The Duchess of Padua

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Act I[edit]

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

[Enter GUIDO FERRANTI and ASCANIO CRISTOFANO.]

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

[Sits down on the step of the fountain.]

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

ASCANIO. Well?

GUIDO. Ay! it is here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

ASCANIO. And you don't know who your father is?

GUIDO. No.

ASCANIO. No recollection of him even?

GUIDO. None, Ascanio, none.

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

GUIDO. [smiling] I am sure you never deserved it.

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

GUIDO. Noon. [Clock in the Cathedral strikes.]

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

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

MORANZONE Guido Ferranti, thou hast come in time.

GUIDO. What! Does my father live?

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

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

MORANZONE We must be alone.

GUIDO.

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

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

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

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

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

MORANZONE Ay, of all men he was the kingliest.

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

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

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

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

GUIDO. [clasping his hand] Tell me of him.

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

GUIDO. Come to his death.

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

GUIDO. [clutching his dagger] Doth Malatesta live?

MORANZONE No, he is dead.

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

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

GUIDO. Sold! was my father sold?

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

GUIDO. And he lives Who sold my father?

MORANZONE I will bring you to him.

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

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

GUIDO. What got he for my father's blood?

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

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

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

GUIDO. O bitter bread!

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

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

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

GUIDO. How shall I kill him, tell me?

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

GUIDO. Now by my father's sword -

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

GUIDO. Then by my father's grave -

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

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

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

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

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

GUIDO. Speak to me of my mother.

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

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

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

GUIDO. Saw you my father afterwards?

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

GUIDO. [taking his hand] O generous heart!

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

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

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

GUIDO. The traitor's name?

MORANZONE

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

GUIDO. What of that? his name?

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

GUIDO. His name, milord?

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

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

GUIDO. [clutches hit dagger] The DUKE!

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

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

MORANZONE

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

DUKE [still looking at GUIDO] What is his name?

MORANZONE Guido Ferranti, sir.

DUKE His city?

MORANZONE He is Mantuan by birth.

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

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

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

COUNT BARDI [aside] There it comes indeed.

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

MAFFIO [aside] He has enough of hate, if he needs that.

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

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

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

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

MORANZONE [to him] Dost thou mark his words?

GUIDO. Oh, be thou sure I do.

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

GUIDO. Your Grace, I shall remember.

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

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

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

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

GUIDO. I thank your Grace most heartily.

DUKE Tell me again What is your name?

GUIDO. Guido Ferranti, sir.

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

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

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

MORANZONE [bowing] My liege, there are some matters -

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

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

MORANZONE Thou shalt do that many times.

GUIDO. Must it be so?

MORANZONE Ay! thou hast sworn an oath.

GUIDO. That oath shall make me marble.

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

GUIDO. I pray thou comest quickly.

MORANZONE I will come When it is time; be ready.

GUIDO. Fear me not.

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

GUIDO. From Padua, Not from my heart.

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

GUIDO. Can I have no friend?

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

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

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

GUIDO. Why, that we two must part, Ascanio.

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

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

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

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

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

GUIDO. Share it?

ASCANIO. Ay!

GUIDO. No, no.

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

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

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

GUIDO. Never more.

ASCANIO. Must I go hence without a word of love?

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

ASCANIO. You are unknightly, and ungenerous.

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

ASCANIO. Have you no message, Guido?

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

ASCANIO. Farewell [exit slowly.]

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

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

GUIDO. Be sure I shall. [Exit LORD MORANZONE.]

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

A CITIZEN The Duchess of Padua!

END OF ACT I.