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List Of Contents | Contents of The Duchess of Malfi, by John Webster
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You must instantly part hence:  I have fashion'd it already.
     Exit ANTONIO.

     Enter BOSOLA

BOSOLA.  The duke your brother is ta'en up in a whirlwind;
Hath took horse, and 's rid post to Rome.

DUCHESS.                                   So late?

BOSOLA.  He told me, as he mounted into the saddle,
You were undone.

DUCHESS.          Indeed, I am very near it.

BOSOLA.  What 's the matter?

DUCHESS.  Antonio, the master of our household,
Hath dealt so falsely with me in 's accounts.
My brother stood engag'd with me for money
Ta'en up of certain Neapolitan Jews,
And Antonio lets the bonds be forfeit.

BOSOLA.  Strange!--[Aside.] This is cunning.

DUCHESS.  And hereupon
My brother's bills at Naples are protested
Against.--Call up our officers.

BOSOLA.                          I shall.
     Exit.

     [Re-enter ANTONIO]

DUCHESS.  The place that you must fly to is Ancona:
Hire a house there; I 'll send after you
My treasure and my jewels.  Our weak safety
Runs upon enginous wheels:<82> short syllables
Must stand for periods.  I must now accuse you
Of such a feigned crime as Tasso calls
Magnanima menzogna, a noble lie,
'Cause it must shield our honours.--Hark! they are coming.

     [Re-enter BOSOLA and Officers]

ANTONIO.  Will your grace hear me?

DUCHESS.  I have got well by you; you have yielded me
A million of loss:  I am like to inherit
The people's curses for your stewardship.
You had the trick in audit-time to be sick,
Till I had sign'd your quietus;<83> and that cur'd you
Without help of a doctor.--Gentlemen,
I would have this man be an example to you all;
So shall you hold my favour; I pray, let him;
For h'as done that, alas, you would not think of,
And, because I intend to be rid of him,
I mean not to publish.--Use your fortune elsewhere.

ANTONIO.  I am strongly arm'd to brook my overthrow,
As commonly men bear with a hard year.
I will not blame the cause on 't; but do think
The necessity of my malevolent star
Procures this, not her humour.  O, the inconstant
And rotten ground of service!  You may see,
'Tis even like him, that in a winter night,
Takes a long slumber o'er a dying fire,
A-loth to part from 't; yet parts thence as cold
As when he first sat down.

DUCHESS.                    We do confiscate,
Towards the satisfying of your accounts,
All that you have.

ANTONIO.            I am all yours; and 'tis very fit
All mine should be so.

DUCHESS.                So, sir, you have your pass.

ANTONIO.  You may see, gentlemen, what 'tis to serve
A prince with body and soul.
     Exit.

BOSOLA.  Here 's an example for extortion:  what moisture is drawn
out of the sea, when foul weather comes, pours down, and runs into
the sea again.

DUCHESS.  I would know what are your opinions
Of this Antonio.

SECOND OFFICER.  He could not abide to see a pig's head gaping:
I thought your grace would find him a Jew.

THIRD OFFICER.  I would you had been his officer, for your own sake.

FOURTH OFFICER.  You would have had more money.

FIRST OFFICER.  He stopped his ears with black wool, and to those came
to him for money said he was thick of hearing.

SECOND OFFICER.  Some said he was an hermaphrodite, for he could not
abide a woman.

FOURTH OFFICER.  How scurvy proud he would look when the treasury
was full!  Well, let him go.

FIRST OFFICER.  Yes, and the chippings of the buttery fly after him,
to scour his gold chain.<84>

DUCHESS.  Leave us.
     Exeunt [Officers.]
What do you think of these?

BOSOLA.  That these are rogues that in 's prosperity,
But to have waited on his fortune, could have wish'd
His dirty stirrup riveted through their noses,
And follow'd after 's mule, like a bear in a ring;
Would have prostituted their daughters to his lust;
Made their first-born intelligencers;<85> thought none happy
But such as were born under his blest planet,
And wore his livery:  and do these lice drop off now?
Well, never look to have the like again:
He hath left a sort<86> of flattering rogues behind him;
Their doom must follow.  Princes pay flatterers
In their own money:  flatterers dissemble their vices,
And they dissemble their lies; that 's justice.
Alas, poor gentleman!

DUCHESS.  Poor! he hath amply fill'd his coffers.

BOSOLA.  Sure, he was too honest.  Pluto,<87> the god of riches,
When he 's sent by Jupiter to any man,
He goes limping, to signify that wealth
That comes on God's name comes slowly; but when he's sent
On the devil's errand, he rides post and comes in by scuttles.<88>
Let me show you what a most unvalu'd jewel
You have in a wanton humour thrown away,
To bless the man shall find him.  He was an excellent
Courtier and most faithful; a soldier that thought it
As beastly to know his own value too little
As devilish to acknowledge it too much.
Both his virtue and form deserv'd a far better fortune:
His discourse rather delighted to judge itself than show itself:
His breast was fill'd with all perfection,
And yet it seemed a private whisp'ring-room,
It made so little noise of 't.

DUCHESS.  But he was basely descended.

BOSOLA.  Will you make yourself a mercenary herald,
Rather to examine men's pedigrees than virtues?
You shall want<89> him:
For know an honest statesman to a prince
Is like a cedar planted by a spring;
The spring bathes the tree's root, the grateful tree
Rewards it with his shadow:  you have not done so.
I would sooner swim to the Bermoothes on
Two politicians' rotten bladders, tied
Together with an intelligencer's heart-string,
Than depend on so changeable a prince's favour.
Fare thee well, Antonio!  Since the malice of the world
Would needs down with thee, it cannot be said yet
That any ill happen'd unto thee, considering thy fall
Was accompanied with virtue.

DUCHESS.  O, you render me excellent music!

BOSOLA.                                      Say you?

DUCHESS.  This good one that you speak of is my husband.

BOSOLA.  Do I not dream?  Can this ambitious age
Have so much goodness in 't as to prefer
A man merely for worth, without these shadows
Of wealth and painted honours?  Possible?

DUCHESS.  I have had three children by him.

BOSOLA.                                      Fortunate lady!
For you have made your private nuptial bed
The humble and fair seminary of peace,
No question but:  many an unbenefic'd scholar
Shall pray for you for this deed, and rejoice
That some preferment in the world can yet
Arise from merit.  The virgins of your land
That have no dowries shall hope your example
Will raise them to rich husbands.  Should you want
Soldiers, 'twould make the very Turks and Moors
Turn Christians, and serve you for this act.
Last, the neglected poets of your time,
In honour of this trophy of a man,
Rais'd by that curious engine, your white hand,
Shall thank you, in your grave, for 't; and make that
More reverend than all the cabinets
Of living princes.  For Antonio,
His fame shall likewise flow from many a pen,
When heralds shall want coats to sell to men.

DUCHESS.  As I taste comfort in this friendly speech,
So would I find concealment.

BOSOLA.  O, the secret of my prince,
Which I will wear on th' inside of my heart!

DUCHESS.  You shall take charge of all my coin and jewels,
And follow him; for he retires himself
To Ancona.

BOSOLA.     So.

DUCHESS.         Whither, within few days,
I mean to follow thee.

BOSOLA.                 Let me think:
I would wish your grace to feign a pilgrimage
To our Lady of Loretto, scarce seven leagues
>From fair Ancona; so may you depart
Your country with more honour, and your flight
Will seem a princely progress, retaining
Your usual train about you.

DUCHESS.                     Sir, your direction
Shall lead me by the hand.

CARIOLA.                    In my opinion,
She were better progress to the baths at Lucca,
Or go visit the Spa
In Germany; for, if you will believe me,
I do not like this jesting with religion,
This feigned pilgrimage.

DUCHESS.  Thou art a superstitious fool:
Prepare us instantly for our departure.
Past sorrows, let us moderately lament them,
For those to come, seek wisely to prevent them.
     [Exeunt DUCHESS and CARIOLA.]

BOSOLA.  A politician is the devil's quilted anvil;
He fashions all sins on him, and the blows
Are never heard:  he may work in a lady's chamber,
As here for proof.  What rests<90> but I reveal
All to my lord?  O, this base quality<91>
Of intelligencer!  Why, every quality i' the world
Prefers but gain or commendation:
Now, for this act I am certain to be rais'd,
And men that paint weeds to the life are prais'd.
     [Exit.]


     Scene III<92>

     [Enter] CARDINAL, FERDINAND, MALATESTI, PESCARA, DELIO,
     and SILVIO

CARDINAL.  Must we turn soldier, then?

MALATESTI.                              The emperor,
Hearing your worth that way, ere you attain'd
This reverend garment, joins you in commission
With the right fortunate soldier the Marquis of Pescara,
And the famous Lannoy.

CARDINAL.               He that had the honour
Of taking the French king prisoner?

MALATESTI.                           The same.
Here 's a plot drawn for a new fortification
At Naples.

FERDINAND.  This great Count Malatesti, I perceive,
Hath got employment?

DELIO.                No employment, my lord;
A marginal note in the muster-book, that he is
A voluntary lord.

FERDINAND.         He 's no soldier.

DELIO.  He has worn gun-powder in 's hollow tooth for the tooth-ache.

SILVIO.  He comes to the leaguer with a full intent
To eat fresh beef and garlic, means to stay
Till the scent be gone, and straight return to court.

DELIO.  He hath read all the late service
As the City-Chronicle relates it;
And keeps two pewterers going, only to express
Battles in model.

SILVIO.            Then he 'll fight by the book.

DELIO.  By the almanac, I think,
To choose good days and shun the critical;
That 's his mistress' scarf.

SILVIO.                       Yes, he protests
He would do much for that taffeta.

DELIO.  I think he would run away from a battle,

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