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Robert Browning (1812–1889). A Blot in the ’Scutcheon.
The Harvard Classics. 1909–14.

Act III Scene V

Father, we’ve news to welcome your arrival,

That’s altogether novel, and surprising.

You are well paid for your caressing care,

And this fine gentleman rewards your love

Most handsomely, with zeal that seeks no less

Than your dishonour, as has now been proven.

I’ve just surprised him making to your wife

The shameful offer of a guilty love.

She, somewhat over gentle and discreet,

Insisted that the thing should be concealed;

But I will not condone such shamelessness,

Nor so far wrong you as to keep it secret.

Yes, I believe a wife should never trouble

Her husband’s peace of mind with such vain gossip;

A woman’s honour does not hang on telling;

It is enough if she defend herself;

Or so I think; Damis, you’d not have spoken,

If you would but have heeded my advice.