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The Duchess of Malfi

Act 3 Scene 4

Enter TWO PILGRIMS to the Shrine of Our Lady of Loretto

FIRST PILGRIM:  I have not seen a goodlier shrine than this,
Yet I have visited many.

SECOND PILGRIM:  The cardinal of Arragon
Is this day to resign his cardinal’s hat.
His sister duchess likewise is arriv’d
To pay her vow of pilgrimage. I expect
A noble ceremony.

FIRST PILGRIM:  No question. They come.

Here the ceremony of the Cardinal’s installment, in the habit
of a soldier, performed 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 exit:

Arms and honors 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 honor 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, may’st 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!

(The author disclaims this ditty to be his)

FIRST PILGRIM:  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
Bears him much too cruel.

SECOND PILGRIM:  They are banish’d.

FIRST PILGRIM:  But I would ask what power hath this state
Of Ancona, to determine of a free prince?

SECOND PILGRIM:  They are a free state, sir, and her brother show’d
How that the Pope fore-hearing of her looseness,
Hath seiz’d into the protection of the church
The dukedom, which she held as dowager.

FIRST PILGRIM:  But by what justice?

SECOND PILGRIM:  Sure I think by none,
Only her brother’s instigation.

FIRST PILGRIM:  What was it with such violence he took
Off from her finger?

SECOND PILGRIM:  ‘Twas her wedding ring,
Which he vow’d shortly he would sacrifice
To his revenge.

FIRST PILGRIM:  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.
Fortune makes this conclusion general,
All things do help th’ unhappy man to fall.

They exit


resign: the Cardinal will resign his church position only temporarily to command in the army

habit: uniform

dumb-show: pantomime, acted out with no words, only music

divers: various

mean: common, lowly born

determine: to make decisions concerning

free prince: independent ruler

looseness: unchastity

dowager: owner of property she received at the death of her first husband

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