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John Webster (1580?–1634).  The Duchess of Malfi.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
 
Act III
 
Scene IV
 
 
[Enter] Two Pilgrims to the Shrine of our Lady of Loretto

  FIRST PIL.  I have not seen a goodlier shrine than this;
Yet I have visited many.
  SEC. PIL.        The Cardinal of Arragon
Is this day to resign his cardinal’s hat:        4
His sister duchess likewise is arriv’d
To pay her vow of pilgrimage. I expect
A noble ceremony.
  FIRST PIL.        No question.—They come.        8
 
[Here the ceremony of the CARDINAL’S instalment, in the habit of a soldier, perform’d in delivering up his cross, hat, robes, and ring, at the shrine, and investing him with sword, helmet, shield, and spurs; then ANTONIO, the DUCHESS and their children, having presented themselves at the shrine, are, by a form of banishment in dumb-show expressed towards them by the CARDINAL and the state of Ancona, banished: during all which ceremony, this ditty is sung, to very solemn music, by divers churchmen: and then exeunt [all except the Two Pilgrims.]

        Arms and honours deck thy story,
To thy fame’s eternal glory!
Adverse fortune ever fly thee;
No disastrous fate come nigh thee!
I alone will sing thy praises,
Whom to honour virtue raises,
And thy study, that divine is,
Bent to martial discipline is,
Lay aside all those robes lie by thee;
Crown thy arts with arms, they ’ll beautify thee.
 
O worthy of worthiest name, adorn’d in this manner,
Lead bravely thy forces on under war’s warlike banner!
O, mayst thou prove fortunate in all martial courses!
Guide thou still by skill in arts and forces!
Victory attend thee nigh, whilst fame sings loud thy powers;
Triumphant conquest crown thy head, and blessings pour down showers!
 1
  FIRST PIL.  Here ’s a strange turn of state! who would have thought
So great a lady would have match’d herself
Unto so mean a person? Yet the cardinal        12
Bears himself much too cruel.
  SEC. PIL.        They are banish’d.
  FIRST PIL.  But I would ask what power hath this state
Of Ancona to determine of a free prince?        16
  SEC. PIL.  They are a free state, sir, and her brother show’d
How that the Pope, fore-hearing of her looseness,
Hath seiz’d into th’ protection of the church
The dukedom which she held as dowager.        20
  FIRST PIL.  But by what justice?
  SEC. PIL.        Sure, I think by none,
Only her brother’s instigation.
  FIRST PIL.  What was it with such violence he took        24
Off from her finger?
  SEC. PIL.        ’Twas her wedding-ring;
Which he vow’d shortly he would sacrifice
To his revenge.        28
  FIRST PIL.        Alas, Antonio!
If that a man be thrust into a well,
No matter who sets hand to ’t, his own weight
Will bring him sooner to th’ bottom. Come, let ’s hence.        32
Fortune makes this conclusion general,
All things do help th’ unhappy man to fall.  Exeunt.
 
Note 1. The first quarto has in the margin: “The Author disclaims this Ditty to be his.” [back]
 

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