box 36/4
the sphere of an inquiry concerning the modern problem play,
this “tragedy of sensualism'’ has qualities too arresting to be lightly
disregarded. The dramatist has forsaken his problems to portray
how the fatal temperament of a young girl of the Italian Renais¬
sance works out its own destruction.
In the first act we are shown the garden of Filippo, a poet of
Bologna, which is on the eve of being plundered by the enemy.
The heads on Bolognese shoulders are worth little purchase, and
who leaves not the town to-night will never leave the town at all.
The Duke invites Filippo to the palace to recite his poems.
Filippo refuses so that he may leave the city of doom with his
beloved Beatrice, a daughter of the people. On learning, how¬
ever, that Beatrice has dreamt of the Duke, he spurns her in an
egoistic paroxism of refined jealousy.
So much I gave thee, more than thou canst dream,
So much that to be worthy of my love,
Loathing should fasten on thee at the thought
This earth is trod by other men than I.
Beatrice leaves him with the vague intimation—
Feel I that without thee I cannot live,
And have desire for death, I come again
To take thee with me.
In the second act Beatrice is on the point of marrying her legiti¬
mate suitor, Vittorino, and escaping from the town, when the Duke
appears and preposes to exercise the “us ultimae noctis.? Owing
to the remonstrances of her brother Francesco, he generously
offers to relinquish his intentions. Beatrice is bidden to go on
her way, but stands riveted to the spot by a fatalistic impulse to
realise her dream. She insists, morcover, on being the wife of
the Duke, and her wish is granted. The nuptials are celebrated
by a gigantic féte in the palace, the doors of which are thrown
open to rich and poor. Beatrice, however, with the placid
naiveté of her fatalistic temperament flies to Filippo.
What boots it,
Were I this eve an empress to whom worlds
Bowed, or the callet of a fool? for 1
Am with thee now to die by thine own side.
Filippo pretends to poison both her and himself, and on her
discovering the ruse, commits suicide in carnest. Beatrice rushes
back to the palace, but, discovering that she has left behind that
priceless veil which was the wedding-gift of her husband, leads
back the Duke to the chamber of love and death. The living is
confronted with the dead rival, and the indignant Francesco slays
his sister.