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 II
[Enter] PESCARA and DOCTOR 1

  PES.  Now, doctor, may I visit your patient?
  DOC.  If ’t please your lordship; but he ’s instantly
To take the air here in the gallery
By my direction.        4
  PES.        Pray thee, what ’s his disease?
  DOC.  A very pestilent disease, my lord,
They call lycanthropia.
  PES.        What ’s that?        8
I need a dictionary to ’t.
  DOC.        I ’ll tell you.
In those that are possess’d with ’t there o’erflows
Such melancholy humour they imagine        12
Themselves to be transformed into wolves;
Steal forth to church-yards in the dead of night,
And dig dead bodies up: as two nights since
One met the duke ’bout midnight in a lane        16
Behind Saint Mark’s church, with the leg of a man
Upon his shoulder; and he howl’d fearfully;
Said he was a wolf, only the difference
Was, a wolf’s skin was hairy on the outside,        20
His on the inside; bade them take their swords,
Rip up his flesh, and try. Straight I was sent for,
And, having minister’d to him, found his grace
Very well recover’d.        24
  PES.  I am glad on ’t.
  DOC.        Yet not without some fear
Of a relapse. If he grow to his fit again,
I ’ll go a nearer way to work with him        28
Than ever Paracelsus dream’d of; if
They ’ll give me leave, I ’ll buffet his madness out of him.
Stand aside; he comes.

  FERD.  Leave me.
  MAL.  Why doth your lordship love this solitariness?
  FERD.  Eagles commonly fly alone: they are crows, daws, and starlings that flock together. Look, what ’s that follows me?
  MAL.  Nothing, my lord.
  FERD.  Yes.        36
  MAL.  ’Tis your shadow.
  FERD.  Stay it; let it not haunt me.
  MAL.  Impossible, if you move, and the sun shine.
  FERD.  I will throttle it.  [Throws himself down on his shadow.]        40
  MAL.  O, my lord, you are angry with nothing.
  FERD.  You are a fool: how is ’t possible I should catch my shadow, unless I fall upon ’t? When I go to hell, I mean to carry a bribe; for, look you, good gifts evermore make way for the worst persons.
  PES.  Rise, good my lord.
  FERD.  I am studying the art of patience.        44
  PES.  ’Tis a noble virtue.
  FERD.  To drive six snails before me from this town to Moscow; neither use goad nor whip to them, but let them take their own time;—the patient’st man i’ th’ world match me for an experiment:—an I ’ll crawl after like a sheep-biter. 2
  CARD.  Force him up.  [They raise him.]
  FERD.  Use me well, you were best. What I have done, I have done: I ’ll confess nothing.        48
  DOC.  Now let me come to him.—Are you mad, my lord? are you out of your princely wits?
  FERD.        What ’s he?
  PES.        Your doctor.
  FERD.  Let me have his beard saw’d off, and his eye-brows fil’d more civil.        52
  DOC.  I must do mad tricks with him, for that ’s the only way on ’t.—I have brought your grace a salamander’s skin to keep you from sun-burning.
  FERD.  I have cruel sore eyes.
  DOC.  The white of a cockatrix’s 3 egg is present remedy.
  FERD.  Let it be a new-laid one, you were best.        56
Hide me from him: physicians are like kings,—
They brook no contradiction.
  DOC.  Now he begins to fear me: now let me alone with him.
  CARD.  How now! put off your gown!        60
  DOC.  Let me have some forty urinals filled with rosewater: he and I ’ll go pelt one another with them.—Now he begins to fear me.—Can you fetch a frisk, 4 sir?—Let him go, let him go, upon my peril: I find by his eye he stands in awe of me; I ’ll make him as tame as a dormouse.
  FERD.  Can you fetch your frisks, sir!—I will stamp him into a cullis, 5 flay off his skin to cover one of the anatomies 6 this rogue hath set i’ th’ cold yonder in Barber-Chirurgeon’s-hall.—Hence, hence! you are all of you like beasts for sacrifice. [Throws the DOCTOR down and beats him.] There ’s nothing left of you but tongue and belly, flattery and lechery.  [Exit.]
  PES.  Doctor, he did not fear you thoroughly.
  DOC.  True; I was somewhat too forward.        64
  BOS.  Mercy upon me, what a fatal judgment
Hath fall’n upon this Ferdinand!
  PES.        Knows your grace
What accident hath brought unto the prince        68
This strange distraction?
  CARD.  [aside.]  I must feign somewhat.—Thus they say it grew.
You have heard it rumour’d, for these many years
None of our family dies but there is seen        72
The shape of an old woman, which is given
By tradition to us to have been murder’d
By her nephews for her riches. Such a figure
One night, as the prince sat up late at ’s book,        76
Appear’d to him; when crying out for help,
The gentleman of ’s chamber found his grace
All on a cold sweat, alter’d much in face
And language: since which apparition,        80
He hath grown worse and worse, and I much fear
He cannot live.
  BOS.        Sir, I would speak with you.
  PES.  We ’ll leave your grace,        84
Wishing to the sick prince, our noble lord,
All health of mind and body.
  CARD.        You are most welcome.  [Exeunt PESCARA, MALATESTI, and DOCTOR.]
Are you come? so.—[Aside.]  This fellow must not know        88
By any means I had intelligence
In our duchess’ death; for, though I counsell’d it,
The full of all th’ engagement seem’d to grow
From Ferdinand.—Now, sir, how fares our sister?        92
I do not think but sorrow makes her look
Like to an oft-dy’d garment: she shall now
Take comfort from me. Why do you look so wildly?
O, the fortune of your master here the prince        96
Dejects you; but be you of happy comfort:
If you ’ll do one thing for me I ’ll entreat,
Though he had a cold tomb-stone o’er his bones,
I ’d make you what you would be.        100
  BOS.        Any thing;
Give it me in a breath, and let me fly to ’t.
They that think long small expedition win,
For musing much o’ th’ end cannot begin.        104
[Enter JULIA]

  JULIA.  Sir, will you come into supper?
  CARD.        I am busy; leave me.
  JULIA  [aside.]  What an excellent shape hath that fellow!  Exit.
  CARD.  “Tis thus. Antonio lurks here in Milan:        108
Inquire him out, and kill him. While he lives,
Our sister cannot marry; and I have thought
Of an excellent match for her. Do this, and style me
Thy advancement.        112
  BOS.  But by what means shall I find him out?
  CARD.  There is a gentleman call’d Delio
Here in the camp, that hath been long approv’d
His loyal friend. Set eye upon that fellow;        116
Follow him to mass; may be Antonio,
Although he do account religion
But a school-name, for fashion of the world
May accompany him; or else go inquire out        120
Delio’s confessor, and see if you can bribe
Him to reveal it. There are a thousand ways
A man might find to trace him; as to known
What fellows haunt the Jews for taking up        124
Great sums of money, for sure he ’s in want;
Or else to go to the picture-makers, and learn
Who bought 7 her picture lately: some of these
Happily may take.        128
  BOS.        Well, I ’ll not freeze i’ th’ business:
I would see that wretched thing, Antonio,
Above all sights i’ th’ world.
  CARD.        Do, and be happy.  Exit.        132
  BOS.  This fellow doth breed basilisks in ’s eyes,
He ’s nothing else but murder; yet he seems
Not to have notice of the duchess’ death.
’Tis his cunning: I must follow his example;        136
There cannot be a surer way to trace
Than that of an old fox.
[Re-enter JULIA, with a pistol]

  JULIA.  So, sir, you are well met.
  BOS.        How Now!        140
  JULIA.  Nay, the doors are fast enough:
Now, sir, I will make you confess your treachery.
  BOS.  Treachery!
  JULIA.        Yes, confess to me        144
Which of my women ’twas you hir’d to put
Love-powder into my drink?
  BOS.  Love-powder!
  JULIA.        Yes, when I was at Malfi.        148
Why should I fall in love with such a face else?
I have already suffer’d for thee so much pain,
The only remedy to do me good
Is to kill my longing.        152
  BOS.        Sure, your pistol holds
Nothing but perfumes or kissing-comfits. 8
Excellent lady!
You have a pretty way on ’t to discover        156
Your longing. Come, come, I ’ll disarm you,
And arm you thus: yet this is wondrous strange.
  JULIA.  Compare thy form and my eyes together,
You ’ll find my love no such great miracle.        160
Now you ’ll say
I am wanton: this nice modesty in ladies
Is but a troublesome familiar
That haunts them.        164
  BOS.  Know you me, I am a blunt soldier.
  JULIA.        The better:
Sure, there wants fire where there are no lively sparks
Of roughness.        168
  BOS.        And I want compliment.
  JULIA.        Why, ignorance
In courtship cannot make you do amiss,
If you have a heart to do well.        172
  BOS.        You are very fair.
  JULIA.  Nay, if you lay beauty to my charge,
I must plead unguilty.
  BOS.        Your bright eyes        176
Carry a quiver of darts in them sharper
Than sun-beams.
  JULIA.        You will mar me with commendation,
Put yourself to the charge of courting me,        180
Whereas now I woo you.
  BOS.  [Aside.]  I have it, I will work upon this creature.—
Let us grow most amorously familiar:
If the great cardinal now should see me thus,        184
Would he not count me a villain?
  JULIA.  No; he might count me a wanton,
Not lay a scruple of offence on you;
For if I see and steal a diamond,        188
The fault is not i’ th’ stone, but in me the thief
That purloins it. I am sudden with you.
We that are great women of pleasure use to cut off
These uncertain wishes and unquiet longings,        192
And in an instant join the sweet delight
And the pretty excuse together. Had you been i’ th’ street,
Under my chamber-window, even there
I should have courted you.        196
  BOS.  O, you are an excellent lady!
  JULIA.  Bid me do somewhat for you presently
To express I love you.
  BOS.        I will; and if you love me,        200
Fail not to effect it.
The cardinal is grown wondrous melancholy;
Demand the cause, let him not put you off
With feign’d excuse; discover the main ground on ’t.        204
  JULIA.  Why would you know this?
  BOS.        I have depended on him,
And I hear that he is fall’n in some disgrace
With the emperor: if he be, like the mice        208
That forsake falling houses, I would shift
To other dependance.
  JULIA.        You shall not need
Follow the wars: I ’ll be your maintenance.        212
  BOS.  And I your loyal servant: but I cannot
Leave my calling.
  JULIA.        Not leave an ungrateful
General for the love of a sweet lady!        216
You are like some cannot sleep in feather-beds,
But must have blocks for their pillows.
  BOS.        Will you do this?
  JULIA.  Cunningly.        220
  BOS.  To-morrow I ’ll expect th’ intelligence.
  JULIA.  To-morrow! get you into my cabinet;
You shall have it with you. Do not delay me,
No more than I do you: I am like one        224
That is condemn’d; I have my pardon promis’d,
But I would see it seal’d. Go, get you in:
You shall see my wind my tongue about his heart
Like a skein of silk.  [Exit BOSOLA.]        228
[Re-enter CARDINAL]

  CARD.        Where are you?
[Enter Servants]

  SERVANTS.        Here.
  CARD.  Let none, upon your lives, have conference
With the Prince Ferdinand, unless I know it.—        232
[Aside]  In this distraction he may reveal
The murder.  [Exeunt Servants.]
        Yond ’s my lingering consumption:
I am weary of her, and by any means        236
Would be quit of.
  JULIA.        How now, my lord! what ails you?
  CARD.  Nothing,
  JULIA.        O, you are much alter’d:        240
Come, I must be your secretary, and remove
This lead from off your bosom: what ’s the matter?
  CARD.  I may not tell you.
  JULIA.  Are you so far in love with sorrow        244
You cannot part with part of it? Or think you
I cannot love your grace when you are sad
As well as merry? Or do you suspect
I, that have been a secret to your heart        248
These many winters, cannot be the same
Unto your tongue?
  CARD.        Satisfy thy longing,—
The only way to make thee keep my counsel        252
Is, not to tell thee.
  JULIA.        Tell your echo this,
Or flatterers, that like echoes still report
What they hear though most imperfect, and not me;        256
For it that you be true unto yourself,
I ’ll know.
  CARD.        Will you rack me?
  JULIA.        No, judgment shall        260
Draw it from you: it is an equal fault,
To tell one’s secrets unto all or none.
  CARD.  The first argues folly.
  JULIA.  But the last tyranny.        264
  CARD.  Very well: why, imagine I have committed
Some secret deed which I desire the world
May never hear of.
  JULIA.        Therefore may not I know it?        268
You have conceal’d for me as great a sin
As adultery. Sir, never was occasion
For perfect trial of my constancy
Till now: sir, I beseech you——        272
  CARD.        You ’ll repent it.
  JULIA.  Never.
  CARD.  It hurries thee to ruin: I ’ll not tell thee.
Be well advis’d, and think what danger ’tis        276
To receive a prince’s secrets. They that do,
Had need have their breasts hoop’d with adamant
To contain them. I pray thee, yet be satisfi’d;
Examine thine own frailty; ’tis more easy        280
To tie knots than unloose them. ’Tis a secret
That, like a ling’ring poison, may chance lie
Spread in thy veins, and kill thee seven year hence.
  JULIA.  Now you dally with me.        284
  CARD.        No more; thou shalt know it.
By my appointment the great Duchess of Malfi
And two of her young children, four nights since,
Were strangl’d.        288
  JULIA.        O heaven! sir, what have you done!
  CARD.  How now? How settles this? Think you your bosom
Will be a grave dark and obscure enough
For such a secret?        292
  JULIA.        You have undone yourself, sir.
  CARD.  Why?
  JULIA.        It lies not in me to conceal it.
  CARD.        No?        296
Come, I will swear you to ’t upon this book.
  JULIA.  Most religiously.
  CARD.        Kiss it.  [She kisses the book.]
Now you shall never utter it; thy curiosity        300
Hath undone thee; thou’rt poison’d with that book.
Because I knew thou couldst not keep my counsel,
I have bound thee to ’t by death.
[Re-enter BOSOLA]

  BOS.  For pity-sake, hold!
  CARD.        Ha, Bosola!
  JULIA.        I forgive you
This equal piece of justice you have done;
For I betray’d your counsel to that fellow.        308
He over-heard it; that was the cause I said
It lay not in me to conceal it.
  BOS.  O foolish woman,
Couldst not thou have poison’d him?        312
  JULIA.        ’Tis weakness,
Too much to think what should have been done. I go,
I know not whither.  [Dies.]
  CARD.        Wherefore com’st thou hither?        316
  BOS.  That I might find a great man like yourself,
Not out of his wits, as the Lord Ferdinand,
To remember my service.
  CARD.  I ’ll have thee hew’d in pieces.        320
  BOS.  Make not yourself such a promise of that life
Which is not yours to dispose of.
  CARD.        Who plac’d thee here?
  BOS.  Her lust, as she intended.        324
  CARD.        Very well:
Now you know me for your fellow-murderer,
  BOS.  And wherefore should you lay fair marble colours
Upon your rotten purposes to me?        328
Unless you imitate some that do plot great treasons,
And when they have done, go hide themselves i’ th’ grave
Of those were actors in ’t?
  CARD.        No more; there is        332
A fortune attends thee.
  BOS.  Shall I go sue to Fortune any longer?
’Tis the fool’s pilgrimage.
  CARD.  I have honours in store for thee.        336
  BOS.  There are a many ways that conduct to seeming
Honour, and some of them very dirty ones.
  CARD.  Throw to the devil
Thy melancholy. The fire burns well;        340
What need we keep a stirring of ’t, and make
A greater smother? 9 Thou wilt kill Antonio?
  BOS.  Yes.
  CARD.        Take up that body.        344
  BOS.        I think I shall
Shortly grow the common bier for church-yards.
  CARD.  I will allow thee some dozen of attendants
To aid thee in the murder.        348
  BOS.  O, by no means. Physicians that apply horse-leeches to any rank swelling use to cut off their tails, that the blood may run through them the faster: let me have no train when I go to shed blood, less it make me have a greater when I ride to the gallows.
  CARD.  Come to me after midnight, to help to remove
That body to her own lodging. I ’ll give out
She died o’ th’ plague; ’twill breed the less inquiry        352
After her death.
  BOS.  Where ’s Castruccio her husband?
  CARD.  He ’s rode to Naples, to take possession
Of Antonio’s citadel.        356
  BOS.  Believe me, you have done a very happy turn.
  CARD.  Fail not to come. There is the master-key
Of our lodgings; and by that you may conceive
What trust I plant in you.        360
  BOS.        You shall find me ready.  Exit CARDINAL.
O poor Antonio, though nothing be so needful
To thy estate as pity, yet I find
Nothing so dangerous! I must look to my footing:        364
In such slippery ice-pavements men had need
To be frost-nail’d well, they may break their necks else;
The precedent’s here afore me. How this man
Bears up in blood! seems fearless! Why, ’tis well;        368
Security some men call the suburbs of hell,
Only a dead wall between. Well, good Antonio,
I ’ll seek thee out; and all my care shall be
To put thee into safety from the reach        372
Of these most cruel biters that have got
Some of thy blood already. It may be,
I ’ll join with thee in a most just revenge.
The weakest arm is strong enough that strikes        376
With the sword of justice. Still methinks the duchess
Haunts me: there, there!—’Tis nothing but my melancholy.
O Penitence, let me truly taste thy cup,
That throws men down only to raise them up!  Exit.        380
Note 1. A gallery in the residence of the Cardinal and Ferdinand. [back]
Note 2. A dog which worries sheep. [back]
Note 3. A fabulous serpent that killed by its glance. [back]
Note 4. Cut a caper. [back]
Note 5. Broth. [back]
Note 6. Skeletons. [back]
Note 7. So Dyce. Qq. brought. [back]
Note 8. Perfumed sweetmeats for the breath. [back]
Note 9. Smoke. [back]


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