
Of blind authority read the truth of things
When written on a brow of guilelessness:
She sees not yet triumphant Innocence
Stand at the judgement-seat of mortal man, _185
A judge and an accuser of the wrong
Which drags it there. Prepare yourself, my Lord;
Our suite will join yours in the court below.

(EXEUNT.)

END OF ACT 4.

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