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List Of Contents | Contents of The Duchess of Malfi, by John Webster
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'Tis the fool's pilgrimage.

CARDINAL.  I have honours in store for thee.

BOSOLA.  There are a many ways that conduct to seeming
Honour, and some of them very dirty ones.

CARDINAL.  Throw to the devil
Thy melancholy.  The fire burns well;
What need we keep a stirring of 't, and make
A greater smother?<132> Thou wilt kill Antonio?

BOSOLA.  Yes.

CARDINAL.      Take up that body.

BOSOLA.                            I think I shall
Shortly grow the common bier for church-yards.

CARDINAL.  I will allow thee some dozen of attendants
To aid thee in the murder.

BOSOLA.  O, by no means.  Physicians that apply horse-leeches
to any rank swelling use to cut off their tails, that the blood
may run through them the faster:  let me have no train when I go
to shed blood, less it make me have a greater when I ride
to the gallows.

CARDINAL.  Come to me after midnight, to help to remove
That body to her own lodging.  I 'll give out
She died o' th' plague; 'twill breed the less inquiry
After her death.

BOSOLA.  Where 's Castruccio her husband?

CARDINAL.  He 's rode to Naples, to take possession
Of Antonio's citadel.

BOSOLA.  Believe me, you have done a very happy turn.

CARDINAL.  Fail not to come.  There is the master-key
Of our lodgings; and by that you may conceive
What trust I plant in you.

BOSOLA.                     You shall find me ready.
     Exit CARDINAL.
O poor Antonio, though nothing be so needful
To thy estate as pity, yet I find
Nothing so dangerous!  I must look to my footing:
In such slippery ice-pavements men had need
To be frost-nail'd well, they may break their necks else;
The precedent 's here afore me.  How this man
Bears up in blood! seems fearless!  Why, 'tis well;
Security some men call the suburbs of hell,
Only a dead wall between.  Well, good Antonio,
I 'll seek thee out; and all my care shall be
To put thee into safety from the reach
Of these most cruel biters that have got
Some of thy blood already.  It may be,
I 'll join with thee in a most just revenge.
The weakest arm is strong enough that strikes
With the sword of justice.  Still methinks the duchess
Haunts me:  there, there!--'Tis nothing but my melancholy.
O Penitence, let me truly taste thy cup,
That throws men down only to raise them up!
     Exit.


     Scene III<133>

     [Enter] ANTONIO and DELIO.  Echo (from the DUCHESS'S Grave)

DELIO.  Yond 's the cardinal's window.  This fortification
Grew from the ruins of an ancient abbey;
And to yond side o' th' river lies a wall,
Piece of a cloister, which in my opinion
Gives the best echo that you ever heard,
So hollow and so dismal, and withal
So plain in the distinction of our words,
That many have suppos'd it is a spirit
That answers.

ANTONIO.       I do love these ancient ruins.
We never tread upon them but we set
Our foot upon some reverend history;
And, questionless, here in this open court,
Which now lies naked to the injuries
Of stormy weather, some men lie interr'd
Lov'd the church so well, and gave so largely to 't,
They thought it should have canopied their bones
Till dooms-day.  But all things have their end;
Churches and cities, which have diseases like to men,
Must have like death that we have.

ECHO.                               Like death that we have.

DELIO.  Now the echo hath caught you.

ANTONIO.  It groan'd methought, and gave
A very deadly accent.

ECHO.                  Deadly accent.

DELIO.  I told you 'twas a pretty one.  You may make it
A huntsman, or a falconer, a musician,
Or a thing of sorrow.

ECHO.                  A thing of sorrow.

ANTONIO.  Ay, sure, that suits it best.

ECHO.                                    That suits it best.

ANTONIO.  'Tis very like my wife's voice.

ECHO.                                      Ay, wife's voice.

DELIO.  Come, let us walk further from t.
I would not have you go to the cardinal's to-night:
Do not.

ECHO.  Do not.

DELIO.  Wisdom doth not more moderate wasting sorrow
Than time.  Take time for 't; be mindful of thy safety.

ECHO.  Be mindful of thy safety.

ANTONIO.  Necessity compels me.
Make scrutiny through the passages
Of your own life, you 'll find it impossible
To fly your fate.

ECHO.              O, fly your fate!

DELIO.  Hark! the dead stones seem to have pity on you,
And give you good counsel.

ANTONIO.  Echo, I will not talk with thee,
For thou art a dead thing.

ECHO.                       Thou art a dead thing.

ANTONIO.  My duchess is asleep now,
And her little ones, I hope sweetly.  O heaven,
Shall I never see her more?

ECHO.                        Never see her more.

ANTONIO.  I mark'd not one repetition of the echo
But that; and on the sudden a clear light
Presented me a face folded in sorrow.

DELIO.  Your fancy merely.

ANTONIO.                    Come, I 'll be out of this ague,
For to live thus is not indeed to live;
It is a mockery and abuse of life.
I will not henceforth save myself by halves;
Lose all, or nothing.

DELIO.                 Your own virtue save you!
I 'll fetch your eldest son, and second you.
It may be that the sight of his own blood
Spread in so sweet a figure may beget
The more compassion.  However, fare you well.
Though in our miseries Fortune have a part,
Yet in our noble sufferings she hath none.
Contempt of pain, that we may call our own.
     Exeunt.


     Scene IV<134>

     [Enter] CARDINAL, PESCARA, MALATESTI, RODERIGO, and GRISOLAN

CARDINAL.  You shall not watch to-night by the sick prince;
His grace is very well recover'd.

MALATESTI.  Good my lord, suffer us.

CARDINAL.                             O, by no means;
The noise, and change of object in his eye,
Doth more distract him.  I pray, all to bed;
And though you hear him in his violent fit,
Do not rise, I entreat you.

PESCARA.  So, sir; we shall not.

CARDINAL.                         Nay, I must have you promise
Upon your honours, for I was enjoin'd to 't
By himself; and he seem'd to urge it sensibly.

PESCARA.  Let our honours bind this trifle.

CARDINAL.  Nor any of your followers.

MALATESTI.  Neither.

CARDINAL.  It may be, to make trial of your promise,
When he 's asleep, myself will rise and feign
Some of his mad tricks, and cry out for help,
And feign myself in danger.

MALATESTI.  If your throat were cutting,
I 'd not come at you, now I have protested against it.

CARDINAL.  Why, I thank you.

GRISOLAN.                     'Twas a foul storm to-night.

RODERIGO.  The Lord Ferdinand's chamber shook like an osier.

MALATESTI.  'Twas nothing put pure kindness in the devil
To rock his own child.
     Exeunt [all except the CARDINAL].

CARDINAL.  The reason why I would not suffer these
About my brother, is, because at midnight
I may with better privacy convey
Julia's body to her own lodging.  O, my conscience!
I would pray now; but the devil takes away my heart
For having any confidence in prayer.
About this hour I appointed Bosola
To fetch the body.  When he hath serv'd my turn,
He dies.
     Exit.

     [Enter BOSOLA]

BOSOLA.  Ha! 'twas the cardinal's voice; I heard him name
Bosola and my death.  Listen; I hear one's footing.

     [Enter FERDINAND]

FERDINAND.  Strangling is a very quiet death.

BOSOLA.  [Aside.] Nay, then, I see I must stand upon my guard.

FERDINAND.  What say to that?  Whisper softly:  do you agree to 't?
So; it must be done i' th' dark; the cardinal would not for
a thousand pounds the doctor should see it.
     Exit.

BOSOLA.  My death is plotted; here 's the consequence of murder.
We value not desert nor Christian breath,
When we know black deeds must be cur'd with death.

     [Enter ANTONIO and Servant]

SERVANT.  Here stay, sir, and be confident, I pray;
I 'll fetch you a dark lantern.
     Exit.

ANTONIO.  Could I take him at his prayers,
There were hope of pardon.

BOSOLA.  Fall right, my sword!--
     [Stabs him.]
I 'll not give thee so much leisure as to pray.

ANTONIO.  O, I am gone!  Thou hast ended a long suit
In a minute.

BOSOLA.       What art thou?

ANTONIO.                      A most wretched thing,
That only have thy benefit in death,
To appear myself.

     [Re-enter Servant with a lantern]

SERVANT.  Where are you, sir?

ANTONIO.  Very near my home.--Bosola!

SERVANT.  O, misfortune!

BOSOLA.  Smother thy pity, thou art dead else.--Antonio!
The man I would have sav'd 'bove mine own life!
We are merely the stars' tennis-balls, struck and banded
Which way please them.--O good Antonio,
I 'll whisper one thing in thy dying ear
Shall make thy heart break quickly!  Thy fair duchess
And two sweet children----

ANTONIO.                    Their very names
Kindle a little life in me.

BOSOLA.                      Are murder'd.

ANTONIO.  Some men have wish'd to die
At the hearing of sad tidings; I am glad
That I shall do 't in sadness.<135> I would not now
Wish my wounds balm'd nor heal'd, for I have no use
To put my life to.  In all our quest of greatness,
Like wanton boys whose pastime is their care,
We follow after bubbles blown in th' air.
Pleasure of life, what is 't?  Only the good hours
Of an ague; merely a preparative to rest,
To endure vexation.  I do not ask
The process of my death; only commend me
To Delio.

BOSOLA.     Break, heart!

ANTONIO.  And let my son fly the courts to princes.
     [Dies.]

BOSOLA.  Thou seem'st to have lov'd Antonio.

SERVANT.  I brought him hither,
To have reconcil'd him to the cardinal.

BOSOLA.  I do not ask thee that.
Take him up, if thou tender thine own life,
And bear him where the lady Julia
Was wont to lodge.--O, my fate moves swift!
I have this cardinal in the forge already;
Now I 'll bring him to th' hammer.  O direful misprision!<136>
I will not imitate things glorious.
No more than base; I 'll be mine own example.--
On, on, and look thou represent, for silence,
The thing thou bear'st.<137>
     Exeunt.


     Scene V<138>

     [Enter] CARDINAL, with a book

CARDINAL.  I am puzzl'd in a question about hell;
He says, in hell there 's one material fire,

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