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The Duchess of Padua by Oscar Wilde

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Transcribed from the 1916 Methuen and Co. edition by David Price,
email ccx074@coventry.ac.uk

THE DUCHESS OF PADUA

THE PERSONS OF THE PLAY

Simone Gesso, Duke of Padua
Beatrice, his Wife
Andreas Pollajuolo, Cardinal of Padua
Maffio Petrucci, }
Jeppo Vitellozzo, } Gentlemen of the Duke's Household
Taddeo Bardi, }
Guido Ferranti, a Young Man
Ascanio Cristofano, his Friend
Count Moranzone, an Old Man
Bernardo Cavalcanti, Lord Justice of Padua
Hugo, the Headsman
Lucy, a Tire woman

Servants, Citizens, Soldiers, Monks, Falconers with their hawks and
dogs, etc.

Place: Padua
Time: The latter half of the Sixteenth Century
Style of Architecture: Italian, Gothic and Romanesque.

THE SCENES OF THE PLAY

ACT I. The Market Place of Padua (25 minutes).
ACT II. Room in the Duke's Palace (36 minutes).
ACT III. Corridor in the Duke's Palace (29 minutes).
ACT IV. The Hall of Justice (31 minutes).
ACT V. The Dungeon (25 minutes).

ACT I

SCENE

The Market Place of Padua at noon; in the background is the great
Cathedral of Padua; the architecture is Romanesque, and wrought in
black and white marbles; a flight of marble steps leads up to the
Cathedral door; at the foot of the steps are two large stone lions;
the houses on each aide of the stage have coloured awnings from
their windows, and are flanked by stone arcades; on the right of
the stage is the public fountain, with a triton in green bronze
blowing from a conch; around the fountain is a stone seat; the bell
of the Cathedral is ringing, and the citizens, men, women and
children, are passing into the Cathedral.

[Enter GUIDO FERRANTI and ASCANIO CRISTOFANO.]

ASCANIO

Now by my life, Guido, I will go no farther; for if I walk another
step I will have no life left to swear by; this wild-goose errand
of yours!

[Sits down on the step of the fountain.]

GUIDO

I think it must be here. [Goes up to passer-by and doffs his cap.]
Pray, sir, is this the market place, and that the church of Santa
Croce? [Citizen bows.] I thank you, sir.

ASCANIO

Well?

GUIDO

Ay! it is here.

ASCANIO

I would it were somewhere else, for I see no wine-shop.

GUIDO

[Taking a letter from his pocket and reading it.] 'The hour noon;
the city, Padua; the place, the market; and the day, Saint Philip's
Day.'

ASCANIO

And what of the man, how shall we know him?

GUIDO

[reading still] 'I will wear a violet cloak with a silver falcon
broidered on the shoulder.' A brave attire, Ascanio.

ASCANIO

I'd sooner have my leathern jerkin. And you think he will tell you
of your father?

GUIDO

Why, yes! It is a month ago now, you remember; I was in the
vineyard, just at the corner nearest the road, where the goats used
to get in, a man rode up and asked me was my name Guido, and gave
me this letter, signed 'Your Father's Friend,' bidding me be here
to-day if I would know the secret of my birth, and telling me how
to recognise the writer! I had always thought old Pedro was my
uncle, but he told me that he was not, but that I had been left a
child in his charge by some one he had never since seen.

ASCANIO

And you don't know who your father is?

GUIDO

No.

ASCANIO

No recollection of him even?

GUIDO

None, Ascanio, none.

ASCANIO

[laughing] Then he could never have boxed your ears so often as my
father did mine.

GUIDO

[smiling] I am sure you never deserved it.

ASCANIO

Never; and that made it worse. I hadn't the consciousness of guilt
to buoy me up. What hour did you say he fixed?

GUIDO

Noon. [Clock in the Cathedral strikes.]

ASCANIO

It is that now, and your man has not come. I don't believe in him,
Guido. I think it is some wench who has set her eye at you; and,
as I have followed you from Perugia to Padua, I swear you shall
follow me to the nearest tavern. [Rises.] By the great gods of
eating, Guido, I am as hungry as a widow is for a husband, as tired
as a young maid is of good advice, and as dry as a monk's sermon.
Come, Guido, you stand there looking at nothing, like the fool who
tried to look into his own mind; your man will not come.

GUIDO

Well, I suppose you are right. Ah! [Just as he is leaving the
stage with ASCANIO, enter LORD MORANZONE in a violet cloak, with a
silver falcon broidered on the shoulder; he passes across to the
Cathedral, and just as he is going in GUIDO runs up and touches
him.]

MORANZONE

Guido Ferranti, thou hast come in time.

GUIDO

What! Does my father live?

MORANZONE

Ay! lives in thee.
Thou art the same in mould and lineament,
Carriage and form, and outward semblances;
I trust thou art in noble mind the same.

GUIDO

Oh, tell me of my father; I have lived
But for this moment.

MORANZONE

We must be alone.

GUIDO

This is my dearest friend, who out of love
Has followed me to Padua; as two brothers,
There is no secret which we do not share.

MORANZONE

There is one secret which ye shall not share;
Bid him go hence.

GUIDO

[to ASCANIO] Come back within the hour.
He does not know that nothing in this world
Can dim the perfect mirror of our love.
Within the hour come.

ASCANIO

Speak not to him,
There is a dreadful terror in his look.

GUIDO

[laughing]
Nay, nay, I doubt not that he has come to tell
That I am some great Lord of Italy,
And we will have long days of joy together.
Within the hour, dear Ascanio.
[Exit ASCANIO.]
Now tell me of my father?
[Sits down on a stone seat.]
Stood he tall?
I warrant he looked tall upon his horse.
His hair was black? or perhaps a reddish gold,
Like a red fire of gold? Was his voice low?
The very bravest men have voices sometimes
Full of low music; or a clarion was it
That brake with terror all his enemies?
Did he ride singly? or with many squires
And valiant gentlemen to serve his state?
For oftentimes methinks I feel my veins
Beat with the blood of kings. Was he a king?

MORANZONE

Ay, of all men he was the kingliest.

GUIDO

[proudly] Then when you saw my noble father last
He was set high above the heads of men?

MORANZONE

Ay, he was high above the heads of men,
[Walks over to GUIDO and puts his hand upon his shoulder.]
On a red scaffold, with a butcher's block
Set for his neck.

GUIDO

[leaping up]
What dreadful man art thou,
That like a raven, or the midnight owl,
Com'st with this awful message from the grave?

MORANZONE

I am known here as the Count Moranzone,
Lord of a barren castle on a rock,
With a few acres of unkindly land
And six not thrifty servants. But I was one
Of Parma's noblest princes; more than that,
I was your father's friend.

GUIDO

[clasping his hand] Tell me of him.

MORANZONE

You are the son of that great Duke Lorenzo,
He was the Prince of Parma, and the Duke
Of all the fair domains of Lombardy
Down to the gates of Florence; nay, Florence even
Was wont to pay him tribute -

GUIDO

Come to his death.

MORANZONE

You will hear that soon enough. Being at war -
O noble lion of war, that would not suffer
Injustice done in Italy!--he led
The very flower of chivalry against
That foul adulterous Lord of Rimini,
Giovanni Malatesta--whom God curse!
And was by him in treacherous ambush taken,
And like a villain, or a low-born knave,
Was by him on the public scaffold murdered.

GUIDO

[clutching his dagger] Doth Malatesta live?

MORANZONE

No, he is dead.

GUIDO

Did you say dead? O too swift runner, Death,
Couldst thou not wait for me a little space,
And I had done thy bidding!

MORANZONE

[clutching his wrist] Thou canst do it!
The man who sold thy father is alive.

GUIDO

Sold! was my father sold?

MORANZONE

Ay! trafficked for,
Like a vile chattel, for a price betrayed,
Bartered and bargained for in privy market
By one whom he had held his perfect friend,
One he had trusted, one he had well loved,
One whom by ties of kindness he had bound -

GUIDO

And he lives
Who sold my father?

MORANZONE

I will bring you to him.

GUIDO

So, Judas, thou art living! well, I will make
This world thy field of blood, so buy it straight-way,
For thou must hang there.

MORANZONE

Judas said you, boy?
Yes, Judas in his treachery, but still
He was more wise than Judas was, and held
Those thirty silver pieces not enough.

GUIDO

What got he for my father's blood?

MORANZONE

What got he?
Why cities, fiefs, and principalities,
Vineyards, and lands.

GUIDO

Of which he shall but keep
Six feet of ground to rot in. Where is he,
This damned villain, this foul devil? where?
Show me the man, and come he cased in steel,
In complete panoply and pride of war,
Ay, guarded by a thousand men-at-arms,
Yet I shall reach him through their spears, and feel
The last black drop of blood from his black heart
Crawl down my blade. Show me the man, I say,
And I will kill him.

MORANZONE

[coldly]
Fool, what revenge is there?
Death is the common heritage of all,
And death comes best when it comes suddenly.
[Goes up close to GUIDO.]
Your father was betrayed, there is your cue;
For you shall sell the seller in his turn.
I will make you of his household, you shall sit
At the same board with him, eat of his bread -

GUIDO

O bitter bread!

MORANZONE

Thy palate is too nice,
Revenge will make it sweet. Thou shalt o' nights
Pledge him in wine, drink from his cup, and be
His intimate, so he will fawn on thee,
Love thee, and trust thee in all secret things.
If he bid thee be merry thou must laugh,
And if it be his humour to be sad
Thou shalt don sables. Then when the time is ripe -
[GUIDO clutches his sword.]
Nay, nay, I trust thee not; your hot young blood,
Undisciplined nature, and too violent rage
Will never tarry for this great revenge,
But wreck itself on passion.

GUIDO

Thou knowest me not.
Tell me the man, and I in everything
Will do thy bidding.

MORANZONE

Well, when the time is ripe,
The victim trusting and the occasion sure,
I will by sudden secret messenger
Send thee a sign.

GUIDO

How shall I kill him, tell me?

MORANZONE

That night thou shalt creep into his private chamber;
But if he sleep see that thou wake him first,
And hold thy hand upon his throat, ay! that way,
Then having told him of what blood thou art,
Sprung from what father, and for what revenge,
Bid him to pray for mercy; when he prays,
Bid him to set a price upon his life,
And when he strips himself of all his gold
Tell him thou needest not gold, and hast not mercy,
And do thy business straight away. Swear to me
Thou wilt not kill him till I bid thee do it,
Or else I go to mine own house, and leave
Thee ignorant, and thy father unavenged.

GUIDO

Now by my father's sword -

MORANZONE

The common hangman
Brake that in sunder in the public square.

GUIDO

Then by my father's grave -

MORANZONE

What grave? what grave?
Your noble father lieth in no grave,
I saw his dust strewn on the air, his ashes
Whirled through the windy streets like common straws
To plague a beggar's eyesight, and his head,
That gentle head, set on the prison spike,
For the vile rabble in their insolence
To shoot their tongues at.

GUIDO

Was it so indeed?
Then by my father's spotless memory,
And by the shameful manner of his death,
And by the base betrayal by his friend,
For these at least remain, by these I swear
I will not lay my hand upon his life
Until you bid me, then--God help his soul,
For he shall die as never dog died yet.
And now, the sign, what is it?

MORANZONE

This dagger, boy;
It was your father's.

GUIDO

Oh, let me look at it!
I do remember now my reputed uncle,
That good old husbandman I left at home,
Told me a cloak wrapped round me when a babe
Bare too such yellow leopards wrought in gold;
I like them best in steel, as they are here,
They suit my purpose better. Tell me, sir,
Have you no message from my father to me?

MORANZONE

Poor boy, you never saw that noble father,
For when by his false friend he had been sold,
Alone of all his gentlemen I escaped
To bear the news to Parma to the Duchess.

GUIDO

Speak to me of my mother.

MORANZONE

When thy mother
Heard my black news, she fell into a swoon,
And, being with untimely travail seized -
Bare thee into the world before thy time,
And then her soul went heavenward, to wait
Thy father, at the gates of Paradise.

GUIDO

A mother dead, a father sold and bartered!
I seem to stand on some beleaguered wall,
And messenger comes after messenger
With a new tale of terror; give me breath,
Mine ears are tired.

MORANZONE

When thy mother died,
Fearing our enemies, I gave it out
Thou wert dead also, and then privily
Conveyed thee to an ancient servitor,
Who by Perugia lived; the rest thou knowest.

GUIDO

Saw you my father afterwards?

MORANZONE

Ay! once;
In mean attire, like a vineyard dresser,
I stole to Rimini.

GUIDO

[taking his hand]
O generous heart!

MORANZONE

One can buy everything in Rimini,
And so I bought the gaolers! when your father
Heard that a man child had been born to him,
His noble face lit up beneath his helm
Like a great fire seen far out at sea,
And taking my two hands, he bade me, Guido,
To rear you worthy of him; so I have reared you
To revenge his death upon the friend who sold him.

GUIDO

Thou hast done well; I for my father thank thee.
And now his name?

MORANZONE

How you remind me of him,
You have each gesture that your father had.

GUIDO

The traitor's name?

MORANZONE

Thou wilt hear that anon;
The Duke and other nobles at the Court
Are coming hither.

GUIDO

What of that? his name?

MORANZONE

Do they not seem a valiant company
Of honourable, honest gentlemen?

GUIDO

His name, milord?

[Enter the DUKE OF PADUA with COUNT BARDI, MAFFIO, PETRUCCI, and
other gentlemen of his Court.]

MORANZONE

[quickly]
The man to whom I kneel
Is he who sold your father! mark me well.

GUIDO

[clutches hit dagger]
The Duke!

MORANZONE

Leave off that fingering of thy knife.
Hast thou so soon forgotten?
[Kneels to the DUKE.]
My noble Lord.

DUKE

Welcome, Count Moranzone; 'tis some time
Since we have seen you here in Padua.
We hunted near your castle yesterday -
Call you it castle? that bleak house of yours
Wherein you sit a-mumbling o'er your beads,
Telling your vices like a good old man.
[Catches sight of GUIDO and starts back.]
Who is that?

MORANZONE

My sister's son, your Grace,
Who being now of age to carry arms,
Would for a season tarry at your Court

DUKE

[still looking at GUIDO]
What is his name?

MORANZONE

Guido Ferranti, sir.

DUKE

His city?

MORANZONE

He is Mantuan by birth.

DUKE

[advancing towards GUIDO]
You have the eyes of one I used to know,
But he died childless. Are you honest, boy?
Then be not spendthrift of your honesty,
But keep it to yourself; in Padua
Men think that honesty is ostentatious, so
It is not of the fashion. Look at these lords.

COUNT BARDI

[aside]
Here is some bitter arrow for us, sure.

DUKE

Why, every man among them has his price,
Although, to do them justice, some of them
Are quite expensive.

COUNT BARDI

[aside]
There it comes indeed.

DUKE

So be not honest; eccentricity
Is not a thing should ever be encouraged,
Although, in this dull stupid age of ours,
The most eccentric thing a man can do
Is to have brains, then the mob mocks at him;
And for the mob, despise it as I do,
I hold its bubble praise and windy favours
In such account, that popularity
Is the one insult I have never suffered.

MAFFIO

[aside]

He has enough of hate, if he needs that.

DUKE

Have prudence; in your dealings with the world
Be not too hasty; act on the second thought,
First impulses are generally good.

GUIDO

[aside]
Surely a toad sits on his lips, and spills its venom there.

DUKE

See thou hast enemies,
Else will the world think very little of thee;
It is its test of power; yet see thou show'st
A smiling mask of friendship to all men,
Until thou hast them safely in thy grip,
Then thou canst crush them.

GUIDO

[aside]
O wise philosopher!
That for thyself dost dig so deep a grave.

MORANZONE

[to him]
Dost thou mark his words?

GUIDO

Oh, be thou sure I do.

DUKE

And be not over-scrupulous; clean hands
With nothing in them make a sorry show.
If you would have the lion's share of life
You must wear the fox's skin. Oh, it will fit you;
It is a coat which fitteth every man.

GUIDO

Your Grace, I shall remember.

DUKE

That is well, boy, well.
I would not have about me shallow fools,
Who with mean scruples weigh the gold of life,
And faltering, paltering, end by failure; failure,
The only crime which I have not committed:
I would have MEN about me. As for conscience,
Conscience is but the name which cowardice
Fleeing from battle scrawls upon its shield.
You understand me, boy?

GUIDO

I do, your Grace,
And will in all things carry out the creed
Which you have taught me.

MAFFIO

I never heard your Grace
So much in the vein for preaching; let the Cardinal
Look to his laurels, sir.

DUKE

The Cardinal!
Men follow my creed, and they gabble his.
I do not think much of the Cardinal;
Although he is a holy churchman, and
I quite admit his dulness. Well, sir, from now
We count you of our household
[He holds out his hand for GUIDO to kiss. GUIDO starts back in
horror, but at a gesture from COUNT MORANZONE, kneels and kisses
it.]
We will see
That you are furnished with such equipage
As doth befit your honour and our state.

GUIDO

I thank your Grace most heartily.

DUKE

Tell me again
What is your name?

GUIDO

Guido Ferranti, sir.

DUKE

And you are Mantuan? Look to your wives, my lords,
When such a gallant comes to Padua.
Thou dost well to laugh, Count Bardi; I have noted
How merry is that husband by whose hearth
Sits an uncomely wife.

MAFFIO

May it please your Grace,
The wives of Padua are above suspicion.

DUKE

What, are they so ill-favoured! Let us go,
This Cardinal detains our pious Duchess;
His sermon and his beard want cutting both:
Will you come with us, sir, and hear a text
From holy Jerome?

MORANZONE

[bowing]
My liege, there are some matters -

DUKE

[interrupting]
Thou need'st make no excuse for missing mass.
Come, gentlemen.
[Exit with his suite into Cathedral.]

GUIDO

[after a pause]
So the Duke sold my father;
I kissed his hand.

MORANZONE

Thou shalt do that many times.

GUIDO

Must it be so?

MORANZONE

Ay! thou hast sworn an oath.

GUIDO

That oath shall make me marble.

MORANZONE

Farewell, boy,
Thou wilt not see me till the time is ripe.

GUIDO

I pray thou comest quickly.

MORANZONE

I will come
When it is time; be ready.

GUIDO

Fear me not.

MORANZONE

Here is your friend; see that you banish him
Both from your heart and Padua.

GUIDO

From Padua,
Not from my heart.

MORANZONE

Nay, from thy heart as well,
I will not leave thee till I see thee do it.

GUIDO

Can I have no friend?

MORANZONE

Revenge shall be thy friend;
Thou need'st no other.

GUIDO

Well, then be it so.
[Enter ASCANIO CRISTOFANO.]

ASCANIO

Come, Guido, I have been beforehand with you in everything, for I
have drunk a flagon of wine, eaten a pasty, and kissed the maid who
served it. Why, you look as melancholy as a schoolboy who cannot
buy apples, or a politician who cannot sell his vote. What news,
Guido, what news?

GUIDO

Why, that we two must part, Ascanio.

ASCANIO

That would be news indeed, but it is not true.

GUIDO

Too true it is, you must get hence, Ascanio,
And never look upon my face again.

ASCANIO

No, no; indeed you do not know me, Guido;
'Tis true I am a common yeoman's son,
Nor versed in fashions of much courtesy;
But, if you are nobly born, cannot I be
Your serving man? I will tend you with more love
Than any hired servant.

GUIDO

[clasping his hand]
Ascanio!
[Sees MORANZONE looking at him and drops ASCANIO'S hand.]
It cannot be.

ASCANIO

What, is it so with you?
I thought the friendship of the antique world
Was not yet dead, but that the Roman type
Might even in this poor and common age
Find counterparts of love; then by this love
Which beats between us like a summer sea,
Whatever lot has fallen to your hand
May I not share it?

GUIDO

Share it?

ASCANIO

Ay!

GUIDO

No, no.

ASCANIO

Have you then come to some inheritance
Of lordly castle, or of stored-up gold?

GUIDO

[bitterly]
Ay! I have come to my inheritance.
O bloody legacy! and O murderous dole!
Which, like the thrifty miser, must I hoard,
And to my own self keep; and so, I pray you,
Let us part here.

ASCANIO

What, shall we never more
Sit hand in hand, as we were wont to sit,
Over some book of ancient chivalry
Stealing a truant holiday from school,
Follow the huntsmen through the autumn woods,
And watch the falcons burst their tasselled jesses,
When the hare breaks from covert.

GUIDO

Never more.

ASCANIO

Must I go hence without a word of love?

GUIDO

You must go hence, and may love go with you.

ASCANIO

You are unknightly, and ungenerous.

GUIDO

Unknightly and ungenerous if you will.
Why should we waste more words about the matter
Let us part now.

ASCANIO

Have you no message, Guido?

GUIDO

None; my whole past was but a schoolboy's dream;
To-day my life begins. Farewell.

ASCANIO

Farewell [exit slowly.]

GUIDO

Now are you satisfied? Have you not seen
My dearest friend, and my most loved companion,
Thrust from me like a common kitchen knave!
Oh, that I did it! Are you not satisfied?

MORANZONE

Ay! I am satisfied. Now I go hence,
Do not forget the sign, your father's dagger,
And do the business when I send it to you.

GUIDO

Be sure I shall. [Exit LORD MORANZONE.]

GUIDO

O thou eternal heaven!
If there is aught of nature in my soul,
Of gentle pity, or fond kindliness,
Wither it up, blast it, bring it to nothing,
Or if thou wilt not, then will I myself
Cut pity with a sharp knife from my heart
And strangle mercy in her sleep at night
Lest she speak to me. Vengeance there I have it.
Be thou my comrade and my bedfellow,
Sit by my side, ride to the chase with me,
When I am weary sing me pretty songs,
When I am light o' heart, make jest with me,
And when I dream, whisper into my ear
The dreadful secret of a father's murder -
Did I say murder? [Draws his dagger.]
Listen, thou terrible God!
Thou God that punishest all broken oaths,
And bid some angel write this oath in fire,
That from this hour, till my dear father's murder
In blood I have revenged, I do forswear
The noble ties of honourable friendship,
The noble joys of dear companionship,
Affection's bonds, and loyal gratitude,
Ay, more, from this same hour I do forswear
All love of women, and the barren thing
Which men call beauty -
[The organ peals in the Cathedral, and under a canopy of cloth of
silver tissue, borne by four pages in scarlet, the DUCHESS OF PADUA
comes down the steps; as she passes across their eyes meet for a
moment, and as she leaves the stage she looks back at GUIDO, and
the dagger falls from his hand.]
Oh! who is that?

A CITIZEN

The Duchess of Padua!

END OF ACT I.

ACT II

SCENE

A state room in the Ducal Palace, hung with tapestries representing
the Masque of Venus; a large door in the centre opens into a
corridor of red marble, through which one can see a view of Padua;
a large canopy is set (R.C.) with three thrones, one a little lower
than the others; the ceiling is made of long gilded beams;
furniture of the period, chairs covered with gilt leather, and
buffets set with gold and silver plate, and chests painted with
mythological scenes. A number of the courtiers is out on the
corridor looking from it down into the street below; from the
street comes the roar of a mob and cries of 'Death to the Duke':
after a little interval enter the Duke very calmly; he is leaning
on the arm of Guido Ferranti; with him enters also the Lord
Cardinal; the mob still shouting.

DUKE

No, my Lord Cardinal, I weary of her!
Why, she is worse than ugly, she is good.

MAFFIO

[excitedly]
Your Grace, there are two thousand people there
Who every moment grow more clamorous.

DUKE

Tut, man, they waste their strength upon their lungs!
People who shout so loud, my lords, do nothing;
The only men I fear are silent men.
[A yell from the people.]
You see, Lord Cardinal, how my people love me.
[Another yell.] Go, Petrucci,
And tell the captain of the guard below
To clear the square. Do you not hear me, sir?
Do what I bid you.

[Exit PETRUCCI.]

CARDINAL

I beseech your Grace
To listen to their grievances.

DUKE

[sitting on his throne]
Ay! the peaches
Are not so big this year as they were last.
I crave your pardon, my lord Cardinal,
I thought you spake of peaches.
[A cheer from the people.]
What is that?

GUIDO

[rushes to the window]
The Duchess has gone forth into the square,
And stands between the people and the guard,
And will not let them shoot.

DUKE

The devil take her!

GUIDO

[still at the window]
And followed by a dozen of the citizens
Has come into the Palace.

DUKE

[starting up]
By Saint James,
Our Duchess waxes bold!

BARDI

Here comes the Duchess.

DUKE

Shut that door there; this morning air is cold.
[They close the door on the corridor.]
[Enter the Duchess followed by a crowd of meanly dressed Citizens.]

DUCHESS

[flinging herself upon her knees]
I do beseech your Grace to give us audience.

DUKE

What are these grievances?

DUCHESS

Alas, my Lord,
Such common things as neither you nor I,
Nor any of these noble gentlemen,
Have ever need at all to think about;
They say the bread, the very bread they eat,
Is made of sorry chaff.

FIRST CITIZEN

Ay! so it is,
Nothing but chaff.

DUKE

And very good food too,
I give it to my horses.

DUCHESS

[restraining herself]
They say the water,
Set in the public cisterns for their use,
[Has, through the breaking of the aqueduct,]
To stagnant pools and muddy puddles turned.

DUKE

They should drink wine; water is quite unwholesome.

SECOND CITIZEN

Alack, your Grace, the taxes which the customs
Take at the city gate are grown so high
We cannot buy wine.

DUKE

Then you should bless the taxes
Which make you temperate.

DUCHESS

Think, while we sit
In gorgeous pomp and state, gaunt poverty
Creeps through their sunless lanes, and with sharp knives
Cuts the warm throats of children stealthily
And no word said.

THIRD CITIZEN

Ay! marry, that is true,
My little son died yesternight from hunger;
He was but six years old; I am so poor,
I cannot bury him.

DUKE

If you are poor,
Are you not blessed in that? Why, poverty
Is one of the Christian virtues,
[Turns to the CARDINAL.]
Is it not?
I know, Lord Cardinal, you have great revenues,
Rich abbey-lands, and tithes, and large estates
For preaching voluntary poverty.

DUCHESS

Nay but, my lord the Duke, be generous;
While we sit here within a noble house
[With shaded porticoes against the sun,
And walls and roofs to keep the winter out],
There are many citizens of Padua
Who in vile tenements live so full of holes,
That the chill rain, the snow, and the rude blast,
Are tenants also with them; others sleep
Under the arches of the public bridges
All through the autumn nights, till the wet mist
Stiffens their limbs, and fevers come, and so -

DUKE

And so they go to Abraham's bosom, Madam.
They should thank me for sending them to Heaven,
If they are wretched here.
[To the CARDINAL.]
Is it not said
Somewhere in Holy Writ, that every man
Should be contented with that state of life
God calls him to? Why should I change their state,
Or meddle with an all-wise providence,
Which has apportioned that some men should starve,
And others surfeit? I did not make the world.

FIRST CITIZEN

He hath a hard heart.

SECOND CITIZEN

Nay, be silent, neighbour;
I think the Cardinal will speak for us.

CARDINAL

True, it is Christian to bear misery,
Yet it is Christian also to be kind,
And there seem many evils in this town,
Which in your wisdom might your Grace reform.

FIRST CITIZEN

What is that word reform? What does it mean?

SECOND CITIZEN

Marry, it means leaving things as they are; I like it not.

DUKE

Reform Lord Cardinal, did YOU say reform?
There is a man in Germany called Luther,
Who would reform the Holy Catholic Church.
Have you not made him heretic, and uttered
Anathema, maranatha, against him?

CARDINAL

[rising from his seat]
He would have led the sheep out of the fold,
We do but ask of you to feed the sheep.

DUKE

When I have shorn their fleeces I may feed them.
As for these rebels -
[DUCHESS entreats him.]

FIRST CITIZEN

That is a kind word,
He means to give us something.

SECOND CITIZEN

Is that so?

DUKE

These ragged knaves who come before us here,
With mouths chock-full of treason.

THIRD CITIZEN

Good my Lord,
Fill up our mouths with bread; we'll hold our tongues.

DUKE

Ye shall hold your tongues, whether you starve or not.
My lords, this age is so familiar grown,
That the low peasant hardly doffs his hat,
Unless you beat him; and the raw mechanic
Elbows the noble in the public streets.
[To the Citizens.]
Still as our gentle Duchess has so prayed us,
And to refuse so beautiful a beggar
Were to lack both courtesy and love,
Touching your grievances, I promise this -

FIRST CITIZEN

Marry, he will lighten the taxes!

SECOND CITIZEN

Or a dole of bread, think you, for each man?

DUKE

That, on next Sunday, the Lord Cardinal
Shall, after Holy Mass, preach you a sermon
Upon the Beauty of Obedience.
[Citizens murmur.]

FIRST CITIZEN

I' faith, that will not fill our stomachs!

SECOND CITIZEN

A sermon is but a sorry sauce, when
You have nothing to eat with it.

DUCHESS

Poor people,
You see I have no power with the Duke,
But if you go into the court without,
My almoner shall from my private purse,
Divide a hundred ducats 'mongst you all.

FIRST CITIZEN

God save the Duchess, say I.

SECOND CITIZEN

God save her.

DUCHESS

And every Monday morn shall bread be set
For those who lack it.
[Citizens applaud and go out.]

FIRST CITIZEN

[going out]
Why, God save the Duchess again!

DUKE

[calling him back]
Come hither, fellow! what is your name?

FIRST CITIZEN

Dominick, sir.

DUKE

A good name! Why were you called Dominick?

FIRST CITIZEN

[scratching his head]
Marry, because I was born on St. George's day.

DUKE

A good reason! here is a ducat for you!
Will you not cry for me God save the Duke?

FIRST CITIZEN

[feebly]
God save the Duke.

DUKE

Nay! louder, fellow, louder.

FIRST CITIZEN

[a little louder]
God save the Duke!

DUKE

More lustily, fellow, put more heart in it!
Here is another ducat for you.

FIRST CITIZEN

[enthusiastically]
God save the Duke!

DUKE

[mockingly]
Why, gentlemen, this simple fellow's love
Touches me much. [To the Citizen, harshly.]
Go! [Exit Citizen, bowing.]
This is the way, my lords,
You can buy popularity nowadays.
Oh, we are nothing if not democratic!
[To the DUCHESS.]
Well, Madam,
You spread rebellion 'midst our citizens.

DUCHESS

My Lord, the poor have rights you cannot touch,
The right to pity, and the right to mercy.

DUKE

So, so, you argue with me? This is she,
The gentle Duchess for whose hand I yielded
Three of the fairest towns in Italy,
Pisa, and Genoa, and Orvieto.

DUCHESS

Promised, my Lord, not yielded: in that matter
Brake you your word as ever.

DUKE

You wrong us, Madam,
There were state reasons.

DUCHESS

What state reasons are there
For breaking holy promises to a state?

DUKE

There are wild boars at Pisa in a forest
Close to the city: when I promised Pisa
Unto your noble and most trusting father,
I had forgotten there was hunting there.
At Genoa they say,
Indeed I doubt them not, that the red mullet
Runs larger in the harbour of that town
Than anywhere in Italy.
[Turning to one of the Court.]
You, my lord,
Whose gluttonous appetite is your only god,
Could satisfy our Duchess on that point.

DUCHESS

And Orvieto?

DUKE

[yawning]
I cannot now recall
Why I did not surrender Orvieto
According to the word of my contract.
Maybe it was because I did not choose.
[Goes over to the DUCHESS.]
Why look you, Madam, you are here alone;
'Tis many a dusty league to your grey France,
And even there your father barely keeps
A hundred ragged squires for his Court.
What hope have you, I say? Which of these lords
And noble gentlemen of Padua
Stands by your side.

DUCHESS

There is not one.

[GUIDO starts, but restrains himself.]

DUKE

Nor shall be,
While I am Duke in Padua: listen, Madam,
Being mine own, you shall do as I will,
And if it be my will you keep the house,
Why then, this palace shall your prison be;
And if it be my will you walk abroad,
Why, you shall take the air from morn to night.

DUCHESS

Sir, by what right -?

DUKE

Madam, my second Duchess
Asked the same question once: her monument
Lies in the chapel of Bartholomew,
Wrought in red marble; very beautiful.
Guido, your arm. Come, gentlemen, let us go
And spur our falcons for the mid-day chase.
Bethink you, Madam, you are here alone.
[Exit the DUKE leaning on GUIDO, with his Court.]

DUCHESS

[looking after them]
The Duke said rightly that I was alone;
Deserted, and dishonoured, and defamed,
Stood ever woman so alone indeed?
Men when they woo us call us pretty children,
Tell us we have not wit to make our lives,
And so they mar them for us. Did I say woo?
We are their chattels, and their common slaves,
Less dear than the poor hound that licks their hand,
Less fondled than the hawk upon their wrist.
Woo, did I say? bought rather, sold and bartered,
Our very bodies being merchandise.
I know it is the general lot of women,
Each miserably mated to some man
Wrecks her own life upon his selfishness:
That it is general makes it not less bitter.
I think I never heard a woman laugh,
Laugh for pure merriment, except one woman,
That was at night time, in the public streets.
Poor soul, she walked with painted lips, and wore
The mask of pleasure: I would not laugh like her;
No, death were better.
[Enter GUIDO behind unobserved; the DUCHESS flings herself down
before a picture of the Madonna.]
O Mary mother, with your sweet pale face
Bending between the little angel heads
That hover round you, have you no help for me?
Mother of God, have you no help for me?

GUIDO

I can endure no longer.
This is my love, and I will speak to her.
Lady, am I a stranger to your prayers?

DUCHESS

[rising]
None but the wretched needs my prayers, my lord.

GUIDO

Then must I need them, lady.

DUCHESS

How is that?
Does not the Duke show thee sufficient honour?

GUIDO

Your Grace, I lack no favours from the Duke,
Whom my soul loathes as I loathe wickedness,
But come to proffer on my bended knees,
My loyal service to thee unto death.

DUCHESS

Alas! I am so fallen in estate
I can but give thee a poor meed of thanks.

GUIDO

[seizing her hand]
Hast thou no love to give me?
[The DUCHESS starts, and GUIDO falls at her feet.]
O dear saint,
If I have been too daring, pardon me!
Thy beauty sets my boyish blood aflame,
And, when my reverent lips touch thy white hand,
Each little nerve with such wild passion thrills
That there is nothing which I would not do
To gain thy love. [Leaps up.]
Bid me reach forth and pluck
Perilous honour from the lion's jaws,
And I will wrestle with the Nemean beast
On the bare desert! Fling to the cave of War
A gaud, a ribbon, a dead flower, something
That once has touched thee, and I'll bring it back
Though all the hosts of Christendom were there,
Inviolate again! ay, more than this,
Set me to scale the pallid white-faced cliffs
Of mighty England, and from that arrogant shield
Will I raze out the lilies of your France
Which England, that sea-lion of the sea,
Hath taken from her!
O dear Beatrice,
Drive me not from thy presence! without thee
The heavy minutes crawl with feet of lead,
But, while I look upon thy loveliness,
The hours fly like winged Mercuries
And leave existence golden.

DUCHESS

I did not think
I should be ever loved: do you indeed
Love me so much as now you say you do?

GUIDO

Ask of the sea-bird if it loves the sea,
Ask of the roses if they love the rain,
Ask of the little lark, that will not sing
Till day break, if it loves to see the day:-
And yet, these are but empty images,
Mere shadows of my love, which is a fire
So great that all the waters of the main
Can not avail to quench it. Will you not speak?

DUCHESS

I hardly know what I should say to you.

GUIDO

Will you not say you love me?

DUCHESS

Is that my lesson?
Must I say all at once? 'Twere a good lesson
If I did love you, sir; but, if I do not,
What shall I say then?

GUIDO

If you do not love me,
Say, none the less, you do, for on your tongue
Falsehood for very shame would turn to truth.

DUCHESS

What if I do not speak at all? They say
Lovers are happiest when they are in doubt

GUIDO

Nay, doubt would kill me, and if I must die,
Why, let me die for joy and not for doubt.
Oh, tell me may I stay, or must I go?

DUCHESS

I would not have you either stay or go;
For if you stay you steal my love from me,
And if you go you take my love away.
Guido, though all the morning stars could sing
They could not tell the measure of my love.
I love you, Guido.

GUIDO

[stretching out his hands]
Oh, do not cease at all;
I thought the nightingale sang but at night;
Or if thou needst must cease, then let my lips
Touch the sweet lips that can such music make.

DUCHESS

To touch my lips is not to touch my heart.

GUIDO

Do you close that against me?

DUCHESS

Alas! my lord,
I have it not: the first day that I saw you
I let you take my heart away from me;
Unwilling thief, that without meaning it
Did break into my fenced treasury
And filch my jewel from it! O strange theft,
Which made you richer though you knew it not,
And left me poorer, and yet glad of it!

GUIDO

[clasping her in his arms]
O love, love, love! Nay, sweet, lift up your head,
Let me unlock those little scarlet doors
That shut in music, let me dive for coral
In your red lips, and I'll bear back a prize
Richer than all the gold the Gryphon guards
In rude Armenia.

DUCHESS

You are my lord,
And what I have is yours, and what I have not
Your fancy lends me, like a prodigal
Spending its wealth on what is nothing worth.
[Kisses him.]

GUIDO

Methinks I am bold to look upon you thus:
The gentle violet hides beneath its leaf
And is afraid to look at the great sun
For fear of too much splendour, but my eyes,
O daring eyes! are grown so venturous
That like fixed stars they stand, gazing at you,
And surfeit sense with beauty.

DUCHESS

Dear love, I would
You could look upon me ever, for your eyes
Are polished mirrors, and when I peer
Into those mirrors I can see myself,
And so I know my image lives in you.

GUIDO

[taking her in his arms]
Stand still, thou hurrying orb in the high heavens,
And make this hour immortal! [A pause.]

DUCHESS

Sit down here,
A little lower than me: yes, just so, sweet,
That I may run my fingers through your hair,
And see your face turn upwards like a flower
To meet my kiss.
Have you not sometimes noted,
When we unlock some long-disused room
With heavy dust and soiling mildew filled,
Where never foot of man has come for years,
And from the windows take the rusty bar,
And fling the broken shutters to the air,
And let the bright sun in, how the good sun
Turns every grimy particle of dust
Into a little thing of dancing gold?
Guido, my heart is that long-empty room,
But you have let love in, and with its gold
Gilded all life. Do you not think that love
Fills up the sum of life?

GUIDO

Ay! without love
Life is no better than the unhewn stone
Which in the quarry lies, before the sculptor
Has set the God within it. Without love
Life is as silent as the common reeds
That through the marshes or by rivers grow,
And have no music in them.

DUCHESS

Yet out of these
The singer, who is Love, will make a pipe
And from them he draws music; so I think
Love will bring music out of any life.
Is that not true?

GUIDO

Sweet, women make it true.
There are men who paint pictures, and carve statues,
Paul of Verona and the dyer's son,
Or their great rival, who, by the sea at Venice,
Has set God's little maid upon the stair,
White as her own white lily, and as tall,
Or Raphael, whose Madonnas are divine
Because they are mothers merely; yet I think
Women are the best artists of the world,
For they can take the common lives of men
Soiled with the money-getting of our age,
And with love make them beautiful.

DUCHESS

Ah, dear,
I wish that you and I were very poor;
The poor, who love each other, are so rich.

GUIDO

Tell me again you love me, Beatrice.

DUCHESS

[fingering his collar]
How well this collar lies about your throat.
[LORD MORANZONE looks through the door from the corridor outside.]

GUIDO

Nay, tell me that you love me.

DUCHESS

I remember,
That when I was a child in my dear France,
Being at Court at Fontainebleau, the King
Wore such a collar.

GUIDO

Will you not say you love me?

DUCHESS

[smiling]
He was a very royal man, King Francis,
Yet he was not royal as you are.
Why need I tell you, Guido, that I love you?
[Takes his head in her hands and turns his face up to her.]
Do you not know that I am yours for ever,
Body and soul?
[Kisses him, and then suddenly catches sight of MORANZONE and leaps
up.]
Oh, what is that? [MORANZONE disappears.]

GUIDO

What, love?

DUCHESS

Methought I saw a face with eyes of flame
Look at us through the doorway.

GUIDO

Nay, 'twas nothing:
The passing shadow of the man on guard.
[The DUCHESS still stands looking at the window.]
'Twas nothing, sweet.

DUCHESS

Ay! what can harm us now,
Who are in Love's hand? I do not think I'd care
Though the vile world should with its lackey Slander
Trample and tread upon my life; why should I?
They say the common field-flowers of the field
Have sweeter scent when they are trodden on
Than when they bloom alone, and that some herbs
Which have no perfume, on being bruised die
With all Arabia round them; so it is
With the young lives this dull world seeks to crush,
It does but bring the sweetness out of them,
And makes them lovelier often. And besides,
While we have love we have the best of life:
Is it not so?

GUIDO

Dear, shall we play or sing?
I think that I could sing now.

DUCHESS

Do not speak,
For there are times when all existences
Seem narrowed to one single ecstasy,
And Passion sets a seal upon the lips.

GUIDO

Oh, with mine own lips let me break that seal!
You love me, Beatrice?

DUCHESS

Ay! is it not strange
I should so love mine enemy?

GUIDO

Who is he?

DUCHESS

Why, you: that with your shaft did pierce my heart!
Poor heart, that lived its little lonely life
Until it met your arrow.

GUIDO

Ah, dear love,
I am so wounded by that bolt myself
That with untended wounds I lie a-dying,
Unless you cure me, dear Physician.

DUCHESS

I would not have you cured; for I am sick
With the same malady.

GUIDO

Oh, how I love you!
See, I must steal the cuckoo's voice, and tell
The one tale over.

DUCHESS

Tell no other tale!
For, if that is the little cuckoo's song,
The nightingale is hoarse, and the loud lark
Has lost its music.

GUIDO

Kiss me, Beatrice!
[She takes his face in her hands and bends down and kisses him; a
loud knocking then comes at the door, and GUIDO leaps up; enter a
Servant.]

SERVANT

A package for you, sir.

GUIDO

[carelessly] Ah! give it to me. [Servant hands package wrapped in
vermilion silk, and exit; as GUIDO is about to open it the DUCHESS
comes up behind, and in sport takes it from him.]

DUCHESS

[laughing]
Now I will wager it is from some girl
Who would have you wear her favour; I am so jealous
I will not give up the least part in you,
But like a miser keep you to myself,
And spoil you perhaps in keeping.

GUIDO

It is nothing.

DUCHESS

Nay, it is from some girl.

GUIDO

You know 'tis not.

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