The Duchess of Malfi

Author: John Webster

Scene IV

[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 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

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 himself 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 th’ 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.


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Chicago: John Webster, "Scene IV," The Duchess of Malfi, ed. Hawthorne, Julian, 1846-1934 and trans. Stevens, Bertram, 1872 - in The Duchess of Malfi (Boston: John W. Luce and Company, 1911), Original Sources, accessed June 16, 2024,

MLA: Webster, John. "Scene IV." The Duchess of Malfi, edited by Hawthorne, Julian, 1846-1934, and translated by Stevens, Bertram, 1872 -, in The Duchess of Malfi, Boston, John W. Luce and Company, 1911, Original Sources. 16 Jun. 2024.

Harvard: Webster, J, 'Scene IV' in The Duchess of Malfi, ed. and trans. . cited in 1911, The Duchess of Malfi, John W. Luce and Company, Boston. Original Sources, retrieved 16 June 2024, from