Fiction > Harvard Classics > John Webster > The Duchess of Malfi
John Webster (1580?–1634).  The Duchess of Malfi.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
Act V
Scene V
[Enter] CARDINAL, with a book 1

  CARD.  I am puzzl’d in a question about hell;
He says, in hell there ’s one material fire,
And yet it shall not burn all men alike.
Lay him by. How tedious is a guilty conscience!        4
When I look into the fish-ponds in my garden,
Methinks I see a thing arm’d with a rake,
That seems to strike at me.
[Enter BOSOLA, and Servant bearing ANTONIO’S body]

        Now, art thou come?
Thou look’st ghastly;
There sits in thy face some great determination
Mix’d with some fear.
  BOS.        Thus it lightens into action:        12
I am come to kill thee.
  CARD.        Ha!—Help! our guard!
  BOS.  Thou art deceiv’d; they are out of thy howling.
  CARD.  Hold; and I will faithfully divide        16
Revenues with thee.
  BOS.        Thy prayers and proffers
Are both unseasonable.
  CARD.        Raise the watch!        20
We are betray’d!
  BOS.        I have confin’d your flight:
I ’ll suffer your retreat to Julia’s chamber,
But no further.        24
  CARD.        Help! we are betray’d!

  MAL.  Listen.
  CARD.  My dukedom for rescue!
  ROD.  Fie upon his counterfeiting!        28
  MAL.  Why, ’tis not the cardinal.
  ROD.  Yes, yes, ’tis he:
But I ’ll see him hang’d ere I ’ll go down to him.
  CARD.  Here ’s a plot upon me; I am assaulted! I am lost,        32
Unless some rescue!
  GRIS.      He doth this pretty well;
But it will not serve to laugh me out of mine honour.
  CARD.  The sword ’s at my throat!        36
  ROD.        You would not bawl so loud then.
  MAL.  Come, come, let ’s go to bed: he told us this much aforehand.
  PES.  He wish’d you should not come at him; but, believe ’t,
The accent of the voice sounds not in jest:        40
I ’ll down to him, howsoever, and with engines
Force ope the doors.  [Exit above.]
  ROD.        Let ’s follow him aloof,
And note how the cardinal will laugh at him.  [Exeunt, above, MALATESTI, RODERIGO, and GRISOLAN.]        44
  BOS.  There ’s for you first,
’Cause you shall not unbarricade the door
To let in rescue. Kills the Servant.
  CARD.  What cause hast thou to pursue my life?        48
  BOS.        Look there.
  CARD.  Antonio!
  BOS.        Slain by my hand unwittingly.
Pray, and be sudden. When thou kill’d’st thy sister,        52
Thou took’st from Justice her most equal balance,
And left her naught but her sword.
  CARD.        O, mercy!
  BOS.  Now it seems thy greatness was only outward;        56
For thou fall’st faster of thyself than calamity
Can drive thee. I ’ll not waste longer time; there!  [Stabs him.]
  CARD.  Thou hast hurt me.
  BOS.        Again!        60
  CARD.        Shall I die like a leveret,
Without any resistance?—Help, help, help!
I am slain!

  FERD.        Th’ alarum! Give me a fresh horse;
Rally the vaunt-guard, or the day is lost,
Yield, yield! I give you the honour of arms
Shake my sword over you; will you yield?
  CARD.  Help me; I am your brother!        68
  FERD.        The devil!
My brother fight upon the adverse party!  He wounds the CARDINAL, and, in the scuffle, gives BOSOLA his death-wound.
There flies your ransom.
  CARD.  O justice!        72
I suffer now for what hath former bin:
Sorrow is held the eldest child of sin.
  FERD.  Now you’re brave fellows. Cæsar’s fortune was harder than Pompey’s; Cæsar died in the arms of prosperity, Pompey at the feet of disgrace. You both died in the field. The pain ’s nothing; pain many times is taken away with the apprehension of greater, as the tooth-ache with the sight of a barber that comes to pull it out. There ’s philosophy for you.
  BOS.  Now my revenge is perfect.—Sink, thou main cause  Kills FERDINAND.        76
Of my undoing!—The last part of my life
Hath done me best service.
  FERD.  Give me some wet hay; I am broken-winded.
I do account this world but a dog-kennel:        80
I will vault credit and affect high pleasures
Beyond death.
  BOS.        He seems to come to himself,
Now he ’s so near the bottom.        84
  FERD.  My sister, O my sister! there ’s the cause on ’t.
Whether we fall by ambition, blood, or lust,
Like diamonds, we are cut with our own dust.  [Dies.]
  CARD.  Thou hast thy payment too.        88
  BOS.  Yes, I hold my weary soul in my teeth;
’Tis ready to part from me. I do glory
That thou, which stood’st like a huge pyramid
Begun upon a large and ample base,        92
Shalt end in a little point, a kind of nothing.

  PES.  How now, my lord!
  MAL.        O sad disaster!
  ROD.        How comes this?        96
  BOS.  Revenge for the Duchess of Malfi murdered
By the Arragonian brethren; for Antonio
Slain by this hand; for lustful Julia
Poison’d by this man; and lastly for myself,        100
That was an actor in the main of all
Much ’gainst mine own good nature, yet i’ the end
  PES.        How now, my lord!        104
  CARD.        Look to my brother:
He gave us these large wounds, as we were struggling
Here i’ th’ rushes. And now, I pray, let me
Be laid by and never thought of.  [Dies.]        108
  PES.  How fatally, it seems, he did withstand
His own rescue!
  MAL.        Thou wretched thing of blood,
How came Antonio by his death?        112
  BOS.  In a mist; I know not how:
Such a mistake as I have often seen
In a play. O, I am gone!
We are only like dead walls or vaulted graves,        116
That, ruin’d, yield no echo. Fare you well.
It may be pain, but no harm, to me to die
In so good a quarrel. O, this gloomy world!
In what a shadow, or deep pit of darkness,        120
Doth womanish and fearful mankind live!
Let worthy minds ne’er stagger in distrust
To suffer death or shame for what is just:
Mine is another voyage.  [Dies.]        124
  PES.  The noble Delio, as I came to th’ palace,
Told me of Antonio’s being here, and show’d me
A pretty gentleman, his son and heir.
[Enter DELIO, and ANTONIO’S Son]

  MAL.  O sir, you come too late!
  DELIO.        I heard so, and
Was arm’d for ’t, ere I came. Let us make noble use
Of this great ruin; and join all our force
To establish this young hopeful gentleman        132
In ’s mother’s right. These wretched eminent things
Leave no more fame behind ’em, than should one
Fall in a frost, and leave his print in snow;
As soon as the sun shines, it ever melts,        136
Both form and matter. I have ever thought
Nature doth nothing so great for great men
As when she ’s pleas’d to make them lords of truth:
Integrity of life is fame’s best friend,        140
Which nobly, beyond death, shall crown the end.  Exeunt.
Note 1. Another apartment in the same. [back]


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