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Title: The Duchess of Padua
Author: Wilde, Oscar
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Duchess of Padua" ***

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Transcribed from the 1916 Methuen and Co. edition by David Price, email
ccx074@pglaf.org



                                   THE
                             DUCHESS OF PADUA


                                  A PLAY

                                    BY
                               OSCAR WILDE

                                * * * * *

                            METHUEN & CO. LTD.
                           36 ESSEX STREET W.C.
                                  LONDON

                             _Fifth Edition_



THE PERSONS OF THE PLAY


Simone Gesso, Duke of Padua

Beatrice, his Wife

Andreas Pollajuolo, Cardinal of Padua

Maffio Petrucci, Jeppo Vitellozzo, Taddeo Bardi } Gentlemen of the Duke’s
Household

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_



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_).

         _Style of Architecture_: Italian, Gothic and Romanesque.



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.]

   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-disuséd 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 bruiséd 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.

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!

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

   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.

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 to-night
   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?

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


                                  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 portière 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 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 _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 against some desperate spear.

                              [_A groan from the_ DUKE’S _chamber again_.]

   Did you not hear a voice?

MORANZONE

   I always hear,
   From the dim confines of some sepulchre,
   A voice that cries for vengeance.  We waste time,
   It will be morning soon; are you resolved
   You will not kill the Duke?

GUIDO

   I am resolved.

MORANZONE

   O wretched father, lying unavenged.

GUIDO

   More wretched, were thy son a murderer.

MORANZONE

   Why, what is life?

GUIDO

   I do not know, my lord,
   I did not give it, and I dare not take it.

MORANZONE

   I do not thank God often; but I think
   I thank him now that I have got no son!
   And you, what bastard blood flows in your veins
   That when you have your enemy in your grasp
   You let him go!  I would that I had left you
   With the dull hinds that reared you.

GUIDO

   Better perhaps
   That you had done so!  May be better still
   I’d not been born to this distressful world.

MORANZONE

   Farewell!

GUIDO

   Farewell!  Some day, Lord Moranzone,
   You will understand my vengeance.

MORANZONE

   Never, boy.

                           [_Gets out of window and exit by rope ladder_.]

GUIDO

   Father, I think thou knowest my resolve,
   And with this nobler vengeance art content.
   Father, I think in letting this man live
   That I am doing what thou wouldst have done.
   Father, I know not if a human voice
   Can pierce the iron gateway of the dead,
   Or if the dead are set in ignorance
   Of what we do, or do not, for their sakes.
   And yet I feel a presence in the air,
   There is a shadow standing at my side,
   And ghostly kisses seem to touch my lips,
   And leave them holier.  [_Kneels down_.]
   O father, if ’tis thou,
   Canst thou not burst through the decrees of death,
   And if corporeal semblance show thyself,
   That I may touch thy hand!
   No, there is nothing.  [_Rises_.]
   ’Tis the night that cheats us with its phantoms,
   And, like a puppet-master, makes us think
   That things are real which are not.  It grows late.
   Now must I to my business.

                     [_Pulls out a letter from his doublet and reads it_.]

   When he wakes,
   And sees this letter, and the dagger with it,
   Will he not have some loathing for his life,
   Repent, perchance, and lead a better life,
   Or will he mock because a young man spared
   His natural enemy?  I do not care.
   Father, it is thy bidding that I do,
   Thy bidding, and the bidding of my love
   Which teaches me to know thee as thou art.

[_Ascends staircase stealthily_, _and just as he reaches out his hand to
draw back the curtain the Duchess appears all in white_.  GUIDO _starts
back_.]

DUCHESS

   Guido! what do you here so late?

GUIDO

   O white and spotless angel of my life,
   Sure thou hast come from Heaven with a message
   That mercy is more noble than revenge?

DUCHESS

   There is no barrier between us now.

GUIDO

   None, love, nor shall be.

DUCHESS

   I have seen to that.

GUIDO

   Tarry here for me.

DUCHESS

   No, you are not going?
   You will not leave me as you did before?

GUIDO

   I will return within a moment’s space,
   But first I must repair to the Duke’s chamber,
   And leave this letter and this dagger there,
   That when he wakes—

DUCHESS

   When who wakes?

GUIDO

   Why, the Duke.

DUCHESS

   He will not wake again.

GUIDO

   What, is he dead?

DUCHESS

   Ay! he is dead.

GUIDO

   O God! how wonderful
   Are all thy secret ways!  Who would have said
   That on this very night, when I had yielded
   Into thy hands the vengeance that is thine,
   Thou with thy finger wouldst have touched the man,
   And bade him come before thy judgment seat.

DUCHESS

   I have just killed him.

GUIDO [_in horror_]

   Oh!

DUCHESS

   He was asleep;
   Come closer, love, and I will tell you all.
   I had resolved to kill myself to-night.
   About an hour ago I waked from sleep,
   And took my dagger from beneath my pillow,
   Where I had hidden it to serve my need,
   And drew it from the sheath, and felt the edge,
   And thought of you, and how I loved you, Guido,
   And turned to fall upon it, when I marked
   The old man sleeping, full of years and sin;
   There lay he muttering curses in his sleep,
   And as I looked upon his evil face
   Suddenly like a flame there flashed across me,
   There is the barrier which Guido spoke of:
   You said there lay a barrier between us,
   What barrier but he?—
   I hardly know
   What happened, but a steaming mist of blood
   Rose up between us two.

GUIDO

   Oh, horrible!

DUCHESS

   And then he groaned,
   And then he groaned no more!  I only heard
   The dripping of the blood upon the floor.

GUIDO

   Enough, enough.

DUCHESS

   Will you not kiss me now?
   Do you remember saying that women’s love
   Turns men to angels? well, the love of man
   Turns women into martyrs; for its sake
   We do or suffer anything.

GUIDO

   O God!

DUCHESS

   Will you not speak?

GUIDO

   I cannot speak at all.

DUCHESS

   Let as not talk of this!  Let us go hence:
   Is not the barrier broken down between us?
   What would you more?  Come, it is almost morning.

                                             [_Puts her hand on_ GUIDO’S.]

GUIDO [_breaking from her_]

   O damned saint!  O angel fresh from Hell!
   What bloody devil tempted thee to this!
   That thou hast killed thy husband, that is nothing—
   Hell was already gaping for his soul—
   But thou hast murdered Love, and in its place
   Hast set a horrible and bloodstained thing,
   Whose very breath breeds pestilence and plague,
   And strangles Love.

DUCHESS [_in amazed wonder_]

   I did it all for you.
   I would not have you do it, had you willed it,
   For I would keep you without blot or stain,
   A thing unblemished, unassailed, untarnished.
   Men do not know what women do for love.
   Have I not wrecked my soul for your dear sake,
   Here and hereafter?

GUIDO

   No, do not touch me,
   Between us lies a thin red stream of blood;
   I dare not look across it: when you stabbed him
   You stabbed Love with a sharp knife to the heart.
   We cannot meet again.

DUCHESS [_wringing her hands_]

   For you!  For you!
   I did it all for you: have you forgotten?
   You said there was a barrier between us;
   That barrier lies now i’ the upper chamber
   Upset, overthrown, beaten, and battered down,
   And will not part us ever.

GUIDO

   No, you mistook:
   Sin was the barrier, you have raised it up;
   Crime was the barrier, you have set it there.
   The barrier was murder, and your hand
   Has builded it so high it shuts out heaven,
   It shuts out God.

DUCHESS

   I did it all for you;
   You dare not leave me now: nay, Guido, listen.
   Get horses ready, we will fly to-night.
   The past is a bad dream, we will forget it:
   Before us lies the future: shall we not have
   Sweet days of love beneath our vines and laugh?—
   No, no, we will not laugh, but, when we weep,
   Well, we will weep together; I will serve you;
   I will be very meek and very gentle:
   You do not know me.

GUIDO

   Nay, I know you now;
   Get hence, I say, out of my sight.

DUCHESS [_pacing up and down_]

   O God,
   How I have loved this man!

GUIDO

   You never loved me.
   Had it been so, Love would have stayed your hand.
   How could we sit together at Love’s table?
   You have poured poison in the sacred wine,
   And Murder dips his fingers in the sop.

DUCHESS [_throws herself on her knees_]

   Then slay me now!  I have spilt blood to-night,
   You shall spill more, so we go hand in hand
   To heaven or to hell.  Draw your sword, Guido.
   Quick, let your soul go chambering in my heart,
   It will but find its master’s image there.
   Nay, if you will not slay me with your sword,
   Bid me to fall upon this reeking knife,
   And I will do it.

GUIDO [_wresting knife from her_]

   Give it to me, I say.
   O God, your very hands are wet with blood!
   This place is Hell, I cannot tarry here.
   I pray you let me see your face no more.

DUCHESS

   Better for me I had not seen your face.

                  [GUIDO _recoils_: _she seizes his hands as she kneels_.]

   Nay, Guido, listen for a while:
   Until you came to Padua I lived
   Wretched indeed, but with no murderous thought,
   Very submissive to a cruel Lord,
   Very obedient to unjust commands,
   As pure I think as any gentle girl
   Who now would turn in horror from my hands—

                                                            [_Stands up_.]

   You came: ah!  Guido, the first kindly words
   I ever heard since I had come from France
   Were from your lips: well, well, that is no matter.
   You came, and in the passion of your eyes
   I read love’s meaning; everything you said
   Touched my dumb soul to music, so I loved you.
   And yet I did not tell you of my love.
   ’Twas you who sought me out, knelt at my feet
   As I kneel now at yours, and with sweet vows,

                                                               [_Kneels_.]

   Whose music seems to linger in my ears,
   Swore that you loved me, and I trusted you.
   I think there are many women in the world
   Who would have tempted you to kill the man.
   I did not.
   Yet I know that had I done so,
   I had not been thus humbled in the dust,

                                                            [_Stands up_.]

   But you had loved me very faithfully.

                                 [_After a pause approaches him timidly_.]

   I do not think you understand me, Guido:
   It was for your sake that I wrought this deed
   Whose horror now chills my young blood to ice,
   For your sake only.  [_Stretching out her arm_.]
   Will you not speak to me?
   Love me a little: in my girlish life
   I have been starved for love, and kindliness
   Has passed me by.

GUIDO

   I dare not look at you:
   You come to me with too pronounced a favour;
   Get to your tirewomen.

DUCHESS

   Ay, there it is!
   There speaks the man! yet had you come to me
   With any heavy sin upon your soul,
   Some murder done for hire, not for love,
   Why, I had sat and watched at your bedside
   All through the night-time, lest Remorse might come
   And pour his poisons in your ear, and so
   Keep you from sleeping!  Sure it is the guilty,
   Who, being very wretched, need love most.

GUIDO

   There is no love where there is any guilt.

DUCHESS

   No love where there is any guilt!  O God,
   How differently do we love from men!
   There is many a woman here in Padua,
   Some workman’s wife, or ruder artisan’s,
   Whose husband spends the wages of the week
   In a coarse revel, or a tavern brawl,
   And reeling home late on the Saturday night,
   Finds his wife sitting by a fireless hearth,
   Trying to hush the child who cries for hunger,
   And then sets to and beats his wife because
   The child is hungry, and the fire black.
   Yet the wife loves him! and will rise next day
   With some red bruise across a careworn face,
   And sweep the house, and do the common service,
   And try and smile, and only be too glad
   If he does not beat her a second time
   Before her child!—that is how women love.

                                        [_A pause_: GUIDO _says nothing_.]

   I think you will not drive me from your side.
   Where have I got to go if you reject me?—
   You for whose sake this hand has murdered life,
   You for whose sake my soul has wrecked itself
   Beyond all hope of pardon.

GUIDO

   Get thee gone:
   The dead man is a ghost, and our love too,
   Flits like a ghost about its desolate tomb,
   And wanders through this charnel house, and weeps
   That when you slew your lord you slew it also.
   Do you not see?

DUCHESS

   I see when men love women
   They give them but a little of their lives,
   But women when they love give everything;
   I see that, Guido, now.

GUIDO

   Away, away,
   And come not back till you have waked your dead.

DUCHESS

   I would to God that I could wake the dead,
   Put vision in the glazéd eves, and give
   The tongue its natural utterance, and bid
   The heart to beat again: that cannot be:
   For what is done, is done: and what is dead
   Is dead for ever: the fire cannot warm him:
   The winter cannot hurt him with its snows;
   Something has gone from him; if you call him now,
   He will not answer; if you mock him now,
   He will not laugh; and if you stab him now
   He will not bleed.
   I would that I could wake him!
   O God, put back the sun a little space,
   And from the roll of time blot out to-night,
   And bid it not have been!  Put back the sun,
   And make me what I was an hour ago!
   No, no, time will not stop for anything,
   Nor the sun stay its courses, though Repentance
   Calling it back grow hoarse; but you, my love,
   Have you no word of pity even for me?
   O Guido, Guido, will you not kiss me once?
   Drive me not to some desperate resolve:
   Women grow mad when they are treated thus:
   Will you not kiss me once?

GUIDO [_holding up knife_]

   I will not kiss you
   Until the blood grows dry upon this knife,
   [_Wildly_]  Back to your dead!

DUCHESS [_going up the stairs_]

   Why, then I will be gone! and may you find
   More mercy than you showed to me to-night!

GUIDO

   Let me find mercy when I go at night
   And do foul murder.

DUCHESS [_coming down a few steps_.]

   Murder did you say?
   Murder is hungry, and still cries for more,
   And Death, his brother, is not satisfied,
   But walks the house, and will not go away,
   Unless he has a comrade!  Tarry, Death,
   For I will give thee a most faithful lackey
   To travel with thee!  Murder, call no more,
   For thou shalt eat thy fill.
   There is a storm
   Will break upon this house before the morning,
   So horrible, that the white moon already
   Turns grey and sick with terror, the low wind
   Goes moaning round the house, and the high stars
   Run madly through the vaulted firmament,
   As though the night wept tears of liquid fire
   For what the day shall look upon.  Oh, weep,
   Thou lamentable heaven!  Weep thy fill!
   Though sorrow like a cataract drench the fields,
   And make the earth one bitter lake of tears,
   It would not be enough.  [_A peal of thunder_.]
   Do you not hear,
   There is artillery in the Heaven to-night.
   Vengeance is wakened up, and has unloosed
   His dogs upon the world, and in this matter
   Which lies between us two, let him who draws
   The thunder on his head beware the ruin
   Which the forked flame brings after.

         [_A flash of lightning followed by a peal of thunder_.]

GUIDO

   Away! away!

[_Exit the_ DUCHESS, _who as she lifts the crimson curtain looks back for
a moment at_ GUIDO, _but he makes no sign_.  _More thunder_.]

   Now is life fallen in ashes at my feet
   And noble love self-slain; and in its place
   Crept murder with its silent bloody feet.
   And she who wrought it—Oh! and yet she loved me,
   And for my sake did do this dreadful thing.
   I have been cruel to her: Beatrice!
   Beatrice, I say, come back.

  [_Begins to ascend staircase_, _when the noise of Soldiers is heard_.]

   Ah! what is that?
   Torches ablaze, and noise of hurrying feet.
   Pray God they have not seized her.

                                                   [_Noise grows louder_.]

   Beatrice!
   There is yet time to escape.  Come down, come out!

                 [_The voice of the_ DUCHESS _outside_.]

   This way went he, the man who slew my lord.

[_Down the staircase comes hurrying a confused body of Soldiers_; GUIDO
_is not seen at first_, _till the_ DUCHESS _surrounded by Servants
carrying torches appears at the top of the staircase_, _and points to_
GUIDO, _who is seized at once_, _one of the Soldiers dragging the knife
from his hand and showing it to the Captain of the Guard in sight of the
audience_.  _Tableau_.]

                               END OF ACT III.

                                  * * * * *



ACT IV


                                  SCENE

_The Court of Justice_: _the walls are hung with stamped grey velvet_:
_above the hangings the wall is red_, _and gilt symbolical figures bear
up the roof_, _which is made of red beams with grey soffits and
moulding_: _a canopy of white satin flowered with gold is set for the
Duchess_: _below it a long bench with red cloth for the Judges_: _below
that a table for the clerks of the court.  Two soldiers stand on each
side of the canopy_, _and two soldiers guard the door_; _the citizens
have some of them collected in the Court_; _others are coming in greeting
one another_; _two tipstaffs in violet keep order with long white wands_.

FIRST CITIZEN

   Good morrow, neighbour Anthony.

SECOND CITIZEN

   Good morrow, neighbour Dominick.

FIRST CITIZEN

   This is a strange day for Padua, is it not?—the Duke being dead.

SECOND CITIZEN

   I tell you, neighbour Dominick, I have not known such a day since the
   last Duke died.

FIRST CITIZEN

   They will try him first, and sentence him afterwards, will they not,
   neighbour Anthony?

SECOND CITIZEN

   Nay, for he might ’scape his punishment then; but they will condemn
   him first so that he gets his deserts, and give him trial afterwards
   so that no injustice is done.

FIRST CITIZEN

   Well, well, it will go hard with him I doubt not.

SECOND CITIZEN

   Surely it is a grievous thing to shed a Duke’s blood.

THIRD CITIZEN

   They say a Duke has blue blood.

SECOND CITIZEN

   I think our Duke’s blood was black like his soul.

FIRST CITIZEN

   Have a watch, neighbour Anthony, the officer is looking at thee.

SECOND CITIZEN

   I care not if he does but look at me; he cannot whip me with the
   lashes of his eye.

THIRD CITIZEN

   What think you of this young man who stuck the knife into the Duke?

SECOND CITIZEN

   Why, that he is a well-behaved, and a well-meaning, and a
   well-favoured lad, and yet wicked in that he killed the Duke.

THIRD CITIZEN

   ’Twas the first time he did it: may be the law will not be hard on
   him, as he did not do it before.

SECOND CITIZEN

   True.

TIPSTAFF

   Silence, knave.

SECOND CITIZEN

   Am I thy looking-glass, Master Tipstaff, that thou callest me knave?

FIRST CITIZEN

   Here be one of the household coming.  Well, Dame Lucy, thou art of the
   Court, how does thy poor mistress the Duchess, with her sweet face?

MISTRESS LUCY

   O well-a-day!  O miserable day!  O day!  O misery!  Why it is just
   nineteen years last June, at Michaelmas, since I was married to my
   husband, and it is August now, and here is the Duke murdered; there is
   a coincidence for you!

SECOND CITIZEN

   Why, if it is a coincidence, they may not kill the young man: there is
   no law against coincidences.

FIRST CITIZEN

   But how does the Duchess?

MISTRESS LUCY

   Well well, I knew some harm would happen to the house: six weeks ago
   the cakes were all burned on one side, and last Saint Martin even as
   ever was, there flew into the candle a big moth that had wings, and
   a’most scared me.

FIRST CITIZEN

   But come to the Duchess, good gossip: what of her?

MISTRESS LUCY

   Marry, it is time you should ask after her, poor lady; she is
   distraught almost.  Why, she has not slept, but paced the chamber all
   night long.  I prayed her to have a posset, or some aqua-vitæ, and to
   get to bed and sleep a little for her health’s sake, but she answered
   me she was afraid she might dream.  That was a strange answer, was it
   not?

SECOND CITIZEN

   These great folk have not much sense, so Providence makes it up to
   them in fine clothes.

MISTRESS LUCY

   Well, well, God keep murder from us, I say, as long as we are alive.

                                     [_Enter_ LORD MORANZONE _hurriedly_.]

MORANZONE

   Is the Duke dead?

SECOND CITIZEN

   He has a knife in his heart, which they say is not healthy for any
   man.

MORANZONE

   Who is accused of having killed him?

SECOND CITIZEN

   Why, the prisoner, sir.

MORANZONE

   But who is the prisoner?

SECOND CITIZEN

   Why, he that is accused of the Duke’s murder.

MORANZONE

   I mean, what is his name?

SECOND CITIZEN

   Faith, the same which his godfathers gave him: what else should it be?

TIPSTAFF

   Guido Ferranti is his name, my lord.

MORANZONE

   I almost knew thine answer ere you gave it.

                                                                [_Aside_.]

   Yet it is strange he should have killed the Duke,
   Seeing he left me in such different mood.
   It is most likely when he saw the man,
   This devil who had sold his father’s life,
   That passion from their seat within his heart
   Thrust all his boyish theories of love,
   And in their place set vengeance; yet I marvel
   That he escaped not.

                                           [_Turning again to the crowd_.]

   How was he taken?  Tell me.

THIRD CITIZEN

   Marry, sir, he was taken by the heels.

MORANZONE

   But who seized him?

THIRD CITIZEN

   Why, those that did lay hold of him.

MORANZONE

   How was the alarm given?

THIRD CITIZEN

   That I cannot tell you, sir.

MISTRESS LUCY

   It was the Duchess herself who pointed him out.

MORANZONE [_aside_]

   The Duchess!  There is something strange in this.

MISTRESS LUCY

   Ay! And the dagger was in his hand—the Duchess’s own dagger.

MORANZONE

   What did you say?

MISTRESS LUCY

   Why, marry, that it was with the Duchess’s dagger that the Duke was
   killed.

MORANZONE [_aside_]

   There is some mystery about this: I cannot understand it.

SECOND CITIZEN

   They be very long a-coming,

FIRST CITIZEN

   I warrant they will come soon enough for the prisoner.

TIPSTAFF

   Silence in the Court!

FIRST CITIZEN

   Thou dost break silence in bidding us keep it, Master Tipstaff.

                        [_Enter the_ LORD JUSTICE _and the other Judges_.]

SECOND CITIZEN

   Who is he in scarlet?  Is he the headsman?

THIRD CITIZEN

   Nay, he is the Lord Justice.

                                                [_Enter_ GUIDO _guarded_.]

SECOND CITIZEN

   There be the prisoner surely.

THIRD CITIZEN

   He looks honest.

FIRST CITIZEN

   That be his villany: knaves nowadays do look so honest that honest
   folk are forced to look like knaves so as to be different.

                [_Enter the Headman_, _who takes his stand behind_ GUIDO.]

SECOND CITIZEN

   Yon be the headsman then!  O Lord!  Is the axe sharp, think you?

FIRST CITIZEN

   Ay! sharper than thy wits are; but the edge is not towards him, mark
   you.

SECOND CITIZEN [_scratching his neck_]

   I’ faith, I like it not so near.

FIRST CITIZEN

   Tut, thou need’st not be afraid; they never cut the heads of common
   folk: they do but hang us.

                                                     [_Trumpets outside_.]

THIRD CITIZEN

   What are the trumpets for?  Is the trial over?

FIRST CITIZEN

   Nay, ’tis for the Duchess.

[_Enter the_ DUCHESS _in black velvet_; _her train of flowered black
velvet is carried by two pages in violet_; _with her is the_ CARDINAL _in
scarlet_, _and the gentlemen of the Court in black_; _she takes her seat
on the throne above the Judges_, _who rise and take their caps off as she
enters_; _the_ CARDINAL _sits next to her a little lower_; _the Courtiers
group themselves about the throne_.]

SECOND CITIZEN

   O poor lady, how pale she is!  Will she sit there?

FIRST CITIZEN

   Ay! she is in the Duke’s place now.

SECOND CITIZEN

   That is a good thing for Padua; the Duchess is a very kind and
   merciful Duchess; why, she cured my child of the ague once.

THIRD CITIZEN

   Ay, and has given us bread: do not forget the bread.

A SOLDIER

   Stand back, good people.

SECOND CITIZEN

   If we be good, why should we stand back?

TIPSTAFF

   Silence in the Court!

LORD JUSTICE

   May it please your Grace,
   Is it your pleasure we proceed to trial
   Of the Duke’s murder?  [DUCHESS _bows_.]
   Set the prisoner forth.
   What is thy name?

GUIDO

   It matters not, my lord.

LORD JUSTICE

   Guido Ferranti is thy name in Padua.

GUIDO

   A man may die as well under that name as any other.

LORD JUSTICE

   Thou art not ignorant
   What dreadful charge men lay against thee here,
   Namely, the treacherous murder of thy Lord,
   Simone Gesso, Duke of Padua;
   What dost thou say in answer?

GUIDO

   I say nothing.

LORD JUSTICE [_rising_]

   Guido Ferranti—

MORANZONE [_stepping from the crowd_]

   Tarry, my Lord Justice.

LORD JUSTICE

   Who art thou that bid’st justice tarry, sir?

MORANZONE

   So be it justice it can go its way;
   But if it be not justice—

LORD JUSTICE

   Who is this?

COUNT BARDI

   A very noble gentleman, and well known
   To the late Duke.

LORD JUSTICE

   Sir, thou art come in time
   To see the murder of the Duke avenged.
   There stands the man who did this heinous thing.

MORANZONE

   My lord,
   I ask again what proof have ye?

LORD JUSTICE [_holding up the dagger_]

   This dagger,
   Which from his blood-stained hands, itself all blood,
   Last night the soldiers seized: what further proof
   Need we indeed?

MORANZONE [_takes the danger and approaches the_ DUCHESS]

   Saw I not such a dagger
   Hang from your Grace’s girdle yesterday?

             [_The_ DUCHESS _shudders and makes no answer_.]

   Ah! my Lord Justice, may I speak a moment
   With this young man, who in such peril stands?

LORD JUSTICE

   Ay, willingly, my lord, and may you turn him
   To make a full avowal of his guilt.

[LORD MORANZONE _goes over to_ GUIDO, _who stands R. and clutches him by
the hand_.]

MORANZONE [_in a low voice_]

   She did it!  Nay, I saw it in her eyes.
   Boy, dost thou think I’ll let thy father’s son
   Be by this woman butchered to his death?
   Her husband sold your father, and the wife
   Would sell the son in turn.

GUIDO

   Lord Moranzone,
   I alone did this thing: be satisfied,
   My father is avenged.

LORD JUSTICE

   Doth he confess?

GUIDO

   My lord, I do confess
   That foul unnatural murder has been done.

FIRST CITIZEN

   Why, look at that: he has a pitiful heart, and does not like murder;
   they will let him go for that.

LORD JUSTICE

   Say you no more?

GUIDO

   My lord, I say this also,
   That to spill human blood is deadly sin.

SECOND CITIZEN

   Marry, he should tell that to the headsman: ’tis a good sentiment.

GUIDO

   Lastly, my lord, I do entreat the Court
   To give me leave to utter openly
   The dreadful secret of this mystery,
   And to point out the very guilty one
   Who with this dagger last night slew the Duke.

LORD JUSTICE

   Thou hast leave to speak.

DUCHESS [_rising_]

   I say he shall not speak:
   What need have we of further evidence?
   Was he not taken in the house at night
   In Guilt’s own bloody livery?

LORD JUSTICE [_showing her the statute_]

   Your Grace
   Can read the law.

DUCHESS [_waiving book aside_]

   Bethink you, my Lord Justice,
   Is it not very like that such a one
   May, in the presence of the people here,
   Utter some slanderous word against my Lord,
   Against the city, or the city’s honour,
   Perchance against myself.

LORD JUSTICE

   My liege, the law.

DUCHESS

   He shall not speak, but, with gags in his mouth,
   Shall climb the ladder to the bloody block.

LORD JUSTICE

   The law, my liege.

DUCHESS

   We are not bound by law,
   But with it we bind others.

MORANZONE

   My Lord Justice,
   Thou wilt not suffer this injustice here.

LORD JUSTICE

   The Court needs not thy voice, Lord Moranzone.
   Madam, it were a precedent most evil
   To wrest the law from its appointed course,
   For, though the cause be just, yet anarchy
   Might on this licence touch these golden scales
   And unjust causes unjust victories gain.

COUNT BARDI

   I do not think your Grace can stay the law.

DUCHESS

   Ay, it is well to preach and prate of law:
   Methinks, my haughty lords of Padua,
   If ye are hurt in pocket or estate,
   So much as makes your monstrous revenues
   Less by the value of one ferry toll,
   Ye do not wait the tedious law’s delay
   With such sweet patience as ye counsel me.

COUNT BARDI

   Madam, I think you wrong our nobles here.

DUCHESS

   I think I wrong them not.  Which of you all
   Finding a thief within his house at night,
   With some poor chattel thrust into his rags,
   Will stop and parley with him? do ye not
   Give him unto the officer and his hook
   To be dragged gaolwards straightway?
   And so now,
   Had ye been men, finding this fellow here,
   With my Lord’s life still hot upon his hands,
   Ye would have haled him out into the court,
   And struck his head off with an axe.

GUIDO

   O God!

DUCHESS

   Speak, my Lord Justice.

LORD JUSTICE

   Your Grace, it cannot be:
   The laws of Padua are most certain here:
   And by those laws the common murderer even
   May with his own lips plead, and make defence.

DUCHESS

   This is no common murderer, Lord Justice,
   But a great outlaw, and a most vile traitor,
   Taken in open arms against the state.
   For he who slays the man who rules a state
   Slays the state also, widows every wife,
   And makes each child an orphan, and no less
   Is to be held a public enemy,
   Than if he came with mighty ordonnance,
   And all the spears of Venice at his back,
   To beat and batter at our city gates—
   Nay, is more dangerous to our commonwealth,
   For walls and gates, bastions and forts, and things
   Whose common elements are wood and stone
   May be raised up, but who can raise again
   The ruined body of my murdered lord,
   And bid it live and laugh?

MAFFIO

   Now by Saint Paul
   I do not think that they will let him speak.

JEPPO VITELLOZZO

   There is much in this, listen.

DUCHESS

   Wherefore now,
   Throw ashes on the head of Padua,
   With sable banners hang each silent street,
   Let every man be clad in solemn black;
   But ere we turn to these sad rites of mourning
   Let us bethink us of the desperate hand
   Which wrought and brought this ruin on our state,
   And straightway pack him to that narrow house,
   Where no voice is, but with a little dust
   Death fills right up the lying mouths of men.

GUIDO

   Unhand me, knaves!  I tell thee, my Lord Justice,
   Thou mightst as well bid the untrammelled ocean,
   The winter whirlwind, or the Alpine storm,
   Not roar their will, as bid me hold my peace!
   Ay! though ye put your knives into my throat,
   Each grim and gaping wound shall find a tongue,
   And cry against you.

LORD JUSTICE

   Sir, this violence
   Avails you nothing; for save the tribunal
   Give thee a lawful right to open speech,
   Naught that thou sayest can be credited.

     [_The_ DUCHESS _smiles and_ GUIDO _falls back with a gesture of
                                despair_.]

   Madam, myself, and these wise Justices,
   Will with your Grace’s sanction now retire
   Into another chamber, to decide
   Upon this difficult matter of the law,
   And search the statutes and the precedents.

DUCHESS

   Go, my Lord Justice, search the statutes well,
   Nor let this brawling traitor have his way.

MORANZONE

   Go, my Lord Justice, search thy conscience well,
   Nor let a man be sent to death unheard.

                               [_Exit the_ LORD JUSTICE _and the Judges_.]

DUCHESS

   Silence, thou evil genius of my life!
   Thou com’st between us two a second time;
   This time, my lord, I think the turn is mine.

GUIDO

   I shall not die till I have uttered voice.

DUCHESS

   Thou shalt die silent, and thy secret with thee.

GUIDO

   Art thou that Beatrice, Duchess of Padua?

DUCHESS

   I am what thou hast made me; look at me well,
   I am thy handiwork.

MAFFIO

   See, is she not
   Like that white tigress which we saw at Venice,
   Sent by some Indian soldan to the Doge?

JEPPO

   Hush! she may hear thy chatter.

HEADSMAN

   My young fellow,
   I do not know why thou shouldst care to speak,
   Seeing my axe is close upon thy neck,
   And words of thine will never blunt its edge.
   But if thou art so bent upon it, why
   Thou mightest plead unto the Churchman yonder:
   The common people call him kindly here,
   Indeed I know he has a kindly soul.

GUIDO

   This man, whose trade is death, hath courtesies
   More than the others.

HEADSMAN

   Why, God love you, sir,
   I’ll do you your last service on this earth.

GUIDO

   My good Lord Cardinal, in a Christian land,
   With Lord Christ’s face of mercy looking down
   From the high seat of Judgment, shall a man
   Die unabsolved, unshrived?  And if not so,
   May I not tell this dreadful tale of sin,
   If any sin there be upon my soul?

DUCHESS

   Thou dost but waste thy time.

CARDINAL

   Alack, my son,
   I have no power with the secular arm.
   My task begins when justice has been done,
   To urge the wavering sinner to repent
   And to confess to Holy Church’s ear
   The dreadful secrets of a sinful mind.

DUCHESS

   Thou mayest speak to the confessional
   Until thy lips grow weary of their tale,
   But here thou shalt not speak.

GUIDO

   My reverend father,
   You bring me but cold comfort.

CARDINAL

   Nay, my son,
   For the great power of our mother Church,
   Ends not with this poor bubble of a world,
   Of which we are but dust, as Jerome saith,
   For if the sinner doth repentant die,
   Our prayers and holy masses much avail
   To bring the guilty soul from purgatory.

DUCHESS

   And when in purgatory thou seest my Lord
   With that red star of blood upon his heart,
   Tell him I sent thee hither.

GUIDO

   O dear God!

MORANZONE

   This is the woman, is it, whom you loved?

CARDINAL

   Your Grace is very cruel to this man.

DUCHESS

   No more than he was cruel to her Grace.

CARDINAL

   Yet mercy is the sovereign right of princes.

DUCHESS

   I got no mercy, and I give it not.
   He hath changed my heart into a heart of stone,
   He hath sown rank nettles in a goodly field,
   He hath poisoned the wells of pity in my breast,
   He hath withered up all kindness at the root;
   My life is as some famine murdered land,
   Whence all good things have perished utterly:
   I am what he hath made me.

                                                  [_The_ DUCHESS _weeps_.]

JEPPO

   Is it not strange
   That she should so have loved the wicked Duke?

MAFFIO

   It is most strange when women love their lords,
   And when they love them not it is most strange.

JEPPO

   What a philosopher thou art, Petrucci!

MAFFIO

   Ay!  I can bear the ills of other men,
   Which is philosophy.

DUCHESS

   They tarry long,
   These greybeards and their council; bid them come;
   Bid them come quickly, else I think my heart
   Will beat itself to bursting: not indeed,
   That I here care to live; God knows my life
   Is not so full of joy, yet, for all that,
   I would not die companionless, or go
   Lonely to Hell.
   Look, my Lord Cardinal,
   Canst thou not see across my forehead here,
   In scarlet letters writ, the word Revenge?
   Fetch me some water, I will wash it off:
   ’Twas branded there last night, but in the day-time
   I need not wear it, need I, my Lord Cardinal?
   Oh, how it sears and burns into my brain:
   Give me a knife; not that one, but another,
   And I will cut it out.

CARDINAL

   It is most natural
   To be incensed against the murderous hand
   That treacherously stabbed your sleeping lord.

DUCHESS

   I would, old Cardinal, I could burn that hand;
   But it will burn hereafter.

CARDINAL

   Nay, the Church
   Ordains us to forgive our enemies.

DUCHESS

   Forgiveness? what is that?  I never got it.
   They come at last: well, my Lord Justice, well.

                                               [_Enter the_ LORD JUSTICE.]

LORD JUSTICE

   Most gracious Lady, and our sovereign Liege,
   We have long pondered on the point at issue,
   And much considered of your Grace’s wisdom,
   And never wisdom spake from fairer lips—

DUCHESS

   Proceed, sir, without compliment.

LORD JUSTICE

   We find,
   As your own Grace did rightly signify,
   That any citizen, who by force or craft
   Conspires against the person of the Liege,
   Is _ipso facto_ outlaw, void of rights
   Such as pertain to other citizens,
   Is traitor, and a public enemy,
   Who may by any casual sword be slain
   Without the slayer’s danger; nay, if brought
   Into the presence of the tribunal,
   Must with dumb lips and silence reverent
   Listen unto his well-deserved doom,
   Nor has the privilege of open speech.

DUCHESS

   I thank thee, my Lord Justice, heartily;
   I like your law: and now I pray dispatch
   This public outlaw to his righteous doom;
   What is there more?

LORD JUSTICE

   Ay, there is more, your Grace.
   This man being alien born, not Paduan,
   Nor by allegiance bound unto the Duke,
   Save such as common nature doth lay down,
   Hath, though accused of treasons manifold,
   Whose slightest penalty is certain death,
   Yet still the right of public utterance
   Before the people and the open court;
   Nay, shall be much entreated by the Court,
   To make some formal pleading for his life,
   Lest his own city, righteously incensed,
   Should with an unjust trial tax our state,
   And wars spring up against the commonwealth:
   So merciful are the laws of Padua
   Unto the stranger living in her gates.

DUCHESS

   Being of my Lord’s household, is he stranger here?

LORD JUSTICE

   Ay, until seven years of service spent
   He cannot be a Paduan citizen.

GUIDO

   I thank thee, my Lord Justice, heartily;
   I like your law.

SECOND CITIZEN

   I like no law at all:
   Were there no law there’d be no law-breakers,
   So all men would be virtuous.

FIRST CITIZEN

   So they would;
   ’Tis a wise saying that, and brings you far.

TIPSTAFF

   Ay! to the gallows, knave.

DUCHESS

   Is this the law?

LORD JUSTICE

   It is the law most certainly, my liege.

DUCHESS

   Show me the book: ’tis written in blood-red.

JEPPO

   Look at the Duchess.

DUCHESS

   Thou accursed law,
   I would that I could tear thee from the state
   As easy as I tear thee from this book.

                                                   [_Tears out the page_.]

   Come here, Count Bardi: are you honourable?
   Get a horse ready for me at my house,
   For I must ride to Venice instantly.

BARDI

   To Venice, Madam?

DUCHESS

   Not a word of this,
   Go, go at once.  [_Exit_ COUNT BARDI.]
   A moment, my Lord Justice.
   If, as thou sayest it, this is the law—
   Nay, nay, I doubt not that thou sayest right,
   Though right be wrong in such a case as this—
   May I not by the virtue of mine office
   Adjourn this court until another day?

LORD JUSTICE

   Madam, you cannot stay a trial for blood.

DUCHESS

   I will not tarry then to hear this man
   Rail with rude tongue against our sacred person.
   Come, gentlemen.

LORD JUSTICE

   My liege,
   You cannot leave this court until the prisoner
   Be purged or guilty of this dread offence.

DUCHESS

   Cannot, Lord Justice?  By what right do you
   Set barriers in my path where I should go?
   Am I not Duchess here in Padua,
   And the state’s regent?

LORD JUSTICE

   For that reason, Madam,
   Being the fountain-head of life and death
   Whence, like a mighty river, justice flows,
   Without thy presence justice is dried up
   And fails of purpose: thou must tarry here.

DUCHESS

   What, wilt thou keep me here against my will?

LORD JUSTICE

   We pray thy will be not against the law.

DUCHESS

   What if I force my way out of the court?

LORD JUSTICE

   Thou canst not force the Court to give thee way.

DUCHESS

   I will not tarry.  [_Rises from her seat_.]

LORD JUSTICE

   Is the usher here?
   Let him stand forth.  [_Usher comes forward_.]
   Thou knowest thy business, sir.

[_The Usher closes the doors of the court_, _which are L._, _and when
the_ DUCHESS _and her retinue approach_, _kneels down_.]

USHER

   In all humility I beseech your Grace
   Turn not my duty to discourtesy,
   Nor make my unwelcome office an offence.

DUCHESS

   Is there no gentleman amongst you all
   To prick this prating fellow from our way?

MAFFIO [_drawing his sword_]

   Ay! that will I.

LORD JUSTICE

   Count Maffio, have a care,
   And you, sir.  [_To_ JEPPO.]
   The first man who draws his sword
   Upon the meanest officer of this Court,
   Dies before nightfall.

DUCHESS

   Sirs, put up your swords:
   It is most meet that I should hear this man.

                                                  [_Goes back to throne_.]

MORANZONE

   Now hast thou got thy enemy in thy hand.

LORD JUSTICE [_taking the time-glass up_]

   Guido Ferranti, while the crumbling sand
   Falls through this time-glass, thou hast leave to speak.
   This and no more.

GUIDO

   It is enough, my lord.

LORD JUSTICE

   Thou standest on the extreme verge of death;
   See that thou speakest nothing but the truth,
   Naught else will serve thee.

GUIDO

   If I speak it not,
   Then give my body to the headsman there.

LORD JUSTICE [_turns the time-glass_]

   Let there be silence while the prisoner speaks.

TIPSTAFF

   Silence in the Court there.

GUIDO

   My Lords Justices,
   And reverent judges of this worthy court,
   I hardly know where to begin my tale,
   So strangely dreadful is this history.
   First, let me tell you of what birth I am.
   I am the son of that good Duke Lorenzo
   Who was with damned treachery done to death
   By a most wicked villain, lately Duke
   Of this good town of Padua.

LORD JUSTICE

   Have a care,
   It will avail thee nought to mock this prince
   Who now lies in his coffin.

MAFFIO

   By Saint James,
   This is the Duke of Parma’s rightful heir.

JEPPO

   I always thought him noble.

GUIDO

   I confess
   That with the purport of a just revenge,
   A most just vengeance on a man of blood,
   I entered the Duke’s household, served his will,
   Sat at his board, drank of his wine, and was
   His intimate: so much I will confess,
   And this too, that I waited till he grew
   To give the fondest secrets of his life
   Into my keeping, till he fawned on me,
   And trusted me in every private matter
   Even as my noble father trusted him;
   That for this thing I waited.

                                                      [_To the Headsman_.]

   Thou man of blood!
   Turn not thine axe on me before the time:
   Who knows if it be time for me to die?
   Is there no other neck in court but mine?

LORD JUSTICE

   The sand within the time-glass flows apace.
   Come quickly to the murder of the Duke.

GUIDO

   I will be brief: Last night at twelve o’ the clock,
   By a strong rope I scaled the palace wall,
   With purport to revenge my father’s murder—
   Ay! with that purport I confess, my lord.
   This much I will acknowledge, and this also,
   That as with stealthy feet I climbed the stair
   Which led unto the chamber of the Duke,
   And reached my hand out for the scarlet cloth
   Which shook and shivered in the gusty door,
   Lo! the white moon that sailed in the great heaven
   Flooded with silver light the darkened room,
   Night lit her candles for me, and I saw
   The man I hated, cursing in his sleep;
   And thinking of a most dear father murdered,
   Sold to the scaffold, bartered to the block,
   I smote the treacherous villain to the heart
   With this same dagger, which by chance I found
   Within the chamber.

DUCHESS [_rising from her seat_]

   Oh!

GUIDO [_hurriedly_]

   I killed the Duke.
   Now, my Lord Justice, if I may crave a boon,
   Suffer me not to see another sun
   Light up the misery of this loathsome world.

LORD JUSTICE

   Thy boon is granted, thou shalt die to-night.
   Lead him away.  Come, Madam

[GUIDO _is led off_; _as he goes the_ DUCHESS _stretches out her arms and
rushes down the stage_.]

DUCHESS

   Guido!  Guido!

                                                               [_Faints_.]

                                _Tableau_

                               END OF ACT IV.

                                  * * * * *



ACT V


                                  SCENE

_A dungeon in the public prison of Padua_; _Guido lies asleep on a
pallet_ (_L.C._); _a table with a goblet on it is set_ (_L.C._); _five
soldiers are drinking and playing dice in the corner on a stone table_;
_one of them has a lantern hung to his halbert_; _a torch is set in the
wall over Guido’s head_.  _Two grated windows behind_, _one on each side
of the door which is_ (_C._), _look out into the passage_; _the stage is
rather dark_.

FIRST SOLDIER [_throws dice_]

   Sixes again! good Pietro.

SECOND SOLDIER

   I’ faith, lieutenant, I will play with thee no more.  I will lose
   everything.

THIRD SOLDIER

   Except thy wits; thou art safe there!

SECOND SOLDIER

   Ay, ay, he cannot take them from me.

THIRD SOLDIER

   No; for thou hast no wits to give him.

THE SOLDIERS [_loudly_]

   Ha! ha! ha!

FIRST SOLDIER

   Silence!  You will wake the prisoner; he is asleep.

SECOND SOLDIER

   What matter?  He will get sleep enough when he is buried.  I warrant
   he’d be glad if we could wake him when he’s in the grave.

THIRD SOLDIER

   Nay! for when he wakes there it will be judgment day.

SECOND SOLDIER

   Ay, and he has done a grievous thing; for, look you, to murder one of
   us who are but flesh and blood is a sin, and to kill a Duke goes being
   near against the law.

FIRST SOLDIER

   Well, well, he was a wicked Duke.

SECOND SOLDIER

   And so he should not have touched him; if one meddles with wicked
   people, one is like to be tainted with their wickedness.

THIRD SOLDIER

   Ay, that is true.  How old is the prisoner?

SECOND SOLDIER

   Old enough to do wrong, and not old enough to be wise.

FIRST SOLDIER

   Why, then, he might be any age.

SECOND SOLDIER

   They say the Duchess wanted to pardon him.

FIRST SOLDIER

   Is that so?

SECOND SOLDIER

   Ay, and did much entreat the Lord Justice, but he would not.

FIRST SOLDIER

   I had thought, Pietro, that the Duchess was omnipotent.

SECOND SOLDIER

   True, she is well-favoured; I know none so comely.

THE SOLDIERS

   Ha! ha! ha!

FIRST SOLDIER

   I meant I had thought our Duchess could do anything.

SECOND SOLDIER

   Nay, for he is now given over to the Justices, and they will see that
   justice be done; they and stout Hugh the headsman; but when his head
   is off, why then the Duchess can pardon him if she likes; there is no
   law against that.

FIRST SOLDIER

   I do not think that stout Hugh, as you call him, will do the business
   for him after all.  This Guido is of gentle birth, and so by the law
   can drink poison first, if it so be his pleasure.

THIRD SOLDIER

   And if he does not drink it?

FIRST SOLDIER

   Why, then, they will kill him.

                                           [_Knocking comes at the door_.]

FIRST SOLDIER

   See who that is.

        [_Third Soldier goes over and looks through the wicket_.]

THIRD SOLDIER

   It is a woman, sir.

FIRST SOLDIER

   Is she pretty?

THIRD SOLDIER

   I can’t tell.  She is masked, lieutenant.

FIRST SOLDIER

   It is only very ugly or very beautiful women who ever hide their
   faces.  Let her in.

     [_Soldier opens the door_, _and the_ DUCHESS _masked and cloaked
                                enters_.]

DUCHESS [_to Third Soldier_]

   Are you the officer on guard?

FIRST SOLDIER [_coming forward_]

   I am, madam.

DUCHESS

   I must see the prisoner alone.

FIRST SOLDIER

   I am afraid that is impossible.  [_The_ DUCHESS _hands him a ring_,
   _he looks at and returns it to her with a bow and makes a sign to the
   Soldiers_.]  Stand without there.

                                                  [_Exeunt the Soldiers_.]

DUCHESS

   Officer, your men are somewhat rough.

FIRST SOLDIER

   They mean no harm.

DUCHESS

   I shall be going back in a few minutes.  As I pass through the
   corridor do not let them try and lift my mask.

FIRST SOLDIER

   You need not be afraid, madam.

DUCHESS

   I have a particular reason for wishing my face not to be seen.

FIRST SOLDIER

   Madam, with this ring you can go in and out as you please; it is the
   Duchess’s own ring.

DUCHESS

   Leave us.  [_The Soldier turns to go out_.]  A moment, sir.  For what
   hour is . . .

FIRST SOLDIER

   At twelve o’clock, madam, we have orders to lead him out; but I dare
   say he won’t wait for us; he’s more like to take a drink out of that
   poison yonder.  Men are afraid of the headsman.

DUCHESS

   Is that poison?

FIRST SOLDIER

   Ay, madam, and very sure poison too.

DUCHESS

   You may go, sir.

FIRST SOLDIER

   By Saint James, a pretty hand!  I wonder who she is.  Some woman who
   loved him, perhaps.

                                                                 [_Exit_.]

DUCHESS [_taking her mark off_]

   At last!
   He can escape now in this cloak and vizard,
   We are of a height almost: they will not know him;
   As for myself what matter?
   So that he does not curse me as he goes,
   I care but little: I wonder will he curse me.
   He has the right.  It is eleven now;
   They will not come till twelve.

                                               [_Goes over to the table_.]

   So this is poison.
   Is it not strange that in this liquor here
   There lies the key to all philosophies?

                                                     [_Takes the cup up_.]

   It smells of poppies.  I remember well
   That, when I was a child in Sicily,
   I took the scarlet poppies from the corn,
   And made a little wreath, and my grave uncle,
   Don John of Naples, laughed: I did not know
   That they had power to stay the springs of life,
   To make the pulse cease beating, and to chill
   The blood in its own vessels, till men come
   And with a hook hale the poor body out,
   And throw it in a ditch: the body, ay,—
   What of the soul? that goes to heaven or hell.
   Where will mine go?

      [_Takes the torch from the wall_, _and goes over to the bed_.]

   How peacefully here he sleeps,
   Like a young schoolboy tired out with play:
   I would that I could sleep so peacefully,
   But I have dreams.  [_Bending over him_.]
   Poor boy: what if I kissed him?
   No, no, my lips would burn him like a fire.
   He has had enough of Love.  Still that white neck
   Will ’scape the headsman: I have seen to that:
   He will get hence from Padua to-night,
   And that is well.  You are very wise, Lord Justices,
   And yet you are not half so wise as I am,
   And that is well.
   O God! how I have loved you,
   And what a bloody flower did Love bear!

                                              [_Comes back to the table_.]

   What if I drank these juices, and so ceased?
   Were it not better than to wait till Death
   Come to my bed with all his serving men,
   Remorse, disease, old age, and misery?
   I wonder does one suffer much: I think
   That I am very young to die like this,
   But so it must be.  Why, why should I die?
   He will escape to-night, and so his blood
   Will not be on my head.  No, I must die;
   I have been guilty, therefore I must die;
   He loves me not, and therefore I must die:
   I would die happier if he would kiss me,
   But he will not do that.  I did not know him.
   I thought he meant to sell me to the Judge;
   That is not strange; we women never know
   Our lovers till they leave us.

                                                  [_Bell begins to toll_.]

   Thou vile bell,
   That like a bloodhound from thy brazen throat
   Call’st for this man’s life, cease! thou shalt not get it.
   He stirs—I must be quick:  [_Takes up cup_.]
   O Love, Love, Love,
   I did not think that I would pledge thee thus!

[_Drinks poison_, _and sets the cup down on the table behind her_: _the
noise wakens_ GUIDO, _who starts up_, _and does not see what she has
done_.  _There is silence for a minute_, _each looking at the other_.]

   I do not come to ask your pardon now,
   Seeing I know I stand beyond all pardon;
   Enough of that: I have already, sir,
   Confessed my sin to the Lords Justices;
   They would not listen to me: and some said
   I did invent a tale to save your life;
   You have trafficked with me; others said
   That women played with pity as with men;
   Others that grief for my slain Lord and husband
   Had robbed me of my wits: they would not hear me,
   And, when I sware it on the holy book,
   They bade the doctor cure me.  They are ten,
   Ten against one, and they possess your life.
   They call me Duchess here in Padua.
   I do not know, sir; if I be the Duchess,
   I wrote your pardon, and they would not take it;
   They call it treason, say I taught them that;
   Maybe I did.  Within an hour, Guido,
   They will be here, and drag you from the cell,
   And bind your hands behind your back, and bid you
   Kneel at the block: I am before them there;
   Here is the signet ring of Padua,
   ’Twill bring you safely through the men on guard;
   There is my cloak and vizard; they have orders
   Not to be curious: when you pass the gate
   Turn to the left, and at the second bridge
   You will find horses waiting: by to-morrow
   You will be at Venice, safe.  [_A pause_.]
   Do you not speak?
   Will you not even curse me ere you go?—
   You have the right.  [_A pause_.]
   You do not understand
   There lies between you and the headsman’s axe
   Hardly so much sand in the hour-glass
   As a child’s palm could carry: here is the ring:
   I have washed my hand: there is no blood upon it:
   You need not fear.  Will you not take the ring?

GUIDO [_takes ring and kisses it_]

   Ay! gladly, Madam.

DUCHESS

   And leave Padua.

GUIDO

   Leave Padua.

DUCHESS

   But it must be to-night.

GUIDO

   To-night it shall be.

DUCHESS

   Oh, thank God for that!

GUIDO

   So I can live; life never seemed so sweet
   As at this moment.

DUCHESS

   Do not tarry, Guido,
   There is my cloak: the horse is at the bridge,
   The second bridge below the ferry house:
   Why do you tarry?  Can your ears not hear
   This dreadful bell, whose every ringing stroke
   Robs one brief minute from your boyish life.
   Go quickly.

GUIDO

   Ay! he will come soon enough.

DUCHESS

   Who?

GUIDO [_calmly_]

   Why, the headsman.

DUCHESS

   No, no.

GUIDO

   Only he
   Can bring me out of Padua.

DUCHESS

   You dare not!
   You dare not burden my o’erburdened soul
   With two dead men!  I think one is enough.
   For when I stand before God, face to face,
   I would not have you, with a scarlet thread
   Around your white throat, coming up behind
   To say I did it.

GUIDO

   Madam, I wait.

DUCHESS

   No, no, you cannot: you do not understand,
   I have less power in Padua to-night
   Than any common woman; they will kill you.
   I saw the scaffold as I crossed the square,
   Already the low rabble throng about it
   With fearful jests, and horrid merriment,
   As though it were a morris-dancer’s platform,
   And not Death’s sable throne.  O Guido, Guido,
   You must escape!

GUIDO

   Madam, I tarry here.

DUCHESS

   Guido, you shall not: it would be a thing
   So terrible that the amazed stars
   Would fall from heaven, and the palsied moon
   Be in her sphere eclipsed, and the great sun
   Refuse to shine upon the unjust earth
   Which saw thee die.

GUIDO

   Be sure I shall not stir.

DUCHESS [_wringing her hands_]

   Is one sin not enough, but must it breed
   A second sin more horrible again
   Than was the one that bare it?  O God, God,
   Seal up sin’s teeming womb, and make it barren,
   I will not have more blood upon my hand
   Than I have now.

GUIDO [_seizing her hand_]

   What! am I fallen so low
   That I may not have leave to die for you?

DUCHESS [_tearing her hand away_]

   Die for me?—no, my life is a vile thing,
   Thrown to the miry highways of this world;
   You shall not die for me, you shall not, Guido;
   I am a guilty woman.

GUIDO

   Guilty?—let those
   Who know what a thing temptation is,
   Let those who have not walked as we have done,
   In the red fire of passion, those whose lives
   Are dull and colourless, in a word let those,
   If any such there be, who have not loved,
   Cast stones against you.  As for me—

DUCHESS

   Alas!

GUIDO [_falling at her feet_]

   You are my lady, and you are my love!
   O hair of gold, O crimson lips, O face
   Made for the luring and the love of man!
   Incarnate image of pure loveliness!
   Worshipping thee I do forget the past,
   Worshipping thee my soul comes close to thine,
   Worshipping thee I seem to be a god,
   And though they give my body to the block,
   Yet is my love eternal!

    [DUCHESS _puts her hands over her face_: GUIDO _draws them down_.]

   Sweet, lift up
   The trailing curtains that overhang your eyes
   That I may look into those eyes, and tell you
   I love you, never more than now when Death
   Thrusts his cold lips between us: Beatrice,
   I love you: have you no word left to say?
   Oh, I can bear the executioner,
   But not this silence: will you not say you love me?
   Speak but that word and Death shall lose his sting,
   But speak it not, and fifty thousand deaths
   Are, in comparison, mercy.  Oh, you are cruel,
   And do not love me.

DUCHESS

   Alas!  I have no right
   For I have stained the innocent hands of love
   With spilt-out blood: there is blood on the ground;
   I set it there.

GUIDO

   Sweet, it was not yourself,
   It was some devil tempted you.

DUCHESS [_rising suddenly_]

   No, no,
   We are each our own devil, and we make
   This world our hell.

GUIDO

   Then let high Paradise
   Fall into Tartarus! for I shall make
   This world my heaven for a little space.
   The sin was mine, if any sin there was.
   ’Twas I who nurtured murder in my heart,
   Sweetened my meats, seasoned my wine with it,
   And in my fancy slew the accursed Duke
   A hundred times a day.  Why, had this man
   Died half so often as I wished him to,
   Death had been stalking ever through the house,
   And murder had not slept.
   But you, fond heart,
   Whose little eyes grew tender over a whipt hound,
   You whom the little children laughed to see
   Because you brought the sunlight where you passed,
   You the white angel of God’s purity,
   This which men call your sin, what was it?

DUCHESS

   Ay!
   What was it?  There are times it seems a dream,
   An evil dream sent by an evil god,
   And then I see the dead face in the coffin
   And know it is no dream, but that my hand
   Is red with blood, and that my desperate soul
   Striving to find some haven for its love
   From the wild tempest of this raging world,
   Has wrecked its bark upon the rocks of sin.
   What was it, said you?—murder merely?  Nothing
   But murder, horrible murder.

GUIDO

   Nay, nay, nay,
   ’Twas but the passion-flower of your love
   That in one moment leapt to terrible life,
   And in one moment bare this gory fruit,
   Which I had plucked in thought a thousand times.
   My soul was murderous, but my hand refused;
   Your hand wrought murder, but your soul was pure.
   And so I love you, Beatrice, and let him
   Who has no mercy for your stricken head,
   Lack mercy up in heaven!  Kiss me, sweet.

                                                    [_Tries to kiss her_.]

DUCHESS

   No, no, your lips are pure, and mine are soiled,
   For Guilt has been my paramour, and Sin
   Lain in my bed: O Guido, if you love me
   Get hence, for every moment is a worm
   Which gnaws your life away: nay, sweet, get hence,
   And if in after time you think of me,
   Think of me as of one who loved you more
   Than anything on earth; think of me, Guido,
   As of a woman merely, one who tried
   To make her life a sacrifice to love,
   And slew love in the trial: Oh, what is that?
   The bell has stopped from ringing, and I hear
   The feet of armed men upon the stair.

GUIDO [_aside_]

   That is the signal for the guard to come.

DUCHESS

   Why has the bell stopped ringing?

GUIDO

   If you must know,
   That stops my life on this side of the grave,
   But on the other we shall meet again.

DUCHESS

   No, no, ’tis not too late: you must get hence;
   The horse is by the bridge, there is still time.
   Away, away, you must not tarry here!

                                     [_Noise of Soldiers in the passage_.]

A VOICE OUTSIDE

   Room for the Lord Justice of Padua!

[_The_ LORD JUSTICE _is seen through the grated window passing down the
corridor preceded by men bearing torches_.]

DUCHESS

   It is too late.

A VOICE OUTSIDE

   Room for the headsman.

DUCHESS [_sinks down_]

   Oh!

[_The Headsman with his axe on his shoulder is seen passing the
corridor_, _followed by Monks bearing candles_.]

GUIDO

   Farewell, dear love, for I must drink this poison.
   I do not fear the headsman, but I would die
   Not on the lonely scaffold.
   But here,
   Here in thine arms, kissing thy mouth: farewell!

                            [_Goes to the table and takes the goblet up_.]

   What, art thou empty?

                                              [_Throws it to the ground_.]

   O thou churlish gaoler,
   Even of poisons niggard!

DUCHESS [_faintly_]

   Blame him not.

GUIDO

   O God! you have not drunk it, Beatrice?
   Tell me you have not?

DUCHESS

   Were I to deny it,
   There is a fire eating at my heart
   Which would find utterance.

GUIDO

   O treacherous love,
   Why have you not left a drop for me?

DUCHESS

   No, no, it held but death enough for one.

GUIDO

   Is there no poison still upon your lips,
   That I may draw it from them?

DUCHESS

   Why should you die?
   You have not spilt blood, and so need not die:
   I have spilt blood, and therefore I must die.
   Was it not said blood should be spilt for blood?
   Who said that?  I forget.

GUIDO

   Tarry for me,
   Our souls will go together.

DUCHESS

   Nay, you must live.
   There are many other women in the world
   Who will love you, and not murder for your sake.

GUIDO

   I love you only.

DUCHESS

   You need not die for that.

GUIDO

   Ah, if we die together, love, why then
   Can we not lie together in one grave?

DUCHESS

   A grave is but a narrow wedding-bed.

GUIDO

   It is enough for us

DUCHESS

   And they will strew it
   With a stark winding-sheet, and bitter herbs:
   I think there are no roses in the grave,
   Or if there are, they all are withered now
   Since my Lord went there.

GUIDO

   Ah! dear Beatrice,
   Your lips are roses that death cannot wither.

DUCHESS

   Nay, if we lie together, will not my lips
   Fall into dust, and your enamoured eyes
   Shrivel to sightless sockets, and the worms,
   Which are our groomsmen, eat away your heart?

GUIDO

   I do not care: Death has no power on love.
   And so by Love’s immortal sovereignty
   I will die with you.

DUCHESS

   But the grave is black,
   And the pit black, so I must go before
   To light the candles for your coming hither.
   No, no, I will not die, I will not die.
   Love, you are strong, and young, and very brave;
   Stand between me and the angel of death,
   And wrestle with him for me.

    [_Thrusts_ GUIDO _in front of her with his back to the audience_.]

   I will kiss you,
   When you have thrown him.  Oh, have you no cordial,
   To stay the workings of this poison in me?
   Are there no rivers left in Italy
   That you will not fetch me one cup of water
   To quench this fire?

GUIDO

   O God!

DUCHESS

   You did not tell me
   There was a drought in Italy, and no water:
   Nothing but fire.

GUIDO

   O Love!

DUCHESS

   Send for a leech,
   Not him who stanched my husband, but another
   We have no time: send for a leech, I say:
   There is an antidote against each poison,
   And he will sell it if we give him money.
   Tell him that I will give him Padua,
   For one short hour of life: I will not die.
   Oh, I am sick to death; no, do not touch me,
   This poison gnaws my heart: I did not know
   It was such pain to die: I thought that life
   Had taken all the agonies to itself;
   It seems it is not so.

GUIDO

   O damnéd stars
   Quench your vile cresset-lights in tears, and bid
   The moon, your mistress, shine no more to-night.

DUCHESS

   Guido, why are we here?  I think this room
   Is poorly furnished for a marriage chamber.
   Let us get hence at once.  Where are the horses?
   We should be on our way to Venice now.
   How cold the night is!  We must ride faster.

                                     [_The Monks begin to chant outside_.]

   Music!  It should be merrier; but grief
   Is of the fashion now—I know not why.
   You must not weep: do we not love each other?—
   That is enough.  Death, what do you here?
   You were not bidden to this table, sir;
   Away, we have no need of you: I tell you
   It was in wine I pledged you, not in poison.
   They lied who told you that I drank your poison.
   It was spilt upon the ground, like my Lord’s blood;
   You came too late.

GUIDO

   Sweet, there is nothing there:
   These things are only unreal shadows.

DUCHESS

   Death,
   Why do you tarry, get to the upper chamber;
   The cold meats of my husband’s funeral feast
   Are set for you; this is a wedding feast.
   You are out of place, sir; and, besides, ’tis summer.
   We do not need these heavy fires now,
   You scorch us.
   Oh, I am burned up,
   Can you do nothing?  Water, give me water,
   Or else more poison.  No: I feel no pain—
   Is it not curious I should feel no pain?—
   And Death has gone away, I am glad of that.
   I thought he meant to part us.  Tell me, Guido,
   Are you not sorry that you ever saw me?

GUIDO

   I swear I would not have lived otherwise.
   Why, in this dull and common world of ours
   Men have died looking for such moments as this
   And have not found them.

DUCHESS

   Then you are not sorry?
   How strange that seems.

GUIDO

   What, Beatrice, have I not
   Stood face to face with beauty?  That is enough
   For one man’s life.  Why, love, I could be merry;
   I have been often sadder at a feast,
   But who were sad at such a feast as this
   When Love and Death are both our cup-bearers?
   We love and die together.

DUCHESS

   Oh, I have been
   Guilty beyond all women, and indeed
   Beyond all women punished.  Do you think—
   No, that could not be—Oh, do you think that love
   Can wipe the bloody stain from off my hands,
   Pour balm into my wounds, heal up my hurts,
   And wash my scarlet sins as white as snow?—
   For I have sinned.

GUIDO

   They do not sin at all
   Who sin for love.

DUCHESS

   No, I have sinned, and yet
   Perchance my sin will be forgiven me.
   I have loved much

[_They kiss each other now for the first time in this Act_, _when
suddenly the_ DUCHESS _leaps up in the dreadful spasm of death_, _tears
in agony at her dress_, _and finally_, _with face twisted and distorted
with pain_, _falls back dead in a chair_.  GUIDO _seizing her dagger from
her belt_, _kills himself_; _and_, _as he falls across her knees_,
_clutches at the cloak which is on the back of the chair_, _and throws it
entirely over her_.  _There is a little pause_.  _Then down the passage
comes the tramp of Soldiers_; _the door is opened_, _and the_ LORD
JUSTICE, _the Headsman_, _and the Guard enter and see this figure
shrouded in black_, _and_ GUIDO _lying dead across her_.  _The_ LORD
JUSTICE _rushes forward and drags the cloak off the_ DUCHESS, _whose face
is now the marble image of peace_, _the sign of God’s forgiveness_.]

                                _Tableau_

                                 CURTAIN

                                * * * * *

         Printed by T. and A. CONSTABLE, Printers to His Majesty
                    at the Edinburgh University Press

                                * * * * *





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