by Philip Massinger

ca. 1621-1623










The Milanese

Ludovico Sforza, supposed Duke of Milan.

      Marcelia, the Duchess, wife to Sforza.

            A Gentlewoman, serves the Duchess.

      Isabella, mother to Sforza.

Francisco, Sforza’s especial favourite.

      Mariana, wife to Francisco, and sister of Sforza.

            Graccho, a creature of Mariana.

      Eugenia, sister to Francisco.


Tiberio, a Lord of Sforza's Council.

Stephano, a Lord of Sforza’s Council.

Julio, a Courtier.

Giovanni, a Courtier.

Three Gentlemen. Fiddlers. An Officer. Two Doctors.

Two Couriers.

The Spanish

Charles, the Emperor.

      Hernando, a Captain to the Emperor.

      Medina, a Captain to the Emperor.

      Alphonso, a Captain to the Emperor.

Pescara, serves the Emperor, but a friend to Sforza.

As well as Guards, Servants, Attendants.


The first and second acts, in Milan;

during part of the third, in the Imperial

Camp near Pavia; the rest of the play,

in Milan, and its neighbourhood.




An outer Room in the Castle.

Enter Graccho, Julio, and Giovanni, with flaggons.

Grac. Take every man his flaggon: give the oath

To all you meet; I am this day the state-drunkard,

I am sure against my will; and if you find

A man at ten that's sober, he's a traitor,

And, in my name, arrest him.

Jul.                                       Very good, sir:

But, say he be a sexton?

Grac.                            If the bells

Ring out of tune, as if the street were burning,

And he cry, “'Tis rare music!”  bid him sleep:

'Tis a sign he has ta'en his liquor; and if you meet

An officer preaching of sobriety,

Unless he read it in Geneva print,

Lay him by the heels.

Jul.                           But think you 'tis a fault

To be found sober?

Grac.                    It is capital treason:

Or, if you mitigate it, let such pay

Forty crowns to the poor: but give a pension

To all the magistrates you find singing catches,

Or their wives dancing; for the courtiers reeling,

And the duke himself, I dare not say distempered,

But kind, and in his tottering chair carousing,

They do the country service; if you meet

One that eats bread, a child of ignorance,

And bred up in the darkness of no drinking,

Against his will you may initiate him

In the true posture; though he die in the taking

His drench, it skills not: what's a private man,

For the public honour! We've nought else to think on.

And so, dear friends, copartners in my travails,

Drink hard; and let the health run through the city,

Until it reel again, and with me cry,

"Long live the duchess!"

Enter Tiberio and Stephano.

Jul.                   Here are two lords; − what think you?

Shall we give the oath to them?

Grac.                                        Fie! no: I know them,

You need not swear them; your lord, by his patent,

Stands bound to take his rouse. Long live the duchess!

[Exeunt Graccho, Julio, and Giovanni.]

Steph. The cause of this? but yesterday the court

Wore the sad livery of distrust and fear;

No smile, not in a buffoon to be seen,

Or common jester: the great duke himself

Had sorrow in his face! which, waited on

By his mother, sister, and his fairest duchess,

Dispersed a silent mourning through all Milan;

As if some great blow had been given the state,

Or were at least expected.

Tib.                                  Stephano,

I know as you are noble, you are honest,

And capable of secrets of more weight

Than now I shall deliver. If that Sforza,

The present duke, (though his whole life hath been

But one continued pilgrimage through dangers,

Affrights, and horrors, which his fortune, guided

By his strong judgment, still hath overcome,)

Appears now shaken, it deserves no wonder:

All that his youth hath laboured for, the harvest

Sown by his industry ready to be reaped too,

Being now at stake; and all his hopes confirmed,

Or lost for ever.

Steph.               I know no such hazard:

His guards are strong and sure, his coffers full;

The people well affected; and so wisely

His provident care hath wrought, that though war rages

In most parts of our western world, there is

No enemy near us.

Tib.                      Dangers that we see

To threaten ruin are with ease prevented;

But those strike deadly, that come unexpected:

The lightning is far off, yet, soon as seen,

We may behold the terrible effects

That it produceth. But I'll help your knowledge,

And make his cause of fear familiar to you.

The wars so long continuéd between

The Emperor Charles and Francis the French king,

Have interessed, in either's cause, the most

Of the Italian princes; among which, Sforza,

As one of greatest power, was sought by both;

But with assurance, having one his friend,

The other lived his enemy.

Steph.                               'Tis true:

And 'twas a doubtful choice.

Tib.                                      But he, well knowing,

And hating too, it seems, the Spanish pride,

Lent his assistance to the King of France:

Which hath so far incensed the emperor,

That all his hopes and honours are embarked

With his great patron's fortune.

Steph.                                      Which stands fair,

For aught I yet can hear.

Tib.                                But should it change,

The duke's undone. They have drawn to the field

Two royal armies, full of fiery youth;

Of equal spirit to dare, and power to do:

So near intrenched, that 'tis beyond all hope

Of human counsel they can e'er be severed,

Until it be determined by the sword,

Who hath the better cause: for the success

Concludes the victor innocent, and the vanquished

Most miserably guilty. How uncertain

The fortune of the war is, children know;

And, it being in suspense on whose fair tent

Winged Victory will make her glorious stand,

You cannot blame the duke, though he appear

Perplexed and troubled.

Steph.                          But why, then,

In such a time, when every knee should bend

For the success and safety of his person,

Are these loud triumphs? In my weak opinion,

They are unseasonable.

Tib.                              I judge so too;

But only in the cause to be excused.

It is the duchess’ birthday, once a year

Solemnized with all pomp and ceremony;

In which the duke is not his own, but hers:

Nay, every day, indeed, he is her creature,

For never man so doted; − but to tell

The tenth part of his fondness to a stranger,

Would argue me of fiction.

Steph.                                She's, indeed,

A lady of most exquisite form.

Tib.                                         She knows it,

And how to prize it.

Steph.                     I ne'er heard her tainted

In any point of honour.

Tib.                             On my life,

She's constant to his bed, and well deserves

His largest favours. But, when beauty is

Stamped on great women, great in birth and fortune,

And blown by flatterers greater than it is,

'Tis seldom unaccompanied with pride;

Nor is she that way free: presuming on

The duke's affection, and her own desert,

She bears herself with such a majesty,

Looking with scorn on all as things beneath her,

That Sforza's mother, that would lose no part

Of what was once her own, nor his fair sister,

A lady too acquainted with her worth,

Will brook it well; and howsoe'er their hate

Is smothered for a time, 'tis more than feared

It will at length break out.

Steph.                               He in whose power it is,

Turn all to the best!

Tib.                        Come, let us to the court;

We there shall see all bravery and cost,

That art can boast of.

Steph.                        I'll bear you company.



Another Room in the same.

Enter Francisco, Isabella, and Mariana.

Mari. I will not go; I scorn to be a spot

In her proud train.

Isab.                    Shall I, that am his mother,

Be so indulgent, as to wait on her

That owes me duty?

Fran.                      'Tis done to the duke,

And not to her: and, my sweet wife, remember,

And, madam, if you please, receive my counsel,

As Sforza is your son, you may command him;

And, as a sister, you may challenge from him

A brother's love and favour: but, this granted,

Consider he's the prince, and you his subjects,

And not to question or contend with her

Whom he is pleased to honour. Private men

Prefer their wives; and shall he, being a prince,

And blest with one that is the paradise

Of sweetness and of beauty, to whose charge

The stock of women's goodness is given up,

Not use her like herself?

Isab.                              You are ever forward

To sing her praises.

Mari.                     Others are as fair;

I am sure, as noble.

Fran.                     I detract from none,

In giving her what's due: were she deformed,

Yet being the duchess, I stand bound to serve her;

But, as she is, to admire her. Never wife

Met with a purer heat her husband's fervour;

A happy pair, one in the other blest!

She confident in herself he's wholly hers,

And cannot seek for change; and he secure,

That 'tis not in the power of man to tempt her.

And therefore to contest with her, that is

The stronger and the better part of him,

Is more than folly: you know him of a nature

Not to be played with; and, should you forget

To obey him as your prince, he'll not remember

The duty that he owes you.

Isab.                                  'Tis but truth:

Come, clear our brows, and let us to the banquet;

But not to serve his idol.

Mari.                              I shall do

What may become the sister of a prince;

But will not stoop beneath it.

Fran.                                    Yet, be wise;

Soar not too high, to fall; but stoop to rise.



A State Room in the same.

Enter three Gentlemen, setting forth a banquet.

1 Gent. Quick, quick, for love's sake! let the court put on

Her choicest outside: cost and bravery

Be only thought of.

2 Gent.                  All that may be had

To please the eye, the ear, taste, touch, or smell,

Are carefully provided.

3 Gent.                         There's a masque:

Have you heard what's the invention?

1 Gent.                                             No matter:

It is intended for the duchess' honour;

And if it give her glorious attributes,

As the most fair, most virtuous, and the rest,

Twill please the duke.

[Loud music.]

                                   They come.

3 Gent.                                        All is in order.

Flourish. Enter Tiberio, Stephano, Francisco,

Sforza, Marcelia, Isabella, Mariana,

and Attendants.

Sfor. You are the mistress of the feast − sit here,

O my soul's comfort! and when Sforza bows

Thus low to do you honour, let none think

The meanest service they can pay my love,

But as a fair addition to those titles

They stand possessed of. Let me glory in

My happiness, and mighty kings look pale

With envy, while I triumph in mine own.

O mother, look on her! sister, admire her!

And, since this present age yields not a woman

Worthy to be her second, borrow of

Times past, and let imagination help,

Of those canónized ladies Sparta boasts of,

And, in her greatness, Rome was proud to owe,

To fashion one; yet still you must confess,

The phoenix of perfection ne'er was seen,

But in my fair Marcelia.

Fran.                            She's, indeed,

The wonder of all times.

Tib.                                Your excellence,

Though I confess, you give her but her own,

Forces her modesty to the defence

Of a sweet blush.

Sfor.                   It need not, my Marcelia;

When most I strive to praise thee, I appear

A poor detractor: for thou art, indeed,

So absolute in body and in mind,

That, but to speak the least part to the height,

Would ask an angel's tongue, and yet then end

In silent admiration!

Isab.                       You still court her

As if she were a mistress, not your wife.

Sfor. A mistress, mother! she is more to me,

And every day deserves more to be sued to.

Such as are cloyed with those they have embraced,

May think their wooing done: no night to me

But is a bridal one, where Hymen lights

His torches fresh and new; and those delights,

Which are not to be clothed in airy sounds,

Enjoyed, beget desires as full of heat,

And jovial fervour, as when first I tasted

Her virgin fruit. − Blest night! and be it numbered

Amongst those happy ones, in which a blessing

Was, by the full consent of all the stars,

Conferred upon mankind.

Marcel.                           My worthiest lord!

The only object I behold with pleasure, −

My pride, my glory, in a word, my all!

Bear witness, Heaven, that I esteem myself

In nothing worthy of the meanest praise

You can bestow, unless it be in this,

That in my heart I love and honour you.

And, but that it would smell of arrogance,

To speak my strong desire and zeal to serve you,

I then could say, these eyes yet never saw

The rising sun, but that my vows and prayers

Were sent to Heaven for the prosperity

And safety of my lord: nor have I ever

Had other study, but how to appear

Worthy your favour; and that my embraces

Might yield a fruitful harvest of content

For all your noble travail, in the purchase

Of her that's still your servant. By these lips,

Which, pardon me, that I presume to kiss −

Sfor. O swear, forever swear!

Marcel.                                    I ne'er will seek

Delight but in your pleasure: and desire,

When you are sated with all earthly glories,

And age and honours make you fit for Heaven,

That one grave may receive us.

Sfor.                                         ‘Tis believed,

Believed, my blest one.

Mari.                           How she winds herself

Into his soul!

Sfor.            Sit all. − Let others feed

On those gross cates, while Sforza banquets with

Immortal viands ta'en in at his eyes.

I could live ever thus. − Command the eunuch

To sing the ditty that I last composed,

In praise of my Marceliá.

Enter a Courier.

                                       From whence?

Cour. From Pavia, my dread lord.

Sfor.                                             Speak, is all lost?

Cour. [Delivers a letter.]

The letter will inform you.


Fran.                                How his hand shakes,

As he receives it!

Mari.                  This is some allay

To his hot passion.

Sfor.                     Though it bring death, I'll read it:

“May it please your excellence to understand, that the

very hour I wrote this, heard a bold defiance delivered

by a herald from the emperor, which was cheerfully

received by the King of France. The battailes being

ready to join, and the vanguard committed to my charge

enforces me to end abruptly.

Your Highness's humble servant.


[Aside] “Ready to join!” − By this, then, I am nothing.

Or my estate secure.

Marcel.                   My lord.

Sfor.  [Aside]                     To doubt,

Is worse than to have lost; and to despair,

Is but to antedate those miseries

That must fall on us; all my hopes depending

Upon this battle's fortune. In my soul,

Methinks, there should be that imperious power,

By supernatural, not usual means,

To inform me what I am. − The cause considered,

Why should I fear? The French are bold and strong,

Their numbers full, and in their councils wise;

But then, the haughty Spaniard is all fire,

Hot in his executions; fortunate

In his attempts; married to victory: −

Ay, there it is that shakes me.

Fran.                                Excellent lady,

This day was dedicated to your honour;

One gale of your sweet breath will easily

Disperse these clouds; and, but yourself, there's none

That dare speak to him.

Marcel.                         I will run the hazard. −

My lord!

Sfor.    Ha! − pardon me, Marcelia, I am troubled;

And stand uncertain, whether I am master

Of aught that's worth the owning.

Marcel.                                          I am yours, sir;

And I have heard you swear, I being safe,

There was no loss could move you. This day, sir,

Is by your gift made mine. Can you revoke

A grant made to Marcelia? your Marcelia? −

For whose love, nay, whose honour, gentle sir,

All deep designs, and state-affairs deferred,

Be, as you purposed, merry.

Sfor.                                    Out of my sight!

[Throws away the letter.]

And all thoughts that may strangle mirth forsake me.

Fall what can fall, I dare the worst of fate:

Though the foundation of the earth should shrink,

The glorious eye of Heavèn lose his splendour,

Supported thus, I'll stand upon the ruins,

And seek for new life here. − Why are you sad?

No other sports! by Heaven, he's not my friend,

that wears one furrow in his face. I was told

There was a masque.

Fran.                      They wait your highness' pleasure,

And when you please to have it −

Sfor.                                           Bid them enter:

Come, make me happy once again. I am rapt −

'Tis not to-day, to-morrow, or the next,

But all my days, and years, shall be employed

To do thee honour.

Marcel.                 And my life to serve you.

[A horn without.]

Sfor. Another post! Go hang him, hang him, I say;

I will not interrupt my present pleasures,

Although his message should import my head:

Hang him, I say.

Marcel.             Nay, good sir, I am pleased

To grant a little intermission to you;

Who knows but he brings news we wish to hear,

To heighten our delights.

Sfor.                               As wise as fair!

Enter another Courier.

From Gaspero?

Cour.              That was, my lord.

Sfor.                                            How! dead?

Cour. [Delivers a letter.]

With the delivery of this, and prayers

To guard your excellency from certain dangers,

He ceased to be a man.


Sfor.                            All that my fears

Could fashion to me, or my enemies wish,

Is fallen upon me. − Silence that harsh music;

Tis now unseasonable: a tolling bell,

As a sad harbinger to tell me, that

This pampered lump of flesh must feast the worms,

Is fitter for me: − I am sick.

Marcel.                              My lord!

Sfor. Sick to the death, Marceliá. Remove

These signs of mirth; they were ominous, and but ushered

Sorrow and ruin.

Marcel.              Bless us, Heaven!

Isab.                                             My son.

Marcel. What sudden change is this?

Sfor.                                              All leave the room;

I'll bear alone the burden of my grief,

And must admit no partner. I am yet

Your prince, where's your obedience? − Stay, Marcelia;

I cannot be so greedy of a sorrow,

In which you must not share.

[Exeunt Tiberio, Stephano, Francisco,

Isabella, Mariana, and Attendants.]

Marcel.                                  And cheerfully

I will sustain my part. Why look you pale?

Where is that wonted constancy and courage,

That dared the worst of fortune? where is Sforza,

To whom all dangers that fright common men,

Appeared but panic terrors? why do you eye me

With such fixed looks? Love, counsel, duty, service,

May flow from me, not danger.

Sfor.                                         O, Marcelia!

It is for thee I fear; for thee, thy Sforza

Shakes like a coward: for myself, unmoved,

I could have heard my troops were cut in pieces,

My general slain, and he, on whom my hopes

Of rule, of state, of life, had their dependence,

The King of France, my greatest friend, made prisoner

To so proud enemies.

Marcel.                      Then you have just cause

To shew you are a man.

Sfor.                             All this were nothing,

Though I add to it, that I am assured,

For giving aid to this unfortunate king,

The emperor, incensed, lays his command

On his victorious army, fleshed with spoil,

And bold of conquest, to march up against me,

And seize on my estates: suppose that done too,

The city ta'en, the kennels running blood,

The ransacked temples falling on their saints:

My mother, in my sight, tossed on their pikes,

And sister ravished; and myself bound fast

In chains, to grace their triumph; or what else

An enemy's insolence could load me with,

I would be Sforza still. But, when I think

That my Marceliá, to whom all these

Are but as atoms to the greatest hill,

Must suffer in my cause, and for me suffer!

All earthly torments, nay, even those the damned

Howl for in hell, are gentle strokes, compared

To what I feel, Marcelia.

Marcel.                           Good sir, have patience:

I can as well partake your adverse fortune,

As I thus long have had an ample share

In your prosperity. 'Tis not in the power

Of fate to alter me; for while I am,

In spite of it, I'm yours.

Sfor.                             But should that will

To be so, be forced, Marcelia; and I live

To see those eyes I prize above my own,

Dart favours, though compelled, upon another;

Or those sweet lips, yielding immortal nectar,

Be gently touched by any but myself;

Think, think, Marcelia, what a cursèd thing

I were, beyond expression!

Marcel.                              Do not feed

Those jealous thoughts; the only blessing that

Heaven hath bestowed on us, more than on beasts,

Is, that 'tis in our pleasure when to die.

Besides, were I now in another's power,

There are so many ways to let out life,

I would not live, for one short minute, his;

I was born only yours, and I will die so.

Sfor. Angels reward the goodness of this woman!

Enter Francisco.

All I can pay is nothing. − Why, uncalled for?

Fran. It is of weight, sir, that makes me thus press

Upon your privacies. Your constant friend,

The Marquis of Pescara, tired with haste,

Hath business that concerns your life and fortunes,

And with speed, to impart.

Sfor.                                 Wait on him hither. −

[Exit Francisco.]

And, dearest, to thy closet. Let thy prayers

Assist my councils.

Marcel.                  To spare imprecations

Against myself, without you I am nothing.


Sfor. The Marquis of Pescara! a great soldier;

And, though he served upon the adverse party,

Ever my constant friend.

Re-enter Francisco with Pescara.

Fran.                             Yonder he walks,

Full of sad thoughts.

Pesc.                       Blame him not, good Francisco,

He hath much cause to grieve; would I might end so,

And not add this, − to fear!

Sfor.                                 My dear Pescara;

A miracle in these times! a friend, and happy,

Cleaves to a falling fortune!

Pesc.                                    If it were

As well in my weak power, in act, to raise it,

As 'tis to bear a part of sorrow with you,

You then should have just cause to say, Pescara

Looked not upon your state, but on your virtues,

When he made suit to be writ in the list

Of those you favoured. − But my haste forbids

All compliment; thus, then, sir, to the purpose:

The cause that, unattended, brought me hither,

Was not to tell you of your loss, or danger;

For fame hath many wings to bring ill tidings,

And I presume you've heard it; but to give you

Such friendly counsel, as, perhaps, may make

Your sad disaster less.

Sfor.                           You are all goodness;

And I give up myself to be disposed of,

As in your wisdom you think fit.

Pesc.                                           Thus, then, sir:

To hope you can hold out against the emperor,

Were flattery in yourself, to your undoing:

Therefore, the safest course that you can take,

Is to give up yourself to his discretion,

Before you be compelled; for, rest assured,

A voluntary yielding may find grace,

And will admit defence, at least, excuse:

But, should you linger doubtful, till his powers

Have seized your person and estates perforce,

You must expect extremes.

Sfor.                                   I understand you;

And I will put your counsel into act,

And speedily. I only will take order

For some domestical affairs, that do

Concern me nearly, and with the next sun

Ride with you: in the mean time, my best friend,

Pray take your rest.

Pesc.                      Indeed, I have travelled hard;

And will embrace your counsel.


Sfor.                                         With all care,

Attend my noble friend. − Stay you, Francisco.

You see how things stand with me?

Fran.                                              To my grief:

And if the loss of my poor life could be

A sacrifice to restore them as they were,

I willingly would lay it down.

Sfor.                                        I think so;

For I have ever found you true and thankful,

Which makes me love the building I have raised

In your advancement; and repent no grace

I have conferred upon you. And, believe me,

Though now I should repeat my favours to you,

The titles I have given you, and the means

Suitable to your honours; that I thought you

Worthy my sister and my family,

And in my dukedom made you next myself;

It is not to upbraid you; but to tell you

I find you are worthy of them, in your love

And service to me.

Fran.                    Sir, I am your creature;

And any shape, that you would have me wear,

I gladly will put on.

Sfor.                      Thus, then, Francisco:

I now am to deliver to your trust

A weighty secret; of so strange a nature,

And 'twill, I know, appear so monstrous to you,

That you will tremble in the execution,

As much as I am tortured to command it;

For 'tis a deed so horrid, that, but to hear it,

Would strike into a ruffian fleshed in murders,

Or an obdurate hangman, soft compassion;

And yet, Francisco, of all men the dearest,

And from me most deserving, such my state

And strange condition is, that thou alone

Must know the fatal service, and perform it.

Fran. These preparations, sir, to work a stranger,

Or to one unacquainted with your bounties,

Might appear useful; but to me they are

Needless impertinencies: for I dare do

Whate'er you dare command.

Sfor.                                      But you must swear it;

And put into the oath all joys or torments

That fright the wicked, or confirm the good;

Not to conceal it only, that is nothing,

But, whensoe'er my will shall speak, "Strike now!"

To fall upon't like thunder.

Fran.                                Minister

The oath in any way or form you please,

I stand resolved to take it.

Sfor.                                Thou must do, then,

What no malevolent star will dare to look on,

It is so wicked: for which men will curse thee

For being the instrument; and the blest angels

Forsake me at my need, for being the author:

For 'tis a deed of night, of night, Francisco!

In which the memory of all good actions

We can pretend to, shall be buried quick:

Or, if we be remembered, it shall be

To fright posterity by our example,

That have outgone all precedents of villains

That were before us; and such as succeed,

Though taught in hell's black school, shall ne'er come near us. −

Art thou not shaken yet?

Fran.                             I grant you move me:

But to a man confirmed −

Sfor.                              I'll try your temper:

What think you of my wife?

Fran.                                  As a thing sacred;

To whose fair name and memory I pay gladly

These signs of duty.

Sfor.                        Is she not the abstract

Of all that's rare, or to be wished in woman?

Fran. It were a kind of blasphemy to dispute it:

But to the purpose, sir.

Sfor.                            Add too, her goodness,

Her tenderness of me, her care to please me.

Her unsuspected chastity, ne'er equaled;

Her innocence, her honour: − O, I am lost

In the ocean of her virtues and her graces,

When I think of them!

Fran.                         Now I find the end

Of all your conjurations; there's some service

To be done for this sweet lady. If she have enemies,

That she would have removed −

Sfor.                                         Alas! Francisco,

Her greatest enemy is her greatest lover;

Yet, in that hatred, her idolater.

One smile of hers would make a savage tame;

One accent of that tongue would calm the seas,

Though all the winds at once strove there for empire.

Yet I, for whom she thinks all this too little,

Should I miscarry in this present journey,

From whence it is all number to a cipher,

I ne'er return with honour, by thy hand

Must have her murdered.

Fran.                           Murdered! − She that loves so,

And so deserves to be beloved again!

And I, who sometimes you were pleased to favour,

Picked out the instrument!

Sfor.                                Do not fly off:

What is decreed can never be recalled;

'Tis more than love to her, that marks her out

A wished companion to me in both fortunes:

And strong assurance of thy zealous faith,

That gives up to thy trust a secret, that

Racks should not have forced from me. O, Francisco!

There is no Heaven without her; nor a hell,

Where she resides. I ask from her but justice.

And what I would have paid to her, had sickness,

Or any other accident, divorced

Her purer soul from her unspotted body.

The slavish Indian princes, when they die,

Are cheerfully attended to the fire,

By the wife and slave that, living, they loved best,

To do them service in another world:

Nor will I be less honoured, that love more.

And therefore trifle not, but, in thy looks,

Express a ready purpose to perform

What I command; or, by Marcelia's soul,

This is thy latest minute.

Fran.                             'Tis not fear

Of death, but love to you, makes me embrace it;

But for mine own security, when 'tis done,

What warrant have I? If you please to sign one,

I shall, though with unwillingness and horror,

Perform your dreadful charge.

Sfor.                                        I will, Francisco:

But still remember, that a prince's secrets

Are balm concealed; but poison, if discovered.

I may come back; then this is but a trial

To purchase thee, if it were possible,

A nearer place in my affection: − but

I know thee honest.

Fran.                     'Tis a character

I will not part with.

Sfor.                      I may live to reward it.




The same.

An open space before the Castle.

Enter Tiberio and Stephano.

Steph. How! left the court?

Tib.                                   Without guard or retinue

Fitting a prince.

Steph.              No enemy near, to force him

To leave his own strengths, yet deliver up

Himself, as 'twere, in bonds, to the discretion

Of him that hates him! 'tis beyond example.

You never heard the motives that induced him

To this strange course?

Tib.                             No, those are cabinet councils,

And not to be communicated, but

To such as are his own, and sure. Alas!

We fill up empty places, and in public

Are taught to give our suffrages to that

Which was before determined; and are safe so.

Signior Francisco (upon whom alone

His absolute power is, with all strength, conferred,

During his absence) can with ease resolve you:

To me they are riddles.

Steph.                         Well, he shall not be

My Oedipus; I'll rather dwell in darkness.

But, my good lord Tiberio, this Francisco

Is, on the sudden, strangely raised.

Tib.                                                O sir,

He took the thriving course; he had a sister,

A fair one too, with whom, as it is rumoured,

The duke was too familiar; but she, cast off,

(What promises soever passed between them,)

Upon the sight of this, forsook the court,

And since was never seen. To smother this,

As honours never fail to purchase silence,

Francisco first was graced, and, step by step,

Is raised up to this height.

Steph.                               But how is

His absence borne?

Tib.                      Sadly, it seems, by the duchess;

For since he left the court,

For the most part she hath kept her private chamber,

No visitants admitted. In the church

She hath been seen to pay her pure devotions,

Seasoned with tears; and sure her sorrow's true,

Or deeply counterfeited; pomp, and state,

And bravery cast off: and she, that lately

Rivalled Poppaea in her varied shapes,

Or the Egyptian queen, now, widow-like,

In sable colours, as her husband's dangers

Strangled in her the use of any pleasure,

Mourns for his absence.

Steph.                            It becomes her virtue,

And does confirm what was reported of her.

Tib. You take it right: but, on the other side.

The darling of his mother, Mariana,

As there were an antipathy between

Her and the duchess' passions; and as

She'd no dependence on her brother's fortune,

She ne'er appeared so full of mirth.

Steph.                                             'Tis strange.

Enter Graccho with Fiddlers.

But see! her favourite, and accompanied,

To your report.

Grac.             You shall scrape, and I will sing

A scurvy ditty to a scurvy tune,

Repine who dares.

1stFid.                  But if we should offend,

The duchess having silenced us; and these lords

Stand by to hear us −

Grac.                      They in name are lords,

But I am one in power: and, for the duchess,

But yesterday we were merry for her pleasure,

We now'll be for my lady's.

Tib.                                     Signior Graccho.

Grac. A poor man, sir, a servant to the princess;

But you, great lords and counsellors of state,

Whom I stand bound to reverence.

Tib.                                               Come; we know

You are a man in grace.

Grac.                            Fie! no: I grant,

I bear my fortunes patiently − serve the princess,

And have access at all times to her closet,

Such is my impudence! when your grave lordships

Are masters of the modesty to attend

Three hours, nay sometimes four; and then bid wait

Upon her the next morning.

Steph.                                 He derides us.

Tib. Pray you, what news is stirring? you know all.

Grac. Who, I? alas! I've no intelligence

At home nor abroad; I only sometimes guess

The change of the times: I should ask of your lordships,

Who are to keep their honours, who to lose them;

Who the duchess smiled on last, or on whom frowned,

You only can resolve me; we poor waiters

Deal, as you see, in mirth, and foolish fiddles:

It is our element; and − could you tell me

What point of state 'tis that I am commanded

To muster up this music, on mine honesty,

You should much befriend me.

Steph.                                   Sirrah, you grow saucy.

Tib. And would be laid by the heels.

Grac.                                         Not by your lordships,

Without a special warrant; look to your own stakes;

Were I committed, here come those would bail me:

Perhaps, we might change places too.

Enter Isabella, and Mariana;

Graccho whispers the latter.

Tib.                                                    The princess!

We must be patient.

Steph.                     There is no contending.

Tib. See, the informing rogue!

Steph.                                     That we should stoop

To such a mushroom!

Mari.                        Thou dost mistake; they durst not

Use the least word of scorn, although provoked,

To anything of mine. − Go, get you home,

And to your servants, friends, and flatterers, number

How many descents you're noble: − look to your wives too;

The smooth-chinned courtiers are abroad.

Tib. No way to be a freeman!

[Exeunt Tiberio and Stephano.]

Grac. Your Excellence hath the best gift to dispatch

These arras pictures of nobility

I ever read of.

Mari.             I can speak sometimes.

Grac. And cover so your bitter pills with sweetness

Of princely language to forbid reply,

They are greedily swallowed.

Isab.                                    But the purpose, daughter,

That brings us hither? Is it to bestow

A visit on this woman, that, because

She only would be thought truly to grieve

The absence and the dangers of my son,

Proclaims a general sadness?

Mari.                                     If to vex her

May be interpreted to do her honour,

She shall have many of them. I’ll make use

Of my short reign: my lord now governs all;

And she shall know that her idolater,

My brother, being not by now to protect her,

I am her equal.

Grac. [Aside] Of a little thing,

It is so full of gall! A devil of this size,

Should they run for a wager to be spiteful,

Gets not a horse-head of her.

Mari.                                    On her birthday,

We were forced to be merry, and now she's musty,

We must be sad, on pain of her displeasure:

We will, we will! this is her private chamber,

Where, like an hypocrite, not a true turtle,

She seems to mourn her absent mate; her servants

Attending her like mutes: but I'll speak to her,

And in a high key too. − Play anything

That's light and loud enough but to torment her,

And we will have rare sport.

[Music and a song.]

Marcelia appears at a window above, in black.

Isab.                                     She frowns as if

Her looks could fright us.

Mari.                              May it please your greatness,

We heard that your late physic hath not worked;

And that breeds melancholy, as your doctor tells us:

To purge which, we, that are born your highness' vassals,

And are to play the fool to do you service,

Present you with a fit of mirth. What think you

Of a new antic?

Isab.                'Twould shew rare in ladies.

Mari. Being intended for so sweet a creature,

Were she but pleased to grace it.

Isab.                                           Fie! she will,

Be it ne'er so mean; she's made of courtesy.

Mari. The mistress of all hearts. One smile, I pray you,

On your poor servants, or a fiddler's fee;

Coming from those fair hands, though but a ducat,

We will enshrine it as a holy relic.

Isab. 'Tis wormwood, and it works.

Marcel.                                            If I lay by

My fears and griefs, in which you should be sharers,

If doting age could let you but remember

You have a son; − or frontless impudence,

You are a sister; and, in making answer

To what was most unfit for you to speak,

Or me to hear, borrow of my just anger −

Isab. A set speech, on my life.

Mari.                                       Penned by her chaplain.

Marcel. Yes, it can speak, without instruction speak,

And tell your want of manners, that you are rude,

And saucily rude, too.

Grac.                         Now the game begins.

Marcel. You durst not, else, on any hire or hope,

Remembering what I am, and whose I am,

Put on the desperate boldness, to disturb

The least of my retirements.

Mari.                                   Note her, now.

Marcel. For both shall understand, though the one presume

Upon the privilege due to a mother,

The duke stands now on his own legs, and needs

No nurse to lead him.

Isab.                         How, a nurse!

Marcel.                                          A dry one,

And useless too: − but I am merciful,

And dotage signs your pardon.

Isab.                                         I defy thee;

Thee, and thy pardons, proud one!

Marcel.                                       For you, puppet −

Mari. What of me, pine-tree?

Marcel.                                  Little you are, I grant,

And have as little worth, but much less wit;

You durst not else, the duke being wholly mine,

His power and honour mine, and the allegiance,

You owe him as a subject, due to me −

Mari. To you?

Marcel.          To me: and therefore, as a vassal,

From this hour learn to serve me, or you'll feel

I must make use of my authority,

And, as a princess, punish it.

Isab.                                    A princess!

Mari. I had rather be a slave unto a Moor,

Than know thee for my equal.

Isab.                                       Scornful thing!

Proud of a white face.

Mari.                         Let her but remember

The issue in her leg.

Isab.                       The charge she puts

The state to, for perfumes.

Mari.                                And howsoe'er

She seems, when she's made up, as she's herself,

She stinks above the ground. O that I could reach you!

The little one you scorn so, with her nails

Would tear your painted face, and scratch those eyes out.

Do but come down.

Marcel.                  Were there no other way,

But leaping on thy neck, to break my own,

Rather than be outbraved thus −

[She retires.]

Grac. [Aside]                          Forty ducats

Upon the little hen; she's of the kind,

And will not leave the pit.

Mari.                               That it were lawful

to meet her with a poniard and a pistol.

But these weak hands shall shew my spleen −

Re-enter Marcelia below.

Marcel.                                              Where are you,

You modicum, you dwarf!

Mari.                                Here, giantess, here.

Enter Francisco, Tiberio, Stephano, and Guards.

Fran. A tumult in the court!

Mari.                                   Let her come on.

Fran. What wind hath raised this tempest? Sever

Them, I command you. What's the cause?

Speak, Mariana.

Mari.                I am out of breath;

But we shall meet, we shall − And do you hear, sir!

Or right me on this monster, (she's three feet

Too high for a woman,) or ne'er look to have

A quiet hour with me.

Isab.                           If my son were here,

And would endure this, may a mother's curse

Pursue and overtake him!

Fran.                              O forbear:

In me he's present, both in power and will; −

[to Marcelia] And, madam, I much grieve that, in his absence,

There should arise the least distaste to move you;

It being his principal, nay, only charge,

To have you in his absence, served and honoured,

As when himself performed the willing office.

Mari. This is fine, i' faith.

Grac.                               I would I were well off!

Fran. And therefore, I beseech you, madam, frown not,

Till most unwittingly he hath deserved it,

On your poor servant; to your Excellence

I ever was and will be such; and lay

The duke's authority, trusted to me,

With willingness at your feet.

Mari.                                     O base!

Isab.                                                We are like

To have an equal judge!

Fran.                            But, should I find

That you are touched in any point of honour,

Or that the least neglect is fall'n upon you,

I then stand up a prince.

1stFid.                     Without reward,

Pray you dismiss us.

Grac. Would I were five leagues hence!

Fran.                                                  I will be partial

To none, not to myself;

Be you but pleased to shew me my offence,

Or if you hold me in your good opinion,

Name those that have offended you.

Isab.                                                 I am one,

And I will justify it.

Mari.                     Thou art a base fellow,

To take her part.

Fran.                Remember, she's the duchess.

Marcel. But used with more contempt, than if I were

A peasant's daughter; baited, and hooted at,

Like to a common strumpet; with loud noises

Forced from my prayers; and my private chamber,

Which with all willingness, I would make my prison

During the absence of my lord, denied me:

But if he e'er return −

Fran. [to Mariana]  Were you an actor

In this lewd comedy?

Mari.                       Ay, marry was I;

And will be one again.

Isab.                            I'll join with her,

Though you repine at it.

Fran.                            Think not, then, I speak,

For I stand bound to honour, and to serve you;

But that the duke, that lives in this great lady,

For the contempt of him in her, commands you

To be close prisoners.

Isab. and Mari.            Prisoners!

Fran.                                         Bear them hence;

This is your charge, my lord Tiberio,

And, Stephano, this is yours.

Marcel.                                 I am not cruel,

But pleased they may have liberty.

Isab.                                     Pleased, with a mischief!

Mari. I'll rather live in any loathsome dungeon,

Than in a paradise at her entreaty:

And, for you, upstart −

Steph.                        There is no contending.

Tib. What shall become of these?

Fran.                                    See them well whipped,

As you will answer it.

Tib.                           Now, Signior Graccho,

What think you of your greatness?

Grac.                                             I preach patience,

And must endure my fortune.

1stFid.                                   I was never yet

At such a hunt's-up, nor was so rewarded.

[Exeunt all but Francisco and Marcelia.]

Fran. Let them first know themselves, and how you are

To be served and honoured; which, when they confess,

You may again receive them to your favour:

And then it will shew nobly.

Marcel.                               With my thanks

The duke shall pay you his, if he return

To bless us with his presence.

Fran.                                     There is nothing

That can be added to your fair acceptance;

That is the prize, indeed; all else are blanks,

And of no value. As, in virtuous actions,

The undertaker finds a full reward,

Although conferred upon unthankful men;

So, any service done to so much sweetness,

However dangerous, and subject to

An ill construction, in your favour finds

A wished and glorious end.

Marcel.                               From you, I take this

As loyal duty; but, in any other,

It would appear gross flattery.

Fran.                                      Flattery, madam!

You are so rare and excellent in all things,

And raised so high upon a rock of goodness,

As that vice cannot reach you; who but looks on

This temple, built by nature to perfection,

But must bow to it; and out of that zeal,

Not only learn to adore it, but to love it?

Marcel. [Aside] Whither will this fellow?

Fran.                                Pardon, therefore, madam,

If an excess in me of humble duty,

Teach me to hope, and though it be not in

The power of man to merit such a blessing,

My piety, for it is more than love,

May find reward.

Marcel.               You have it in my thanks;

And, on my hand, I am pleased that you shall take

A full possession of it: but, take heed

That you fix here, and feed no hope beyond it;

If you do, it will prove fatal.

Fran.                                   Be it death,

And death with torments tyrants ne'er found out,

Yet I must say, I love you.

Marcel.                             As a subject;

And 'twill become you.

Fran.                           Farewell, circumstance! −

And since you are not pleased to understand me,

But by a plain and usual form of speech;

All superstitious reverence laid by,

I love you as a man, and, as a man,

I would enjoy you. Why do you start, and fly me?

I am no monster, and you but a woman,

A woman made to yield, and by example

Told it is lawful: favours of this nature

Are, in our age, no miracles in the greatest;

And, therefore, lady −

Marcel.                     Keep off! − O you Powers! −

Libidinous beast! and, add to that, unthankful!

A crime, which creatures wanting reason fly from!

Are all the princely bounties, favours, honours,

Which, with some prejudice to his own wisdom,

Thy lord and raiser hath conferred upon thee,

In three days' absence buried? Hath I made thee,

A thing obscure, almost without a name,

The envy of great fortunes? Have I graced thee,

Beyond thy rank, and entertain thee, as

A friend, and not a servant? And is this,

This impudent attempt to taint my honour,

The fair return of both our ventured favours!

Fran. Hear my excuse.

Marcel.                       The devil may plead mercy,

And with as much assurance, as thou yield one.

Burns lust so hot in thee? or is thy pride,

Grown up to such a height, that, but a princess,

No woman can content thee; and, add to it,

His wife and princess, to whom thou art tied

In all the bonds of duty? – Read my life,

And find one act of mine so loosely carried,

That could invite a most self-loving fool,

Set off with all that fortune could throw on him,

To the least hope to find way to my favour;

And, what's the worst mine enemies wish me,

I'll be thy strumpet.

Fran.                     ‘Tis acknowledged, madam,

That your whole course of life hath been a pattern

For chaste and virtuous women. In your beauty,

Which I first saw and loved, as a fair crystal,

I read your heavenly mind, clear and untainted;

And while the duke did prize you to your value,

Could it have been in man to pay that duty,

I well might envy him, but durst not hope

To stop you in your full career of goodness:

But now I find that he's fall'n from his fortune,

And, howsoever he would appear doting,

Grown cold in his affection; I presume,

From his most barbarous neglect of you,

To offer my true service. Nor stand I bound,

To look back on the courtesies of him,

That, of all living men, is most unthankful.

Marcel. Unheard-of impudence!

Fran.                                       You'll say I am modest,

When I have told the story. Can he tax me,

That have received some worldly trifles from him,

For being ungrateful; when he, that first tasted,

And hath so long enjoyed, your sweet embraces,

In which all blessings that our frail condition

Is capable of are wholly comprehended,

As cloyed with happiness, contemns the give

Of his felicity; and, as he reached not

The masterpiece of mischief which he aims at,

Unless he pay those favours he stands bound to,

With fell and deadly hate! − You think he loves you

With unexampled fervour; nay, dotes on you,

As there were something in you more than woman:

When, on my knowledge, he long since hath wished

You were among the dead; − and I, you scorn so,

Perhaps, am your preserver.

Marcel.                                Bless me, good angels,

Or I am blasted! Lies so false and wicked,

And fashioned to so damnable a purpose,

Cannot be spoken by a human tongue.

My husband hate me! give thyself the lie,

False and accursed! Thy soul, if thou hast any,

Can witness, never lady stood so bound

To the unfeigned affection of her lord,

As I do to my Sforza. If thou wouldst work

Upon my weak credulity, tell me, rather,

That the earth moves; the sun and stars stand still;

The ocean keeps nor floods nor ebbs; or that

There's peace between the lion and the lamb;

Or that the ravenous eagle and the dove

Keep in one aerie, and bring up their young;

Or anything that is averse to nature:

And I will sooner credit it, than that

My lord can think of me, but as a jewel

He loves more than himself, and all the world.

Fran. O innocence abused! simplicity cozened!

It were a sin, for which we have no name,

To keep you longer in this wilful error.

Read his affection here;

[Gives her a paper.]

                                      and then observe

How dear he holds you! 'Tis his character,

Which cunning yet could never counterfeit.

Marcel. 'Tis his hand, I'm resolved of it. I'll try

What the inscription is.

Fran.                           Pray you, do so.

Marcel. [Reads] You know my pleasure, and the

hour of Marcelia’s death, which fail not to execute,

as you will answer the contrary, not with your

head alone, but with the ruin of your whole family.

And this, written with mine own hand, and signed

with my privy signet, shall be your sufficient warrant.


I do obey it! every word's a poniard,

And reaches to my heart.


Fran.                             What have I done?

Madam! for Heaven's sake, madam! − O my fate!

I'll bend her body: this is yet some pleasure:

I'll kiss her into a new life. Dear lady! −

She stirs. For the duke's sake, for Sforza's sake −

Marcel. Sforza's! stand off; though dead, I will be his,

And even my ashes shall abhor the touch

Of any other. − O unkind, and cruel!

Learn, women, learn to trust in one another;

There is no faith in man: Sforza is false,

False to Marceliá!

Fran.                  But I am true,

And live to make you happy. All the pomp,

State, and observance you had, being his,

Compared to what you shall enjoy, when mine,

Shall be no more remembered. Lose his memory,

And look with cheerful beams on your new creature;

And know, what he hath plotted for your good,

Fate cannot alter. If the emperór

Take not his life, at his return he dies,

And by my hand: my wife, that is his heir,

Shall quickly follow: − then we reign alone!

For with this arm I'll swim through seas of blood,

Or make a bridge, arched with the bones of men,

But I will grasp my aims in you, my dearest,

Dearest, and best of women!

Marcel.                                Thou art a villain!

All attributes of arch-villains made into one,

Cannot express thee. I prefer the hate

Of Sforza, though it mark me for the grave,

Before thy base affection. I am yet

Pure and unspotted in my true love to him;

Nor shall it be corrupted, though he's tainted:

Nor will I part with innocence, because

He is found guilty. For thyself, thou art

A thing that, equal with the devil himself,

I do detest and scorn.

Fran.                        Thou, then, art nothing:

Thy life is in my power, disdainful woman!

Think on't, and tremble.

Marcel.                         No, though thou wert now

To play thy hangman's part. − Thou well may'st be

My executioner, and art only fit

For such employment; but ne'er hope to have

The least grace from me. I will never see thee,

But as the shame of men: so, with my curses

Of horror to thy conscience in this life,

And pains in hell hereafter, I spit at thee;

And, making haste to make my peace with Heaven,

Expect thee as my hangman.


Fran.                                    I am lost

In the discovery of this fatal secret.

Cursed hope, that flattered me, that wrongs could make her

A stranger to her goodness! all my plots

Turn back upon myself; but I am in,

And must go on: and, since I have put off

From the shore of innocence, guilt be now my pilot!

Revenge first wrought me; Murder's his twin brother:

One deadly sin, then, help to cure another!




The Imperial Camp, before Pavia.

Enter Medina, Hernando, and Alphonso.

Med. The spoil, the spoil! 'tis that the soldier fights for.

Our victory, as yet, affords us nothing

But wounds and empty honour. We have passed

The hazard of a dreadful day, and forced 

A passage with our swords through all the dangers

That, page-like, wait on the success of war;

And now expect reward.

Hern.                             Hell put it in

The enemy's mind to be desperate, and hold out!

Yieldings and compositions will undo us;

And what is that way given, for the most part,

Comes to the emperor's coffers to defray

The charge of the great action, as 'tis rumoured:

When, usually, some thing in grace, that ne'er heard

The cannon's roaring tongue, but at a triumph,

Puts in, and for his intercession shares

All that we fought for; the poor soldier left

To starve, or fill up hospitals.

Alph.                                     But, when

We enter towns by force, and carve ourselves

Pleasure with pillage. and the richest wines

Open our shrunk-up veins, and pour into them

New blood and fervour −

Med.                               I long to be at it;

To see these chuffs, that every day may spend

A soldier's entertainment for a year,

Yet make a third meal of a bunch of raisins;

These sponges, that suck up a kingdom's fat,

Battening like scarabs in the dung of peace,

To be squeezed out by the rough hand of war;

And all that their whole lives have heaped together,

By cozenage, perjury, or sordid thrift,

With one gripe to be ravished.

Hern.                                       I would be tousing

Their fair madonnas, that in little dogs,

Monkeys, and paraquittos, consume thousands;

Yet, for the advancement of a noble action,

Repine to part with a poor piece of eight:

War's plagues upon them! I have seen them stop

Their scornful noses first, then seem to swoon,

At sight of a buff jerkin, if it were not

Perfumed, and hid with gold: yet these nice wantons,

Spurred on by lust, covered in some disguise,

To meet some rough court-stallion, and be leaped,

Durst enter into any common brothel,

Though all varieties of stink contend there;

Yet praise the entertainment.

Med.                                     I may live

To see the tattered'st rascals of my troop

Drag them out of their closets, with a vengeance!

When neither threatening, flattering, kneeling, howling,

Can ransom one poor jewel, or redeem

Themselves, from their blunt wooing.

Hern.                                               My main hope is,

To begin the sport at Milan: there's enough,

And of all kinds of pleasure we can wish for,

To satisfy the most covetous.

Alph.                                     Every day

We look for a remove.

Med.                          For Lodowick Sforza,

The Duke of Milan, I, on mine own knowledge,

Can say thus much: he is too much a soldier,

Too confident of his own worth, too rich too,

And understands too well the emperor hates him,

To hope for composition.

Alph.                              On my life,

We need not fear his coming in.

Hern.                                        On mine,

I do not wish it: I had rather that,

To shew his valour, he'd put us to the trouble

To fetch him in by the ears.

Med.                                   The emperor!

Flourish. Enter Charles, Pescara, and Attendants.

Charl. You make me wonder: nay, it is no counsel,

You may partake it, gentlemen: who'd have thought,

That he, that scorned our proffered amity

When he was sued to, should, ere he be summoned,

(Whether persuaded to it by base fear,

Or flattered by false hope, which, 'tis uncertain,)

First kneel for mercy?

Med.                        When your majesty

Shall please to instruct us who it is, we may

Admire it with you.

Charl.                   Who, but the Duke of Milan,

The right hand of the French! of all that stand

In our displeasure, whom necessity

Compels to seek our favour, I would have sworn

Sforza had been the last.

Hern.                            And should be writ so,

In the list of those you pardon. Would his city

Had rather held us out a siege, like Troy,

Than, by a feigned submission, he should cheat you

Of a just revenge; or us, of those fair glories

We have sweat blood to purchase!

Med.                                            With your honour

You cannot hear him.

Alph.                         The sack alone of Milan

Will pay the army.

Charl.                   I am not so weak,

To be wrought on, as you fear! nor ignorant

That money is the sinew of the war;

And on what terms soever he seek peace,

'Tis in our power to grant it, or deny it:

Yet, for our glory, and to shew him that

We've brought him on his knees, it is resolved

To hear him as a suppliant. Bring him in;

But let him see the effects of our just anger,

In the guard that you make for him.

[Exit Pescara.]

Hern. [Aside to Medina]                 I am now

Familiar with the issue; all plagues on it!

He will appear in some dejected habit,

His countenance suitable, and, for his order,

A rope about his neck: then kneel and tell

Old stories, what a worthy thing it is

To have the power, and not to use it; then add to that

A tale of King Tigranes and great Pompey,

Who said, forsooth, and wisely! 'twas more honour

To make a king than kill one; which, applied

To the emperor, and himself, a pardon's granted

To him an enemy; and we, his servants,

Condemned to beggary.

Med.                             Yonder he comes;

But not as you expected.

Re-enter Pescara with Sforza, strongly guarded.

Alph. [Aside to Medina] He looks as if

He would outface his dangers.

Hern.                                       I am cozened:

A suitor, in the devil's name!

Med.                                     Hear him speak.

Sfor. I come not, emperor, to invade thy mercy,

By fawning on thy fortune; nor bring with me

Excuses, or denials. I profess,

And with a good man's confidence, even this instant

That I am in thy power, I was thine enemy;

Thy deadly and vowed enemy: one that wished

Confusion to thy person and estates;

And with my utmost powers, and deepest counsels,

Had they been truly followed, furthered it.

Nor will I now, although my neck were under

The hangman's axe, with one poor syllable

Confess, but that I honoured the French king,

More than myself, and all men.

Med.                                         By Saint Jacques,

This is no flattery.

Hern.                   There is fire and spirit in't;

But not long-lived, I hope,

Sfor.                                  Now give me leave,

My hate against thyself, and love to him

Freely acknowledged, to give up the reasons

That make me so affected: in my wants

I ever found him faithful; had supplies

Of men and monies from him; and my hopes,

Quite sunk, were, by his grace, buoyed up again;

He was, indeed, to me, as my good angel

To guard me from all dangers. I dare speak,

Nay, must and will, his praise now, in as high

And loud a key, as when he was thy equal. −

The benefits he sowed in me, met not

Unthankful ground, but yielded him his own

With fair increase, and I still glory in it.

And though my fortunes poor, compared to his,

And Milan, weighed with France, appear as nothing,

Are in thy fury burnt, let it be mentioned,

They served but as small tapers to attend

The solemn flame at this great funeral;

And with them I will gladly waste myself,

Rather than undergo the imputation

Of being base, or unthankful.

Alph.                                    Nobly spoken!

Hern. I do begin, I know not why, to hate him

Less than I did.

Sfor.                If that, then, to be grateful

For courtesies received, or not to leave

A friend in his necessities, be a crime

Amongst you Spaniárds, which other nations

That, like you, aimed at empire, loved, and cherished

Where'er they found it, Sforza brings his head

To pay the forfeit. Nor come I as a slave,

Pinioned and fettered, in a squalid weed,

Falling before thy feet, kneeling and howling,

For a forestalled remission: that were poor,

And would but shame thy victory; for conquest

Over base foes is a captivity,

And not a triumph. I ne'er feared to die,

More than I wished to live. When I had reached

My ends in being a duke, I wore these robes,

This crown upon my head, and to my side

This sword was girt; and witness truth that now

'Tis in another's power, when I shall part

With them and life together, I'm the same:

My veins then did not swell with pride; nor now

Shrink they for fear. Know, sir, that Sforza stands

Prepared for either fortune.

Hern.                                 As I live,

I do begin strangely to love this fellow;

And could part with three-quarters of my share in

The promised spoil, to save him.

Sfor.                                           But, if example

Of my fidelity to the French, whose honours,

Titles, and glories, are now mixed with yours,

As brooks, devoured by rivers, lose their names,

Has power to invite you to make him a friend,

That hath given evident proof he knows to love,

And to be thankful: this my crown, now yours,

You may restore me, and in me instruct

These brave commanders, should your fortune change,

Which now I wish not, what they may expect

From noble enemies, for being faithful;

The charges of the war I will defray,

And, what you may, not without hazard, force,

Bring freely to you: I'll prevent the cries

Of murdered infants, and of ravished maids,

Which in a city sacked, call on Heaven's justice,

And stop the course of glorious victories:

And, when I know the captains and the soldiers,

That have in the late battle done best service,

And are to be rewarded, I myself,

According to their quality and merits,

Will see them largely recompensed. − I have said,

And now expect my sentence.

Alph.                                     By this light, −

‘Tis a brave gentleman.

Med.                            How like a block

The emperor sits!

Hern.                 He hath delivered reasons,

Especially in his purpose to enrich

Such as fought bravely, (I myself am one,

I care not who knows it,) as I wonder that

He can be so stupid. Now he begins to stir:

Mercy, an't be thy will!

Charl.                         Thou hast so far

Outgone my expectation, noble Sforza, −

For such I hold thee, − and true constancy,

Raised on a brave foundation, bears such palm

And privilege with it, that where we behold it,

Though in an enemy, it does command us

To love and honour it. By my future hopes,

I am glad for thy sake that in seeking favour

Thou did'st not borrow of Vice her indirect, 

Crooked, and abject means; and for mine own,

That, since my purposes must now be changed

Touching thy life and fortunes, the world cannot

Tax me of levity in my settled counsels;

I being neither wrought by tempting bribes,

Nor servile flattery, but forced into it

By a fair war of virtue.

Hern.                          This sounds well.

Char. All former passages of hate be buried:

For thus with open arms I meet thy love,

And as a friend embrace it; and so far

I am from robbing thee of the least honour,

That with my hands, to make it sit the faster,

I set thy crown once more upon thy head;

And do not only style thee Duke of Milan,

But vow to keep thee so. Yet, not to take

From others to give only to myself,

I will not hinder your magnificence

To my commanders, neither will I urge it;

But in that, as in all things else, I leave you

To be your own disposer.

[Flourish. Exit with Attendants.]

Sfor.                               May I live.

To seal my loyalty, though with loss of life,

In some brave service worthy Caesar's favour,

I shall die most happy! Gentlemen,

Receive me to your loves; and, if henceforth

There can arise a difference between us,

It shall be in a noble emulation

Who hath the fairest sword, or dare go farthest,

To fight for Charles the emperor.

Hern.                                         We embrace you,

As one well read in all the points of honour:

And there we are your scholars.

Sfor.                                         True; but such

As far outstrip the master. We'll contend

In love hereafter: in the meantime, pray you,

Let me discharge my debt, and, as an earnest

Of what's to come, divide this cabinet:

In the small body of it there are jewels

Will yield a hundred thousand pistolets,

Which honour me to receive.

Med.                                     You bind us to you.

Sfor. And when great Charles commands me to his presence,

If you will please to excuse my abrupt departure,

Designs that most concern me, next this mercy,

Calling me home, I shall hereafter meet you,

And gratify the favour.

Hern.                           In this, and all things,

We are your servants.

Sfor.                          A name I ever owe you.

[Exeunt Medina, Hernando, and Alphonso.]

Pesc. So, sir; this tempest is well overblown,

And all things fall out to our wishes: but,

In my opinión, this quick return,

Before you've made a party in the court

Among the great ones, (for these needy captains

Have little power in peace,) may beget danger,

At least suspicion.

Sfor.                   Where true honour lives,

Doubt hath no being: I desire no pawn

Beyond an emperor's word, for my assurance.

Besides, Pescara, to thyself, of all men,

I will confess my weakness: − though my state

And crown's restored me, though I am in grace,

And that a little stay might be a step

To greater honours, I must hence. Alas

I live not here; my wife, my wife, Pescara,

Being absent, I am dead. Prithee, excuse,

And do not chide, for friendship's sake, my fondness;

But ride along with me: I'll give you reasons,

And strong ones, to plead for me.

Pesc.                                      Use your own pleasure;

I'll bear you company,

Sfor.                           Farewell, grief! I am stored with

Two blessings most desired in human life,

A constant friend, an unsuspected wife.




A Room in the Castle.

Enter an Officer with Graccho.

Offic. What I did, I had warrant for; you have tasted

My office gently, and for those soft strokes,

Flea-bitings to the jerks I could have lent you,

There does belong a feeing.

Grac.                                 Must I pay

For being tormented and dishonoured?

Offic.                                                 Fie! no,

Your honour’s not impaired in't. What's the letting out

Of a little corrupt blood, and the next way too?

There is no surgeon like me, to take off

A courtier's itch that's rampant at great ladies,

Or turns knave for preferment, or grows proud

Of his rich cloaks and suits, though got by brokage,

And so forgets his betters.

Grac.                               Very good, sir:

But am I the first man of quality

That e'er came under your fingers?

Offic.                                            Not by a thousand;

And they have said I have a lucky hand too:

Both men and women of all sorts have bowed

Under this sceptre. I have had a fellow

That could indite, forsooth, and make fine metres

To tinkle in the ears of ignorant madams,

That, for defaming of great men, was sent me

Threadbare and lousy, and in three days after,

Discharged by another that set him on. I have seen him

Cap à pié gallant, and his stripes washed off

With oil of angels.

Grac.                   'Twas a sovereign cure.

Offic. There was a sectary too, that would not be

Conformable to the orders of the church,

Nor yield to any argument of reason,

But still rail at authority, brought to me,

When I had wormed his tongue, and trussed his haunches,

Grew a fine pulpit man, and was beneficed:

Had he not cause to thank me?

Grac.                                      There was physic

Was to the purpose.

Offic.                     Now, for women, sir,

For your more consolation, I could tell you

Twenty fine stories, but I'll end in one,

And 'tis the last that's memorable.

Grac.                                            Prithee, do;

For I grow weary of thee.

Offic.                              There was lately

A fine she-waiter in the court, that doted

Extremely of a gentleman, that had

His main dependence on a signior's favour

I will not name, but could not compass him

On any terms. This wanton, at dead midnight,

Was found at the exercise behind the arras,

With the 'foresaid signior: he got clear off,

But she was seized on, and, to save his honour,

Endured the lash; and, though I made her often

Curvet and caper, she would never tell

Who played at pushpin with her.

Grac.                                          But what followed?

Prithee be brief.

Offic.              Why this, sir: she, delivered,

Had store of crowns assigned her by her patron,

Who forced the gentleman, to save her credit,

To marry her, and say he was the party

Found in Lob's pound: so she, that before gladly

Would have been his whore, reigns o'er him as his wife;

Nor dares he grumble at it. Speak but truth, then,

Is not my office lucky?

Grac.                          Go, there's for thee;

But what will be my fortune?

Offic.                                     If you thrive not

After that soft correction, come again.

Grac.                                             I thank you, knave.

Offic. And then, knave, I will fit you.


Grac. Whipt like a rogue! no lighter punishment serve

To balance with a little mirth! 'Tis well;

My credit sunk for ever, I am now

Fit company only for pages and for footboys,

That have perused the porter's lodge.

Enter Julio and Giovanni.

Giov.                                                 See, Julio,

Yonder the proud slave is. How he looks now,

After his castigation!

Jul.                          As he came

From a close fight at sea under the hatches,

With a she-Dunkirk, that was shot before

Between wind and water; and he had sprung a leak too,

Or I am cozened.

Giov.                  Let's be merry with him.

Grac. How they stare at me! am I turned to an owl? −

The wonder, gentlemen?

Jul.                                 I read, this morning,

Strange stories of the passive fortitude

Of men in former ages, which I thought

Impossible, and not to be believed:

But now I look on you, my wonder ceases.

Grac. The reason, sir?

Jul.                            Why, sir, you have been whipt,

Whipt, Signior Graccho; and the whip, I take it,

Is to a gentleman, the greatest trial

That may be of his patience.

Grac.                                   Sir, I'll call you

To a strict account for this.

Giov.                                  I'll not deal with you,

Unless I have a beadle for my second:

And then I'll answer you.

Jul.                                  Farewell, poor Graccho.

[Exeunt Julio and Giovanni.]

Grac. Better and better still. If ever wrongs

Could teach a wretch to find the way to vengeance,

Hell now inspire me!

Enter Francisco and a Servant.

                                How, the lord protector!

My judge; I thank him! Whither thus in private?

I will not see him.

[Stands Aside.]

Fran.                   If I am sought for,

Say I am indisposed, and will not hear

Or suits, or suitors.

Serv.                     But, sir, if the princess

Enquire, what shall I answer?

Fran.                                     Say, I am rid

Abroad to take the air; but by no means

Let her know I'm in court.

Serv.                                 So I shall tell her.


Fran. Within there, ladies!

Enter a Gentlewoman.

Gentlew.                         My good lord, your pleasure?

Fran. Prithee, let me beg thy favour for access

To the duchess.

Gentlew.         In good sooth, my lord, I dare not;

She's very private.

Fran.                   Come, there's gold to buy thee

A new gown, and a rich one.

Gentlew.                               I once swore

If e'er I lost my maidenhead, it should be

With a great lord, as you are; and, I know not how,

I feel a yielding inclination in me,

If you have appetite.

Fran.                       Pox on thy maidenhead!

Where is thy lady?

Gentlew.              If you venture on her,

She's walking in the gallery; perhaps,

You will find her less tractable.

Fran.                                         Bring me to her.

Gentlew. I fear, you'll have cold entertainment, when

You are at your journey's end; and 'twere discretion

To take a snatch by the way.

Fran.                                    Prithee, leave fooling:

My page waits in the lobby; give him sweetmeats;

He is trained up for his master's ease,

And he will cool thee.

[Exeunt Francisco and Gentlewoman.]

Grac. A brave discovery beyond my hope,

A plot even offered to my hand to work on!

If I am dull now, may I live and die

The scorn of worms and slaves! − Let me consider:

My lady and her mother first committed,

In the favour of the duchess; and I whipt!

That, with an iron pen, is writ in brass

On my tough heart, now grown a harder metal. −

And all his bribed approaches to the duchess

To be concealed! good, good. This to my lady

Delivered, as I'll order it, runs her mad. −

But this may prove but courtship! let it be,

I care not, so it feed her jealousy.



Another Room in the same.

Enter Marcelia and Francisco.

Marcel. Believe thy tears or oaths! Can it be hoped,

After a practice so abhorred and horrid,

Repentance e'er can find thee?

Fran.                                      Dearest lady,

Great in your fortune, greater in your goodness,

Make a superlative of excellence,

In being greatest in your saving mercy.

I do confess, humbly confess my fault,

To be beyond all pity; my attempt

So barbarously rude, that it would turn

A saint-like patience into savage fury.

But you, that are all innocence and virtue,

No spleen or anger in you of a woman,

But when a holy zeal to piety fires you,

May, if you please, impute the fault to love,

Or call it beastly lust, for 'tis no better:

A sin, a monstrous sin! yet with it many

That did prove good men after, have been tempted;

And, though I'm crooked now, 'tis in your power

To make me straight again.

Marcel. [Aside]                    Is't possible

This can be cunning!

Fran.                       But, if no submission

Nor prayers can appease you, that you may know

‘Tis not the fear of death that makes me sue thus

But a loathed detestation of my madness

Which makes me wish to live to have your pardon.

I will not wait the sentence of the duke,

Since his return is doubtful, but I myself

Will do a fearful justice on myself,

No witness by but you, there being no more

When I offended. Yet, before I do it,

For I perceive in you no signs of mercy,

I will disclose a secret, which dying with me,

May prove your ruin.


Marcel.                     Speak it; it will take from

The burthen of thy conscience.

Fran.                                       Thus, then, madam:

The warrant by my lord signed for your death

Was but conditional; but you must swear

By your unspotted truth, not to reveal it,

Or I end here abruptly.

Marcel.                       By my hopes

Of joys hereafter! On.

Fran.                         Nor was it hate

That forced him to it, but excess of love.

“And, if I ne'er return,” (so said great Sforza,)

“No living man deserving to enjoy

My best Marcelia, with the first news

That I am dead, (for no man after me

Must e'er enjoy her,) fail not to kill her; but

Till certain proof assure thee I am lost,"

(These were his words,)

“Observe and honour her, as if the soul

Of woman’s goodness only dwelt in hers.”

This trust I have abused, and basely wronged;

And, if the excelling pity of your mind

Cannot forgive it, as I dare not hope it,

Rather than look on my offended lord,

I stand resolved to punish it.

[Draws his sword.]

Marcel.                                Hold! 'tis forgiven,

And by me freely pardoned. In thy fair life