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 III
[Enter] ANTONIO and DELIO. Echo (from the DUCHESS’S Grave) 1
  DELIO.  Yond ’s the cardinal’s window. This fortification
Grew from the ruins of an ancient abbey;
And to yond side o’ th’ river lies a wall,        4
Piece of a cloister, which in my opinion
Gives the best echo that you ever heard,
So hollow and so dismal, and withal
So plain in the distinction of our words,        8
That many have suppos’d it is a spirit
That answers.
  ANT.        I do love these ancient ruins.
We never tread upon them but we set        12
Our foot upon some reverend history;
And, questionless, here in this open court,
Which now lies naked to the injuries
Of stormy weather, some men lie interr’d        16
Lov’d the church so well, and gave so largely to ’t,
They thought it should have canopied their bones
Till dooms-day. But all things have their end;
Churches and cities, which have diseases like to men,        20
Must have like death that we have.
  ECHO.        Like death that we have.
  DELIO.  Now the echo hath caught you.
  ANT.  It groan’d methought, and gave        24
A very deadly accent.
  ECHO.        Deadly accent.
  DELIO.  I told you ’twas a pretty one. You may make it
A huntsman, or a falconer, a musician,        28
Or a thing of sorrow.
  ECHO.        A thing of sorrow.
  ANT.  Ay, sure, that suits it best.
  ECHO.        That suits it best.        32
  ANT.  ’Tis very like my wife’s voice.
  ECHO.        Ay, wife’s voice.
  DELIO.  Come, let us walk further from ’t.
I would not have you go to the cardinal’s to-night:        36
Do not.
  ECHO.  Do not.
  DELIO.  Wisdom doth not more moderate wasting sorrow
Than time. Take time for ’t; be mindful of thy safety.        40
  ECHO.  Be mindful of thy safety.
  ANT.  Necessity compels me.
Make scrutiny through the passages
Of your own life, you ’ll find it impossible        44
To fly your fate.
  ECHO.        O, fly your fate!
  DELIO.  Hark! the dead stones seem to have pity on you,
And give you good counsel.        48
  ANT.  Echo, I will not talk with thee,
For thou art a dead thing.
  ECHO.        Thou art a dead thing.
  ANT.  My duchess is asleep now,        52
And her little ones, I hope sweetly. O heaven,
Shall I never see her more?
  ECHO.        Never see her more.
  ANT.  I mark’d not one repetition of the echo        56
But that; and on the sudden a clear light
Presented me a face folded in sorrow.
  DELIO.  Your fancy merely.
  ANT.        Come, I ’ll be out of this ague,        60
For to live thus is not indeed to live;
It is a mockery and abuse of life.
I will not henceforth save myself by halves;
Lose all, or nothing.        64
  DELIO.        Your own virtue save you!
I ’ll fetch your eldest son, and second you.
It may be that the sight of his own blood
Spread in so sweet a figure may beget        68
The more compassion. However, fare you well.
Though in our miseries Fortune have a part,
Yet in our noble sufferings she hath none.
Contempt of pain, that we may call our own.  Exeunt.        72
Note 1. A fortification [back]


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