The Duchess of Padua
Nay, be silent, neighbour;
I think the Cardinal will speak for us.
True, it is Christian to bear misery,
Yet it is Christian also to be kind,
And there seem many evils in this town,
Which in your wisdom might your Grace reform.
What is that word reform? What does it mean?
Marry, it means leaving things as they are; I like it not.
Reform Lord Cardinal, did you say reform?
There is a man in Germany called Luther,
Who would reform the Holy Catholic Church.
Have you not made him heretic, and uttered
Anathema, maranatha, against him?
Cardinal [rising from his seat]
He would have led the sheep out of the fold,
We do but ask of you to feed the sheep.
When I have shorn their fleeces I may feed them.
As for these rebels – [Duchess entreats him.]
That is a kind word,
He means to give us something.
Is that so?
These ragged knaves who come before us here,
With mouths chock-full of treason.
Good my Lord,
Fill up our mouths with bread; we’ll hold our tongues.
Ye shall hold your tongues, whether you starve or not.
My lords, this age is so familiar grown,
That the low peasant hardly doffs his hat,
Unless you beat him; and the raw mechanic
Elbows the noble in the public streets.
[To the Citizens.]
Still as our gentle Duchess has so prayed us,
And to refuse so beautiful a beggar
Were to lack both courtesy and love,
Touching your grievances, I promise this —
Marry, he will lighten the taxes!
Or a dole of bread, think you, for each man?
That, on next Sunday, the Lord Cardinal
Shall, after Holy Mass, preach you a sermon
Upon the Beauty of Obedience.
I’ faith, that will not fill our stomachs!
A sermon is but a sorry sauce, when
You have nothing to eat with it.