The White Devil by John Webster

TO THE READER In publishing this tragedy, I do but challenge myself that liberty, which other men have taken before me; not that I affect praise by it, for, nos haec novimus esse nihil, only since it was acted in so dull a time of winter, presented in so open and black a theatre, that
The White Devil by John Webster
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In publishing this tragedy, I do but challenge myself that liberty, which other men have taken before me; not that I affect praise by it, for, nos haec novimus esse nihil, only since it was acted in so dull a time of winter, presented in so open and black a theatre, that it wanted (that which is the only grace and setting-out of a tragedy) a full and understanding auditory; and that since that time I have noted, most of the people that come to that playhouse resemble those ignorant asses (who, visiting stationers’ shops, their use is not to inquire for good books, but new books), I present it to the general view with this confidence:

Nec rhoncos metues maligniorum,
Nec scombris tunicas dabis molestas.

If it be objected this is no true dramatic poem, I shall easily confess it, non potes in nugas dicere plura meas, ipse ego quam dixi; willingly, and not ignorantly, in this kind have I faulted: For should a man present to such an auditory, the most sententious tragedy that ever was written, observing all the critical laws as height of style, and gravity of person, enrich it with the sententious Chorus, and, as it were Life and Death, in the passionate and weighty Nuntius: yet after all this divine rapture, O dura messorum ilia, the breath that comes from the incapable multitude is able to poison it; and, ere it be acted, let the author resolve to fix to every scene this of Horace:

–Haec hodie porcis comedenda relinques.

To those who report I was a long time in finishing this tragedy, I confess I do not write with a goose-quill winged with two feathers; and if they will need make it my fault, I must answer them with that of Euripides to Alcestides, a tragic writer: Alcestides objecting that Euripides had only, in three days composed three verses, whereas himself had written three hundred: Thou tallest truth (quoth he), but here ‘s the difference, thine shall only be read for three days, whereas mine shall continue for three ages.

Detraction is the sworn friend to ignorance: for mine own part, I have ever truly cherished my good opinion of other men’s worthy labours, especially of that full and heightened style of Mr. Chapman, the laboured and understanding works of Mr. Johnson, the no less worthy composures of the both worthily excellent Mr. Beaumont and Mr. Fletcher; and lastly (without wrong last to be named), the right happy and copious industry of Mr. Shakespeare, Mr. Dekker, and Mr. Heywood, wishing what I write may be read by their light: protesting that, in the strength of mine own judgment, I know them so worthy, that though I rest silent in my own work, yet to most of theirs I dare (without flattery) fix that of Martial:

–non norunt haec monumenta mori.


MONTICELSO, a Cardinal; afterwards Pope PAUL the Fourth. FRANCISCO DE MEDICIS, Duke of Florence; in the 5th Act disguised for a Moor, under the name of MULINASSAR.
BRACHIANO, otherwise PAULO GIORDANO URSINI, Duke of Brachiano, Husband to ISABELLA, and in love with VITTORIA. GIOVANNI–his Son by ISABELLA.
LODOVICO, an Italian Count, but decayed. ANTONELLI, | his Friends, and Dependants of the Duke of Florence. GASPARO, |
HORTENSIO, one of BRACHIANO’s Officers. MARCELLO, an Attendant of the Duke of Florence, and Brother to VITTORIA. FLAMINEO, his Brother; Secretary to BRACHIANO. JACQUES, a Moor, Servant to GIOVANNI.
ISABELLA, Sister to FRANCISCO DE MEDICI, and Wife to BRACHIANO. VITTORIA COROMBONA, a Venetian Lady; first married to CAMILLO, afterwards to BRACHIANO.
Ambassadors, Courtiers, Lawyers, Officers, Physicians, Conjurer, Armourer, Attendants.




Enter Count Lodovico, Antonelli, and Gasparo

Lodo. Banish’d!

Ant. It griev’d me much to hear the sentence.

Lodo. Ha, ha, O Democritus, thy gods That govern the whole world! courtly reward And punishment. Fortune ‘s a right whore: If she give aught, she deals it in small parcels, That she may take away all at one swoop. This ’tis to have great enemies! God ‘quite them. Your wolf no longer seems to be a wolf
Than when she ‘s hungry.

Gas. You term those enemies,
Are men of princely rank.

Lodo. Oh, I pray for them:
The violent thunder is adored by those Are pasht in pieces by it.

Ant. Come, my lord,
You are justly doom’d; look but a little back Into your former life: you have in three years Ruin’d the noblest earldom.

Gas. Your followers
Have swallowed you, like mummia, and being sick With such unnatural and horrid physic,
Vomit you up i’ th’ kennel.

Ant. All the damnable degrees
Of drinking have you stagger’d through. One citizen, Is lord of two fair manors, call’d you master, Only for caviare.

Gas. Those noblemen
Which were invited to your prodigal feasts, (Wherein the phoenix scarce could ‘scape your throats) Laugh at your misery, as fore-deeming you An idle meteor, which drawn forth, the earth Would be soon lost i’ the air.

Ant. Jest upon you,
And say you were begotten in an earthquake, You have ruin’d such fair lordships.

Lodo. Very good.
This well goes with two buckets: I must tend The pouring out of either.

Gas. Worse than these.
You have acted certain murders here in Rome, Bloody and full of horror.

Lodo. ‘Las, they were flea-bitings:
Why took they not my head then?

Gas. O, my lord!
The law doth sometimes mediate, thinks it good Not ever to steep violent sins in blood: This gentle penance may both end your crimes, And in the example better these bad times.

Lodo. So; but I wonder then some great men ‘scape This banishment: there ‘s Paulo Giordano Ursini, The Duke of Brachiano, now lives in Rome, And by close panderism seeks to prostitute The honour of Vittoria Corombona:
Vittoria, she that might have got my pardon For one kiss to the duke.

Ant. Have a full man within you:
We see that trees bear no such pleasant fruit There where they grew first, as where they are new set. Perfumes, the more they are chaf’d, the more they render Their pleasing scents, and so affliction Expresseth virtue fully, whether true,
Or else adulterate.

Lodo. Leave your painted comforts;
I ‘ll make Italian cut-works in their guts If ever I return.

Gas. Oh, sir.

Lodo. I am patient.
I have seen some ready to be executed, Give pleasant looks, and money, and grown familiar With the knave hangman; so do I; I thank them, And would account them nobly merciful,
Would they dispatch me quickly.

Ant. Fare you well;
We shall find time, I doubt not, to repeal Your banishment.

Lodo. I am ever bound to you.
This is the world’s alms; pray make use of it. Great men sell sheep, thus to be cut in pieces, When first they have shorn them bare, and sold their fleeces. [Exeunt


Enter Brachiano, Camillo, Flamineo, Vittoria

Brach. Your best of rest.

Vit. Unto my lord the duke,
The best of welcome. More lights: attend the duke. [Exeunt Camillo and Vittoria.

Brach. Flamineo.

Flam. My lord.

Brach. Quite lost, Flamineo.

Flam. Pursue your noble wishes, I am prompt As lightning to your service. O my lord! The fair Vittoria, my happy sister,
Shall give you present audience–Gentlemen, [Whisper. Let the caroch go on–and ’tis his pleasure You put out all your torches and depart.

Brach. Are we so happy?

Flam. Can it be otherwise?
Observ’d you not to-night, my honour’d lord, Which way soe’er you went, she threw her eyes? I have dealt already with her chambermaid, Zanche the Moor, and she is wondrous proud To be the agent for so high a spirit.

Brach. We are happy above thought, because ‘bove merit.

Flam. ‘Bove merit! we may now talk freely: ‘bove merit! what is ‘t you doubt? her coyness! that ‘s but the superficies of lust most women have; yet why should ladies blush to hear that named, which they do not fear to handle? Oh, they are politic; they know our desire is increased by the difficulty of enjoying; whereas satiety is a blunt, weary, and drowsy passion. If the buttery-hatch at court stood continually open, there would be nothing so passionate crowding, nor hot suit after the beverage.

Brach. Oh, but her jealous husband—-

Flam. Hang him; a gilder that hath his brains perished with quicksilver is not more cold in the liver. The great barriers moulted not more feathers, than he hath shed hairs, by the confession of his doctor. An Irish gamester that will play himself naked, and then wage all downward, at hazard, is not more venturous. So unable to please a woman, that, like a Dutch doublet, all his back is shrunk into his breaches.
Shroud you within this closet, good my lord; Some trick now must be thought on to divide My brother-in-law from his fair bed-fellow.

Brach. Oh, should she fail to come—-

Flam. I must not have your lordship thus unwisely amorous. I myself have not loved a lady, and pursued her with a great deal of under-age protestation, whom some three or four gallants that have enjoyed would with all their hearts have been glad to have been rid of. ‘Tis just like a summer bird-cage in a garden: the birds that are without despair to get in, and the birds that are within despair and are in a consumption for fear they shall never get out. Away, away, my lord. [Exit Brachiano as Camillo enters.

See here he comes. This fellow by his apparel Some men would judge a politician;
But call his wit in question, you shall find it Merely an ass in ‘s foot-cloth. How now, brother? What, travelling to bed with your kind wife?

Cam. I assure you, brother, no. My voyage lies More northerly, in a far colder clime.
I do not well remember, I protest, When I last lay with her.

Flam. Strange you should lose your count.

Cam. We never lay together, but ere morning There grew a flaw between us.

Flam. ‘T had been your part
To have made up that flaw.

Cam. True, but she loathes I should be seen in ‘t.

Flam. Why, sir, what ‘s the matter?

Cam. The duke your master visits me, I thank him; And I perceive how, like an earnest bowler, He very passionately leans that way
he should have his bowl run.

Flam. I hope you do not think—-

Cam. That nobleman bowl booty? faith, his cheek Hath a most excellent bias: it would fain Jump with my mistress.

Flam. Will you be an ass,
Despite your Aristotle? or a cuckold, Contrary to your Ephemerides,
Which shows you under what a smiling planet You were first swaddled?

Cam. Pew wew, sir; tell me not
Of planets nor of Ephemerides.
A man may be made cuckold in the day-time, When the stars’ eyes are out.

Flam. Sir, good-bye you;
I do commit you to your pitiful pillow Stuffed with horn-shavings.

Cam. Brother!

Flam. God refuse me.
Might I advise you now, your only course Were to lock up your wife.

Cam. ‘Twere very good.

Flam. Bar her the sight of revels.

Cam. Excellent.

Flam. Let her not go to church, but, like a hound In leon, at your heels.

Cam. ‘Twere for her honour.

Flam. And so you should be certain in one fortnight, Despite her chastity or innocence,
To be cuckolded, which yet is in suspense: This is my counsel, and I ask no fee for ‘t.

Cam. Come, you know not where my nightcap wrings me.

Flam. Wear it a’ th’ old fashion; let your large ears come through, it will be more easy–nay, I will be bitter–bar your wife of her entertainment: women are more willingly and more gloriously chaste, when they are least restrained of their liberty. It seems you would be a fine capricious, mathematically jealous coxcomb; take the height of your own horns with a Jacob’s staff, afore they are up. These politic enclosures for paltry mutton, makes more rebellion in the flesh, than all the provocative electuaries doctors have uttered since last jubilee.

Cam. This doth not physic me—-

Flam. It seems you are jealous: I ‘ll show you the error of it by a familiar example: I have seen a pair of spectacles fashioned with such perspective art, that lay down but one twelve pence a’ th’ board, ’twill appear as if there were twenty; now should you wear a pair of these spectacles, and see your wife tying her shoe, you would imagine twenty hands were taking up of your wife’s clothes, and this would put you into a horrible causeless fury.

Cam. The fault there, sir, is not in the eyesight.

Flam. True, but they that have the yellow jaundice think all objects they look on to be yellow. Jealousy is worse; her fits present to a man, like so many bubbles in a basin of water, twenty several crabbed faces, many times makes his own shadow his cuckold-maker. [Enter Vittoria Corombona.] See, she comes; what reason have you to be jealous of this creature? what an ignorant ass or flattering knave might be counted, that should write sonnets to her eyes, or call her brow the snow of Ida, or ivory of Corinth; or compare her hair to the blackbird’s bill, when ’tis liker the blackbird’s feather? This is all. Be wise; I will make you friends, and you shall go to bed together. Marry, look you, it shall not be your seeking. Do you stand upon that, by any means: walk you aloof; I would not have you seen in ‘t.–Sister [my lord attend you in the banqueting-house,] your husband is wondrous discontented.

Vit. I did nothing to displease him; I carved to him at supper-time.

Flam. [You need not have carved him, in faith; they say he is a capon already. I must now seemingly fall out with you.] Shall a gentleman so well descended as Camillo [a lousy slave, that within this twenty years rode with the black guard in the duke’s carriage, ‘mongst spits and dripping-pans!]–

Cam. Now he begins to tickle her.

Flam. An excellent scholar [one that hath a head fill’d with calves’ brains without any sage in them,] come crouching in the hams to you for a night’s lodging? [that hath an itch in ‘s hams, which like the fire at the glass-house hath not gone out this seven years] Is he not a courtly gentleman? [when he wears white satin, one would take him by his black muzzle to be no other creature than a maggot] You are a goodly foil, I confess, well set out [but cover’d with a false stone– yon counterfeit diamond].

Cam. He will make her know what is in me.

Flam. Come, my lord attends you; thou shalt go to bed to my lord.

Cam. Now he comes to ‘t.

Flam. [With a relish as curious as a vintner going to taste new wine.] [To Camillo.] I am opening your case hard.

Cam. A virtuous brother, o’ my credit!

Flam. He will give thee a ring with a philosopher’s stone in it.

Cam. Indeed, I am studying alchemy.

Flam. Thou shalt lie in a bed stuffed with turtle’s feathers; swoon in perfumed linen, like the fellow was smothered in roses. So perfect shall be thy happiness, that as men at sea think land, and trees, and ships, go that way they go; so both heaven and earth shall seem to go your voyage. Shalt meet him; ’tis fix’d, with nails of diamonds to inevitable necessity.

Vit. How shalt rid him hence?

Flam. [I will put brize in ‘s tail, set him gadding presently.] I have almost wrought her to it; I find her coming: but, might I advise you now, for this night I would not lie with her, I would cross her humour to make her more humble.

Cam. Shall I, shall I?

Flam. It will show in you a supremacy of judgment.

Cam. True, and a mind differing from the tumultuary opinion; for, quae negata, grata.

Flam. Right: you are the adamant shall draw her to you, though you keep distance off.

Cam. A philosophical reason.

Flam. Walk by her a’ th’ nobleman’s fashion, and tell her you will lie with her at the end of the progress.

Cam. Vittoria, I cannot be induc’d, or as a man would say, incited—-

Vit. To do what, sir?

Cam. To lie with you to-night. Your silkworm used to fast every third day, and the next following spins the better. To-morrow at night, I am for you.

Vit. You ‘ll spin a fair thread, trust to ‘t.

Flam. But do you hear, I shall have you steal to her chamber about midnight.

Cam. Do you think so? why look you, brother, because you shall not say I ‘ll gull you, take the key, lock me into the chamber, and say you shall be sure of me.

Flam. In troth I will; I ‘ll be your jailor once.

Cam. A pox on ‘t, as I am a Christian! tell me to-morrow how scurvily she takes my unkind parting.

Flam. I will.

Cam. Didst thou not mark the jest of the silkworm? Good-night; in faith, I will use this trick often.

Flam. Do, do, do. [Exit Camillo. So, now you are safe. Ha, ha, ha, thou entanglest thyself in thine own work like a silkworm. [Enter Brachiano.] Come, sister, darkness hides your blush. Women are like cursed dogs: civility keeps them tied all daytime, but they are let loose at midnight; then they do most good, or most mischief. My lord, my lord!

Zanche brings out a carpet, spreads it, and lays on it two fair cushions. Enter Cornelia listening, but unperceived.

Brach. Give credit: I could wish time would stand still, And never end this interview, this hour; But all delight doth itself soon’st devour. Let me into your bosom, happy lady,
Pour out, instead of eloquence, my vows. Loose me not, madam, for if you forgo me, I am lost eternally.

Vit. Sir, in the way of pity,
I wish you heart-whole.

Brach. You are a sweet physician.

Vit. Sure, sir, a loathed cruelty in ladies Is as to doctors many funerals:
It takes away their credit.

Brach. Excellent creature!
We call the cruel fair; what name for you That are so merciful?

Zan. See now they close.

Flam. Most happy union.

Corn. [Aside.] My fears are fall’n upon me: oh, my heart! My son the pander! now I find our house Sinking to ruin. Earthquakes leave behind, Where they have tyranniz’d, iron, or lead, or stone; But woe to ruin, violent lust leaves none.

Brach. What value is this jewel?

Vit. ‘Tis the ornament of a weak fortune.

Brach. In sooth, I ‘ll have it; nay, I will but change My jewel for your jewel.

Flam. Excellent;
His jewel for her jewel: well put in, duke.

Brach. Nay, let me see you wear it.

Vit. Here, sir?

Brach. Nay, lower, you shall wear my jewel lower.

Flam. That ‘s better: she must wear his jewel lower.

Vit. To pass away the time, I ‘ll tell your grace A dream I had last night.

Brach. Most wishedly.

Vit. A foolish idle dream:
Methought I walked about the mid of night Into a churchyard, where a goodly yew-tree Spread her large root in ground: under that yew, As I sat sadly leaning on a grave,
Chequer’d with cross-sticks, there came stealing in Your duchess and my husband; one of them A pickaxe bore, th’ other a rusty spade, And in rough terms they ‘gan to challenge me About this yew.

Brach. That tree?

Vit. This harmless yew;
They told me my intent was to root up That well-grown yew, and plant i’ the stead of it A wither’d blackthorn; and for that they vow’d To bury me alive. My husband straight
With pickaxe ‘gan to dig, and your fell duchess With shovel, like a fury, voided out
The earth and scatter’d bones: Lord, how methought I could not pray.

Flam. No; the devil was in your dream.

Vit. When to my rescue there arose, methought, A whirlwind, which let fall a massy arm From that strong plant;
And both were struck dead by that sacred yew, In that base shallow grave that was their due.

Flam. Excellent devil!
She hath taught him in a dream
To make away his duchess and her husband.

Brach. Sweetly shall I interpret this your dream. You are lodg’d within his arms who shall protect you From all the fevers of a jealous husband, From the poor envy of our phlegmatic duchess. I ‘ll seat you above law, and above scandal; Give to your thoughts the invention of delight, And the fruition; nor shall government
Divide me from you longer, than a care To keep you great: you shall to me at once Be dukedom, health, wife, children, friends, and all.

Corn. [Advancing.] Woe to light hearts, they still forerun our fall!

Flam. What fury raised thee up? away, away. [Exit Zanche.

Corn. What make you here, my lord, this dead of night? Never dropp’d mildew on a flower here till now.

Flam. I pray, will you go to bed then, Lest you be blasted?

Corn. O that this fair garden
Had with all poison’d herbs of Thessaly At first been planted; made a nursery
For witchcraft, rather than a burial plot For both your honours!

Vit. Dearest mother, hear me.

Corn. O, thou dost make my brow bend to the earth. Sooner than nature! See the curse of children! In life they keep us frequently in tears; And in the cold grave leave us in pale fears.

Brach. Come, come, I will not hear you.

Vit. Dear my lord.

Corn. Where is thy duchess now, adulterous duke? Thou little dream’st this night she ‘s come to Rome.

Flam. How! come to Rome!

Vit. The duchess!

Brach. She had been better—-

Corn. The lives of princes should like dials move, Whose regular example is so strong,
They make the times by them go right, or wrong.

Flam. So, have you done?

Corn. Unfortunate Camillo!

Vit. I do protest, if any chaste denial, If anything but blood could have allay’d His long suit to me—-

Corn. I will join with thee,
To the most woeful end e’er mother kneel’d: If thou dishonour thus thy husband’s bed, Be thy life short as are the funeral tears In great men’s—-

Brach. Fie, fie, the woman’s mad.

Corn. Be thy act Judas-like; betray in kissing: May’st thou be envied during his short breath, And pitied like a wretch after his death!

Vit. O me accurs’d! [Exit.

Flam. Are you out of your wits? my lord, I ‘ll fetch her back again.

Brach. No, I ‘ll to bed:
Send Doctor Julio to me presently. Uncharitable woman! thy rash tongue
Hath rais’d a fearful and prodigious storm: Be thou the cause of all ensuing harm. [Exit.

Flam. Now, you that stand so much upon your honour, Is this a fitting time a’ night, think you, To send a duke home without e’er a man? I would fain know where lies the mass of wealth Which you have hoarded for my maintenance, That I may bear my bear out of the level Of my lord’s stirrup.

Corn. What! because we are poor
Shall we be vicious?

Flam. Pray, what means have you
To keep me from the galleys, or the gallows? My father prov’d himself a gentleman,
Sold all ‘s land, and, like a fortunate fellow, Died ere the money was spent. You brought me up At Padua, I confess, where I protest,
For want of means–the University judge me– I have been fain to heel my tutor’s stockings, At least seven years; conspiring with a beard, Made me a graduate; then to this duke’s service, I visited the court, whence I return’d
More courteous, more lecherous by far, But not a suit the richer. And shall I, Having a path so open, and so free
To my preferment, still retain your milk In my pale forehead? No, this face of mine I ‘ll arm, and fortify with lusty wine, ‘Gainst shame and blushing.

Corn. O that I ne’er had borne thee!

Flam. So would I;
I would the common’st courtesan in Rome Had been my mother, rather than thyself. Nature is very pitiful to whores,
To give them but few children, yet those children Plurality of fathers; they are sure
They shall not want. Go, go,
Complain unto my great lord cardinal; It may be he will justify the act.
Lycurgus wonder’d much, men would provide Good stallions for their mares, and yet would suffer Their fair wives to be barren.

Corn. Misery of miseries! [Exit.

Flam. The duchess come to court! I like not that. We are engag’d to mischief, and must on; As rivers to find out the ocean
Flow with crook bendings beneath forced banks, Or as we see, to aspire some mountain’s top, The way ascends not straight, but imitates The subtle foldings of a winter’s snake, So who knows policy and her true aspect, Shall find her ways winding and indirect.



Enter Francisco de Medicis, Cardinal Monticelso, Marcello, Isabella, young Giovanni, with little Jacques the Moor

Fran. Have you not seen your husband since you arrived?

Isab. Not yet, sir.

Fran. Surely he is wondrous kind;
If I had such a dove-house as Camillo’s, I would set fire on ‘t were ‘t but to destroy The polecats that haunt to it–My sweet cousin!

Giov. Lord uncle, you did promise me a horse, And armour.

Fran. That I did, my pretty cousin.
Marcello, see it fitted.

Marc. My lord, the duke is here.

Fran. Sister, away; you must not yet be seen.

Isab. I do beseech you,
Entreat him mildly, let not your rough tongue Set us at louder variance; all my wrongs Are freely pardon’d; and I do not doubt, As men to try the precious unicorn’s horn Make of the powder a preservative circle, And in it put a spider, so these arms
Shall charm his poison, force it to obeying, And keep him chaste from an infected straying.

Fran. I wish it may. Begone. [Exit Isabella as Brachiano and Flamineo enter.] Void the chamber.
You are welcome; will you sit?–I pray, my lord, Be you my orator, my heart ‘s too full; I ‘ll second you anon.

Mont. Ere I begin,
Let me entreat your grace forgo all passion, Which may be raised by my free discourse.

Brach. As silent as i’ th’ church: you may proceed.

Mont. It is a wonder to your noble friends, That you, having as ’twere enter’d the world With a free scepter in your able hand,
And having to th’ use of nature well applied High gifts of learning, should in your prime age Neglect your awful throne for the soft down Of an insatiate bed. O my lord,
The drunkard after all his lavish cups Is dry, and then is sober; so at length, When you awake from this lascivious dream, Repentance then will follow, like the sting Plac’d in the adder’s tail. Wretched are princes When fortune blasteth but a petty flower Of their unwieldy crowns, or ravisheth
But one pearl from their scepter; but alas! When they to wilful shipwreck lose good fame, All princely titles perish with their name.

Brach. You have said, my lord—-

Mont. Enough to give you taste
How far I am from flattering your greatness.

Brach. Now you that are his second, what say you? Do not like young hawks fetch a course about; Your game flies fair, and for you.

Fran. Do not fear it:
I ‘ll answer you in your own hawking phrase. Some eagles that should gaze upon the sun Seldom soar high, but take their lustful ease, Since they from dunghill birds their prey can seize. You know Vittoria?

Brach. Yes.

Fran. You shift your shirt there,
When you retire from tennis?

Brach. Happily.

Fran. Her husband is lord of a poor fortune, Yet she wears cloth of tissue.

Brach. What of this?
Will you urge that, my good lord cardinal, As part of her confession at next shrift, And know from whence it sails?

Fran. She is your strumpet—-

Brach. Uncivil sir, there ‘s hemlock in thy breath, And that black slander. Were she a whore of mine, All thy loud cannons, and thy borrow’d Switzers, Thy galleys, nor thy sworn confederates, Durst not supplant her.

Fran. Let ‘s not talk on thunder.
Thou hast a wife, our sister; would I had given Both her white hands to death, bound and lock’d fast In her last winding sheet, when I gave thee But one.

Brach. Thou hadst given a soul to God then.

Fran. True:
Thy ghostly father, with all his absolution, Shall ne’er do so by thee.

Brach. Spit thy poison.

Fran. I shall not need; lust carries her sharp whip At her own girdle. Look to ‘t, for our anger Is making thunderbolts.

Brach. Thunder! in faith,
They are but crackers.

Fran. We ‘ll end this with the cannon.

Brach. Thou ‘lt get naught by it, but iron in thy wounds, And gunpowder in thy nostrils.

Fran. Better that,
Than change perfumes for plasters.

Brach. Pity on thee!
‘Twere good you ‘d show your slaves or men condemn’d, Your new-plough’d forehead. Defiance! and I ‘ll meet thee, Even in a thicket of thy ablest men.

Mont. My lords, you shall not word it any further Without a milder limit.

Fran. Willingly.

Brach. Have you proclaim’d a triumph, that you bait A lion thus?

Mont. My lord!

Brach. I am tame, I am tame, sir.

Fran. We send unto the duke for conference ‘Bout levies ‘gainst the pirates; my lord duke Is not at home: we come ourself in person; Still my lord duke is busied. But we fear When Tiber to each prowling passenger
Discovers flocks of wild ducks, then, my lord– ‘Bout moulting time I mean–we shall be certain To find you sure enough, and speak with you.

Brach. Ha!

Fran. A mere tale of a tub: my words are idle. But to express the sonnet by natural reason, [Enter Giovanni. When stags grow melancholic you ‘ll find the season.

Mont. No more, my lord; here comes a champion Shall end the difference between you both; Your son, the Prince Giovanni. See, my lords, What hopes you store in him; this is a casket For both your crowns, and should be held like dear. Now is he apt for knowledge; therefore know It is a more direct and even way,
To train to virtue those of princely blood, By examples than by precepts: if by examples, Whom should he rather strive to imitate Than his own father? be his pattern then, Leave him for a stock of virtue that may last, Should fortune rend his sails, and split his mast.

Brach. Your hand, boy: growing to a soldier?

Giov. Give me a pike.

Fran. What, practising your pike so young, fair cousin?

Giov. Suppose me one of Homer’s frogs, my lord, Tossing my bulrush thus. Pray, sir, tell me, Might not a child of good discretion
Be leader to an army?

Fran. Yes, cousin, a young prince
Of good discretion might.

Giov. Say you so?
Indeed I have heard, ’tis fit a general Should not endanger his own person oft; So that he make a noise when he ‘s a-horseback, Like a Danske drummer,–Oh, ’tis excellent!– He need not fight! methinks his horse as well Might lead an army for him. If I live,
I ‘ll charge the French foe in the very front Of all my troops, the foremost man.

Fran. What! what!

Giov. And will not bid my soldiers up, and follow, But bid them follow me.

Brach. Forward lapwing!
He flies with the shell on ‘s head.

Fran. Pretty cousin!

Giov. The first year, uncle, that I go to war, All prisoners that I take, I will set free, Without their ransom.

Fran. Ha! without their ransom!
How then will you reward your soldiers, That took those prisoners for you?

Giov. Thus, my lord:
I ‘ll marry them to all the wealthy widows That falls that year.

Fran. Why then, the next year following, You ‘ll have no men to go with you to war.

Giov. Why then I ‘ll press the women to the war, And then the men will follow.

Mont. Witty prince!

Fran. See, a good habit makes a child a man, Whereas a bad one makes a man a beast.
Come, you and I are friends.

Brach. Most wishedly:
Like bones which, broke in sunder, and well set, Knit the more strongly.

Fran. Call Camillo hither.–
You have receiv’d the rumour, how Count Lodowick Is turn’d a pirate?

Brach. Yes.

Fran. We are now preparing to fetch him in. Behold your duchess. We now will leave you, and expect from you Nothing but kind entreaty.

Brach. You have charm’d me.
[Exeunt Francisco, Monticelso, and Giovanni. Enter Isabella
You are in health, we see.

Isab. And above health,
To see my lord well.

Brach. So: I wonder much
What amorous whirlwind hurried you to Rome.

Isab. Devotion, my lord.

Brach. Devotion!
Is your soul charg’d with any grievous sin?

Isab. ‘Tis burden’d with too many; and I think The oftener that we cast our reckonings up, Our sleep will be the sounder.

Brach. Take your chamber.

Isab. Nay, my dear lord, I will not have you angry! Doth not my absence from you, now two months, Merit one kiss?

Brach. I do not use to kiss:
If that will dispossess your jealousy, I ‘ll swear it to you.

Isab. O, my loved lord,
I do not come to chide: my jealousy! I am to learn what that Italian means.
You are as welcome to these longing arms, As I to you a virgin.

Brach. Oh, your breath!
Out upon sweetmeats and continued physic, The plague is in them!

Isab. You have oft, for these two lips, Neglected cassia, or the natural sweets Of the spring-violet: they are not yet much wither’d. My lord, I should be merry: these your frowns Show in a helmet lovely; but on me,
In such a peaceful interview, methinks They are too roughly knit.

Brach. O dissemblance!
Do you bandy factions ‘gainst me? have you learnt The trick of impudent baseness to complain Unto your kindred?

Isab. Never, my dear lord.

Brach. Must I be hunted out? or was ‘t your trick To meet some amorous gallant here in Rome, That must supply our discontinuance?

Isab. Pray, sir, burst my heart; and in my death Turn to your ancient pity, though not love.

Brach. Because your brother is the corpulent duke, That is, the great duke, ‘sdeath, I shall not shortly Racket away five hundred crowns at tennis, But it shall rest ‘pon record! I scorn him Like a shav’d Polack: all his reverend wit Lies in his wardrobe; he ‘s a discreet fellow, When he ‘s made up in his robes of state. Your brother, the great duke, because h’ ‘as galleys, And now and then ransacks a Turkish fly-boat, (Now all the hellish furies take his soul!) First made this match: accursed be the priest That sang the wedding-mass, and even my issue!

Isab. Oh, too, too far you have curs’d!

Brach. Your hand I ‘ll kiss;
This is the latest ceremony of my love. Henceforth I ‘ll never lie with thee; by this, This wedding-ring, I ‘ll ne’er more lie with thee! And this divorce shall be as truly kept, As if the judge had doomed it. Fare you well: Our sleeps are sever’d.

Isab. Forbid it the sweet union
Of all things blessed! why, the saints in heaven Will knit their brows at that.

Brach. Let not thy love
Make thee an unbeliever; this my vow Shall never, on my soul, be satisfied
With my repentance: let thy brother rage Beyond a horrid tempest, or sea-fight,
My vow is fixed.

Isab. O, my winding-sheet!
Now shall I need thee shortly. Dear my lord, Let me hear once more, what I would not hear: Never?

Brach. Never.

Isab. Oh, my unkind lord! may your sins find mercy, As I upon a woeful widow’d bed
Shall pray for you, if not to turn your eyes Upon your wretched wife and hopeful son, Yet that in time you ‘ll fix them upon heaven!

Brach. No more; go, go, complain to the great duke.

Isab. No, my dear lord; you shall have present witness How I ‘ll work peace between you. I will make Myself the author of your cursed vow;
I have some cause to do it, you have none. Conceal it, I beseech you, for the weal Of both your dukedoms, that you wrought the means Of such a separation: let the fault
Remain with my supposed jealousy,
And think with what a piteous and rent heart I shall perform this sad ensuing part.

Enter Francisco, Flamineo, Monticelso, and Camillo

Brach. Well, take your course.–My honourable brother!

Fran. Sister!–This is not well, my lord.–Why, sister!–She merits not this welcome.

Brach. Welcome, say!
She hath given a sharp welcome.

Fran. Are you foolish?
Come, dry your tears: is this a modest course To better what is naught, to rail and weep? Grow to a reconcilement, or, by heaven, I ‘ll ne’er more deal between you.

Isab. Sir, you shall not;
No, though Vittoria, upon that condition, Would become honest.

Fran. Was your husband loud
Since we departed?

Isab. By my life, sir, no,
I swear by that I do not care to lose. Are all these ruins of my former beauty Laid out for a whore’s triumph?

Fran. Do you hear?
Look upon other women, with what patience They suffer these slight wrongs, and with what justice They study to requite them: take that course.

Isab. O that I were a man, or that I had power To execute my apprehended wishes!
I would whip some with scorpions.

Fran. What! turn’d fury!

Isab. To dig that strumpet’s eyes out; let her die Some twenty months a-dying; to cut off
Her nose and lips, pull out her rotten teeth; Preserve her flesh like mummia, for trophies Of my just anger! Hell, to my affliction, Is mere snow-water. By your favour, sir;– Brother, draw near, and my lord cardinal;– Sir, let me borrow of you but one kiss; Henceforth I ‘ll never lie with you, by this, This wedding-ring.

Fran. How, ne’er more lie with him!

Isab. And this divorce shall be as truly kept As if in thronged court a thousand ears Had heard it, and a thousand lawyers’ hands Sealed to the separation.

Brach. Ne’er lie with me!

Isab. Let not my former dotage
Make thee an unbeliever; this my vow Shall never on my soul be satisfied
With my repentance: manet alta mente repostum.

Fran. Now, by my birth, you are a foolish, mad, And jealous woman.

Brach. You see ’tis not my seeking.

Fran. Was this your circle of pure unicorn’s horn, You said should charm your lord! now horns upon thee, For jealousy deserves them! Keep your vow And take your chamber.

Isab. No, sir, I ‘ll presently to Padua; I will not stay a minute.

Mont. Oh, good madam!

Brach. ‘Twere best to let her have her humour; Some half-day’s journey will bring down her stomach, And then she ‘ll turn in post.

Fran. To see her come
To my lord for a dispensation
Of her rash vow, will beget excellent laughter.

Isab. ‘Unkindness, do thy office; poor heart, break: Those are the killing griefs, which dare not speak.’ [Exit.

Marc. Camillo’s come, my lord.

Enter Camillo

Fran. Where ‘s the commission?

Marc. ‘Tis here.

Fran. Give me the signet.

Flam. [Leading Brachiano aside.] My lord, do you mark their whispering? I will compound a medicine, out of their two heads, stronger than garlic, deadlier than stibium: the cantharides, which are scarce seen to stick upon the flesh, when they work to the heart, shall not do it with more silence or invisible cunning.

Enter Doctor

Brach. About the murder?

Flam. They are sending him to Naples, but I ‘ll send him to Candy. Here ‘s another property too.

Brach. Oh, the doctor!

Flam. A poor quack-salving knave, my lord; one that should have been lashed for ‘s lechery, but that he confessed a judgment, had an execution laid upon him, and so put the whip to a non plus.

Doctor. And was cozened, my lord, by an arranter knave than myself, and made pay all the colorable execution.

Flam. He will shoot pills into a man’s guts shall make them have more ventages than a cornet or a lamprey; he will poison a kiss; and was once minded for his masterpiece, because Ireland breeds no poison, to have prepared a deadly vapour in a Spaniard’s fart, that should have poisoned all Dublin.

Brach. Oh, Saint Anthony’s fire!

Doctor. Your secretary is merry, my lord.

Flam. O thou cursed antipathy to nature! Look, his eye ‘s bloodshot, like a needle a surgeon stitcheth a wound with. Let me embrace thee, toad, and love thee, O thou abominable, loathsome gargarism, that will fetch up lungs, lights, heart, and liver, by scruples!

Brach. No more.–I must employ thee, honest doctor: You must to Padua, and by the way,
Use some of your skill for us.

Doctor. Sir, I shall.

Brach. But for Camillo?

Flam. He dies this night, by such a politic strain, Men shall suppose him by ‘s own engine slain. But for your duchess’ death—-

Doctor. I ‘ll make her sure.

Brach. Small mischiefs are by greater made secure.

Flam. Remember this, you slave; when knaves come to preferment, they rise as gallows in the Low Countries, one upon another’s shoulders. [Exeunt. Monticelso, Camillo, and Francisco come forward.

Mont. Here is an emblem, nephew, pray peruse it: ‘Twas thrown in at your window.

Cam. At my window!
Here is a stag, my lord, hath shed his horns, And, for the loss of them, the poor beast weeps: The word, Inopem me copia fecit.

Mont. That is,
Plenty of horns hath made him poor of horns.

Cam. What should this mean?

Mont. I ‘ll tell you; ’tis given out You are a cuckold.

Cam. Is it given out so?
I had rather such reports as that, my lord, Should keep within doors.

Fran. Have you any children?

Cam. None, my lord.

Fran. You are the happier:
I ‘ll tell you a tale.

Cam. Pray, my lord.

Fran. An old tale.
Upon a time Phoebus, the god of light, Or him we call the sun, would need to be married: The gods gave their consent, and Mercury Was sent to voice it to the general world. But what a piteous cry there straight arose Amongst smiths and felt-makers, brewers and cooks, Reapers and butter-women, amongst fishmongers, And thousand other trades, which are annoyed By his excessive heat! ’twas lamentable. They came to Jupiter all in a sweat,
And do forbid the banns. A great fat cook Was made their speaker, who entreats of Jove That Phoebus might be gelded; for if now, When there was but one sun, so many men Were like to perish by his violent heat, What should they do if he were married, And should beget more, and those children Make fireworks like their father? So say I; Only I apply it to your wife;
Her issue, should not providence prevent it, Would make both nature, time, and man repent it.

Mont. Look you, cousin,
Go, change the air for shame; see if your absence Will blast your cornucopia. Marcello
Is chosen with you joint commissioner, For the relieving our Italian coast
From pirates.

Marc. I am much honour’d in ‘t.

Cam. But, sir,
Ere I return, the stag’s horns may be sprouted Greater than those are shed.

Mont. Do not fear it;
I ‘ll be your ranger.

Cam. You must watch i’ th’ nights;
Then ‘s the most danger.

Fran. Farewell, good Marcello:
All the best fortunes of a soldier’s wish Bring you a-shipboard.

Cam. Were I not best, now I am turn’d soldier, Ere that I leave my wife, sell all she hath, And then take leave of her?

Mont. I expect good from you,
Your parting is so merry.

Cam. Merry, my lord! a’ th’ captain’s humour right, I am resolved to be drunk this night. [Exeunt.

Fran. So, ’twas well fitted; now shall we discern How his wish’d absence will give violent way To Duke Brachiano’s lust.

Mont. Why, that was it;
To what scorn’d purpose else should we make choice Of him for a sea-captain? and, besides, Count Lodowick, which was rumour’d for a pirate, Is now in Padua.

Fran. Is ‘t true?

Mont. Most certain.
I have letters from him, which are suppliant To work his quick repeal from banishment: He means to address himself for pension Unto our sister duchess.

Fran. Oh, ’twas well!
We shall not want his absence past six days: I fain would have the Duke Brachiano run Into notorious scandal; for there ‘s naught In such cursed dotage, to repair his name, Only the deep sense of some deathless shame.

Mont. It may be objected, I am dishonourable To play thus with my kinsman; but I answer, For my revenge I ‘d stake a brother’s life, That being wrong’d, durst not avenge himself.

Fran. Come, to observe this strumpet.

Mont. Curse of greatness!
Sure he ‘ll not leave her?

Fran. There ‘s small pity in ‘t:
Like mistletoe on sere elms spent by weather, Let him cleave to her, and both rot together. [Exeunt.


Enter Brachiano, with one in the habit of a conjurer

Brach. Now, sir, I claim your promise: ’tis dead midnight, The time prefix’d to show me by your art, How the intended murder of Camillo,
And our loath’d duchess, grow to action.

Conj. You have won me by your bounty to a deed I do not often practise. Some there are, Which by sophistic tricks, aspire that name Which I would gladly lose, of necromancer; As some that use to juggle upon cards,
Seeming to conjure, when indeed they cheat; Others that raise up their confederate spirits ‘Bout windmills, and endanger their own necks For making of a squib; and some there are Will keep a curtal to show juggling tricks, And give out ’tis a spirit; besides these, Such a whole ream of almanac-makers, figure-flingers, Fellows, indeed that only live by stealth, Since they do merely lie about stol’n goods, They ‘d make men think the devil were fast and loose, With speaking fustian Latin. Pray, sit down; Put on this nightcap, sir, ’tis charmed; and now I ‘ll show you, by my strong commanding art, The circumstance that breaks your duchess’ heart.

A Dumb Show

Enter suspiciously Julio and Christophero: they draw a curtain where Brachiano’s picture is; they put on spectacles of glass, which cover their eyes and noses, and then burn perfumes before the picture, and wash the lips of the picture; that done, quenching the fire, and putting off their spectacles, they depart laughing.

Enter Isabella in her night-gown, as to bedward, with lights, after her, Count Lodovico, Giovanni, Guidantonio, and others waiting on her: she kneels down as to prayers, then draws the curtain of the picture, does three reverences to it, and kisses it thrice; she faints, and will not suffer them to come near it; dies; sorrow expressed in Giovanni, and in Count Lodovico. She is conveyed out solemnly.

Brach. Excellent! then she ‘s dead.

Conj. She ‘s poisoned
By the fumed picture. ‘Twas her custom nightly, Before she went to bed, to go and visit Your picture, and to feed her eyes and lips On the dead shadow: Doctor Julio,
Observing this, infects it with an oil, And other poison’d stuff, which presently Did suffocate her spirits.

Brach. Methought I saw
Count Lodowick there.

Conj. He was; and by my art
I find he did most passionately dote Upon your duchess. Now turn another way, And view Camillo’s far more politic fate. Strike louder, music, from this charmed ground, To yield, as fits the act, a tragic sound!

The Second Dumb Show

Enter Flamineo, Marcello, Camillo, with four more as captains: they drink healths, and dance; a vaulting horse is brought into the room; Marcello and two more whispered out of the room, while Flamineo and Camillo strip themselves into their shirts, as to vault; compliment who shall begin; as Camillo is about to vault, Flamineo pitcheth him upon his neck, and, with the help of the rest, writhes his neck about; seems to see if it be broke, and lays him folded double, as ’twere under the horse; makes show to call for help; Marcello comes in, laments; sends for the cardinal and duke, who comes forth with armed men; wonders at the act; commands the body to be carried home; apprehends Flamineo, Marcello, and the rest, and go, as ’twere, to apprehend Vittoria.

Brach. ‘Twas quaintly done; but yet each circumstance I taste not fully.

Conj. Oh, ’twas most apparent!
You saw them enter, charg’d with their deep healths To their boon voyage; and, to second that, Flamineo calls to have a vaulting horse Maintain their sport; the virtuous Marcello Is innocently plotted forth the room;
Whilst your eye saw the rest, and can inform you The engine of all.

Brach. It seems Marcello and Flamineo Are both committed.

Conj. Yes, you saw them guarded;
And now they are come with purpose to apprehend Your mistress, fair Vittoria. We are now Beneath her roof: ’twere fit we instantly Make out by some back postern.

Brach. Noble friend,
You bind me ever to you: this shall stand As the firm seal annexed to my hand;
It shall enforce a payment. [Exit Brachiano.

Conj. Sir, I thank you.
Both flowers and weeds spring, when the sun is warm, And great men do great good, or else great harm. [Exit.



Enter Francisco de Medicis, and Monticelso, their Chancellor and Register

Fran. You have dealt discreetly, to obtain the presence Of all the great lieger ambassadors
To hear Vittoria’s trial.

Mont. ‘Twas not ill;
For, sir, you know we have naught but circumstances To charge her with, about her husband’s death: Their approbation, therefore, to the proofs Of her black lust shall make her infamous To all our neighbouring kingdoms. I wonder If Brachiano will be here?

Fran. Oh, fie! ‘Twere impudence too palpable. [Exeunt.

Enter Flamineo and Marcello guarded, and a Lawyer

Lawyer. What, are you in by the week? So–I will try now whether they wit be close prisoner–methinks none should sit upon thy sister, but old whore-masters—-

Flam. Or cuckolds; for your cuckold is your most terrible tickler of lechery. Whore-masters would serve; for none are judges at tilting, but those that have been old tilters.

Lawyer. My lord duke and she have been very private.

Flam. You are a dull ass; ’tis threatened they have been very public.

Lawyer. If it can be proved they have but kissed one another—-

Flam. What then?

Lawyer. My lord cardinal will ferret them.

Flam. A cardinal, I hope, will not catch conies.

Lawyer. For to sow kisses (mark what I say), to sow kisses is to reap lechery; and, I am sure, a woman that will endure kissing is half won.

Flam. True, her upper part, by that rule; if you will win her neither part too, you know what follows.

Lawyer. Hark! the ambassadors are ‘lighted—-

Flam. I do put on this feigned garb of mirth, To gull suspicion.

Marc. Oh, my unfortunate sister!
I would my dagger-point had cleft her heart When she first saw Brachiano: you, ’tis said, Were made his engine, and his stalking horse, To undo my sister.

Flam. I am a kind of path
To her and mine own preferment.

Marc. Your ruin.

Flam. Hum! thou art a soldier,
Followest the great duke, feed’st his victories, As witches do their serviceable spirits, Even with thy prodigal blood: what hast got? But, like the wealth of captains, a poor handful, Which in thy palm thou bear’st, as men hold water; Seeking to grip it fast, the frail reward Steals through thy fingers.

Marc. Sir!

Flam. Thou hast scarce maintenance
To keep thee in fresh chamois.

Marc. Brother!

Flam. Hear me:
And thus, when we have even pour’d ourselves Into great fights, for their ambition,
Or idle spleen, how shall we find reward? But as we seldom find the mistletoe,
Sacred to physic, or the builder oak, Without a mandrake by it; so in our quest of gain, Alas, the poorest of their forc’d dislikes At a limb proffers, but at heart it strikes! This is lamented doctrine.

Marc. Come, come.

Flam. When age shall turn thee
White as a blooming hawthorn—-

Marc. I ‘ll interrupt you:
For love of virtue bear an honest heart, And stride o’er every politic respect,
Which, where they most advance, they most infect. Were I your father, as I am your brother, I should not be ambitious to leave you
A better patrimony.

Flam. I ‘ll think on ‘t. [Enter Savoy Ambassador. The lord ambassadors.

[Here there is a passage of the Lieger Ambassadors over the stage severally.

Enter French Ambassador

Lawyer. Oh, my sprightly Frenchman! Do you know him? he ‘s an admirable tilter.

Flam. I saw him at last tilting: he showed like a pewter candlestick fashioned like a man in armour, holding a tilting staff in his hand, little bigger than a candle of twelve i’ th’ pound.

Lawyer. Oh, but he’s an excellent horseman!

Flam. A lame one in his lofty tricks; he sleeps a-horseback, like a poulterer.

Enter English and Spanish

Lawyer. Lo you, my Spaniard!

Flam. He carried his face in ‘s ruff, as I have seen a serving-man carry glasses in a cypress hatband, monstrous steady, for fear of breaking; he looks like the claw of a blackbird, first salted, and then broiled in a candle. [Exeunt.