Fiction > Harvard Classics > John Webster > The Duchess of Malfi
John Webster (1580?–1634).  The Duchess of Malfi.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
Act II
Scene IV
[Enter] CARDINAL and JULIA 1

  CARD.  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        4
I came to visit an old anchorite 2
Here for devotion.
  CARD.        Thou art a witty false one,—
I mean, to him.        8
  JULIA.  You have prevail’d with me
Beyond my strongest thoughts; I would not now
Find you inconstant.
  CARD.        Do not put thyself        12
To such a voluntary torture, which proceeds
Out of your own guilt.
  JULIA.        How, my lord!
  CARD.        You fear        16
My constancy, because you have approv’d 3
Those giddy and wild turnings in yourself.
  JULIA.  Did you e’er find them?
  CARD.        Sooth, generally for women,        20
A man might strive to make glass malleable,
Ere he should make them fixed.
  JULIA.        So, my lord.
  CARD.  We had need go borrow that fantastic glass        24
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.        28
  CARD.        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        32
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        36
To my husband.
  CARD.        You may thank me, lady,
I have taken you off your melancholy perch,
Bore you upon my fist, and show’d you game,        40
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;        44
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,        48
And a sick liver, when you woo’d me first,
And spake like one in physic. 4
  CARD.        Who ’s that?——
[Enter Servant]

Rest firm, for my affection to thee,
Lightning moves slow to ’t.
  SERV.        Madam, a gentleman,
That ’s come post from Malfi, desires to see you.
  CARD.  Let him enter: I ’ll withdraw.  Exit.        56
  SERV.        He says
Your husband, old Castruccio, is come to Rome,
Most pitifully tir’d with riding post.  [Exit.]
[Enter DELIO]

  JULIA.  [aside.]  Signior Delio! ’tis one of my old suitors.
  DELIO.  I was bold to come and see you.
  JULIA.        Sir, you are welcome.
  DELIO.  Do you lie here?
  JULIA.        Sure, your own experience        64
Will satisfy you no: our Roman prelates
Do not keep lodging for ladies.
  DELIO.        Very well:
I have brought you no commendations from your husband,        68
For I know none by him.
  JULIA.        I hear he ’s come to Rome.
  DELIO.  I never knew man and beast, of a horse and a knight,
So weary of each other. If he had a good back,        72
He would have undertook to have borne his horse,
His breech was so pitifully sore.
  JULIA.        Your laughter
Is my pity.        76
  DELIO.  Lady, I know not whether
You want money, but I have brought you some.
  JULIA.  From my husband?
  DELIO.        No, from mine own allowance.        80
  JULIA.  I must hear the condition, ere I be bound to take it.
  DELIO.  Look on ’t, ’tis gold; hath it not a fine colour?
  JULIA.  I have a bird more beautiful.
  DELIO.        Try the sound on ’t.        84
  JULIA.  A lute-string far exceeds it.
It hath no smell, like cassia or civet;
Nor is it physical, 5 though some fond doctors
Persuade us seethe ’t in cullises. 6 I ’ll tell you,        88
This is a creature bred by——
[Re-enter Servant]

  SERV.        Your husband ’s come,
Hath deliver’d a letter to the Duke of Calabria
That, to my thinking, hath put him out of his wits.  [Exit.]        92
  JULIA.  Sir, you hear:
Pray, let me know your business and your suit
As briefly as can be.
  DELIO.  With good speed: I would wish you,        96
At such time as you are non-resident
With your husband, my mistress.
  JULIA.  Sir, I ’ll go ask my husband if I shall,
And straight return your answer.  Exit.        100
  DELIO.        Very fine!
Is this her wit, or honesty, that speaks thus?
I heard one say the duke was highly mov’d
With a letter sent from Malfi. I do fear        104
Antonio is betray’d. How fearfully
Shows his ambition now! Unfortunate fortune!
They pass through whirl-pools, and deep woes do shun,
Who the event weigh ere the action ’s done.  Exit.        108
Note 1. Rome. An apartment in the palace of the Cardinal. [back]
Note 2. Religious recluse. [back]
Note 3. Experienced. [back]
Note 4. Sick. [back]
Note 5. Medicinal. [back]
Note 6. Strong broth. [back]


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