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 I
[Enter] ANTONIO and DELIO 1

  ANT.  What think you of my hope of reconcilement
To the Arragonian brethren?
  DELIO.        I misdoubt it;
For though they have sent their letters of safe-conduct        4
For your repair to Milan, they appear
But nets to entrap you. The Marquis of Pescara,
Under whom you hold certain land in cheat, 2
Much ’gainst his noble nature hath been mov’d        8
To seize those lands; and some of his dependants
Are at this instant making it their suit
To be invested in your revenues.
I cannot think they mean well to your life        12
That do deprive you of your means of life,
Your living.
  ANT.        You are still an heretic 3
To any safety I can shape myself.        16
  DELIO.  Here comes the marquis: I will make myself
Petitioner for some part of your land,
To know whither it is flying.
  ANT.        I pray, do.  [Withdraws.]        20

  DELIO.  Sir, I have a suit to you.
  PES.        To me?
  DELIO.        An easy one:
There is the Citadel of Saint Bennet,        24
With some demesnes, of late in the possession
Of Antonio Bologna,—please you bestow them on me.
  PES.  You are my friend; but this is such a suit,
Nor fit for me to give, nor you to take.        28
  DELIO.  No, sir?
  PES.        I will give you ample reason for ’t
Soon in private:—here ’s the cardinal’s mistress.
[Enter JULIA]

  JULIA.  My lord, I am grown your poor petitioner,
And should be an ill beggar, had I not
A great man’s letter here, the cardinal’s,
To court you in my favour.  [Gives a letter.]
  PES.        He entreats for you        36
The Citadel of Saint Bennet, that belong’d
To the banish’d Bologna.
  JULIA.        Yes.
  PES.  I could not have thought of a friend I could rather        40
Pleasure with it: ’tis yours.
  JULIA.        Sir, I thank you;
And he shall know how doubly I am engag’d
Both in your gift, and speediness of giving        44
Which makes your grant the greater.  Exit.
  ANT.        How they fortify
Themselves with my ruin!
  DELIO.        Sir, I am        48
Little bound to you.
  PES.        Why?
Delio. Because you deni’d this suit to me, and gave ’t
To such a creature.        52
  PES.        Do you know what it was?
It was Antonio’s land; not forfeited
By course of law, but ravish’d from his throat
By the cardinal’s entreaty. It were not fit        56
I should bestow so main a piece of wrong
Upon my friend; ’tis a gratification
Only due to a strumpet, for it is injustice.
Shall I sprinkle the pure blood of innocents        60
To make those followers I call my friends
Look ruddier upon me? I am glad
This land, ta’en from the owner by such wrong,
Returns again unto so foul an use        64
As salary for his lust. Learn, good Delio,
To ask noble things of me, and you shall find
I ’ll be a noble giver.
  DELIO.        You instruct me well.        68
  ANT.  Why, here ’s a man now would fright impudence
From sauciest beggars.
  PES.        Prince Ferdinand ’s come to Milan,
Sick, as they give out, of an apoplexy;        72
But some say ’tis a frenzy: I am going
To visit him.  Exit.
  ANT.        ’Tis a noble old fellow.
  DELIO.  What course do you mean to take, Antonio?        76
  ANT.  This night I mean to venture all my fortune,
Which is no more than a poor ling’ring life,
To the cardinal’s worst of malice. I have got
Private access to his chamber; and intend        80
To visit him about the mid of night,
As once his brother did our noble duchess.
It may be that the sudden apprehension
Of danger,—for I ’ll go in mine own shape,—        84
When he shall see it fraight 4 with love and duty,
May draw the poison out of him, and work
A friendly reconcilement. If it fail,
Yet it shall rid me of this infamous calling;        88
For better fall once than be ever falling.
  DELIO.  I ’ll second you in all danger; and howe’er,
My life keeps rank with yours.
  ANT.  You are still my lov’d and best friend.  Exeunt.        92
Note 1. Milan. A public place. [back]
Note 2. In escheat; here, in fee. [back]
Note 3. Disbeliever. [back]
Note 4. Fraught. [back]


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