List Of Contents | Contents of The Duchess of Malfi, by John Webster
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     [Exit Old Lady.]


ANTONIO.  Shut up the court-gates.

RODERIGO.                           Why, sir?  What 's the danger?

ANTONIO.  Shut up the posterns presently, and call
All the officers o' th' court.

GRISOLAN.                       I shall instantly.

ANTONIO.  Who keeps the key o' th' park-gate?

RODERIGO.                                      Forobosco.

ANTONIO.  Let him bring 't presently.

     [Re-enter GRISOLAN with Servants]

FIRST SERVANT.  O, gentleman o' th' court, the foulest treason!

BOSOLA.  [Aside.] If that these apricocks should be poison'd now,
Without my knowledge?

There was taken even now a Switzer in the duchess' bed-chamber----


FIRST SERVANT.  With a pistol----

SECOND SERVANT.  There was a cunning traitor!

And all the moulds of his buttons were leaden bullets.

SECOND SERVANT.  O wicked cannibal!

FIRST SERVANT.  'Twas a French plot, upon my life.

SECOND SERVANT.  To see what the devil can do!

ANTONIO.  [Are] all the officers here?

SERVANTS.  We are.

ANTONIO.  Gentlemen,
We have lost much plate, you know; and but this evening
Jewels, to the value of four thousand ducats,
Are missing in the duchess' cabinet.
Are the gates shut?

SERVANT.             Yes.

ANTONIO.                   'Tis the duchess' pleasure
Each officer be lock'd into his chamber
Till the sun-rising; and to send the keys
Of all their chests and of their outward doors
Into her bed-chamber.  She is very sick.

RODERIGO.  At her pleasure.

ANTONIO.  She entreats you take 't not ill:  the innocent
Shall be the more approv'd by it.

BOSOLA.  Gentlemen o' the wood-yard, where 's your Switzer now?

FIRST SERVANT.  By this hand, 'twas credibly reported by one
o' the black guard.<48>
     [Exeunt all except ANTONIO and DELIO.]

DELIO.  How fares it with the duchess?

ANTONIO.                                She 's expos'd
Unto the worst of torture, pain, and fear.

DELIO.  Speak to her all happy comfort.

ANTONIO.  How I do play the fool with mine own danger!
You are this night, dear friend, to post to Rome:
My life lies in your service.

DELIO.                         Do not doubt me.

ANTONIO.  O, 'tis far from me:  and yet fear presents me
Somewhat that looks like danger.

DELIO.                            Believe it,
'Tis but the shadow of your fear, no more:
How superstitiously we mind our evils!
The throwing down salt, or crossing of a hare,
Bleeding at nose, the stumbling of a horse,
Or singing of a cricket, are of power
To daunt whole man in us.  Sir, fare you well:
I wish you all the joys of a bless'd father;
And, for my faith, lay this unto your breast,--
Old friends, like old swords, still are trusted best.

     [Enter CARIOLA]

CARIOLA.  Sir, you are the happy father of a son:
Your wife commends him to you.

ANTONIO.                        Blessed comfort!--
For heaven' sake, tend her well: I 'll presently<49>
Go set a figure for 's nativity.<50>

     Scene III<51>

     [Enter BOSOLA, with a dark lantern]

BOSOLA.  Sure I did hear a woman shriek:  list, ha!
And the sound came, if I receiv'd it right,
>From the duchess' lodgings.  There 's some stratagem
In the confining all our courtiers
To their several wards:  I must have part of it;
My intelligence will freeze else.  List, again!
It may be 'twas the melancholy bird,
Best friend of silence and of solitariness,
The owl, that screamed so.--Ha! Antonio!

     [Enter ANTONIO with a candle, his sword drawn]

ANTONIO.  I heard some noise.--Who 's there?  What art thou?  Speak.

BOSOLA.  Antonio, put not your face nor body
To such a forc'd expression of fear;
I am Bosola, your friend.

ANTONIO.                   Bosola!--
[Aside.] This mole does undermine me.--Heard you not
A noise even now?

BOSOLA.            From whence?

ANTONIO.                         From the duchess' lodging.

BOSOLA.  Not I:  did you?

ANTONIO.                   I did, or else I dream'd.

BOSOLA.  Let 's walk towards it.

ANTONIO.                          No:  it may be 'twas
But the rising of the wind.

BOSOLA.                      Very likely.
Methinks 'tis very cold, and yet you sweat:
You look wildly.

ANTONIO.          I have been setting a figure<52>
For the duchess' jewels.

BOSOLA.                   Ah, and how falls your question?
Do you find it radical?<53>

ANTONIO.                 What 's that to you?
'Tis rather to be question'd what design,
When all men were commanded to their lodgings,
Makes you a night-walker.

BOSOLA.                    In sooth, I 'll tell you:
Now all the court 's asleep, I thought the devil
Had least to do here; I came to say my prayers;
And if it do offend you I do so,
You are a fine courtier.

ANTONIO. [Aside.]         This fellow will undo me.--
You gave the duchess apricocks to-day:
Pray heaven they were not poison'd!

BOSOLA.  Poison'd! a Spanish fig
For the imputation!

ANTONIO.             Traitors are ever confident
Till they are discover'd.  There were jewels stol'n too:
In my conceit, none are to be suspected
More than yourself.

BOSOLA.              You are a false steward.

ANTONIO.  Saucy slave, I 'll pull thee up by the roots.

BOSOLA.  May be the ruin will crush you to pieces.

ANTONIO.  You are an impudent snake indeed, sir:
Are you scarce warm, and do you show your sting?
You libel<54> well, sir?

BOSOLA.                   No, sir:  copy it out,
And I will set my hand to 't.

ANTONIO. [Aside.]              My nose bleeds.
One that were superstitious would count
This ominous, when it merely comes by chance.
Two letters, that are wrought here for my name,<55>
Are drown'd in blood!
Mere accident.--For you, sir, I 'll take order
I' the morn you shall be safe.--[Aside.] 'Tis that must colour
Her lying-in.--Sir, this door you pass not:
I do not hold it fit that you come near
The duchess' lodgings, till you have quit yourself.--
[Aside.] The great are like the base, nay, they are the same,
When they seek shameful ways to avoid shame.

BOSOLA.  Antonio hereabout did drop a paper:--
Some of your help, false friend.<56>--O, here it is.
What 's here? a child's nativity calculated!
'The duchess was deliver'd of a son, 'tween the hours
twelve and one in the night, Anno Dom. 1504,'--that 's
this year--'decimo nono Decembris,'--that 's this night--
'taken according to the meridian of Malfi,'--that 's our
duchess:  happy discovery!--'The lord of the first house
being combust in the ascendant, signifies short life;
and Mars being in a human sign, joined to the tail of the
Dragon, in the eighth house, doth threaten a violent death.
Caetera non scrutantur.'<57>

Why, now 'tis most apparent; this precise fellow
Is the duchess' bawd:--I have it to my wish!
This is a parcel of intelligency<58>
Our courtiers were cas'd up for:  it needs must follow
That I must be committed on pretence
Of poisoning her; which I 'll endure, and laugh at.
If one could find the father now! but that
Time will discover.  Old Castruccio
I' th' morning posts to Rome:  by him I 'll send
A letter that shall make her brothers' galls
O'erflow their livers.  This was a thrifty<59> way!
Though lust do mask in ne'er so strange disguise,
She 's oft found witty, but is never wise.

     Scene IV<60>

     [Enter] CARDINAL and JULIA

CARDINAL.  Sit:  thou art my best of wishes.  Prithee, tell me
What trick didst thou invent to come to Rome
Without thy husband?

JULIA.                Why, my lord, I told him
I came to visit an old anchorite<61>
Here for devotion.

CARDINAL.           Thou art a witty false one,--
I mean, to him.

JULIA.  You have prevail'd with me
Beyond my strongest thoughts; I would not now
Find you inconstant.

CARDINAL.             Do not put thyself
To such a voluntary torture, which proceeds
Out of your own guilt.

JULIA.                  How, my lord!

CARDINAL.                              You fear
My constancy, because you have approv'd<62>
Those giddy and wild turnings in yourself.

JULIA.  Did you e'er find them?

CARDINAL.                        Sooth, generally for women,
A man might strive to make glass malleable,
Ere he should make them fixed.

JULIA.                          So, my lord.

CARDINAL.  We had need go borrow that fantastic glass
Invented by Galileo the Florentine
To view another spacious world i' th' moon,
And look to find a constant woman there.

JULIA.  This is very well, my lord.

CARDINAL.                            Why do you weep?
Are tears your justification?  The self-same tears
Will fall into your husband's bosom, lady,
With a loud protestation that you love him
Above the world.  Come, I 'll love you wisely,
That 's jealously; since I am very certain
You cannot make me cuckold.

JULIA.                       I 'll go home
To my husband.

CARDINAL.       You may thank me, lady,
I have taken you off your melancholy perch,
Bore you upon my fist, and show'd you game,
And let you fly at it.--I pray thee, kiss me.--
When thou wast with thy husband, thou wast watch'd
Like a tame elephant:--still you are to thank me:--
Thou hadst only kisses from him and high feeding;
But what delight was that?  'Twas just like one
That hath a little fing'ring on the lute,
Yet cannot tune it:--still you are to thank me.

JULIA.  You told me of a piteous wound i' th' heart,
And a sick liver, when you woo'd me first,
And spake like one in physic.<63>

CARDINAL.                      Who 's that?----
     [Enter Servant]
Rest firm, for my affection to thee,
Lightning moves slow to 't.

SERVANT.                     Madam, a gentleman,
That 's come post from Malfi, desires to see you.

CARDINAL.  Let him enter:  I 'll withdraw.

SERVANT.                                    He says
Your husband, old Castruccio, is come to Rome,
Most pitifully tir'd with riding post.

     [Enter DELIO]

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