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, 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!
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 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 Your father's chamber.
[EXEUNT SAVELLA AND BERNARDO.]
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! 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. 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 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, 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, 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, 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.
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; 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?
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.
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 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.
[ENTER GUARDS, BRINGING IN MARZIO.]
GUARD: We have one.
OFFICER: My Lord, we found this ruffian and another 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 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. 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?
SAVELLA: Nor thou?
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? 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; 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.
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, 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 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 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 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. '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, 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 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 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: 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 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, 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 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!
[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. 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, 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.
END OF ACT 4.
"a wrathful" [edition 1821]; "wrathful" [editions 1819, 1839].