David Bruce: John Ford’s LOVE’S SACRIFICE: A Retelling — Act 2, Scene 2

— 2.2 —

Petruchio and Roseilli talked together in a room in Petruchio’s house.

Roseilli asked, “Is it possible that the Duke should be so moved to anger against Roderico D’Avolos, his secretary?”

“It is true,” Petruchio said. “You have no enemy at court but her — Fiormonda — for whom you pine so much in love, so then master your emotions. I am sorry that you hug and cherish so the cause of your downfall.”

He then asked, “What do you say to the project I proposed?”

“I entertain it with a greater joy than shame can restrain,” Roseilli replied.

Fernando entered the room.

“You’ve come at as good a time as I could wish,” Petruchio said. “My cousin is resolved to go along with our plan.”

“Prepare yourself without delay, and meet us at court soon, some half-hour from now, and may Cupid, the god of love, bless your joy!” Fernando said.

Roseilli began, “If ever a man was bound and indebted to a friend —”

“No more,” Fernando said. “Leave! The height of Love’s violent passion is yet unknown —”

Petruchio and Roseilliexited.

Alone, Fernando finished his sentence: “— in his case — but ah, me! Too well I feel my own!”

He then said, “So, now I am alone; now let me think.

“Bianca is the Duchess; let’s acknowledge that, but a creature sewed-up in a disguise of painted cloth might also be titled a Duchess: That’s but a name.

“She’s married, too; she is. And therefore she might better recognize true love.

“She’s young and beautiful; why, madam, that’s the bait that invites me more to hope.”

He had listed reasons that he thought to be positive that Bianca might return his love, but now he listed reasons that he thought to be why he ought not pursue her.

“She’s the Duke’s wife. Who doesn’t know this? She’s bosomed to — intimate with — my friend the Duke.

“There, there, I am quite lost: She will not be won. Still worse and worse: She abhors to hear me speak.

“Eternal evil and harm! I must urge my love-suit no more, for, were I not be-lepered and on fire in my soul, here were enough evidence that she will never accept me to quench the flames of hell.

“What then? Bah! If I must not speak, I’ll write. Come, then, sad secretary to my complaints and lamentations, plead thou my faith, for words are turned to sighs. What says this paper?”

The secretary to his complaints and lamentations was his letter. Secretaries and letters know secrets.

He tookout a love letter he had already written, and he read it.

Roderico D’Avolos entered the room, carrying two portraits.

He saw Fernando and thought this:

Now is the time. He’s alone? And reading a letter? Good. What’s going on! Striking his breast! What, in the name of intrigue, should this mean? Tearing his hair! He feels passion; by all the hopes of my life, he feels plain passion! Now I perceive it. If this is not a fit of some violent affection — some violent love — I am an ass in understanding. Why, it is plain — plainer and plainer — that he feels love in the extremest.

Oh, I wish I knew the party with whom he is in love, now! The greatness of his spirits and his self-regard is too proudly cherished by him, for him to be caught with some ordinary stuff, and if he is in love with my Lady Fiormonda, I am strangely and surprisingly mistaken.

“To stuff” means “to fill tightly,” and it sometimes refers to sex. In English, many words can be verbed and often can be nouned; “stuff” can refer to a thing that is stuffed. In this culture, “thing” can refer to the genitals, either male or female, although a vagina is sometimes called “nothing,” or “no thing.”

Roderico D’Avolos thought, Well, now I have a fit occasion soon to understand whom he loves. I have here newly painted two portraits, which are to be sent as a present to the Abbot of Monaco, the Duchess’ uncle. One portrait is of the Duchess herself, and one portrait is of my Lady Fiormonda. I’ll observe which of these may, perhaps, betray Fernando and tell me whom he loves — he turns around.

Roderico D’Avolossaid out loud, “My noble lord!”

“You’re welcome, sir,” Fernando said. “I thank you.”

“Thank me, my lord! For what, my lord?”

“Who’s there?” Fernando said. “I beg your pardon, D’Avolos, I mistook you for another person; please, excuse me.”

Seeing that Roderico D’Avolos was carrying something, he asked, “What is it you are carrying there?”

“No secret, my lord, but something that may be imparted to you,” he replied. “I am carrying a couple of portraits, my good lord. Would it please you to see them?”

“I don’t care much for portraits, but whose are they?” Fernando asked.

“The one is of my lord’s sister, Fiormonda; the other is of the Duchess Bianca.”

“Oh, D’Avolos! The Duchess’ portrait?”

“Yes, my lord,” Roderico D’Avolos said, and then he thought,Indeed, the word startled him. Remember that.

“You told me, Master Secretary, once, that you owed me love.”

“I owe you service, my honored lord, howsoever you please to term it.”

“It would be rudeness to be suitor for a sight,” Fernando said. “Yet trust me, sir. I’ll be all secret.”

Fernando was asking to see the portraits, but indirectly: If you show me the portraits, I won’t tell anyone.

“I beseech your lordship — they are, as I am, constantly at your service,” Roderico D’Avolos said.

He showed him Fiormonda’s portrait.

“This, my lord, is the widowed Marquess’ portrait just as it now newly came from the painter’s, with the oil still freshly applied. It is a sweet portrait; and, in my judgment, art has not been a niggard in striving to equal the life. Michelangelo himself need not blush if he were to say that the workmanship is his own.”

“It is a very pretty picture,” Fernando agreed, “but, kind signior, who owns it?”

“My Lord, it is the Duke’s, who intends to send it with all speed as a present to Paul Baglione, the Duchess’ uncle, so that he may see the riches of two such lustrous beauties as shine in the court of Pavia.”

“Please, sir, the other?”

Fernando wanted to see the other portrait.

Roderico D’Avolos showed him the other portrait and said, “This, my lord, is of the Duchess Bianca. It is a wondrously sweet picture, if you observe well with what singular excellence the artsman has striven to set forth each limb in exquisitest proportion and harmony, not missing a hair.”

“A hair!” Fernando said.

“She cannot more seemingly, or, if it may be lawful to use the word, she cannot more really— that is, with more reality — behold her own well-proportioned and symmetrical form in her mirror than in taking an attentive view of this counterfeit — this likeness, this portrait.”

Words such as “really” and “real” were sometimes used to describe the presence — the real presence — of Christ in the consecrated elements of the Lord’s Supper, or Communion, and so Roderico D’Avolos was hesitant to use the word “really” to describe a portrait.

Matthew 26:26 states, “And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body” (King James Bible).

Some theologians believe in a literal interpretation of Jesus’ words, while other theologians believe in a figurative interpretation of Jesus’ words. If Roderico D’Avolos was a Christian, he believed in a literal interpretation of Jesus’ words.

“When I first saw it, I truly was almost of a mind that this was her very lip,” Roderico D’Avolos continued.

“Lip!” Fernando said.

Roderico D’Avolos thought, How constantly he dwells upon this portrait!

He said out loud, “Indeed, I’ll assure your lordship there is no defect of skill in this portrait.”

He thought,His eye is fixed on the portrait as if it were incorporated there — it’s as if his eye were united with the portrait.

Roderico D’Avolos then said out loud, “Were not the party herself alive to witness that there is a woman composed of flesh and blood as naturally enriched with such harmony of admirable beauty as is here artificially counterfeited, a very attentive eye might repute it as an imaginary rapture or rapturous fantasy of some transported conceit or swept-away conceptualization that the artist wishes to paint, although it is an impossible ideal. The portrait seems to depict an impossibly beautiful woman, but we know that such beauty is possible because we know that Bianca exists. The very first gaze at this portrait has sufficient force almost to persuade a substantial true love in a settled heart. This portrait is so realistic that a man could fall in love with it at first sight.”

“Love! Heart!” Fernando said.

Roderico D’Avolos began, “My honored lord —”

“Oh, Heavens!” Fernando said.

Roderico D’Avolos thought, My suspicion is confirmed — he loves the Duchess Bianca.

Roderico D’Avolos finished, “—what ails your lordship?”

“You need not praise the portrait, sir; it itself is praise,” Fernando said.

He thought,How close I came to forgetting myself and revealing my love for Bianca!

He said out loud, “I thank you. It is such a picture as might well become the shrine of some famed Venus; I am dazzled from looking at it. Please, sir, convey it away from here.”

Roderico D’Avolos said, “I am entirely your servant.”

He thought,Blessed, blessed discovery!

He said out loud, “Does it please you to command me to do something?”

“No, gentle sir,” Fernando said.

He thought,I’m lost beyond my senses.

He said out loud, “Listen, sir.Good sir, where dwells the portrait-maker?”

“By the castle’s farther drawbridge, near Galiazzo’s statue; his name is Alphonso Trinultio,”Roderico D’Avolos replied.

Perhaps the statue was of Gian Galeazzo Visconti (1351-1402), a political leader who in 1396 was made Count of Pavia. He founded the Carthusian monastery in Pavia. Or the statue could have been of his father, Galeazzo II Visconti, who built Visconti Castle in Pavia.

Roderico D’Avolos thought, I am happy above all fate!

“You say enough,” Fernando said. “I give my thanks to you!”

Roderico D’Avolos exited.

Alone, Fernando said to himself, “If that portrait were only valued as high as my lordship — my rank and title — it would be valued too cheaply. I fear I spoke or I did I know not what. All sense of providence was in my eye.”

“Providence” could mean 1) “prudence” or 2) “fate.” Looking at the portrait, he had lost his sense of prudence. In addition, he felt fated by her beauty to love her.

Ferentes, Mauruccio, and Giacopo entered the room, but they did not immediately see Fernando.

Ferentes thought about Mauruccio, Youth in threescore years and ten!

He was referring to the aged Mauruccio, who was behaving like a foolish young man in love although he was seventy years old. (Later Mauruccio would say, “I have lived threescore years” — that is, he would say that he was sixty years old.)

Ferentes said out loud, “Trust me, my Lord Mauruccio, you are now younger in the judgment of those who compare your former age with your latter by seven-and-twenty years than you were three years ago. I swear by all my fidelity, truth, and loyalty that it is a miracle!”

Ferentes was not known for fidelity, truth, and loyalty.

He continued, “The ladies marvel at you.”

“Let them marvel,” Mauruccio said. “I am wise and I am courtly.”

He was not courtly. Or wise.

“The ladies, my lord, call him the green broom of the court — he sweeps all before him —” Giacopo said.

A proverb stated, “A new broom sweeps clean.”

Someone who is green is inexperienced and naïve.

Giacopo continued, “— and they swear he has a stabbing wit.”

“Stabbing” can mean “incisive,” but it also can refer to sex.

He thought,His stabbing wit is a very glister to laughter.

A glister is an enema.

“Indeed, I know I can tickle them at my pleasure,” Mauruccio said. “I am stiff and strong, Ferentes.”

Giacopo thought, A radish-root is a spear of steel in comparison of I know what.

He doubted that a certain part of old Mauruccio’s body was stiff and strong.

“The Marquess does love you,” Ferentes said.

“She does love me,” Mauruccio said.

“And she begins to do you infinite grace,” Ferentes said.

“Infinite grace,” Mauruccio said.

Fernando thought, I’ll take advantage of this time and opportunity.

He stepped forward and said out loud, “Good hour, my lords, to both of you!”

“Right princely Fernando, the best of the Fernandos,” Mauruccio said. “By the pith of generation, you are the man I am looking for. His highness has sent me to find you out. He has determined to weather his own proper individual person for two days’ space in my Lord Nibrassa’s forest to hunt the deer, the buck, the roe, and eke the barren doe.”

Mauruccio was attempting to make his language courtly, and so he was using fancy words such as the archaic “eke” instead of simple words such as “also.” The “pith of generation” is the “vigor of procreation.” “To weather” means “to be out in the weather.”

“Is his highness preparing to hunt?” Fernando asked.

Mauruccio had said that his highness would hunt, but Fernando had either been overwhelmed by the mass of fancy language or was indirectly making the point that Mauruccio ought to use simpler language.

Two problems with fancy language are that it can be difficult to use correctly and it can be difficult to understand.

Mauruccio now answered the question, but he continued to use fancy language: “Yes, my lord, and he has decided to lie forth for the abbreviating the prolixity of some superfluous transmigration of the Sun’s double cadence to the western horizon, my most perspicuous good lord.”

“To lie forth” meant “to lodge away from his home.”

“Prolixity” perhaps meant “tediously lengthy.” “Transmigration” perhaps meant “movement.” “Cadence” perhaps meant “falling.” “Perspicuous” perhaps meant “distinguished.”

In plainer words, the Duke would be absent until the Sun had approached the western horizon twice — he would be absent while hunting for two days.

Fernando now directly asked Mauruccio to speak using simple language:“Oh, sir, let me beseech you to speak in your own mother tongue.”

He thought, Two days’ absence, well.

Since the Duke would be absent for two days, Fernando would have an opportunity to speak again to Bianca.

Fernando said out loud, “My Lord Mauruccio, I have a favor to ask you —”

Mauruccio replied, “My Lord Fernando, I have a favor to ask you.”

“I request that you will accept a favor from me: a very choice token of my love. Will you grant me the favor I request and accept my favor?”

“Will you grant mine?”

“What is it?” Fernando said.

“Only to know what the suit is you please to present to me,” Mauruccio said.

“Why, it is, my lord, a fool,” Fernando said.

“A fool!”

“As great a fool as your lordship is … hopeful to see in any time of your life,” Fernando said.

Giacopo advised Mauruccio, “Now, my good lord, don’t part with the fool on any terms.”

“Please, my lord, does the fool have any natural gifts?” Mauruccio asked.

“Very excellent ones,” Fernando replied. “You shall not hear him speak one wise word in a month’s conversation. He is surpassingly temperate of diet; for example, if you keep him away from food for four-and-twenty hours, then he will fast a whole day and a night altogether. Unless you urge him to swear, there seldom comes an oath from his mouth.”

As would soon be learned, the “fool” could barely speak.

Fernando continued, “And as regards a fool, my lord, to tell you the plain truth, if he had only half as much wit as you, my lord, he would be in short time three-quarters as arrant wise as your lordship.”

“Arrant” means “complete,” but the word is commonly used in phrases such as “arrant knave.”

“Giacopo, these are very excellent elements in a creature of little understanding,” Mauruccio said. “Oh, I long to see him!”

“He is a very harmless idiot — and, just as you could wish, look where he comes,” Fernando said.

Petruchio entered the room, accompanied by Roseilli, who was dressed in disguise like a fool. He was dressed in a long white smock like a natural fool — someone with a very low IQ. He was not dressed like a professional Fool, aka Jester, who often had a very high IQ, indeed.

“Nephew, here is the thing you sent for,” Petruchio said.

He then said to the disguised Roseilli, “Come hither, fool; come, it is a good fool.”

He was talking to the disguised Roseilli as if he were a pet.

“Here, my lord,” Fernando said. “I freely give you the fool; please treat him well for my sake.”

Another meaning of “I freely give you the fool” is “I freely call you a fool.”

Mauruccio replied, “I take the fool most thankfully at your hands, my lord.”

Another meaning of “I take the fool most thankfully at your hands” is “I thank you for calling me a fool.”

He then said to the disguised Roseilli, “Do you have any good qualities, my pretty fool? Will you dwell with me?”

Imitating a person with a very low IQ, the disguised Roseilli stuttered, “A-, a-, a-, a-, aye.”

“I never beheld a more natural idiotic creature in my life,” Ferentes said.

“Uncle, the Duke, I hear, prepares to hunt,” Fernando said. “Let’s go in and wait.”

He then said, “Farewell, Mauruccio.”

Fernando and Petruchioexited.

“Beast that I am, I did not ask about the fool’s name!” Mauruccio said. “It doesn’t matter. ‘Fool’ is a good enough title to call the greatest lord in the court by, if he is no wiser than this fool.”

“Oh, my lord, what a completely excellent pretty creature it is!” Giacopo said.

He then said to the disguised Roseilli, “Come, honey, honey, honey, come!”

He was talking to the disguised Roseilli as if he were a pet.

“You are beholden to my Lord Fernando for this gift,” Ferentes said.

“True,” Mauruccio said. “Oh, I wish that he could just speak methodically and intelligently!”

He asked, “Can you speak, fool?”

The disguised Roseilli answered, “Can speak; de e e e —”

“It is a present for an emperor,” Ferentes said. “What an excellent instrument this would be to acquire a suit or a monopoly from the Duke’s ear!”

“I have it!” Mauruccio said. “I have a great idea — I am wise and fortunate.”

He then said, “Giacopo, I will put aside all my other ideas, and instead of my picture, I will offer the Lady Marquess this mortal man of weak brain.”

“My lord, you have most splendidly taken thought, for so shall she no oftener see the fool but she shall remember you better than by a thousand looking-glasses,” Giacopo said.

“She will most graciously accept this gift,” Ferentes said.

“I may tell you, Ferentes,” Mauruccio said, “there’s not a great woman among forty but knows how to make sport with a fool.”

“To make sport” means 1) “to mock,” or 2) “to be entertained by,” or 3) “to have sex with.”

Mauruccio asked the disguised Roseilli, “Do you know how old thou are, sirrah?”

 The disguised Roseilli replied, “Dud — a clap cheek for nown sake, gaffer; hee e e e e.”

“Dud” meant “worthless.” “Clap cheek” meant “pat cheek.” “Nown” meant “own.” “Gaffer” was a title used by rural people to address old men. Roseilli had disguised his voice and was speaking with a rural accent.

Ferentes said, “Alas, you must ask him no questions, but pat him on the cheek; I understand his language: your fool is the tender-heartedest creature who is.”

Fiormonda and RodericoD’Avolosentered the room, talking quietly and privately together. The others could not overhear them.

“No more,” Fiormonda said. “Thou have in this revelation of Fernando’s love for Bianca exceeded all my favors, D’Avolos. Is it Mistress Madam Duchess! Is it she whom he loves! Excellent revenge!”

Roderico D’Avolosbegan, “But if your grace had seen the infinite appetite of lust in the piercing adultery of his eye, you would —”

“Either change Fernando and make him love me, or ruin him,” Fiormonda said. “He is a prompt deceiver! Is here the bond of his religious vow?”

Fernando had told Fiormonda that he had taken a vow to live a single life — a life as a single man. Fiormonda then had promptly learned that he was in love with the Duchess Bianca.

Fiormonda added, “And that, ‘now when the Duke is rid abroad, my gentleman will stay behind, is sick’ — or something like that?”

The Duke was out riding and hunting, and by being away from the palace, he was gotten rid of.

Fernando had excused himself from accompanying the Duke on his hunting trip by claiming the illness either of himself or of his gentleman attendant.

“The excuse he made was ‘not altogether in health,’”Roderico D’Avolos replied.

Seeing them, Mauruccio said, “This is a very fitting opportunity! Her grace comes just in the nick; let me think.”

“Nick” can mean 1) the nick of time, aka at the right time, or 2) a vulva.

“Lose no time, my lord,” Ferentes advised. “Take action quickly.”

“To her, sir,” Giacopo said.

“To her” can mean metaphorically “to attack” or figuratively “to woo.”

Mauruccio recited a poem he had written:

Vouchsafe to stay thy foot, most Cynthian hue,

And from a creature ever vowed thy servant

Accept this gift, most rare, most fine, most new;

The earnest-penny of a love so fervent.”

“Vouchsafe to stay thy foot” means “agree to stop here for a while.”

A “Cynthian hue” is silvery, since Cynthia is the goddess of the Moon. Cynthia in her earthly form is Diana, who is a virgin goddess and so perhaps not the goddess who ought to be mentioned in a love poem.

Mauruccio probably wanted the word-combination “earnest-penny” to mean “small token” but “earnest” is a down payment that confirms a contract. It was as if he were attempting to buy Fiormonda — cheap.

“What does the jolly youth mean?” Fiormonda asked, referring to the elderly Mauruccio.

“Nothing, sweet princess,” he replied, “but only to present your grace with this sweet-faced fool. I hope it will please you to accept him to make you merry. I’ll assure your grace that he is a very wholesome fool.”

“A fool!” Fiormonda said. “You might as well have given yourself to me. From where is he?”

“He was now, very just now, given to me out of special favor by the Lord Fernando, madam,” Mauruccio replied.

“By him?” Fiormonda said. “Well, I accept him. Thank you for it. And, in requital, take that toothpicker. It is yours.”

She gave him a toothpicker: a reusable toothpick.

To Fiormonda, a reusable toothpick was adequate recompense for the gift of a human being.

“A toothpicker!” Mauruccio said. “I kiss your bounty.”

He thought a moment and then asked, “No quibble now?”

A quibble is a double meaning or joke. Mauruccio was wondering if the gift of a toothpick was meant to be a comment on the size of his penis.

He then said, “And, madam,

If I grow sick, to make my spirits quicker,

I will revive them with this sweet toothpicker.”

The word “quicker” meant “more alive.”

“Make use of it as you wish,” Fiormonda said.

She then ordered, “Here, D’Avolos, take in the fool.”

Roderico D’Avolos said to the disguised Roseilli, “Come, sweetheart, will you come along with me?”

“U u umh, — u u mh, — wonnot, wonnot — u u umh,” the disguised Roseilli said.

“Will you go with me, chick?” Fiormonda asked.

A “chick” is a child.

The disguised Roseilli answered, “Will go, te e e — go will go —”

“Come, D’Avolos, observe tonight; it is late,” Fiormonda said quietly so that others could not overhear. “Either I will win my choice — Fernando — or I will curse my fate.”

Fiormonda, the disguised Roseilli, and D’Avolosexited.

“This was wisely done, now,” Ferentes said to Mauruccio. “By God’s foot, you purchase a favor from a creature, my lord, whom the greatest king of the earth would be proud of.”

The “creature” was a creature of God: Fiormonda. Or, perhaps, using another meaning of “creature,” it was an animal: Fiormonda.

“Giacopo!” Mauruccio said.

“My lord?” Giacopo replied.

“Come behind me, Giacopo: I am big with ideas” — he meant that he was pregnant with poetic ideas — “and I must be delivered of poetry in the eternal commendation of this gracious toothpicker.”

Most readers are not likely to think that a reusable toothpick is worthy of eternal commendation.

Mauruccio continued, “But, first, I believe that it is a most healthy policy to make a slight supper, for meat’s the food that must preserve our lives, and now’s the time when mortals whet and sharpen their knives — on thresholds, shoe-soles, cart-wheels, and et cetera.

“Let’s go, Giacopo!”


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


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