The Duchess of Padua

The Duchess of Padua  (1883) 
by Oscar Wilde

So far this is only Act I.


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.

Act I-The Market Place of PaduaEdit

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.


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.


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?


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.


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?


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?


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?


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!


ACT II ‐ Room in the Duke's PalaceEdit

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.


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 34 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 36 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 longdisused 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 38 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 40 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. DUCHESS [turns her back and opens it] Now, traitor, tell me what does this sign mean, A dagger with two leopards wrought in steel? GUIDO [taking it from her] O God! 42 DUCHESS I'll from the window look, and try If I can't see the porter's livery Who left it at the gate! I will not rest Till I have learned your secret. [Runs laughing into the corridor.] GUIDO Oh, horrible! Had I so soon forgot my father's death, Did I so soon let love into my heart, And must I banish love, and let in murder That beats and clamours at the outer gate? Ay, that I must! Have I not sworn an oath? Yet not to-night; nay, it must be to-night. Farewell then all the joy and light of life, All dear recorded memories, farewell, Farewell all love! Could I with bloody hands Fondle and paddle with her innocent hands? Could I with lips fresh from this butchery Play with her lips? Could I with murderous eyes Look in those violet eyes, whose purity Would strike men blind, and make each eyeball reel In night perpetual? No, murder has set A barrier between us far too high For us to kiss across it. DUCHESS Guido! GUIDO Beatrice, You must forget that name, and banish me Out of your life for ever. DUCHESS [going towards him] O dear love! GUIDO [stepping back] There lies a barrier between us two We dare not pass. DUCHESS I dare do anything So that you are beside me. GUIDO Ah! There it is, I cannot be beside you, cannot breathe The air you breathe; I cannot any more Stand face to face with beauty, which unnerves My shaking heart, and makes my desperate hand Fail of its purpose. Let me go hence, I pray; Forget you ever looked upon me. DUCHESS What! With your hot kisses fresh upon my lips Forget the vows of love you made to me? GUIDO I take them back. DUCHESS Alas, you cannot, Guido, For they are part of nature now; the air Is tremulous with their music, and outside The little birds sing sweeter for those vows. GUIDO There lies a barrier between us now, Which then I knew not, or I had forgot. DUCHESS There is no barrier, Guido; why, I will go In poor attire, and will follow you Over the world. GUIDO [wildly] The world's not wide enough To hold us two! Farewell, farewell for ever. DUCHESS [calm, and controlling her passion] Why did you come into my life at all, then, Or in the desolate garden of my heart Sow that white flower of love -? GUIDO O Beatrice! DUCHESS 44 Which now you would dig up, uproot, tear out, Though each small fibre doth so hold my heart That if you break one, my heart breaks with it? Why did you come into my life? Why open The secret wells of love I had sealed up? Why did you open them -? GUIDO O God! DUCHESS [clenching her hand] And let The floodgates of my passion swell and burst Till, like the wave when rivers overflow That sweeps the forest and the farm away, Love in the splendid avalanche of its might Swept my life with it? Must I drop by drop Gather these waters back and seal them up? Alas! Each drop will be a tear, and so Will with its saltness make life very bitter. GUIDO I pray you speak no more, for I must go Forth from your life and love, and make a way On which you cannot follow. DUCHESS I have heard That sailors dying of thirst upon a raft, Poor castaways upon a lonely sea, Dream of green fields and pleasant water-courses, And then wake up with red thirst in their throats, And die more miserably because sleep Has cheated them: so they die cursing sleep For having sent them dreams: I will not curse you Though I am cast away upon the sea Which men call Desolation. GUIDO O God, God! DUCHESS But you will stay: listen, I love you, Guido. [She waits a little.] Is echo dead, that when I say I love you There is no answer? GUIDO Everything is dead, Save one thing only, which shall die to-night! DUCHESS If you are going, touch me not, but go. [Exit GUIDO.] Barrier! Barrier! Why did he say there was a barrier? There is no barrier between us two. He lied to me, and shall I for that reason Loathe what I love, and what I worshipped, hate? I think we women do not love like that. For if I cut his image from my heart, My heart would, like a bleeding pilgrim, follow That image through the world, and call it back With little cries of love. [Enter DUKE equipped for the chase, with falconers and hounds.] DUKE Madam, you keep us waiting; You keep my dogs waiting. DUCHESS I will not ride to-day. DUKE How now, what's this? DUCHESS My Lord, I cannot go. DUKE What, pale face, do you dare to stand against me? Why, I could set you on a sorry jade And lead you through the town, till the low rabble You feed toss up their hats and mock at you. DUCHESS Have you no word of kindness ever for me? DUKE I hold you in the hollow of my hand And have no need on you to waste kind words. 46 DUCHESS Well, I will go. DUKE [slapping his boot with his whip] No, I have changed my mind, You will stay here, and like a faithful wife Watch from the window for our coming back. Were it not dreadful if some accident By chance should happen to your loving Lord? Come, gentlemen, my hounds begin to chafe, And I chafe too, having a patient wife. Where is young Guido? MAFFIO My liege, I have not seen him For a full hour past. DUKE It matters not, I dare say I shall see him soon enough. Well, Madam, you will sit at home and spin. I do protest, sirs, the domestic virtues Are often very beautiful in others. [Exit DUKE with his Court.] DUCHESS The stars have fought against me, that is all, And thus to-night when my Lord lieth asleep, Will I fall upon my dagger, and so cease. My heart is such a stone nothing can reach it Except the dagger's edge: let it go there, To find what name it carries: ay! to-night Death will divorce the Duke; and yet tonight He may die also, he is very old. Why should he not die? Yesterday his hand Shook with a palsy: men have died from palsy, And why not he? Are there not fevers also, Agues and chills, and other maladies Most incident to old age? No, no, he will not die, he is too sinful; Honest men die before their proper time. Good men will die: men by whose side the Duke In all the sick pollution of his life Seems like a leper: women and children die, But the Duke will not die, he is too sinful. Oh, can it be There is some immortality in sin, Which virtue has not? And does the wicked man Draw life from what to other men were death, Like poisonous plants that on corruption live? No, no, I think God would not suffer that: Yet the Duke will not die: he is too sinful. But I will die alone, and on this night Grim Death shall be my bridegroom, and the tomb My secret house of pleasure: well, what of that? The world's a graveyard, and we each, like coffins, Within us bear a skeleton. [Enter LORD MORANZONE all in black; he passes across the back of the stage looking anxiously about.] MORANZONE Where is Guido? I cannot find him anywhere. DUCHESS [catches sight of him] O God! 'Twas thou who took my love away from me. MORANZONE [with a look of joy] What, has he left you? DUCHESS Nay, you know he has. Oh, give him back to me, give him back, I say, Or I will tear your body limb from limb, And to the common gibbet nail your head Until the carrion crows have stripped it bare. Better you had crossed a hungry lioness Before you came between me and my love. [With more pathos.] Nay, give him back, you know not how I love him. Here by this chair he knelt a half hour since; 'Twas there he stood, and there he looked at me; This is the hand he kissed, and these the ears Into whose open portals he did pour A tale of love so musical that all The birds stopped singing! Oh, give him back to me. MORANZONE He does not love you, Madam. DUCHESS May the plague Wither the tongue that says so! Give him back. MORANZONE Madam, I tell you you will never see him, Neither to-night, nor any other night. DUCHESS What is your name? 48 MORANZONE My name? Revenge! [Exit.] DUCHESS Revenge! I think I never harmed a little child. What should Revenge do coming to my door? It matters not, for Death is there already, Waiting with his dim torch to light my way. 'Tis true men hate thee, Death, and yet I think Thou wilt be kinder to me than my lover, And so dispatch the messengers at once, Harry the lazy steeds of lingering day, And let the night, thy sister, come instead, And drape the world in mourning; let the owl, Who is thy minister, scream from his tower And wake the toad with hooting, and the bat, That is the slave of dim Persephone, Wheel through the sombre air on wandering wing! Tear up the shrieking mandrakes from the earth And bid them make us music, and tell the mole To dig deep down thy cold and narrow bed, For I shall lie within thine arms to-night. END OF ACT II

ACT III - Corridor in the Duke's PalaceEdit

SCENE A large corridor in the Ducal Palace: a window (L.C.) looks out on a view of Padua by moonlight: a staircase (R.C.) leads up to a door with a portiere of crimson velvet, with the Duke's arms embroidered in gold on it: on the lowest step of the staircase a figure draped in black is sitting: the hall is lit by an iron cresset filled with burning tow: thunder and lightning outside: the time is night. [Enter GUIDO through the window.] GUIDO The wind is rising: how my ladder shook! I thought that every gust would break the cords! [Looks out at the city.] Christ! What a night: Great thunder in the heavens, and wild lightnings Striking from pinnacle to pinnacle Across the city, till the dim houses seem To shudder and to shake as each new glare Dashes adown the street. [Passes across the stage to foot of staircase.] Ah! who art thou That sittest on the stair, like unto Death Waiting a guilty soul? [A pause.] Canst thou not speak? Or has this storm laid palsy on thy tongue, And chilled thy utterance? [The figure rises and takes off his mask.] MORANZONE Guido Ferranti, Thy murdered father laughs for joy to-night. GUIDO [confusedly] What, art thou here? MORANZONE Ay, waiting for your coming.

GUIDO [looking away from him] I did not think to see you, but am glad, That you may know the thing I mean to do. MORANZONE First, I would have you know my well-laid plans; Listen: I have set horses at the gate Which leads to Parma: when you have done your business We will ride hence, and by to-morrow night - GUIDO It cannot be. MORANZONE Nay, but it shall. GUIDO Listen, Lord Moranzone, I am resolved not to kill this man. MORANZONE Surely my ears are traitors, speak again: It cannot be but age has dulled my powers, I am an old man now: what did you say? You said that with that dagger in your belt You would avenge your father's bloody murder; Did you not say that? GUIDO No, my lord, I said I was resolved not to kill the Duke. MORANZONE You said not that; it is my senses mock me; Or else this midnight air o'ercharged with storm Alters your message in the giving it. GUIDO Nay, you heard rightly; I'll not kill this man. MORANZONE What of thine oath, thou traitor, what of thine oath? GUIDO I am resolved not to keep that oath. MORANZONE What of thy murdered father? GUIDO Dost thou think My father would be glad to see me coming, This old man's blood still hot upon mine hands? MORANZONE Ay! he would laugh for joy. GUIDO I do not think so, There is better knowledge in the other world; Vengeance is God's, let God himself revenge. MORANZONE Thou art God's minister of vengeance. GUIDO No! God hath no minister but his own hand. I will not kill this man. MORANZONE Why are you here, If not to kill him, then? GUIDO Lord Moranzone, I purpose to ascend to the Duke's chamber, And as he lies asleep lay on his breast The dagger and this writing; when he awakes Then he will know who held him in his power And slew him not: this is the 52 noblest vengeance Which I can take. MORANZONE You will not slay him? GUIDO No. MORANZONE Ignoble son of a noble father, Who sufferest this man who sold that father To live an hour. GUIDO 'Twas thou that hindered me; I would have killed him in the open square, The day I saw him first. MORANZONE It was not yet time; Now it is time, and, like some green-faced girl, Thou pratest of forgiveness. GUIDO No! revenge: The right revenge my father's son should take. MORANZONE You are a coward, Take out the knife, get to the Duke's chamber, And bring me back his heart upon the blade. When he is dead, then you can talk to me Of noble vengeances. GUIDO Upon thine honour, And by the love thou bearest my father's name, Dost thou think my father, that great gentleman, That generous soldier, that most chivalrous lord, Would have crept at night-time, like a common thief, And stabbed an old man sleeping in his bed, However he had wronged him: tell me that. MORANZONE [after some hesitation] You have sworn an oath, see that you keep that oath. Boy, do you think I do not know your secret, Your traffic with the Duchess? GUIDO Silence, liar! The very moon in heaven is not more chaste. Nor the white stars so pure. MORANZONE And yet, you love her; Weak fool, to let love in upon your life, Save as a plaything. GUIDO You do well to talk: Within your veins, old man, the pulse of youth Throbs with no ardour. Your eyes full of rheum Have against Beauty closed their filmy doors, And your clogged ears, losing their natural sense, Have shut you from the music of the world. You talk of love! You know not what it is. MORANZONE Oh, in my time, boy, have I walked i' the moon, Swore I would live on kisses and on blisses, Swore I would die for love, and did not die, Wrote love bad verses; ay, and sung them badly, Like all true lovers: Oh, I have done the tricks! I know the partings and the chamberings; We are all animals at best, and love Is merely passion with a holy name. GUIDO Now then I know you have not loved at all. Love is the sacrament of life; it sets Virtue where virtue was not; cleanses men Of all the vile pollutions of this world; It is the fire which purges gold from dross, It is the fan which winnows wheat from chaff, It is the spring which in some wintry soil Makes innocence to blossom like a rose. The days are over when God walked with men, But Love, which is his image, holds his place. When a man loves a woman, then he knows God's secret, and the secret of the world. There is no house so lowly or so mean, Which, if their hearts be pure who live in it, Love will not enter; but if bloody murder Knock at the Palace gate and is let in, Love like a wounded thing creeps out and dies. This is the punishment God sets on sin. The wicked cannot love. [A groan comes from the DUKE's 54 chamber.] Ah! What is that? Do you not hear? 'Twas nothing. So I think That it is woman's mission by their love To save the souls of men: and loving her, My Lady, my white Beatrice, I begin To see a nobler and a holier vengeance In letting this man live, than doth reside In bloody deeds o' night, stabs in the dark, And young hands clutching at a palsied throat. It was, I think, for love's sake that Lord Christ, Who was indeed himself incarnate Love, Bade every man forgive his enemy. MORANZONE [sneeringly] That was in Palestine, not Padua; And said for saints: I have to do with men. GUIDO It was for all time said. MORANZONE And your white Duchess, What will she do to thank you? GUIDO Alas, I will not see her face again. 'Tis but twelve hours since I parted from her, So suddenly, and with such violent passion, That she has shut her heart against me now: No, I will never see her. MORANZONE What will you do? GUIDO After that I have laid the dagger there, Get hence to-night from Padua. MORANZONE And then? GUIDO: I will take service with the Doge at Venice, And bid him pack me straightway to the wars, And there I will, being now sick of life, Throw that poor life