"Tale Of A Tub"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Paulo Giordano Ursini, Duke of Brachiano, becomes infatuated with Vittoria Corombona, wife of Camillo, a poor stick of a man. Aided by Flamineo, his secretary and Vittoria's brother, the duke pursues Vittoria with success. The duchess, incensed at her husband's conduct in pursuing other women in a public manner, appeals to her brother, Francisco de Medicis, the Duke of Florence. Accompanied by Cardinal Monticelso, Francisco de Medicis calls on Duke Brachiano to upbraid him for his scandalous conduct. At the interview Monticelso speaks first to Brachiano about his public pursuit of Vittoria, but to no avail. Then Francisco de Medicis argues for his sister. He also points out that Brachiano is neglecting his political duties, as well as his marital responsibilities. He complains that he sent to Brachiano for a conference about dealing with the depredations of pirates and received no answer, that he had to come in person, and even then had difficulty in meeting with Brachiano, who claimed to be too busy:

We send unto the duke for conference
'Bout levies 'gainst the pirates; my lord duke
Is not at home: we come ourself in person;
Still my lord duke is busied. But we fear,
When Tiber to each prowling passenger
Discovers flocks of wild ducks; then, my lord,
'Bout moulting time I mean, we shall be certain
To find you sure enough, and speak with you.
A mere tale of a tub, my words are idle;
But to express the sonnet by natural reason,–
When stags grow melancholic, you'll find the season.