List Of Contents | Contents of The Duchess of Malfi, by John Webster
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To save it from taking prisoner.

SILVIO.                           He is horribly afraid
Gun-powder will spoil the perfume on 't.

DELIO.  I saw a Dutchman break his pate once
For calling him pot-gun; he made his head
Have a bore in 't like a musket.

SILVIO.  I would he had made a touch-hole to 't.
He is indeed a guarded sumpter-cloth,<93>
Only for the remove of the court.

     [Enter BOSOLA]

PESCARA.  Bosola arriv'd!  What should be the business?
Some falling-out amongst the cardinals.
These factions amongst great men, they are like
Foxes, when their heads are divided,
They carry fire in their tails, and all the country
About them goes to wrack for 't.

SILVIO.                           What 's that Bosola?

DELIO.  I knew him in Padua,--a fantastical scholar, like such who
study to know how many knots was in Hercules' club, of what colour
Achilles' beard was, or whether Hector were not troubled with the
tooth-ache.  He hath studied himself half blear-eyed to know the true
symmetry of Caesar's nose by a shoeing-horn; and this he did to gain
the name of a speculative man.

PESCARA.  Mark Prince Ferdinand:
A very salamander lives in 's eye,
To mock the eager violence of fire.

SILVIO.  That cardinal hath made more bad faces with his oppression
than ever Michael Angelo made good ones.  He lifts up 's nose, like
a foul porpoise before a storm.

PESCARA.  The Lord Ferdinand laughs.

DELIO.                                Like a deadly cannon
That lightens ere it smokes.

PESCARA.  These are your true pangs of death,
The pangs of life, that struggle with great statesmen.

DELIO.  In such a deformed silence witches whisper their charms.

CARDINAL.  Doth she make religion her riding-hood
To keep her from the sun and tempest?

FERDINAND.  That, that damns her.  Methinks her fault and beauty,
Blended together, show like leprosy,
The whiter, the fouler.  I make it a question
Whether her beggarly brats were ever christ'ned.

CARDINAL.  I will instantly solicit the state of Ancona
To have them banish'd.

FERDINAND.              You are for Loretto:
I shall not be at your ceremony; fare you well.--
Write to the Duke of Malfi, my young nephew
She had by her first husband, and acquaint him
With 's mother's honesty.

BOSOLA.                    I will.

FERDINAND.                          Antonio!
A slave that only smell'd of ink and counters,
And never in 's life look'd like a gentleman,
But in the audit-time.--Go, go presently,
Draw me out an hundred and fifty of our horse,
And meet me at the foot-bridge.

     Scene IV

     [Enter] Two Pilgrims to the Shrine of our Lady of Loretto

FIRST PILGRIM.  I have not seen a goodlier shrine than this;
Yet I have visited many.

SECOND PILGRIM.           The Cardinal of Arragon
Is this day to resign his cardinal's hat:
His sister duchess likewise is arriv'd
To pay her vow of pilgrimage.  I expect
A noble ceremony.

FIRST PILGRIM.     No question.--They come.

     [Here the ceremony of the Cardinal's instalment, in the habit
     of a soldier, perform'd in delivering up his cross, hat, robes,
     and ring, at the shrine, and investing him with sword, helmet,
     shield, and spurs; then ANTONIO, the DUCHESS and their children,
     having presented themselves at the shrine, are, by a form
     of banishment in dumb-show expressed towards them by the
     CARDINAL and the state of Ancona, banished:  during all which
     ceremony, this ditty is sung, to very solemn music, by divers
     churchmen:  and then exeunt [all except the] Two Pilgrims.

Arms and honours deck thy story,
To thy fame's eternal glory!
Adverse fortune ever fly thee;
No disastrous fate come nigh thee!

I alone will sing thy praises,
Whom to honour virtue raises,
And thy study, that divine is,
Bent to martial discipline is,
Lay aside all those robes lie by thee;
Crown thy arts with arms, they 'll beautify thee.

O worthy of worthiest name, adorn'd in this manner,
Lead bravely thy forces on under war's warlike banner!
O, mayst thou prove fortunate in all martial courses!
Guide thou still by skill in arts and forces!
Victory attend thee nigh, whilst fame sings loud thy powers;
Triumphant conquest crown thy head, and blessings pour down

Here 's a strange turn of state! who would have thought
So great a lady would have match'd herself
Unto so mean a person?  Yet the cardinal
Bears himself much too cruel.

SECOND PILGRIM.                They are banish'd.

FIRST PILGRIM.  But I would ask what power hath this state
Of Ancona to determine of a free prince?

SECOND PILGRIM.  They are a free state, sir, and her brother show'd
How that the Pope, fore-hearing of her looseness,
Hath seiz'd into th' protection of the church
The dukedom which she held as dowager.

FIRST PILGRIM.  But by what justice?

SECOND PILGRIM.                       Sure, I think by none,
Only her brother's instigation.

FIRST PILGRIM.  What was it with such violence he took
Off from her finger?

SECOND PILGRIM.       'Twas her wedding-ring;
Which he vow'd shortly he would sacrifice
To his revenge.

FIRST PILGRIM.      Alas, Antonio!
If that a man be thrust into a well,
No matter who sets hand to 't, his own weight
Will bring him sooner to th' bottom.  Come, let 's hence.
Fortune makes this conclusion general,
All things do help th' unhappy man to fall.

     Scene V<95>

     [Enter] DUCHESS, ANTONIO, Children, CARIOLA, and Servants

DUCHESS.  Banish'd Ancona!

ANTONIO.                    Yes, you see what power
Lightens in great men's breath.

DUCHESS.                         Is all our train
Shrunk to this poor remainder?

ANTONIO.                        These poor men
Which have got little in your service, vow
To take your fortune:  but your wiser buntings,<96>
Now they are fledg'd, are gone.

DUCHESS.                         They have done wisely.
This puts me in mind of death:  physicians thus,
With their hands full of money, use to give o'er
Their patients.

ANTONIO.         Right the fashion of the world:
>From decay'd fortunes every flatterer shrinks;
Men cease to build where the foundation sinks.

DUCHESS.  I had a very strange dream to-night.

ANTONIO.                                        What was 't?

DUCHESS.  Methought I wore my coronet of state,
And on a sudden all the diamonds
Were chang'd to pearls.

ANTONIO.                 My interpretation
Is, you 'll weep shortly; for to me the pearls
Do signify your tears.

DUCHESS.                The birds that live i' th' field
On the wild benefit of nature live
Happier than we; for they may choose their mates,
And carol their sweet pleasures to the spring.

     [Enter BOSOLA with a letter]

BOSOLA.  You are happily o'erta'en.

DUCHESS.                             From my brother?

BOSOLA.  Yes, from the Lord Ferdinand your brother
All love and safety.

DUCHESS.              Thou dost blanch mischief,
Would'st make it white.  See, see, like to calm weather
At sea before a tempest, false hearts speak fair
To those they intend most mischief.
[Reads.] 'Send Antonio to me; I want his head in a business.'
A politic equivocation!
He doth not want your counsel, but your head;
That is, he cannot sleep till you be dead.
And here 's another pitfall that 's strew'd o'er
With roses; mark it, 'tis a cunning one:
  'I stand engaged for your husband for several debts at Naples:
  let not that trouble him; I had rather have his heart than his
And I believe so too.

BOSOLA.                What do you believe?

DUCHESS.  That he so much distrusts my husband's love,
He will by no means believe his heart is with him
Until he see it:  the devil is not cunning enough
To circumvent us In riddles.

BOSOLA.  Will you reject that noble and free league
Of amity and love which I present you?

DUCHESS.  Their league is like that of some politic kings,
Only to make themselves of strength and power
To be our after-ruin; tell them so.

BOSOLA.  And what from you?

ANTONIO.                     Thus tell him; I will not come.

BOSOLA.  And what of this?

ANTONIO.                    My brothers have dispers'd
Bloodhounds abroad; which till I hear are muzzl'd,
No truce, though hatch'd with ne'er such politic skill,
Is safe, that hangs upon our enemies' will.
I 'll not come at them.

BOSOLA.                  This proclaims your breeding.
Every small thing draws a base mind to fear,
As the adamant draws iron.  Fare you well, sir;
You shall shortly hear from 's.

DUCHESS.                         I suspect some ambush;
Therefore by all my love I do conjure you
To take your eldest son, and fly towards Milan.
Let us not venture all this poor remainder
In one unlucky bottom.

ANTONIO.                You counsel safely.
Best of my life, farewell.  Since we must part,
Heaven hath a hand in 't; but no otherwise
Than as some curious artist takes in sunder
A clock or watch, when it is out of frame,
To bring 't in better order.

DUCHESS.  I know not which is best,
To see you dead, or part with you.--Farewell, boy:
Thou art happy that thou hast not understanding
To know thy misery; for all our wit
And reading brings us to a truer sense
Of sorrow.--In the eternal church, sir,
I do hope we shall not part thus.

ANTONIO.                           O, be of comfort!
Make patience a noble fortitude,
And think not how unkindly we are us'd:
Man, like to cassia, is prov'd best, being bruis'd.

DUCHESS.  Must I, like to slave-born Russian,
Account it praise to suffer tyranny?
And yet, O heaven, thy heavy hand is in 't!
I have seen my little boy oft scourge his top,
And compar'd myself to 't:  naught made me e'er
Go right but heaven's scourge-stick.

ANTONIO.                              Do not weep:
Heaven fashion'd us of nothing; and we strive
To bring ourselves to nothing.--Farewell, Cariola,
And thy sweet armful.--If I do never see thee more,
Be a good mother to your little ones,
And save them from the tiger:  fare you well.

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