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The White Devil by John Webster

Part 4 out of 4

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Flam. Th' art a noble sister!
I love thee now; if woman do breed man,
She ought to teach him manhood. Fare thee well.
Know, many glorious women that are fam'd
For masculine virtue, have been vicious,
Only a happier silence did betide them:
She hath no faults, who hath the art to hide them.

Vit. My soul, like to a ship in a black storm,
Is driven, I know not whither.

Flam. Then cast anchor.
Prosperity doth bewitch men, seeming clear;
But seas do laugh, show white, when rocks are near.
We cease to grieve, cease to be fortune's slaves,
Nay, cease to die by dying. Art thou gone?
And thou so near the bottom? false report,
Which says that women vie with the nine Muses,
For nine tough durable lives! I do not look
Who went before, nor who shall follow me;
No, at my self I will begin the end.
While we look up to heaven, we confound
Knowledge with knowledge. Oh, I am in a mist!

Vit. Oh, happy they that never saw the court,
Nor ever knew great men but by report! [Vittoria dies.

Flam. I recover like a spent taper, for a flash,
And instantly go out.
Let all that belong to great men remember th' old wives' tradition, to
be like the lions i' th' Tower on Candlemas-day; to mourn if the sun
shine, for fear of the pitiful remainder of winter to come.
'Tis well yet there 's some goodness in my death;
My life was a black charnel. I have caught
An everlasting cold; I have lost my voice
Most irrecoverably. Farewell, glorious villains.
This busy trade of life appears most vain,
Since rest breeds rest, where all seek pain by pain.
Let no harsh flattering bells resound my knell;
Strike, thunder, and strike loud, to my farewell! [Dies.

Enter Ambassadors and Giovanni

Eng. Ambass. This way, this way! break open the doors! this way!

Lodo. Ha! are we betray'd?
Why then let 's constantly all die together;
And having finish'd this most noble deed,
Defy the worst of fate, nor fear to bleed.

Eng. Ambass. Keep back the prince: shoot! shoot!

Lodo. Oh, I am wounded!
I fear I shall be ta'en.

Giov. You bloody villains,
By what authority have you committed
This massacre?

Lodo. By thine.

Giov. Mine!

Lodo. Yes; thy uncle, which is a part of thee, enjoined us to 't:
Thou know'st me, I am sure; I am Count Lodowick;
And thy most noble uncle in disguise
Was last night in thy court.

Giov. Ha!

Lodo. Yes, that Moor thy father chose his pensioner.

Giov. He turn'd murderer!
Away with them to prison, and to torture:
All that have hands in this shall taste our justice,
As I hope heaven.

Lodo. I do glory yet,
That I can call this act mine own. For my part,
The rack, the gallows, and the torturing wheel,
Shall be but sound sleeps to me: here 's my rest;
I limn'd this night-piece, and it was my best.

Giov. Remove these bodies. See, my honour'd lord,
What use you ought make of their punishment.
Let guilty men remember, their black deeds
Do lean on crutches made of slender reeds.

* * * *

Instead of an epilogue, only this of Martial supplies me:

Haec fuerint nobis praemia, si placui.

For the action of the play, 'twas generally well, and I dare affirm, with
the joint testimony of some of their own quality (for the true imitation
of life, without striving to make nature a monster,) the best that ever
became them: whereof as I make a general acknowledgment, so in particular
I must remember the well-approved industry of my friend Master Perkins,
and confess the worth of his action did crown both the beginning and end.

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