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 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, 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; 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 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 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 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, 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 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; 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, 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 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 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: 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.
GIACOMO: O, generous friend! How canst thou pardon me? 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 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 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; 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, 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, 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; 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?