CARL’ANTONIO, Duke of Adria
TONINO, his young son
LUCIO; Count of Vallescura, brother to the Duchess
CESARIO, Captain of the Guard
GAMBA, a Fool
OTTILIA, Duchess and Regent of Adria
LUCETTA, a Lady-in-Waiting
FULVIA, a Lady of the Court
Courtiers, Priests, Choristers, Soldiers, Mariners, Townsfolk, etc.
The Scene is the Ducal Palace of Adria, in the N. Adriatic
The Date, 1571
[SCENE.--A terraced courtyard before the Ducal Palace.
Porch and entrance of Chapel, R. A semicircular
balcony, L., with balustrade and marble seats, and an
opening whence a flight of steps leads down to the
city. The city lies out of sight below the terrace;
from which, between its cypresses and statuary, is
seen a straight stretch of a canal; beyond the canal are
sand-hills and the line of the open sea. Mountains,
L., dip down to the sea and form a curve of the
[As the curtain rises, a crowd of town and country
folk is being herded to the back of the terrace by the
Ducal Guard, under Cesario. Within the Chapel, to
the sound of an organ, boys' voices are chanting the
service of the Mass.]
[Cesario, Gamba the Fool, Guards, Populace.]
Way there! Give room! The Regent comes from Mass.
Guards, butt them on the toes–way there! give room!
Prick me that laggard’s leg-importunate fools!
Room for the Regent! Room!
[The sacring bell rings within the Chapel.]
Hark there, the bell!
[A pause. Men of the crowd take off their caps.]
Could ye not leave, this day of all the year,
Your silly suits, petitions, quarrels, pleas?
Could ye not leave, this once in seven years,
Our Lady to come holy-quiet from Mass.
Lean on the wall, and loose her cage-bird heart,
To lift and breast and dance upon the breeze.
Draws home her lord the Duke?
Long live the Duke!
The devil, then! Why darken his approach?
(from the bench where he has been mending his
viol). Because, Captain, ’tis a property knaves
and fools have in common–to stand in their own
light, as ’tis of soldiers to talk bad logic. That
knave, now–he with the red nose and the black
eye–the Duke’s colours, loyal man!–you clap
an iron on his leg, and ask him why he is not
down in the city, hanging them out of window!
Go to: you are a soldier!
And you a Fool, and on your own showing
stand in your own light.
Nay, neither in my own light, nor as a
Fool. So should myself stand between the sun
and my shadow; whereas I am not myself–these
seven years have I been but the shadow of a
Fool. Yet one must tune up for the Duke.
(Strikes his viol and sings.)
“Bird of the South, my Rondinello—-”
(calling up to watchman on the Chapel roof).
Ho there! What news?
Captain, no sail!
Nor’ west, and north a point!
They have down’d sail and creep around the flats.
(tuning his viol).
Flats, flats! the straight horizon, and the life
These seven years laid by rule! The curst canal
Drawn level through the drawn-out level sand
And thistle-tufts that stink as soon as pluck’d!
Give me the hot crag and the dancing heat,
Give me the Abruzzi, and the cushioned thyme–
Brooks at my feet, high glittering snows above.
What were thy music, viol, without a ridge?