Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE REVENGER'S TRAGEDY, by CYRIL TOURNEUR

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THE REVENGER'S TRAGEDY, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Duke! Royal lecher! Go, grey-haired adulterer
Last Line: [exit.
Subject(s): Revenge; Tragedy


LUSSURIOSO, the Duke's Son.
SPURIO, a Bastard.
AMBITIOSO, the Duchess' Eldest Son.
SUPERVACUO, the Duchess' Second Son.
The Duchess' Youngest Son.
VENDICE, disguised as PIATO, Brothers of CASTIZA.
HIPPOLITO, also called CARLO,
ANTONIO, Nobles.
Judges, Nobles, Gentlemen, Officers, Keeper, Servants.




SCENE I.—Near the House of GRATIANA.

Enter VENDICE. The DUKE, DUCHESS, LUSSURIOSO, SPURIO, with a train, pass
over the stage with torchlight.

VEN. Duke! royal lecher! go, grey-haired adultery!
And thou his son, as impious steeped as he:
And thou his bastard, true begot in evil:
And thou his duchess, that will do with devil:
Four excellent characters! O, that marrowless age
Should stuff the hollow bones with damned desires!
And, 'stead of heat, kindle infernal fires
Within the spendthrift veins of a dry duke,
A parched and juiceless luxur. O God! one,
That has scarce blood enough to live upon;
And he to riot it, like a son and heir!
O, the thought of that
Turns my abusèd heart-strings into fret.
Thou sallow picture of my poisoned love,
[Views the skull in his hand.
My study's ornament, thou shell of death,
Once the bright face of my betrothèd lady,
When life and beauty naturally filled out
These ragged imperfections;
When two heaven-pointed diamonds were set
In those unsightly rings—then 'twas a face
So far beyond the artificial shine
Of any woman's bought complexion,
That the uprightest man (if such there be,
That sin but seven times a day) broke custom,
And made up eight with looking after her.
O, she was able to ha' made a usurer's son
Melt all his patrimony in a kiss;
And what his father fifty years told,
To have consumed, and yet his suit been cold.
But, O accursèd palace!
Thee, when thou wert apparelled in thy flesh,
The old duke poisoned,
Because thy purer part would not consent
Unto his palsied lust; for old men lustful
Do show like young men angry, eager, violent,
Outbidden like their limited performances.
O, 'ware an old man hot and vicious!
"Age, as in gold, in lust is covetous."
Vengeance, thou murder's quit-rent, and whereby
Thou show'st thyself tenant to tragedy;
O keep thy day, hour, minute, I beseech,
For those thou hast determined. Hum! who e'er knew
Murder unpaid? faith, give revenge her due,
She has kept touch hitherto: be merry, merry,
Advance thee, O thou terror to fat folks,
To have their costly three-piled flesh worn off
As bare as this; for banquets, ease, and laughter
Can make great men, as greatness goes by clay;
But wise men little are more great than they.


Hip. Still sighing o'er death's vizard?
Ven. Brother, welcome!
What comfort bring'st thou? how go things at court?
Hip. In silk and silver, brother: never braver.
Ven. Pooh!
Thou play'st upon my meaning. Prythee, say,
Has that bald madam, Opportunity,
Yet thought upon's? speak, are we happy yet?
Thy wrongs and mine are for one scabbard fit.
Hip. It may prove happiness.
Ven. What is't may prove?
Give me to taste.
Hip. Give me your hearing, then.
You know my place at court?
Ven. Ay, the duke's chamber!
But 'tis a marvel thou'rt not turned out yet!
Hip. Faith, I've been shoved at; but 'twas still my hap
To hold by the duchess' skirt: you guess at that:
Whom such a coat keeps up, can ne'er fall flat.
But to the purpose—
Last evening, predecessor unto this,
The duke's son warily inquired for me,
Whose pleasure I attended: he began
By policy to open and unhusk me
About the time and common rumour:
But I had so much wit to keep my thoughts
Up in their built houses; yet afforded him
An idle satisfaction without danger.
But the whole aim and scope of his intent
Ended in this: conjuring me in private
To seek some strange-digested fellow forth,
Of ill-contented nature; either disgraced
In former times, or by new grooms displaced,
Since his step-mother's nuptials; such a blood,
A man that were for evil only good—
To give you the true word, some base-coined pander.
Ven. I reach you; for I know his heat is such,
Were there as many concubines as ladies,
He would not be contained; he must fly out.
I wonder how ill-featured, vile-proportioned,
That one should be, if she were made for woman,
Whom, at the insurrection of his lust,
He would refuse for once. Heart! I think none.
Next to a skull, though more unsound than one,
Each face he meets he strongly doats upon.
Hip. Brother, y' have truly spoke him.
He knows not you, but I will swear you know him.
Ven. And therefore I'll put on that knave for once,
And be a right man then, a man o' the time;
For to be honest is not to be i' the world.
Brother, I'll be that strange-composèd fellow.
Hip. And I'll prefer you, brother.
Ven. Go to, then:
The smallest advantage fattens wrongèd men:
It may point out occasion; if I meet her,
I'll hold her by the foretop fast enough;
Or, like the French mole, heave up hair and all.
I have a habit that will fit it quaintly.
Here comes our mother.
Hip. And sister.
Ven. We must coin:
Women are apt, you know, to take false money;
But I dare stake my soul for these two creatures;
Only excuse excepted, that they'll swallow,
Because their sex is easy in belief.


Gra. What news from court, son Carlo?
Hip. Faith, mother,
'Tis whispered there the duchess' youngest son
Has played a rape on Lord Antonio's wife.
Gra. On that religious lady!
Cas. Royal blood monster! he deserves to die,
If Italy had no more hopes but he.
Ven. Sister, y' have sentenced most direct and true,
The law's a woman, and would she were you.
Mother, I must take leave of you.
Gra. Leave for what?
Ven. I intend speedy travel.
Hip. That he does, madam.
Gra. Speedy indeed!
Ven. For since my worthy father's funeral,
My life's unnaturally to me, e'en compelled;
As if I lived now, when I should be dead.
Gra. Indeed, he was a worthy gentleman,
Had his estate been fellow to his mind.
Ven. The duke did much deject him.
Gra. Much?
Ven. Too much:
And though disgrace oft smothered in his spirit,
When it would mount, surely I think he died
Of discontent, the noble man's consumption.
Gra. Most sure he did.
Ven. Did he, 'lack? you know all:—
You were his midnight secretary.
Gra. No,
He was too wise to trust me with his thoughts.
Ven. I' faith, then, father, thou wast wise indeed;
"Wives are but made to go to bed and feed."
Come, mother, sister: you'll bring me onward, brother?
Hip. I will.
Ven. I'll quickly turn into another.
[Aside. Exeunt.

SCENE II.—A Hall of justice.

SUPERVACUO; the DUCHESS' Youngest Son brought out by Officers. Two

Duke. Duchess, it is your youngest son, we're sorry
His violent act has e'en drawn blood of honour,
And stained our honours;
Thrown ink upon the forehead of our state;
Which envious spirits will dip their pens into
After our death; and blot us in our tombs:
For that which would seem treason in our lives
Is laughter, when we're dead. Who dares now whisper,
That dares not then speak out, and e'en proclaim
With loud words and broad pens our closest shame?
1st Judge. Your grace hath spoke like to your silver years,
Full of confirmed gravity; for what is it to have
A flattering false insculption on a tomb,
And in men's hearts reproach? the bowelled corpse
May be seared in, but (with free tongue I speak)
The faults of great men through their sear-cloths break.
Duke. They do; we're sorry for't: it is our fate
To live in fear, and die to live in hate.
I leave him to your sentence; doom him, lords—
The fact is great—whilst I sit by and sigh.
Duch. My gracious lord, I pray be merciful:
Although his trespass far exceed his years,
Think him to be your own, as I am yours;
Call him not son-in-law: the law, I fear,
Will fall too soon upon his name and him:
Temper his fault with pity.
Lus. Good my lord,
Then 'twill not taste so bitter and unpleasant
Upon the judges' palate; for offences,
Gilt o'er with mercy, show like fairest women,
Good only for their beauties, which washed off,
No sin is uglier.
Amb. I beseech your grace,
Be soft and mild; let not relentless law
Look with an iron forehead on our brother.
Spu. He yields small comfort yet; hope he shall die;
And if a bastard's wish might stand in force,
Would all the court were turned into a corse! [Aside.
Duch. No pity yet? must I rise fruitless then?
A wonder in a woman! are my knees
Of such low metal, that without respect—
1st Judge. Let the offender stand forth:
'Tis the duke's pleasure that impartial doom
Shall take fast hold of his unclean attempt.
A rape! why 'tis the very core of lust—
Double adultery.
Y. Son. So, sir.
2nd Judge. And which was worse,
Committed on the Lord Antonio's wife,
That general-honest lady. Confess, my lord,
What moved you to't?
Y. Son. Why, flesh and blood, my lord;
What should move men unto a woman else?
Lus. O, do not jest thy doom! trust not an axe
Or sword too far: the law is a wise serpent,
And quickly can beguile thee of thy life.
Though marriage only has made thee my brother,
I love thee so far: play not with thy death.
Y. Son. I thank you, troth; good admonitions, faith,
If I'd the grace now to make use of them.
1st Judge. That lady's name has spread such a fair wing
Over all Italy, that if our tongues
Were sparing toward the fact, judgment itself
Would be condemned, and suffer in men's thoughts.
Y. Son. Well then, 'tis done; and it would please me well,
Were it to do again: sure, she's a goddess,
For I'd no power to see her, and to live.
It falls out true in this, for I must die;
Her beauty was ordained to be my scaffold.
And yet, methinks, I might be easier 'sessed:
My fault being sport, let me but die in jest.
1st Judge. This be the sentence—
Duch. O, keep't upon your tongue; let it not slip;
Death too soon steals out of a lawyer's lip.
Be not so cruel-wise!
1st Judge. Your grace must pardon us;
'Tis but the justice of the law.
Duch. The law
Is grown more subtle than a woman should be.
Spu. Now, now he dies! rid 'em away. [Aside.
Duch. O, what it is to have an old cool duke,
To be as slack in tongue as in performance! [Aside.
1st Judge. Confirmed, this be the doom irrevocable.
Duch. O!
1st Judge. To-morrow early—
Duch. Pray be abed, my lord.
1st Judge. Your grace much wrongs yourself.
Amb. No, 'tis that tongue:
Your too much right does do us too much wrong.
1st Judge. Let that offender—
Duch. Live, and be in health.
1st Judge. Be on a scaffold—
Duke. Hold, hold, my lord!
Spu. Pox on't,
What makes my dad speak now? [Aside.
Duke. We will defer the judgment till next sitting:
In the meantime, let him be kept close prisoner.
Guard, bear him hence.
Amb. Brother, this makes for thee;
Fear not, we'll have a trick to set thee free. [Aside.
Y. Son. Brother, I will expect it from you both;
And in that hope I rest. [Aside.
Sup. Farewell, be merry. [Exit with a Guard.
Spu. Delayed! deferred! nay then, if judgment have cold blood,
Flattery and bribes will kill it.
Duke. About it, then, my lords, with your best powers:
More serious business calls upon our hours.
[Exeunt, excepting the DUCHESS.
Duch. Was't ever known step-duchess was so mild
And calm as I? some now would plot his death
With easy doctors, those loose-living men,
And make his withered grace fall to his grave,
And keep church better.
Some second wife would do this, and despatch
Her double-loathèd lord at meat or sleep.
Indeed, 'tis true, an old man's twice a child;
Mine cannot speak; one of his single words
Would quite have freed my youngest dearest son
From death or durance, and have made him walk
With a bold foot upon the thorny law,
Whose prickles should bow under him; but 'tis not,
And therefore wedlock-faith shall be forgot:
I'll kill him in his forehead; hate, there feed;
That wound is deepest, though it never bleed.
And here comes he whom my heart points unto,
His bastard son, but my love's true-begot;
Many a wealthy letter have I sent him,
Swelled up with jewels, and the timorous man
Is yet but coldly kind.
That jewel's mine that quivers in his ear,
Mocking his master's chillness and vain fear.
He has spied me now!


Spu. Madam, your grace so private?
My duty on your hand.
Duch. Upon my hand, sir! troth, I think you'd fear
To kiss my hand too, if my lip stood there.
Spu. Witness I would not, madam. [Kisses her.
Duch. 'Tis a wonder;
For ceremony has made many fools!
It is as easy way unto a duchess,
As to a hatted dame, if her love answer:
But that by timorous honours, pale respects,
Idle degrees of fear, men make their ways
Hard of themselves. What, have you thought of me?
Spu. Madam, I ever think of you in duty,
Regard, and—
Duch. Pooh! upon my love, I mean.
Spu. I would 'twere love; but 'tis a fouler name
Than lust: you are my father's wife—your grace may guess now
What I could call it.
Duch. Why, th' art his son but falsely;
'Tis a hard question whether he begot thee.
Spu. I' faith, 'tis true: I'm an uncertain man
Of more uncertain woman. Maybe, his groom
O' the stable begot me; you know I know not!
He could ride a horse well, a shrewd suspicion, marry!—
He was wondrous tall: he had his length, i' faith.
For peeping over half-shut holyday windows,
Men would desire him light. When he was afoot
He made a goodly show under a pent-house;
And when he rid, his hat would check the signs,
And clatter barbers' basons.
Duch. Nay, set you a-horseback once,
You'll ne'er light off.
Spu. Indeed, I am a beggar.
Duch. That's the more sign thou'rt great.—
But to our love:
Let it stand firm both in thy thought and mind,
That the duke was thy father, as no doubt then
He bid fair for't—thy injury is the more;
For had he cut thee a right diamond,
Thou had'st been next set in the dukedom's ring,
When his worn self, like age's easy slave,
Had dropped out of the collet into th' grave.
What wrong can equal this? canst thou be tame,
And think upon't?
Spu. No, mad, and think upon't.
Duch. Who would not be revenged of such a father,
E'en in the worst way? I would thank that sin,
That could most injure him, and be in league with it.
O, what a grief 'tis that a man should live
But once i' the world, and then to live a bastard—
The curse o' the womb, the thief of nature,
Begot against the seventh commandment,
Half-damned in the conception by the justice
Of that unbribèd everlasting law.
Spu. O, I'd a hot-backed devil to my father.
Duch. Would not this mad e'en patience, make blood rough?
Who but an eunuch would not sin? his bed, wrapped in!
By one false minute disinherited.
Spu. Ay, there's the vengeance that my birth was
I'll be revenged for all: now, hate, begin;
I'll call foul incest but a venial sin.
Duch. Cold still! in vain then must a duchess woo?
Spu. Madam, I blush to say what I will do.
Duch. Thence flew sweet comfort. Earnest, and farewell. [Kisses
Spu. O, one incestuous kiss picks open hell.
Duch. Faith, now, old duke, my vengeance shall reach high,
I'll arm thy brow with woman's heraldry. [Exit.
Spu. Duke, thou didst do me wrong; and, by thy act
Adultery is my nature.
Faith, if the truth were known, I was begot
After some gluttonous dinner; some stirring dish
Was my first father, when deep healths went round,
And ladies' cheeks were painted red with wine,
Their tongues, as short and nimble as their heels,
Uttering words sweet and thick; and when they rose,
Were merrily disposed to fall again.
In such a whispering and withdrawing hour,
When base male-bawds kept sentinel at stair-head,
Was I stol'n softly. O damnation meet!
The sin of feasts, drunken adultery!
I feel it swell me; my revenge is just!
I was begot in impudent wine and lust.
Step-mother, I consent to thy desires;
I love thy mischief well; but I hate thee
And those three cubs thy sons, wishing confusion,
Death and disgrace may be their epitaphs.
As for my brother, the duke's only son,
Whose birth is more beholding to report
Than mine, and yet perhaps as falsely sown
(Women must not be trusted with their own),
I'll loose my days upon him, hate-all-I;
Duke, on thy brow I'll draw my bastardy:
For indeed a bastard by nature should make cuckolds,
Because he is the son of a cuckold-maker. [Exit.

SCENE III.—A part of the City.

Enter VENDICE in disguise and HIPPOLITO.

Ven. What, brother, am I far enough from myself?
Hip. As if another man had been sent whole
Into the world, and none wist how he came.
Ven. It will confirm me bold—the child o' the court;
Let blushes dwell i' the country. Impudence!
Thou goddess of the palace, mistress of mistresses,
To whom the costly perfumed people pray,
Strike thou my forehead into dauntless marble,
Mine eyes to steady sapphires, Turn my visage;
And, if I must needs glow, let me blush inward,
That this immodest season may not spy
That scholar in my cheeks, fool bashfulness;
That maid in the old time, whose flush of grace
Would never suffer her to get good clothes.
Our maids are wiser, and are less ashamed;
Save Grace the bawd, I seldom hear grace named!
Hip. Nay, brother, you reach out o' the verge now—
'Sfoot, the duke's son! settle your looks.
Ven. Pray, let me not be doubted.
Hip. My lord—


Lus. Hippolito—be absent, leave us!
Hip. My lord, after long search, wary inquiries,
And politic siftings, I made choice of you fellow,
Whom I guess rare for many deep employments:
This our age swims within him; and if Time
Had so much hair, I should take him for Time,
He is so near kin to this present minute.
Lus. 'Tis enough;
We thank thee: yet words are but great men's blanks;
Gold, though it be dumb, does utter the best thanks.
[Gives him money.
Hip. Your plenteous honour! an excellent fellow, my lord.
Lus. So, give us leave. [Exit HIPPOLITO.] Welcome, be not far
we must be better acquainted: pish, be bold with us—thy hand.
Ven. With all my heart, i' faith: how dost, sweet musk-cat?
When shall we lie together?
Lus. Wondrous knave,
Gather him into boldness! 'sfoot, the slave's
Already as familiar as an ague,
And shakes me at his pleasure. Friend, I can
Forget myself in private; but elsewhere
I pray do you remember me.
Ven. O, very well, sir—I conster myself saucy.
Lus. What hast been?
Of what profession?
Ven. A bone-setter.
Lus. A bone-setter!
Ven. A bawd, my lord—
One that sets bones together.
Lus. Notable bluntness!
Fit, fit for me; e'en trained up to my hand:
Thou hast been scrivener to much knavery, then?
Ven. 'Sfoot, to abundance, sir: I have been witness
To the surrenders of a thousand virgins:
And not so little;
I have seen patrimonies washed a-pieces,
Fruit-fields turned into bastards,
And in a world of acres
Not so much dust due to the heir 'twas left to
As would well gravel a petition.
Lus. Fine villain! troth, I like him wondrously:
He's e'en shaped for my purpose. [Aside.] Then thou know'st
I' th' world strange lust?
Ven. O Dutch lust! fulsome lust!
Drunken procreation! which begets so many drunkards
Some fathers dread not (gone to bed in wine) to slide from the mother,
And cling the daughter-in-law;
Some uncles are adulterous with their nieces:
Brothers with brothers' wives. O hour of incest!
Any kin now, next to the rim o' th' sister,
Is men's meat in these days; and in the morning,
When they are up and dressed, and their mask on,
Who can perceive this, save that eternal eye,
That sees through flesh and all? Well, if anything be damned,
It will be twelve o'clock at night; that twelve
Will never 'scape;
It is the Judas of the hours, wherein
Honest salvation is betrayed to sin.
Lus. In troth, it is true; but let this talk glide.
It is our blood to err, though hell gape wide.
Ladies know Lucifer fell, yet still are proud.
Now, sir, wert thou as secret as thou'rt subtle,
And deeply fathomed into all estates,
I would embrace thee for a near employment;
And thou shouldst swell in money, and be able
To make lame beggars crouch to thee.
Ven. My lord,
Secret! I ne'er had that disease o' the mother,
I praise my father: why are men made close,
But to keep thoughts in best? I grant you this,
Tell but some women a secret over night,
Your doctor may find it in the urinal i' the morning.
But, my lord—
Lus. So thou'rt confirmed in me,
And thus I enter thee. [Gives him money.
Ven. This Indian devil
Will quickly enter any man but a usurer;
He prevents that by entering the devil first.
Lus. Attend me. I am past my depth in lust,
And I must swim or drown. All my desires
Are levelled at a virgin not far from court,
To whom I have conveyed by messenger
Many waxed lines, full of my neatest spirit,
And jewels that were able to ravish her
Without the help of man; all which and more
She (foolish chaste) sent back, the messengers
Receiving frowns for answers.
Ven. Possible!
'Tis a rare Phœnix, whoe'er she be.
If your desires be such, she so repugnant,
In troth, my lord, I'd be revenged and marry her.
Lus. Pish! the dowry of her blood and of her fortunes
Are both too mean—good enough to be bad withal.
I'm one of that number can defend
Marriage is good; yet rather keep a friend.
Give me my bed by stealth—there's true delight;
What breeds a loathing in't, but night by night!
Ven. A very fine religion!
Lus. Therefore thus
I'll trust thee in the business of my heart;
Because I see thee well-experienced
In this luxurious day wherein we breathe.
Go thou, and with a smooth enchanting tongue
Bewitch her ears, and cosen her of all grace:
Enter upon the portion of her soul—
Her honour, which she calls her chastity,
And bring it into expense; for honesty
Is like a stock of money laid to sleep
Which, ne'er so little broke, does never keep.
Ven. You have gi'en't the tang, i' faith, my lord:
Make known the lady to me, and my brain
Shall swell with strange invention: I will move it,
Till I expire with speaking, and drop down
Without a word to save me—but I'll work—
Lus. We thank thee, and will raise thee.—
Receive her name; it is the only daughter to Madam
Gratiana, the late widow.
Ven. O my sister, my sister! [Aside.
Lus. Why dost walk aside?
Ven. My lord, I was thinking how I might begin
As thus, O lady—or twenty hundred devices—
Her very bodkin will put a man in.
Lus. Ay, or the wagging of her hair.
Ven. No, that shall put you in, my lord.
Lus. Shall't? why, content. Dost know the daughter then?
Ven. O, excellent well by sight.
Lus. That was her brother,
That did prefer thee to us.
Ven. My lord, I think so;
I knew I had seen him somewhere—
Lus. And therefore, prythee, let thy heart to him
Be as a virgin close.
Ven. O my good lord.
Lus. We may laugh at that simple age within him.
Ven. Ha, ha, ha!
Lus. Himself being made the subtle instrument,
To wind up a good fellow.
Ven. That's I, my lord.
Lus. That's thou,
To entice and work his sister.
Ven. A pure novice!
Lus. 'Twas finely managed.
Ven. Gallantly carried!
A pretty perfumed villain!
Lus. I've bethought me,
If she prove chaste still and immovable,
Venture upon the mother; and with gifts,
As I will furnish thee, begin with her.
Ven. O, fie, fie! that's the wrong end my lord.
'Tis mere impossible that a mother, by any gifts, should become a bawd to her
own daughter!
Lus. Nay, then, I see thou'rt but a puisne
In the subtle mystery of a woman.
Why, 'tis held now no dainty dish: the name
Is so in league with the age, that nowadays
It does eclipse three quarters of a mother.
Ven. Does it so, my lord?
Let me alone, then, to eclipse the fourth.
Lus. Why, well-said—come, I'll furnish thee, but first
Swear to be true in all.
Ven. True!
Lus. Nay, but swear.
Ven. Swear?—I hope your honour little doubts my faith.
Lus. Yet, for my humour's sake, 'cause I love swearing—
Ven. 'Cause you love swearing,—'slud, I will.
Lus. Why, enough!
Ere long look to be made of better stuff.
Ven. That will do well indeed, my lord.
Lus. Attend me. [Exit.
Ven. O!
Now let me burst. I've eaten noble poison;
We are made strange fellows, brother, innocent villains!
Wilt not be angry, when thou hear'st on't, think'st thou?
I' faith, thou shalt: swear me to foul my sister!
Sword, I durst make a promise of him to thee;
Thou shalt disheir him; it shall be thine honour.
And yet, now angry froth is down in me,
It would not prove the meanest policy,
In this disguise, to try the faith of both.
Another might have had the selfsame office;
Some slave that would have wrought effectually,
Ay, and perhaps o'erwrought 'em; therefore I,
Being thought travelled, will apply myself
Unto the selfsame form, forget my nature,
As if no part about me were kin to 'em,
So touch 'em;—though I durst almost for good
Venture my lands in Heaven upon their blood. [Exit.

SCENE IV.—A Room in ANTONIO'S House.

Enter ANTONIO, whose Wife the Duchess' Youngest Son ravished,
discovering her dead body to HIPPOLITO, PIERO, and Lords.

Ant. Draw nearer, lords, and be sad witnesses
Of a fair comely building newly fallen,
Being falsely undermined. Violent rape
Has played a glorious act: behold, my lords,
A sight that strikes man out of me.
Piero. That virtuous lady!
Ant. Precedent for wives!
Hip. The blush of many women, whose chaste presence
Would e'en call shame up to their cheeks, and make
Pale wanton sinners have good colours—
Ant. Dead!
Her honour first drank poison, and her life,
Being fellows in one house, did pledge her honour.
Piero. O, grief of many!
Ant. I marked not this before—
A prayer-book, the pillow to her cheek:
This was her rich confection; and another
Placed in her right hand, with a leaf tucked up,
Pointing to these words—
Melius virtute mori, quam per dedecus vivere:
True and effectual it is indeed.
Hip. My lord, since you invite us to your sorrows,
Let's truly taste 'em, that with equal comfort,
As to ourselves, we may relieve your wrongs:
We have grief too, that yet walks without tongue;
Curæ leves loquuntur, majores stupent.
Ant. You deal with truth, my lord;
Lend me but your attentions, and I'll cut
Long grief into short words. Last revelling night,
When torch-light made an artificial noon
About the court, some courtiers in the masque,
Putting on better faces than their own,
Being full of fraud and flattery—amongst whom
The duchess' youngest son (that moth to honour)
Filled up a room, and with long lust to eat
Into my warren, amongst all the ladies
Singled out that dear form, who ever lived
As cold in lust as she is now in death
(Which that step-duchess' monster knew too well),
And therefore in the height of all the revels,
When music was heard loudest, courtiers busiest,
And ladies great with laughter—O vicious minute!
Unfit but for relation to be spoke of:
Then with a face more impudent than his vizard,
He harried her amidst a throng of panders,
That live upon damnation of both kinds,
And fed the ravenous vulture of his lust.
O death to think on't! She, her honour forced,
Deemed it a nobler dowry for her name
To die with poison than to live with shame.
Hip. A wondrous lady! of rare fire compact;
She has made her name an empress by that act.
Piero. My lord, what judgment follows the offender?
Ant. Faith, none, my lord; it cools, and is deferred.
Piero. Delay the doom for rape!
Ant. O, you must note who 'tis should die,
The duchess' son! she'll look to be a saver:
"Judgment, in this age, is near kin to favour."
Hip. Nay, then, step forth, thou bribeless officer:
[Draws his sword.
I'll bind you all in steel, to bind you surely;
Here let your oaths meet, to be kept and paid,
Which else will stick like rust, and shame the blade;
Strengthen my vow that if, at the next sitting,
Judgment speak all in gold, and spare the blood
Of such a serpent, e'en before their seats
To let his soul out, which long since was found
Guilty in Heaven—
All. We swear it, and will act it.
Ant. Kind gentlemen, I thank you in mine ire.
Hip. 'Twere pity
The ruins of so fair a monument
Should not be dipped in the defacer's blood.
Piero. Her funeral shall be wealthy; for her name
Merits a tomb of pearl. My Lord Antonio,
For this time wipe your lady from your eyes;
No doubt our grief and yours may one day court it,
When we are more familiar with revenge.
Ant. That is my comfort, gentlemen, and I joy
In this one happiness above the rest,
Which will be called a miracle at last;
That, being an old man, I'd a wife so chaste.


SCENE I.—A Room in GRATIANA'S House.


CAS. How hardly shall that maiden be beset,
Whose only fortunes are her constant thoughts!
That has no other child's part but her honour.
That keeps her low and empty in estate;
Maids and their honours are like poor beginners;
Were not sin rich, there would be fewer sinners;
Why had not virtue a revenue? Well,
I know the cause, 'twould have impoverished hell.


How now, Dondolo?
Don. Madonna, there is one as they say, a thing of flesh and
blood—a man, I take him by his beard, that would very desirously mouth to
mouth with you.
Cas. What's that?
Don. Show his teeth in your company.
Cas. I understand thee not.
Don. Why, speak with you, madonna.
Cas. Why, say so, madman, and cut off a great deal of dirty way; had
not been better spoke in ordinary words, that one would peak with me?
Don. Ha, ha! that's as ordinary as two shillings.
I would strive a little to show myself in my place; a gentleman-usher scorns
use the phrase and fancy of a serving-man.
Cas. Yours be your own, sir; go, direct him hither; [Exit
I hope some happy tidings from my brother,
That lately travelled, whom my soul affects.
Here he comes.

Enter VENDICE, disguised.

Ven. Lady, the best of wishes to your sex—
Fair skins and new gowns.
Cas. O, they shall thank you, sir.
Whence this?
Ven. O, from a dear and worthy mighty friend.
Cas. From whom?
Ven. The duke's son!
Cas. Receive that. [Boxes his ear.
I swore I would put anger in my hand,
And pass the virgin limits of my sex,
To him that next appeared in that base office,
To be his sin's attorney. Bear to him
That figure of my hate upon thy cheek,
Whilst 'tis yet hot, and I'll reward thee for't;
Tell him my honour shall have a rich name,
When several harlots shall share his with shame.
Farewell; commend me to him in my hate. [Exit.
Ven. It is the sweetest box that e'er my nose came nigh;
The finest drawn-work cuff that e'er was worn;
I'll love this blow for ever, and this cheek
Shall still henceforward take the wall of this.
O, I'm above my tongue: most constant sister,
In this thou hast right honourable shown;
Many are called by their honour, that have none;
Thou art approved for ever in my thoughts.
It is not in the power of words to taint thee.
And yet for the salvation of my oath,
As my resolve in that point, I will lay
Hard siege unto my mother, though I know
A syren's tongue could not bewitch her so.
Mass, fitly here she comes! thanks, my disguise—
Madam, good afternoon.


Gra. Y'are welcome, sir.
Ven. The next of Italy commends him to you,
Our mighty expectation, the duke's son.
Gra. I think myself much honoured that he pleases
To rank me in his thoughts.
Ven. So may you, lady:
One that is like to be our sudden duke;
The crown gapes for him every tide, and then
Commander o'er us all; do but think on him,
How blessed were they, now that could pleasure him—
E'en with anything almost!
Gra. Ay, save their honour.
Ven. Tut, one would let a little of that go too,
And ne'er be seen in't—ne'er be seen in't, mark you;
I'd wink, and let it go.
Gra. Marry, but I would not.
Ven. Marry but I would, I hope; I know you would too,
If you'd that blood now, which you gave your daughter.
To her indeed 'tis this wheel comes about;
That man that must be all this, perhaps ere morning
(For his white father does but mould away),
Has long desired your daughter.
Gra. Desired?
Ven. Nay, but hear me;
He desires now, that will command hereafter:
Therefore be wise. I speak as more a friend
To you than him: madam, I know you're poor,
And, 'lack the day!
There are too many poor ladies already;
Why should you wax the number? 'Tis despised.
Live wealthy, rightly understand the world,
And chide away that foolish country girl
Keeps company with your daughter—Chastity.
Gra. O fie, fie! the riches of the world cannot hire
A mother to such a most unnatural task.
Ven. No, but a thousand angels can.
Men have no power, angels must work you to't:
The world descends into such baseborn evils,
That forty angels can make fourscore devils.
There will be fools still, I perceive—still fools.
Would I be poor, dejected, scorned of greatness,
Swept from the palace, and see others' daughters
Spring with the dew o' the court, having mine own
So much desired and loved by the duke's son?
No, I would raise my state upon her breast;
And call her eyes my tenants; I would count
My yearly maintenance upon her cheeks;
Take coach upon her lip; and all her parts
Should keep men after men, and I would ride
In pleasure upon pleasure.
You took great pains for her, once when it was;
Let her requite it now, though it be but some.
You brought her forth: she may well bring you home.
Gra. O Heavens! this o'ercomes me!
Ven. Not, I hope, already? [Aside.
Gra. It is too strong for me; men know that know us,
We are so weak their words can overthrow us;
He touched me nearly, made my virtues bate,
When his tongue struck upon my poor estate. [Aside.
Ven. I e'en quake to proceed, my spirit turns edge.
I fear me she's unmothered; yet I'll venture.
"That woman is all male, whom none can enter."
What think you now, lady? Speak, are you wiser?
What said advancement to you? Thus it said:
The daughter's fall lifts up the mother's head.
Did it not, madam? But I'll swear it does
In many places: tut, this age fears no man.
"'Tis no shame to be bad, because 'tis common."
Gra. Ay, that's the comfort on't.
Ven. The comfort on't!
I keep the best for last—can these persuade you
To forget Heaven—and— [Gives her money.
Gra. Ay, these are they—
Ven. O!
Gra. That enchant our sex. These are
The means that govern our affections—that woman
Will not be troubled with the mother long,
That sees the comfortable shine of you:
I blush to think what for your sakes I'll do.
Ven. O suffering Heaven, with thy invisible finger,
E'en at this instant turn the precious side
Of both mine eyeballs inward, not to see myself. [Aside.
Gra. Look you, sir.
Ven. Hollo.
Gra. Let this thank your pains.
Ven. O, you're kind, madam.
Gra. I'll see how I can move.
Ven. Your words will sting.
Gra. If she be still chaste, I'll ne'er call her mine.
Ven. Spoke truer than you meant it.
Gra. Daughter Castiza.

Re-enter CASTIZA.

Cas. Madam.
Ven. O, she's yonder;
Meet her: troops of celestial soldiers guard her heart.
Yon dam has devils enough to take her part.
Cas. Madam, what makes you evil-officed man
In presence of you?
Gra. Why?
Cas. He lately brought
Immodest writing sent from the duke's son,
To tempt me to dishonourable act.
Gra. Dishonourable act!—good honourable fool,
That wouldst be honest, 'cause thou wouldst be so,
Producing no one reason but thy will.
And't has a good report, prettily commended,
But pray, by whom? Poor people, ignorant people;
The better sort, I'm sure, cannot abide it.
And by what rule should we square out our lives,
But by our betters' actions? O, if thou knew'st
What 'twere to lose it, thou would never keep it!
But there's a cold curse laid upon all maids,
Whilst others clip the sun, they clasp the shades.
Virginity is paradise locked up.
You cannot come by yourselves without fee;
And 'twas decreed that man should keep the key!
Deny advancement! treasure! the duke's son!
Cas. I cry you mercy! lady, I mistook you!
Pray did you see my mother? which way went you?
Pray God, I have not lost her.
Ven. Prettily put by! [Aside.
Gra. Are you as proud to me, as coy to him?
Do you not know me now?
Cas. Why, are you she?
The world's so changed one shape into another,
It is a wise child now that knows her mother.
Ven. Most right i' faith. [Aside.
Gra. I owe your cheek my hand
For that presumption now; but I'll forget it.
Come, you shall leave those childish 'haviours,
And understand your time. Fortunes flow to you;
What, will you be a girl?
If all feared drowning that spy waves ashore,
Gold would grow rich, and all the merchants poor.
Cas. It is a pretty saying of a wicked one;
But methinks now it does not show so well
Out of your mouth—better in his!
Ven. Faith, bad enough in both,
Were I in earnest, as I'll seem no less. [Aside.
I wonder, lady, your own mother's words
Cannot be taken, nor stand in full force.
'Tis honesty you urge; what's honesty?
'Tis but Heaven's beggar; and what woman is
So foolish to keep honesty,
And be not able to keep herself? No,
Times are grown wiser, and will keep less charge.
A maid that has small portion now intends
To break up house, and live upon her friends;
How blessed are you! you have happiness alone;
Others must fall to thousands, you to one,
Sufficient in himself to make your forehead
Dazzle the world with jewels, and petitionary people
Start at your presence.
Gra. O, if I were young, I should be ravished.
Cas. Ay, to lose your honour!
Ven. 'Slid, how can you lose your honour
To deal with my lord's grace?
He'll add more honour to it by his title;
Your mother will tell you how.
Gra. That I will.
Ven. O, think upon the pleasure of the palace!
Secured ease and state! the stirring meats,
Ready to move out of the dishes, that e'en now
Quicken when they are eaten!
Banquets abroad by torchlight! music! sports!
Bareheaded vassals, that had ne'er the fortune
To keep on their own hats, but let horns wear 'em!
Nine coaches waiting—hurry, hurry, hurry—
Cas. Ay, to the devil,
Ven. Ay, to the devil! [Aside.] To the duke, by my faith.
Gra. Ay, to the duke: daughter, you'd scorn to think o' the devil, an
you were there once.
Ven. True, for most there are as proud as he for his heart, i' faith.
Who'd sit at home in a neglected room,
Dealing her short-lived beauty to the pictures,
That are as useless as old men, when those
Poorer in face and fortune than herself
Walk with a hundred acres on their backs,
Fair meadows cut into green foreparts? O,
It was the greatest blessing ever happened to woman
When farmers' sons agreed and met again,
To wash their hands, and come up gentlemen!
The commonwealth has flourished ever since:
Lands that were mete by the rod, that labour's spared:
Tailors ride down, and measure 'em by the yard.
Fair trees, those comely foretops of the field,
Are cut to maintain head-tires—much untold.
All thrives but chastity; she lies a-cold.
Nay, shall I come nearer to you? mark but this:
Why are there so few honest women, but because 'tis the poorer profession?
that's accounted best that's best followed; least in trade, least in fashion;
and that's not honesty, believe it; and do but note the love and dejected
of it—
Lose but a pearl, we search, and cannot brook it:
But that once gone, who is so mad to look it?
Gra. Troth, he says true.
Cas. False! I defy you both:
I have endured you with an ear of fire;
Your tongues have struck hot irons on my face.
Mother, come from that poisonous woman there.
Gra. Where?
Cas. Do you not see her? she's too inward, then!
Slave, perish in thy office! you Heavens, please
Henceforth to make the mother a disease,
Which first begins with me: yet I've outgone you.
Ven. O angels, clap your wings upon the skies,
And give this virgin crystal plaudites! [Aside.
Gra. Peevish, coy, foolish!—but return this answer,
My lord shall be most welcome, when his pleasure
Conducts him this way. I will sway mine own.
Women with women can work best alone. [Exit.
Ven. Indeed, I'll tell him so.
O, more uncivil, more unnatural,
Than those base-titled creatures that look downward;
Why does not Heaven turn black, or with a frown
Undo the world? Why does not earth start up,
And strike the sins that tread upon't? O,
Were't not for gold and women, there would be no damnation.
Hell would look like a lord's great kitchen without fire in't.
But 'twas decreed, before the world began,
That they should be the hooks to catch at man.

SCENE II.—An Apartment in the DUKE'S Palace.


Lus. I much applaud
Thy judgment; thou art well-read in a fellow;
And 'tis the deepest art to study man.
I know this, which I never learnt in schools,
The world's divided into knaves and fools.
Hip. Knave in your face, my lord—behind your back—
Lus. And I much thank thee, that thou hast preferred
A fellow of discourse, well-mingled,
And whose brain time hath seasoned.
Hip. True, my lord,
We shall find season once, I hope. O villain!
To make such an unnatural slave of me—but—
Lus. Mass, here he comes.
Hip. And now shall I have free leave to depart.
Lus. Your absence, leave us.
Hip. Are not my thoughts true? [Aside.
I must remove; but, brother, you may stay.
Heart! we are both made bawds a new-found way!

Enter VENDICE, disguised.

Lus. Now we're an even number, a third man's dangerous,
Especially her brother;—say, be free,
Have I a pleasure toward—
Ven. O my lord!
Lus. Ravish me in thine answer; art thou rare?
Hast thou beguiled her of salvation,
And rubbed hell o'er with honey? Is she a woman?
Ven. In all but in desire.
Lus. Then she's in nothing—I bate in courage now.
Ven. The words I brought
Might well have made indifferent honest naught.
A right good woman in these days is changed
Into white money with less labour far;
Many a maid has turned to Mahomet
With easier working: I durst undertake,
Upon the pawn and forfeit of my life,
With half those words to flat a Puritan's wife.
But she is close and good; yet 'tis a doubt
By this time.—O, the mother, the mother
Lus. I never thought their sex had been a wonder,
Until this minute. What fruit from the mother?
Ven. How must I blister my soul, be forsworn,
Or shame the woman that received me first!
I will be true: thou liv'st not to proclaim.
Spoke to a dying man, shame has no shame. [Aside.
My lord.
Lus. Who's that?
Ven. Here's none but I, my lord.
Lus. What would thy haste utter?
Ven. Comfort.
Lus. Welcome.
Ven. The maid being dull, having no mind to travel
Into unknown lands, what did I straight,
But set spurs to the mother? golden spurs
Will put her to a false gallop in a trice.
Lus. Is't possible that in this
The mother should be damned before the daughter?
Ven. O, that's good manners, my lord; the mother for her age must go
foremost, you know.
Lus. Thou'st spoke that true! but where comes in this comfort?
Ven. In a fine place, my lord,—the unnatural mother
Did with her tongue so hard beset her honour,
That the poor fool was struck to silent wonder;
Yet still the maid, like an unlighted taper,
Was cold and chaste, save that her mother's breath
Did blow fire on her cheeks. The girl departed;
But the good ancient madam, half mad, throw me
These promising words, which I took deeply note of:
"My lord shall be most welcome"—
Lus. Faith, I thank her.
Ven. "When his pleasure conducts him this way"—
Lus. That shall be soon, i' faith.
Ven. "I will sway mine own"—
Lus. She does the wiser: I commend her for't.
Ven. "Women with women can work best alone."
Lus. By this light, and so they can; give 'em their due, men are not
comparable to 'em.
Ven. No, that's true; for you shall have one woman knit more in an
hour, than any man can ravel again in seven-and-twenty years.
Lus. Now my desires are happy; I'll make 'em freemen now.
Thou art a precious fellow; faith, I love thee;
Be wise and make it thy revenue; beg, beg;
What office couldst thou be ambitious for?
Ven. Office, my lord! marry, if I might have my wish, I would have
that was never begged yet.
Lus. Nay, then, thou canst have none.
Ven. Yes, my lord, I could pick out another office yet; nay, and
keep a
horse and drab upon't.
Lus. Prythee, good bluntness, tell me.
Ven. Why, I would desire but this, my lord—to have all the fees
behind the arras, and all the farthingales that fall plump about twelve
at night upon the rushes.
Lus. Thou'rt a mad, apprehensive knave; dost think to make any great
purchase of that?
Ven. O, 'tis an unknown thing, my lord; I wonder't has been missed so
Lus. Well, this night I'll visit her, and 'tis till then
A year in my desires—farewell, attend:
Trust me with thy preferment.
Ven. My loved lord! [Exit LUSSURIOSO.
O, shall I kill him o' th' wrong side now? no!
Sword, thou wast never a backbiter yet.
I'll pierce him to his face; he shall die looking upon me.
Thy veins are swelled with lust, this shall unfill 'em.
Great men were gods, if beggars could not kill 'em.
Forgive me, Heaven, to call my mother wicked!
O, lessen not my days upon the earth,
I cannot honour her. By this, I fear me,
Her tongue has turned my sister unto use.
I was a villain not to be forsworn
To this our lecherous hope, the duke's son;
For lawyers, merchants, some divines, and all,
Count beneficial perjury a sin small.
It shall go hard yet, but I'll guard her honour,
And keep the ports sure. [Exit.

SCENE III.—A Corridor in the Palace.

Enter. VENDICE, still disguised, and HIPPOLITO.

Hip. Brother, how goes the world? I would know news of you.
But I have news to tell you.
Ven. What, in the name of knavery?
Hip. Knavery, faith;
This vicious old duke's worthily abused;
The pen of his bastard writes him cuckold?
Ven. His bastard?
Hip. Pray, believe it; he and the duchess
By night meet in their linen; they have been seen
By stair-foot panders.
Ven. O, sin foul and deep!
Great faults are winked at when the duke's asleep.
See, see, here comes the Spurio.
Hip. Monstrous luxur!
Ven. Unbraced! two of his valiant bawds with him!
O, there's a wicked whisper; hell's in his ear.
Stay, let's observe his passage—

Enter SPURIO and Servants.

Spu. O, but are you sure on't?
1st Ser. My lord, most sure on't; for 'twas spoke by one,
That is most inward with the duke's son's lust,
That he intends within this hour to steal
Unto Hippolito's sister, whose chaste life
The mother has corrupted for his use.
Spu. Sweet word! sweet occasion! faith, then, brother,
I'll disinherit you in as short time
As I was when I was begot in haste.
I'll damn you at your pleasure: precious deed!
After your lust, O, 'twill be fine to bleed.
Come, let our passing out be soft and wary.
[Exeunt SPURIO and Servants.
Ven. Mark! there; there; that step; now to the duchess!
This their second meeting writes the duke cuckold
With new additions—his horns newly revived.
Night! thou that look'st like funeral heralds' fees,
Torn down betimes i' the morning, thou hang'st fitly
To grace those sins that have no grace at all.
Now 'tis full sea abed over the world:
There's juggling of all sides; some that were maids
E'en at sunset, are now perhaps i' the toll-book.
This woman in immodest thin apparel
Lets in her friend by water; here a dame
Cunning nails leather hinges to a door,
To avoid proclamation.
Now cuckolds are coining, apace, apace, apace, apace!
And careful sisters spin that thread i' the night,
That does maintain them and their bawds i' the day.
Hip. You flow well, brother.
Ven. Pooh! I'm shallow yet;
Too sparing and too modest; shall I tell thee?
If every trick were told that's dealt by night,
There are few here that would not blush outright.
Hip. I am of that belief too. Who's this comes?
Ven. The duke's son up so late? Brother, fall back,
And you shall learn some mischief. My good lord!


Lus. Piato! why, the man I wished for! Come,
I do embrace this season for the fittest
To taste of that young lady.
Ven. Heart and hell. [Aside.
Hip. Damned villain! [Aside.
Ven. I have no way now to cross it, but to kill him. [Aside.
Lus. Come, only thou and I.
Ven. My lord! my lord!
Lus. Why dost thou start us?
Ven. I'd almost forgot—the bastard!
Lus. What of him?
Ven. This night, this hour, this minute, now—
Lus. What? what?
Ven. Shadows the duchess—
Lus. Horrible word!
Ven. And (like strong poison) eats
Into the duke your father's forehead.
Lus. O!
Ven. He makes horn-royal.
Lus. Most ignoble slave!
Ven. This is the fruit of two beds.
Lus. I am mad.
Ven. That passage he trod warily.
Lus. He did?
Ven. And hushed his villains every step he took.
Lus. His villains! I'll confound them.
Ven. Take 'em finely—finely, now.
Lus. The duchess' chamber-door shall not control me. [Exeunt
Hip. Good, happy, swift: there's gunpowder i' the court,
Wildfire at midnight. In this heedless fury
He may show violence to cross himself.
I'll follow the event. [Exit.

SCENE IV.—The DUKE'S Bedchamber.—The DUKE and DUCHESS

Enter LUSSURIOSO and VENDICE, disguised.

Lus. Where is that villain?
Ven. Softly, my lord, and you may take 'em twisted.
Lus. I care not how.
Ven. O! 'twill be glorious
To kill 'em doubled, when they're heaped. Be soft, my lord.
Lus. Away! my spleen is not so lazy: thus and thus
I'll shake their eyelids ope, and with my sword
Shut 'em again for ever. Villain! strumpet!
Duke. You upper guard, defend us!
Duch. Treason! treason!
Duke. O, take me not in sleep!
I have great sins; I must have days,
Nay, months, dear son, with penitential heaves,
To lift 'em out, and not to die unclear.
O, thou wilt kill me both in Heaven and here.
Lus. I am amazed to death.
Duke. Nay, villain, traitor,
Worse than the foulest epithet; now I'll gripe thee
E'en with the nerves of wrath, and throw thy head
Amongst the lawyers!—guard!


1st Lord. How comes the quiet of your grace disturbed?
Duke. This boy, that should be myself after me,
Would be myself before me; and in heat
Of that ambition bloodily rushed in,
Intending to depose me in my bed.
2nd Lord. Duty and natural loyalty forfend!
Duch. He called his father villain, and me strumpet,
A word that I abhor to file my lips with.
Amb. That was not so well-done, brother.
Lus. I am abused—I know there's no excuse can do me good.
Ven. 'Tis now good policy to be from sight;
His vicious purpose to our sister's honour
I crossed beyond our thought. [Aside.
Hip. You little dreamt his father slept here.
Ven. O, 'twas far beyond me:
But since it fell so—without frightful words,
Would he had killed him, 'twould have eased our swords.
Duke. Be comforted, our duchess, he shall die.
Lus. Where's this slave-pander now? out of mine eye,
Guilty of this abuse.

Enter SPURIO with Servants.

Spu. Y' are villains, fablers!
You have knaves' chins and harlots' tongues; you lie;
And I will damn you with one meal a day.
1st Ser. O good my lord!
Spu. 'Sblood, you shall never sup.
2nd Ser. O, I beseech you, sir!
Spu. To let my sword catch cold so long, and miss him!
1st Ser. Troth, my lord, 'twas his intent to meet there.
Spu. 'Heart! he's yonder.
Ha, what news here? is the day out o' the socket,
That it is noon at midnight? the court up?
How comes the guard so saucy with his elbows?
Lus. The bastard here?
Nay, then the truth of my intent shall out;
My lord and father, hear me.
Duke. Bear him hence.
Lus. I can with loyalty excuse.
Duke. Excuse? to prison with the villain!
Death shall not long lag after him.
Spu. Good, i' faith: then 'tis not much amiss.
Lus. Brothers, my best release lies on your tongues;
I pray, persuade for me.
Amb. It is our duties; make yourself sure of us.
Sup. We'll sweat in pleading.
Lus. And I may live to thank you.
[Exit with Lords.
Amb. No, thy death shall thank me better.
Spu. He's gone; I'll after him,
And know his trespass; seem to bear a part
In all his ills, but with a puritan heart.
[Exit with Servants.
Amb. Now, brother, let our hate and love be woven
So subtley together, that in speaking one word for his life,
We may make three for his death:
The craftiest pleader gets most gold for breath.
Sup. Set on, I'll not be far behind you, brother.
Duke. Is't possible a son should be disobedient as far as the sword?
is the highest: he can go no farther.
Amb. My gracious lord, take pity—
Duke. Pity, boys!
Amb. Nay, we'd be loth to move your grace too much;
We know the trespass is unpardonable,
Black, wicked, and unnatural.
Sup. In a son! O, monstrous!
Amb. Yet, my lord,
A duke's soft hand strokes the rough head of law,
And makes it lie smooth.
Duke. But my hand shall ne'er do't.
Amb. That as you please, my lord.
Sup. We must needs confess.
Some fathers would have entered into hate
So deadly-pointed, that before his eyes
He would ha' seen the execution sound
Without corrupted favour.
Amb. But, my lord,
Your grace may live the wonder of all times,
In pardoning that offence, which never yet
Had face to beg a pardon.
Duke. Hunny, how's this?
Amb. Forgive him, good my lord; he's your own son:
And I must needs say, 'twas the viler done.
Sup. He's the next heir: yet this true reason gathers,
None can possess that dispossess their fathers.
Be merciful!—
Duke. Here's no step-mother's wit;
I'll try them both upon their love and hate. [Aside.
Amb. Be merciful—although—
Duke. You have prevailed.
My wrath, like flaming wax, hath spent itself;
I know 'twas but some peevish moon in him;
Go, let him be released.
Sup. 'Sfoot, how now, brother? [Aside.
Amb. Your grace doth please to speak beside your spleen;
I would it were so happy.
Duke. Why, go, release him.
Sup. O my good lord! I know the fault's too weighty
And full of general loathing: too inhuman,
Rather by all men's voices worthy death.
Duke. 'Tis true too; here, then, receive this signet.
Doom shall pass;
Direct it to the judges; he shall die
Ere many days. Make haste.
Amb. All speed that may be.
We could have wished his burden not so sore:
We knew your grace did but delay before.
Duke. Here's envy with a poor thin cover o'er't;
Like scarlet hid in lawn, easily spied through.
This their ambition by the mother's side
Is dangerous, and for safety must be purged.
I will prevent their envies; sure it was
But some mistaken fury in our son,
Which these aspiring boys would climb upon:
He shall be released suddenly.

Enter Nobles.

1st Noble. Good morning to your grace.
Duke. Welcome, my lords.
2nd Noble. Our knees shall take
Away the office of our feet for ever,
Unless your grace bestow a father's eye
Upon the clouded fortunes of your son,
And in compassionate virtue grant him that,
Which makes e'en mean men happy—liberty.
Duke. How seriously their loves and honours woo
For that which I am about to pray them do!
Arise, my lords; your knees sign his release.
We freely pardon him.
1st Noble. We owe your grace much thanks, and he much duty.
Duke. It well becomes that judge to nod at crimes,
That does commit greater himself, and lives.
I may forgive a disobedient error,
That expect pardon for adultery,
And in my old days am a youth in lust.
Many a beauty have I turned to poison
In the denial, covetous of all.
Age hot is like a monster to be seen;
My hairs are white, and yet my sins are green.


SCENE I.—A Room in the Palace.


SUP. Brother, let my opinion sway you once;
I speak it for the best, to have him die
Surest and soonest; if the signet come
Unto the judge's hand, why then his doom
Will be deferred till sittings and court-days,
Juries, and further. Faiths are bought and sold;
Oaths in these days are but the skin of gold.
Amb. In troth, 'tis true too.
Sup. Then let's set by the judges,
And fall to the officers; 'tis but mistaking
The duke our father's meaning; and where he named
"Ere many days"—'tis but forgetting that,
And have him die i' the morning.
Amb. Excellent!
Then am I heir! duke in a minute!
Sup. [Aside.] Nay,
An he were once puffed out, here is a pin
Should quickly prick your bladder.
Amb. Blessed occasion!
He being packed, we'll have some trick and wile
To wind our younger brother out of prison,
That lies in for the rape. The lady's dead,
And people's thoughts will soon be burièd.
Sup. We may with safety do't, and live and feed;
The duchess' sons are too proud to bleed.
Amb. We are, i' faith, to say true—come, let's not linger:
I'll to the officers; go you before,
And set an edge upon the executioner.
Sup. Let me alone to grind. [Exit.
Amb. Meet farewell!
I am next now; I rise just in that place,
Where thou'rt cut off; upon thy neck, kind brother;
The falling of one head lifts up another. [Exit.

SCENE II.—The Courtyard of a Prison.

Enter LUSSURIOSO with Nobles.

Lus. My lords, I am so much indebted to your loves
For this, O, this delivery—
1st Noble Put our duties, my lord, unto the hopes that grow in you.
Lus. If e'er I live to be myself, I'll thank you.
O liberty, thou sweet and heavenly dame!
But hell for prison is too mild a name. [Exeunt.

Enter AMBITIOSO and SUPERVACUO, with Officers.

Amb. Officers, here's the duke's signet, your firm warrant,
Brings the command of present death along with it
Unto our brother, the duke's son; we are sorry
That we are so unnaturally employed
In such an unkind office, fitter far
For enemies than brothers.
Sup. But, you know,
The duke's command must be obeyed.
1st Off. It must and shall, my lord. This morning, then—
So suddenly?
Amb. Ay, alas! poor, good soul!
He must breakfast betimes; the executioner
Stands ready to put forth his cowardly valour.
2nd Off. Already?
Sup. Already, i' faith. O sir, destruction hies,
And that is least imprudent, soonest dies.
1st Off. Troth, you say true. My lord, we take our leaves:
Our office shall be sound; we'll not delay
The third part of a minute.
Amb. Therein you show
Yourselves good men and upright. Officers,
Pray, let him die as private as he may;
Do him that favour; for the gaping people
Will but trouble him at his prayers,
And make him curse and swear, and so die black.
Will you be so far kind?
1st Off. It shall be done, my lord.
Amb. Why, we do thank you; if we live to be—
You shall have a better office.
2nd Off. Your good lordship—
Sup. Commend us to the scaffold in our tears.
1st Off. We'll weep, and do your commendations.
Amb. Fine fools in office! [Exeunt Officers.
Sup. Things fall out so fit!
Amb. So happily! come, brother! ere next clock,
His head will be made serve a bigger block. [Exeunt.

SCENE III.—Inside a Prison.

Enter the DUCHESS' Youngest Son and Keeper.

Y. Son. Keeper!
Keep. My lord.
Y. Son. No news lately from our brothers?
Are they unmindful of us?
Keep. My lord, a messenger came newly in,
And brought this from 'em.
Y. Son. Nothing but paper-comforts?
I looked for my delivery before this,
Had they been worth their oaths.—Prythee, be from us. [Exit Keeper.
Now what say you, forsooth? speak out, I pray.
[Reads the letter.] "Brother, be of good cheer";
'Slud, it begins like a whore with good cheer.
"Thou shalt not be long a prisoner."
Not six-and-thirty years, like a bankrupt—I think so.
"We have thought upon a device to get thee out by a trick."
By a trick! pox o' your trick, an' it be so long a playing.
"And so rest comforted, be merry, and expect it suddenly!"
Be merry! hang, merry, draw and quarter merry; I'll be mad. Is't not strange
that a man should lie-in a whole month for a woman? Well, we shall see how
sudden our brothers will be in their promise. I must expect still a trick: I
shall not be long a prisoner. How now, what news?

Re-enter Keeper.

Keep. Bad news, my lord; I am discharged of you.
Y. Son. Slave! call'st thou that bad news? I thank you, brothers.
Keep. My lord, 'twill prove so. Here come the officers,
Into whose hands I must commit you.
Y. Son. Ha, officers! what? why?

Enter Officers.

1st Off. You must pardon us, my lord:
Our office must be sound: here is our warrant,
The signet from the duke; you must straight suffer.
Y. Son. Suffer! I'll suffer you to begone; I'll suffer you
To come no more; what would you have me suffer?
2nd Off. My lord, those words were better changed to prayers.
The time's but brief with you: prepare to die.
Y. Son. Sure, 'tis not so!
3rd Off. It is too true, my lord.
Y. Son. I tell you 'tis not; for the duke my father
Deferred me till next sitting; and I look,
E'en every minute, threescore times an hour,
For a release, a trick wrought by my brothers.
1st Off. A trick, my lord! if you expect such comfort,
Your hope's as fruitless as a barren woman:
Your brothers were the unhappy messengers
That brought this powerful token for your death.
Y. Son. My brothers? no, no.
2nd Off. 'Tis most true, my lord.
Y. Son. My brothers to bring a warrant for my death!
How strange this shows!
3rd Off. There's no delaying time.
Y. Son. Desire 'em hither: call 'em up—my brothers!
They shall deny it to your faces.
1st Off. My lord,
They're far enough by this; at least at court;
And this most strict command they left behind 'em.
When grief swam in their eyes, they showed like brothers,
Brimful of heavy sorrow—but the duke
"Must have his pleasure."
Y. Son. His pleasure!
1st Off. These were the last words, which my memory bears,
"Commend us to the scaffold in our tears."
Y. Son. Pox dry their tears! what should I do with tears?
I hate 'em worse than any citizen's son
Can hate salt water. Here came a letter now,
New bleeding from their pens, scarce stinted yet:
Would I'd been torn in pieces when I tore it:
Look, you officious whoresons, words of comfort,
"Not long a prisoner."
1st Off. It says true in that, sir; for you must suffer presently.
Y. Son. A villainous Duns upon the letter, knavish exposition!
Look you then here, sir: "we'll get thee out by a trick," says he.
2nd Off. That may hold too, sir; for you know a trick is commonly
cards, which was meant by us four officers.
Y. Son. Worse and worse dealing.
1st Off. The hour beckons us.
The headsman waits: lift up your eyes to Heaven.
Y. Son. I thank you, faith; good pretty wholesome counsel!
I should look up to Heaven, as you said,
Whilst he behind me cosens me of my head.
Ay, that's the trick.
3rd Off. You delay too long, my lord.
Y. Son. Stay, good authority's bastards; since I must,
Through brothers' perjury, die, O, let me venom
Their souls with curses.
3rd Off. Come, 'tis no time to curse.
Y. Son. Must I bleed then without respect of sign? well—
My fault was sweet sport which the world approves,
I die for that which every woman loves. [Exeunt.

SCENE IV.—A Lodge in the Ducal Grounds.

Enter VENDICE, disguised, and HIPPOLITO.

Ven. O, sweet, delectable, rare, happy, ravishing!
Hip. Why, what's the matter, brother?
Ven. O, 'tis able to make a man spring up and knock his forehead
Against yon silver ceiling.
Hip. Prythee, tell me;
Why may not I partake with you? you vowed once
To give me share to every tragic thought.
Ven. By the mass, I think I did too;
Then I'll divide it to thee. The old duke,
Thinking my outward shape and inward heart
Are cut out of one piece (for he that prates his secrets,
His heart stands o' the outside), hires me by price
To greet him with a lady
In some fit place, veiled from the eyes o' the court,
Some darkened, blushless angle, that is guilty
Of his forefather's lust and great folks' riots;
To which I easily (to maintain my shape)
Consented, and did wish his impudent grace
To meet her here in this unsunnèd lodge,
Wherein 'tis night at noon; and here the rather
Because, unto the torturing of his soul,
The bastard and the duchess have appointed
Their meeting too in this luxurious circle;
Which most afflicting sight will kill his eyes,
Before we kill the rest of him.
Hip. 'Twill, i' faith! Most dreadfully digested!
I see not how you could have missed me, brother.
Ven. True; but the violence of my joy forgot it.
Hip. Ay, but where's that lady now?
Ven. O! at that word
I'm lost again; you cannot find me yet:
I'm in a throng of happy apprehensions.
He's suited for a lady; I have took care
For a delicious lip, a sparkling eye—
You shall be witness, brother:
Be ready; stand with your hat off. [Exit.
Hip. Troth, I wonder what lady it should be!
Yet 'tis no wonder, now I think again,
To have a lady stoop to a duke, that stoops unto his men.
'Tis common to be common through the world:
And there's more private common shadowing vices,
Than those who are known both by their names and prices.
'Tis part of my allegiance to stand bare
To the duke's concubine; and here she comes.

Re-enter VENDICE, with the skull of his Betrothed dressed up in

Ven. Madam, his grace will not be absent long.
Secret! ne'er doubt us, madam; 'twill be worth
Three velvet gowns to your ladyship. Known!
Few ladies respect that disgrace: a poor thin shell!
'Tis the best grace you have to do it well.
I'll save your hand that labour: I'll unmask you!
Hip. Why, brother, brother!
Ven. Art thou beguiled now? tut, a lady can,
As such all hid, beguile a wiser man.
Have I not fitted the old surfeiter
With a quaint piece of beauty? Age and bare bone
Are e'er allied in action. Here's an eye,
Able to tempt a great man—to serve God:
A pretty hanging lip, that has forgot now to dissemble.
Methinks this mouth should make a swearer tremble;
A drunkard clasp his teeth, and not undo 'em,
To suffer wet damnation to run through 'em.
Here's a cheek keeps her colour, let the wind go whistle:
Spout, rain, we fear thee not: be hot or cold,
All's one with us; and is not he absurd,
Whose fortunes are upon their faces set,
That fear no other god but wind and wet?
Hip. Brother, you've spoke that right:
Is this the form that, living, shone so bright?
Ven. The very same.
And now methinks I could e'en chide myself
For doating on her beauty, though her death
Shall be revenged after no common action.
Does the silkworm expend her yellow labours
For thee? For thee does she undo herself?
Are lordships sold to maintain ladyships,
For the poor benefit of a bewildering minute?
Why does yon fellow falsify highways,
And put his life between the judge's lips,
To refine such a thing—keeps horse and men
To beat their valours for her?
Surely we are all mad people, and they
Whom we think are, are not: we mistake those;
'Tis we are mad in sense, they but in clothes.
Hip. Faith, and in clothes too we, give us our due.
Ven. Does every proud and self-affecting dame
Camphire her face for this, and grieve her Maker
In sinful baths of milk, when many an infant starves
For her superfluous outside—all for this?
Who now bids twenty pounds a night? prepares
Music, perfumes, and sweetmeats? All are hushed.
Thou may'st lie chaste now! it were fine, methinks,
To have thee seen at revels, forgetful feasts,
And unclean brothels! sure, 'twould fright the sinner,
And make him a good coward: put a reveller
Out of his antic amble,
And cloy an epicure with empty dishes.
Here might a scornful and ambitious woman
Look through and through herself. See, ladies, with false forms
You deceive men, but cannot deceive worms.—
Now to my tragic business. Look you, brother,
I have not fashioned this only for show
And useless property; no, it shall bear a part
E'en in its own revenge. This very skull,
Whose mistress the duke poisoned, with this drug,
The mortal curse of the earth, shall be revenged
In the like strain, and kiss his lips to death.
As much as the dumb thing can, he shall feel:
What fails in poison, we'll supply in steel.
Hip. Brother, I do applaud thy constant vengeance—
The quaintness of thy malice—above thought.
Ven. So, 'tis laid on [He poisons the lips of the skull]:
now come
and welcome, duke,
I have her for thee. I protest it, brother,
Methinks she makes almost as fair a fine,
As some old gentlewoman in a periwig.
Hide thy face now for shame; thou hadst need have a mask now:
'Tis vain when beauty flows; but when it fleets,
This would become graves better than the streets.
Hip. You have my voice in that: hark, the duke's come.
Ven. Peace, let's observe what company he brings,
And how he does absent 'em; for you know
He'll wish all private. Brother, fall you back a little
With the bony lady.
Hip. That I will. [Retires.
Ven. So, so; now nine years' vengeance crowd into a minute!

Enter DUKE and Gentlemen.

Duke. You shall have leave to leave us, with this charge
Upon your lives, if we be missed by the duchess
Or any of the nobles, to give out,
We're privately rid forth.
Ven. O happiness!
Duke. With some few honourable gentlemen, you may say—
You may name those that are away from court.
Gen. Your will and pleasure shall be done, my lord. [Exeunt
Ven. "Privately rid forth!"
He strives to make sure work on't. Your good grace! [Advances.
Duke. Piato, well done, hast brought her! what lady is't?
Ven. Faith, my lord, a country lady, a little bashful at
first, as most
of them are; but after the first kiss, my lord, the worst is past with them.
Your grace knows now what you have to do; she has somewhat a grave look with
Duke. I love that best; conduct her.
Ven. Have at all. [Aside.
Duke. In gravest looks the greatest faults seem less.
Give me that sin that's robed in holiness.
Ven. Back with the torch! brother, raise the perfumes. [Aside.
Duke. How sweet can a duke breathe! Age has no fault.
Pleasure should meet in a perfumèd mist.
Lady, sweetly encountered: I came from court,
I must be bold with you. O, what's this? O!
Ven. Royal villain! white devil!
Duke. O!
Ven. Brother, place the torch here, that his affrighted eyeballs
May start into those hollows. Duke, dost know
Yon dreadful vizard? View it well; 'tis the skull
Of Gloriana, whom thou poisonedst last.
Duke. O! 't has poisoned me.
Ven. Didst not know that till now?
Duke. What are you two?
Ven. Villains all three! the very ragged bone
Has been sufficiently revenged.
Duke. O, Hippolito, call treason! [He sinks down.
Hip. Yes, my lord; treason! treason! treason!
[Stamping on him.
Duke. Then I'm betrayed.
Ven. Alas! poor lecher: in the hands of knaves,
A slavish duke is baser than his slaves.
Duke. My teeth are eaten out.
Ven. Hadst any left?
Hip. I think but few.
Ven. Then those that did eat are eaten.
Duke. O my tongue!
Ven. Your tongue? 'twill teach you to kiss closer,
Not like a slobbering Dutchman. You have eyes still:
Look, monster, what a lady hast thou made me
[Discovers himself.
My once betrothèd wife.
Duke. Is it thou, villain? nay, then—
Ven. 'Tis I, 'tis Vendice, 'tis I.
Hip. And let this comfort thee: our lord and father
Fell sick upon the infection of thy frowns,
And died in sadness: be that thy hope of life.
Duke. O!
Ven. He had his tongue, yet grief made him die speechless.
Pooh! 'tis but early yet; now I'll begin
To stick thy soul with ulcers. I will make
Thy spirit grievous sore; it shall not rest,
But like some pestilent man toss in thy breast. Mark me, duke:
Thou art a renownèd, high and mighty cuckold.
Duke. O!
Ven. Thy bastard, thy bastard rides a-hunting in thy brow.
Duke. Millions of deaths!
Ven. Nay, to afflict thee more,
Here in this lodge they meet for damnèd clips.
Those eyes shall see the incest of their lips.
Duke. Is there a hell besides this, villains?
Ven. Villain!
Nay, Heaven is just; scorns are the hire of scorns:
I ne'er knew yet adulterer without horns.
Hip. Once, ere they die, 'tis quitted.
Ven. Hark! the music:
Their banquet is prepared, they're coming—
Duke. O, kill me not with that sight!
Ven. Thou shalt not lose that sight for all thy dukedom.
Duke. Traitors! murderers!
Ven. What! is not thy tongue eaten out yet?
Then we'll invent a silence. Brother, stifle the torch.
Duke. Treason! murder!
Ven. Nay, faith, we'll have you hushed. Now with thy dagger
Nail down his tongue, and mine shall keep possession
About his heart; if he but gasp, he dies;
We dread not death to quittance injuries.
Brother, if he but wink, not brooking the foul object,
Let our two other hands tear up his lids,
And make his eyes like comets shine through blood.
When the bad bleeds, then is the tragedy good.
Hip. Whist, brother! the music's at our ear; they come.

Enter SPURIO, meeting the DUCHESS.

Spu. Had not that kiss a taste of sin, 'twere sweet.
Duch. Why, there's no pleasure sweet, but it is sinful.
Spu. True, such a bitter sweetness fate hath given;
Best side to us is the worst side to Heaven.
Duch. Pish! come: 'tis the old duke, the doubtful father:
The thought of him rubs Heaven in thy way.
But I protest by yonder waxen fire,
Forget him, or I'll poison him.
Spu. Madam, you urge a thought which ne'er had life.
So deadly do I loathe him for my birth,
That if he took me hasped within his bed,
I would add murder to adultery,
And with my sword give up his years to death.
Duch. Why, now thou'rt sociable; lets in and feast:
Loud'st music sound; pleasure is banquet's guest.
Duke. I cannot brook— [Dies.
Ven. The brook is turned to blood.
Hip. Thanks to loud music.
Ven. 'Twas our friend, indeed.
'Tis state in music for a duke to bleed.
The dukedom wants a head, though yet unknown;
As fast as they peep up, let's cut 'em down. [Exeunt.

SCENE V.—A Room in the Palace.


Amb. Was not his execution rarely plotted?
We are the duke's sons now.
Sup. Ay, you may thank my policy for that.
Amb. Your policy for what?
Sup. Why, was't not my invention, brother,
To slip the judges? and in lesser compass
Did I not draw the model of his death;
Advising you to sudden officers
And e'en extemporal execution?
Amb. Heart! 'twas a thing I thought on too.
Sup. You thought on't too! 'sfoot, slander not your thoughts
With glorious untruth; I know 'twas from you.
Amb. Sir, I say, 'twas in my head.
Sup. Ay, like your brains then,
Ne'er to come out as long as you lived.
Amb. You'd have the honour on't, forsooth, that your wit
Led him to the scaffold.
Sup. Since it is my due,
I'll publish't, but I'll ha't in spite of you.
Amb. Methinks, y'are much too bold; you should a little
Remember us, brother, next to be honest duke.
Sup. Ay, it shall be as easy for you to be duke
As to be honest; and that's never, i' faith. [Aside.
Amb. Well, cold he is by this time; and because
We're both ambitious, be it our amity,
And let the glory be shared equally.
Sup. I am content to that.
Amb. This night our younger brother shall out of prison:
I have a trick.
Sup. A trick! prythee, what is't?
Amb. We'll get him out by a wile.
Sup. Prythee, what wile?
Amb. No, sir; you shall not know it, till it be done;
For then you'd swear 'twere yours.

Enter an Officer.

Sup. How now, what's he?
Amb. One of the officers.
Sup. Desired news.
Amb. How now, my friend?
Off. My lords, under your pardon, I am allotted
To that desertless office, to present you
With the yet bleeding head—
Sup. Ha, ha! excellent.
Amb. All's sure our own: brother, canst weep, think'st thou?
'Twould grace our flattery much; think of some dame;
'Twill teach thee to dissemble.
Sup. I have thought;—now for yourself.
Amb. Our sorrows are so fluent,
Our eyes o'erflow our tongues; words spoke in tears
Are like the murmurs of the waters—the sound
Is loudly heard, but cannot be distinguished.
Sup. How died he, pray?
Off. O, full of rage and spleen.
Sup. He died most valiantly, then; we're glad to hear it.
Off. We could not woo him once to pray.
Amb. He showed himself a gentlemen in that:
Give him his due.
Off. But, in the stead of prayer,
He drew forth oaths.
Sup. Then did he pray, dear heart,
Although you understood him not?
Off. My lords,
E'en at his last, with pardon be it spoke,
He cursed you both.
Sup. He cursed us? 'las, good soul!
Amb. It was not in our powers, but the duke's pleasure.
Finely dissembled a both sides, sweet fate;
O happy opportunity! [Aside.


Lus. Now, my lords.
Amb. and Sup. O!—
Lus. Why do you shun me, brothers?
You may come nearer now:
The savour of the prison has forsook me.
I thank such kind lords as yourselves, I'm free.
Amb. Alive!
Sup. In health!
Amb. Released!
We were both e'en amazed with joy to see it.
Lus. I am much to thank to you.
Sup. Faith, we spared no tongue unto my lord the duke.
Amb. I know your delivery, brother,
Had not been half so sudden but for us.
Sup. O, how we pleaded!
Lus. Most deserving brothers!
In my best studies I will think of it. [Exit.
Amb. O death and vengeance!
Sup. Hell and torments!
Amb. Slave, cam'st thou to delude us?
Off. Delude you, my lords?
Sup. Ay, villain, where's his head now?
Off. Why here, my lord;
Just after his delivery, you both came
With warrant from the duke to behead your brother.
Amb. Ay, our brother, the duke's son.
Off. The duke's son, my lord, had his release before you came.
Amb. Whose head's that, then?
Off. His whom you left command for, your own brother's.
Amb. Our brother's? O furies.
Sup. Plagues!
Amb. Confusions!
Sup. Darkness!
Amb. Devils!
Sup. Fell it out so accursedly?
Amb. So damnedly?
Sup. Villain, I'll brain thee with it.
Off. O my good lord!
Sup. The devil overtake thee!
Amb. O fatal!
Sup. O prodigious to our bloods!
Amb. Did we dissemble?
Sup. Did we make our tears women for thee?
Amb. Laugh and rejoice for thee?
Sup. Bring warrant for thy death?
Amb. Mock off thy head?
Sup. You had a trick: you had a wile, forsooth.
Amb. A murrain meet 'em; there's none of these wiles that ever come
good: I see now, there's nothing sure in mortality, but mortality.
Well, no more words: shalt be revenged, i' faith.
Come, throw off clouds; now, brother, think of vengeance,
And deeper-settled hate; sirrah, sit fast,
We'll pull down all, but thou shalt down at last.


SCENE I.—The precincts of the Palace.


LUS. Hippolito!
Hip. My lord,
Has your good lordship aught to command me in?
Lus. I prythee, leave us!
Hip. How's this? come and leave us!
Lus. Hippolito!
Hip. Your honour, I stand ready for any duteous employment.
Lus. Heart! what mak'st thou here?
Hip. A pretty lordly humour!
He bids me be present to depart; something
Has stung his honour.
Lus. Be nearer; draw nearer:
Ye're not so good, methinks; I'm angry with you.
Hip. With me, my lord? I'm angry with myself for't.
Lus. You did prefer a goodly fellow to me:
'Twas wittily elected; 'twas. I thought
He had been a villain, and he proves a knave—
To me a knave.
Hip. I chose him for the best, my lord:
'Tis much my sorrow, if neglect in him
Breed discontent in you.
Lus. Neglect! 'twas will. Judge of it.
Firmly to tell of an incredible act,
Not to be thought, less to be spoken of,
'Twixt my step-mother and the bastard; oh!
Incestuous sweets between 'em.
Hip. Fie, my lord!
Lus. I, in kind loyalty to my father's forehead,
Made this a desperate arm; and in that fury
Committed treason on the lawful bed,
And with my sword e'en rased my father's bosom,
For which I was within a stroke of death.
Hip. Alack! I'm sorry. 'Sfoot, just upon the stroke,
Jars in my brother; 'twill be villainous music.

Enter VENDICE, disguised.

Ven. My honoured lord.
Lus. Away! prythee, forsake us: hereafter we'll not know thee.
Ven. Not know me, my lord! your lordship cannot choose.
Lus. Begone, I say: thou art a false knave.
Ven. Why, the easier to be known, my lord.
Lus. Pish! I shall prove too bitter, with a word
Make thee a perpetual prisoner,
And lay this iron age upon thee.
Ven. Mum!
For there's a doom would make a woman dumb.
Missing the bastard—next him—the wind's come about:
Now 'tis my brother's turn to stay, mine to go out.
[Aside. Exit.
Lus. He has greatly moved me.
Hip. Much to blame, i' faith.
Lus. But I'll recover, to his ruin. 'Twas told me lately,
I know not whether falsely, that you'd a brother.
Hip. Who, I? yes, my good lord, I have a brother.
Lus. How chance the court ne'er saw him? of what nature?
How does he apply his hours?
Hip. Faith, to curse fates
Who, as he thinks, ordained him to be poor—
Keeps at home, full of want and discontent.
Lus. There's hope in him; for discontent and want
Is the best clay to mould a villain of. [Aside.
Hippolito, wish him repair to us:
If there be ought in him to please our blood,
For thy sake we'll advance him, and build fair
His meanest fortunes; for it is in us
To rear up towers from cottages.
Hip. It is so, my lord: he will attend your honour;
But he's a man in whom much melancholy dwells.
Lus. Why, the better; bring him to court.
Hip. With willingness and speed:
Whom he cast off e'en now, must now succeed.
Brother, disguise must off;
In thine own shape now I'll prefer thee to him:
How strangely does himself work to undo him!
[Aside. Exit.
Lus. This fellow will come fitly; he shall kill
That other slave, that did abuse my spleen,
And made it swell to treason. I have put
Much of my heart into him; he must die.
He that knows great men's secrets, and proves slight,
That man ne'er lives to see his beard turn white.
Ay, he shall speed him: I'll employ the brother;
Slaves are but nails to drive out one another.
He being of black condition, suitable
To want and ill-content, hope of preferment
Will grind him to an edge.

Enter Nobles.

1st Noble. Good days unto your honour.
Lus. My kind lords, I do return the like.
2nd Noble. Saw you my lord the duke?
Lus. My lord and father! is he from court?
1st Noble. He's sure from court;
But where—which way his pleasure took, we know not,
Nor can we hear on't.
Lus. Here come those should tell.
Saw you my lord and father?
3rd Noble. Not since two hours before noon, my lord,
And then he privately rode forth.
Lus. O, he's rid forth.
1st Noble. 'Twas wondrous privately.
2nd Noble. There's none i' th' court had any knowledge on't.
Lus. His grace is old and sudden: 'tis no treason
To say the duke, my father, has a humour,
Or such a toy about him; what in us
Would appear light, in him seems virtuous.
3rd Noble. 'Tis oracle, my lord. [Exeunt.

SCENE II.—An Apartment in the Palace.

Enter VENDICE, out of his disguise, and HIPPOLITO.

Hip. So, so, all's as it should be, y'are yourself.
Ven. How that great villain puts me to my shifts!
Hip. He that did lately in disguise reject thee,
Shall, now thou art thyself, as much respect thee.
Ven. 'Twill be the quainter fallacy. But, brother,
'Sfoot, what use will he put me to now, think'st thou?
Hip. Nay, you must pardon me in that: I know not.
He has some employment for you: but what 'tis,
He and his secretary (the devil) know best.
Ven. Well, I must suit my tongue to his desires,
What colour soe'er they be; hoping at last
To pile up all my wishes on his breast.
Hip. Faith, brother, he himself shows the way.
Ven. Now the duke is dead, the realm is clad in clay.
His death being not yet known, under his name
The people still are governed. Well, thou his son
Art not long-lived: thou shalt not joy his death.
To kill thee, then, I should most honour thee;
For 'twould stand firm in every man's belief,
Thou'st a kind child, and only died'st with grief.
Hip. You fetch about well; but let's talk in present.
How will you appear in fashion different,
As well as in apparel, to make all things possible?
If you be but once tripped, we fall for ever.
It is not the least policy to be doubtful;
You must change tongue: familiar was your first.
Ven. Why, I'll bear me in some strain of melancholy,
And string myself with heavy-sounding wire,
Like such an instrument, that speaks merry things sadly.
Hip. Then 'tis as I meant;
I gave you out at first in discontent.
Ven. I'll tune myself, and then—
Hip. 'Sfoot, here he comes. Hast thought upon't?
Ven. Salute him; fear not me.


Lus. Hippolito!
Hip. Your lordship—
Lus. What's he yonder?
Hip. 'Tis Vendice, my discontented brother,
Whom, 'cording to your will, I've brought to court.
Lus. Is that thy brother? Beshrew me, a good presence;
I wonder he has been from the court so long.
Come nearer.
Hip. Brother! Lord Lussurioso, the duke's son.
Lus. Be more near to us; welcome; nearer yet.
Ven. How don you? gi' you good den.
[Takes off his hat and bows.
Lus. We thank thee.
How strangely such a coarse homely salute
Shows in the palace, where we greet in fire,
Nimble and desperate tongues! should we name
God in a salutation, 'twould ne'er be stood on;—Heaven!
Tell me, what has made thee so melancholy?
Ven. Why, going to law.
Lus. Why, will that make a man melancholy?
Ven. Yes, to look long upon ink and black buckram. I went me to law
anno quadragesimo secundo, and I waded out of it in anno sexagesimo
Lus. What, three-and-twenty years in law?
Ven. I have known those that have been five-and-fifty, and all about
pullen and pigs.
Lus. May it be possible such men should breathe,
To vex the terms so much?
Ven. 'Tis food to some, my lord. There are old men at the present,
are so poisoned with the affectation of law-words (having had many suits
canvassed), that their common talk is nothing but Barbary Latin. They
cannot so
much as pray but in law, that their sins may be removed with a writ of error,
and their souls fetched up to Heaven with a sasarara.
Lus. It seems most strange to me;
Yet all the world meets round in the same bent:
Where the heart's set, there goes the tongue's consent.
How dost apply thy studies, fellow?
Ven. Study? why, to think how a great rich man lies a-dying, and a poo
cobbler tolls the bell for him. How he cannot depart the world, and see the
great chest stand before him; when he lies speechless, how he will point you
readily to all the boxes; and when he is past all memory, as the gossips
then thinks he of forfeitures and obligations; nay, when to all men's hearings
he whurls and rattles in the throat, he's busy threatening his poor tenants.
this would last me now some seven years' thinking, or thereabouts. But I
have a
conceit a-coming in picture upon this; I draw it myself, which, i' faith, la,
I'll present to your honour; you shall not choose but like it, for your honour
shall give me nothing for it.
Lus. Nay, you mistake me, then,
For I am published bountiful enough.
Let's taste of your conceit.
Ven. In picture, my Lord?
Lus. Ay, in picture.
Ven. Marry, this it is—"A usuring father to be boiling in hell,
and his son and heir with a whore dancing over him."
Hip. He has pared him to the quick. [Aside.
Lus. The conceit's pretty, i' faith;
But, take't upon my life, 'twill ne'er be liked.
Ven. No? why I'm sure the whore will be liked well enough.
Hip. Aye, if she were out o' the picture, he'd like her then himself.
Ven. And as for the son and heir, he shall be an eyesore to no young
revellers, for he shall be drawn in cloth-of-gold breeches.
Lus. And thou hast put my meaning in the pockets,
And canst not draw that out? My thought was this:
To see the picture of a usuring father
Boiling in hell—our rich men would never like it.
Ven. O, true, I cry you heartily mercy,
I know the reason, for some of them had rather
Be damned in deed than damned in colours.
Lus. A parlous melancholy! he has wit enough
To murder any man, and I'll give him means. [Aside.
I think thou art ill-moneyed?
Ven. Money! ho, ho!
'T has been my want so long, 'tis now my scoff:
I've e'en forgot what colour silver's of.
Lus. It hits as I could wish. [Aside.
Ven. I get good clothes
Of those that dread my humour; and for table-room
I feed on those that cannot be rid of me.
Lus. Somewhat to set thee up withal.
[Gives him money.
Ven. O mine eyes!
Lus. How now, man?
Ven. Almost struck blind;
This bright unusual shine to me seems proud;
I dare not look till the sun be in a cloud.
Lus. I think I shall affect his melancholy,
How are they now?
Ven. The better for your asking.
Lus. You shall be better yet, if you but fasten
Truly on my intent. Now y'are both present,
I will unbrace such a close private villain
Unto your vengeful swords, the like ne'er heard of,
Who hath disgraced you much, and injured us.
Hip. Disgraced us, my lord?
Lus. Ay, Hippolito.
I kept it here till now, that both your angers
Might meet him at once.
Ven. I'm covetous
To know the villain.
Lus. You know him: that slave-pander,
Piato, whom we threatened last
With irons in perpetual 'prisonment.
Ven. All this is I. [Aside.
Hip. 1s't he, my lord?
Lus. I'll tell you; you first preferred him to me.
Ven. Did you, brother?
Hip. I did indeed.
Lus. And the ungrateful villain,
To quit that kindness, strongly wrought with me—
Being, as you see, a likely man for pleasure—
With jewels to corrupt your virgin sister.
Hip. O villain!
Ven. He shall surely die that did it.
Lus. I, far from thinking any virgin harm,
Especially knowing her to be as chaste
As that part which scarce suffers to be touched—
The eye—would not endure him.
Ven. Would you not, my lord?
'Twas wondrous honourably done.
Lus. But with some fine frowns kept him out.
Ven. Out, slave!
Lus. What did me he, but in revenge of that,
Went of his own free will to make infirm
Your sister's honour (whom I honour with my soul
For chaste respect) and not prevailing there
(As 'twas but desperate folly to attempt it),
In mere spleen, by the way, waylays your mother,
Whose honour being a coward as it seems,
Yielded by little force.
Ven. Coward indeed!
Lus. He, proud of this advantage (as he thought),
Brought me this news for happy. But I, Heaven forgive me for't!—
Ven. What did your honour?
Lus. In rage pushed him from me,
Trampled beneath his throat, spurned him, and bruised:
Indeed I was too cruel, to say troth.
Hip. Most nobly managed!
Ven. Has not Heaven an ear? is all the lightning wasted? [Aside.
Lus. If I now were so impatient in a modest cause,
What should you be?
Ven. Full mad: he shall not live
To see the moon change.
Lus. He's about the palace;
Hippolito, entice him this way, that thy brother
May take full mark of him.
Hip. Heart! that shall not need, my lord:
I can direct him so far.
Lus. Yet for my hate's sake,
Go, wind him this way. I'll see him bleed myself.
Hip. What now, brother? [Aside.
Ven. Nay, e'en what you will—y'are put to't, brother. [Aside.
Hip. An impossible task, I'll swear,
To bring him hither, that's already here.
[Aside and Exit.
Lus. Thy name? I have forgot it.
Ven. Vendice, my lord.
Lus. 'Tis a good name that.
Ven. Ay, a revenger.
Lus. It does betoken courage; thou shouldst be valiant,
And kill thine enemies.
Ven. That's my hope, my lord.
Lus. This slave is one.
Ven. I'll doom him.
Lus. Then I'll praise thee.
Do thou observe me best, and I'll best raise thee.


Ven. Indeed, I thank you.
Lus. Now, Hippolito, where's the slave-pander?
Hip. Your good lordship
Would have a loathsome sight of him, much offensive.
He's not in case now to be seen, my lord.
The worst of all the deadly sins is in him—
That beggarly damnation, drunkenness.
Lus. Then he's a double slave.
Ven. 'Twas well conveyed upon a sudden wit.
Lus. What, are you both
Firmly resolved? I'll see him dead myself.
Ven. Or else let not us live.
Lus. You may direct your brother to take note of him.
Hip. I shall.
Lus. Rise but in this, and you shall never fall.
Ven. Your honour's vassals.
Lus. This was wisely carried. [Aside.
Deep policy in us makes fools of such:
Then must a slave die, when he knows too much.
Ven. O thou almighty patience! 'tis my wonder
That such a fellow, impudent and wicked,
Should not be cloven as he stood;
Or with a secret wind burst open!
Is there no thunder left: or is't kept up
In stock for heavier vengeance? [Thunder] there it goes!
Hip. Brother, we lose ourselves.
Ven. But I have found it;
'Twill hold, 'tis sure; thanks, thanks to any spirit,
That mingled it 'mongst my inventions.
Hip. What is't?
Ven. 'Tis sound and good; thou shalt partake it;
I'm hired to kill myself.
Hip. True.
Ven. Prythee, mark it;
And the old duke being dead, but not conveyed,
For he's already missed too, and you know
Murder will peep out of the closest husk—
Hip. Most true.
Ven. What say you then to this device?
If we dressed up the body of the duke?
Hip. In that disguise of yours?
Ven. Y'are quick Jai, y' have reached it.
Hip. I like it wondrously.
Ven. And being in drink, as you have published him.
To lean him on his elbow, as if sleep had caught him,
Which claims most interest in such sluggy men?
Hip. Good yet; but here's a doubt;
We, thought by the duke's son to kill that pander,
Shall, when he is known, be thought to kill the duke.
Ven. Neither, O thanks! it is substantial:
For that disguise being on him which I wore,
It will be thought I, which he calls the pander, did kill the duke, and fled
away in his apparel, leaving him so disguised to avoid swift pursuit.
Hip. Firmer and firmer.
Ven. Nay, doubt not, 'tis in grain: I warrant it holds colour.
Hip. Let's about it.
Ven. By the way, too, now I think on't, brother,
Let's conjure that base devil out of our mother.

SCENE III.—A Corridor in the Palace

Enter the DUCHESS, arm in arm with SPURIO, looking lasciviously on
After them, enter SUPERVACUO, with a rapier, running; AMBITIOSO stops

Spu. Madam, unlock yourself;
Should it be seen, your arm would be suspected.
Duch. Who is't that dares suspect or this or these?
May not we deal our favours where we please?
Spu. I'm confident you may.
Amb. 'Sfoot, brother, hold.
Sup. Wouldst let the bastard shame us?
Amb. Hold, hold, brother! there's fitter time than now.
Sup. Now, when I see it!
Amb. 'Tis too much seen already.
Sup. Seen and known;
The nobler she's, the baser is she grown.
Amb. If she were bent lasciviously (the fault
Of mighty women, that sleep soft)—O death!
Must she needs choose such an unequal sinner,
To make all worse?—
Sup. A bastard! the duke's bastard! shame heaped on shame!
Amb. O our disgrace!
Most women have small waists the world through-out;
But their desires are thousand miles about.
Sup. Come, stay not here, let's after, and prevent,
Or else they'll sin faster than we'll repent. [Exeunt.


Enter VENDICE and HIPPOLITO, bringing out GRATIANA by the
and with daggers in their hands.

Ven. O thou, for whom no name is bad enough!
Gra. What mean my sons? what, will you murder me?
Ven. Wicked, unnatural parent!
Hip. Fiend of women!
Gra. O! are sons turned monsters? help!
Ven. In vain.
Gra. Are you so barbarous to set iron nipples
Upon the breast that gave you suck?
Ven. That breast
Is turned to quarled poison.
Gra. Cut not your days for't! am not I your mother?
Ven. Thou dost usurp that title now by fraud,
For in that shell of mother breeds a bawd.
Gra. A bawd! O name far loathsomer than hell!
Hip. It should be so, knew'st thou thy office well.
Gra. I hate it.
Ven. Ah! is't possible? thou only? Powers on high,
That women should dissemble when they die!
Gra. Dissemble!
Ven. Did not the duke's son direct
A fellow of the world's condition hither,
That did corrupt all that was good in thee?
Made thee uncivilly forget thyself,
And work our sister to his lust?
Gra. Who, I?
That had been monstrous. I defy that man
For any such intent! none lives so pure,
But shall be soiled with slander. Good son, believe it not.
Ven. O, I'm in doubt,
Whether I am myself, or no— [Aside
Stay, let me look again upon this face.
Who shall be saved, when mothers have no grace?
Hip. 'Twould make one half despair.
Ven. I was the man.
Defy me now; let's see, do't modestly.
Gra. O hell unto my soul!
Ven. In that disguise, I, sent from the duke's son,
Tried you, and found you base metal,
As any villain might have done.
Gra. O, no,
No tongue but yours could have bewitched me so.
Ven. O nimble in damnation, quick in tune!
There is no devil could strike fire so soon:
I am confuted in a word.
Gra. O sons, forgive me! to myself I'll prove more true;
You that should honour me, I kneel to you.
[Kneels and weeps.
Ven. A mother to give aim to her own daughter!
Hip. True, brother; how far beyond nature 'tis.
Ven. Nay, an you draw tears once, go you to bed;
We will make iron blush and change to red.
Brother, it rains. 'Twill spoil your dagger: house it.
Hip. 'Tis done.
Ven. I' faith, 'tis a sweet shower, it does much good.
The fruitful grounds and meadows of her soul
Have been long dry: pour down, thou blessèd dew!
Rise, mother; troth, this shower has made you higher!
Gra. O you Heavens! take this infectious spot out of my soul,
I'll rinse it in seven waters of mine eyes!
Make my tears salt enough to taste of grace.
To weep is to our sex naturally given:
But to weep truly, that's a gift from Heaven.
Ven. Nay, I'll kiss you now. Kiss her, brother:
Let's marry her to our souls, wherein's no lust,
And honourably love her.
Hip. Let it be.
Ven. For honest women are so seld and rare,
'Tis good to cherish those poor few that are.
O you of easy wax! do but imagine
Now the disease has left you, how leprously
That office would have clinged unto your forehead!
All mothers that had any graceful hue
Would have worn masks to hide their face at you:
It would have grown to this—at your foul name,
Green-coloured maids would have turned red with shame.
Hip. And then our sister, full of hire and baseness—
Ven. There had been boiling lead again,
The duke's son's great concubine!
A drab of state, a cloth-o'-silver slut,
To have her train borne up, and her soul trail i' the dirt!
Hip. Great, to be miserably great; rich, to be eternally wretched.
Ven. O common madness!
Ask but the thrivingest harlot in cold blood,
She'd give the world to make her honour good.
Perhaps you'll say, but only to the duke's son
In private; why she first begins with one,
Who afterward to thousands prove a whore:
"Break ice in one place, it will crack in more."
Gra. Most certainly applied!
Hip. O brother, you forget our business,
Ven. And well-remembered; joy's a subtle elf,
I think man's happiest when he forgets himself.
Farewell, once dry, now holy-watered mead;
Our hearts wear feathers, that before wore lead.
Gra. I'll give you this—that one I never knew
Plead better for and 'gainst the devil than you.
Ven. You make me proud on't.
Hip. Commend us in all virtue to our sister.
Ven. Ay, for the love of Heaven, to that true maid
Gra. With my best words.
Ven. Why, that was motherly said.
Gra. I wonder now, what fury did transport me!
I feel good thoughts begin to settle in me.
O, with what forehead can I look on her,
Whose honour I've so impiously beset?
And here she comes—


Cas. Now, mother, you have wrought with me s strongly
That what for my advancement, as to calm
The trouble of your tongue, I am content.
Gra. Content, to what?
Cas. To do as you have wished me;
To prostitute my breast to the duke's son;
And put myself to common usury.
Gra. I hope you will not so!
Cas. Hope you I will not?
That's not the hope you look to be saved in.
Gra. Truth, but it is.
Cas. Do not deceive yourself;
I am as you, e'en out of marble wrought.
What would you now? are ye not pleased yet with me?
You shall not wish me to be more lascivious
Than I intend to be.
Gra. Strike not me cold.
Cas. How often have you charged me on your blessing
To be a cursèd woman? When you knew
Your blessing had no force to make me lewd,
You laid your curse upon me; that did more,
The mother's curse is heavy; where that fights,
Suns set in storm, and daughters lose their lights.
Gra. Good child, dear maid, if there be any spark
Of heavenly intellectual fire within thee,
O, let my breath revive it to a flame!
Put not all out with woman's wilful follies.
I am recovered of that foul disease,
That haunts too many mothers; kind, forgive me,
Make me not sick in health! If then
My words prevailed, when they were wickedness,
How much more now, when they are just and good?
Cas. I wonder what you mean! are not you she,
For whose infect persuasions I could scarce
Kneel out my prayers, and had much ado
In three hours' reading to untwist so much
Of the black serpent as you wound about me?
Gra. 'Tis unfruitful, child, and tedious to repeat
What's past; I'm now your present mother.
Cas. Tush! now 'tis too late.
Gra. Bethink again: thou know'st not what thou say'st.
Cas. No! deny advancement? treasure? the duke's son?
Gra. O, see I spoke those words, and now they poison me!
What will the deed do then?
Advancement? true; as high as shame can pitch!
For treasure; who e'er knew a harlot rich?
Or could build by the purchase of her sin
An hospital to keep her bastards in?
The duke's son! O, when women are young courtiers,
They are sure to be old beggars;
To know the miseries most harlots taste,
Thou'dst wish thyself unborn, when thou art unchaste.
Cas. O mother, let me twine about your neck,
And kiss you, till my soul melt on your lips!
I did but this to try you.
Gra. O, speak truth!
Cas. Indeed I did but; for no tongue has force
To alter me from honest.
If maidens would, men's words could have no power;
A virgin's honour is a crystal tower
Which (being weak) is guarded with good spirits;
Until she basely yields, no ill inherits.
Gra. O happy child! faith, and thy birth hath saved me.
'Mong thousand daughters, happiest of all others:
Be thou a glass for maids, and I for mothers.


SCENE I.—A Room in the Lodge. The DUKE'S corpse, dressed in
VENDICE'S disguise, lying on a couch.


VEN. So, so, he leans well; take heed you wake him not, brother.
Hip. I warrant you my life for yours.
Ven. That's a good lay, for I must kill myself.
Brother, that's I, that sits for me: do you mark it? And I must stand ready
to make away myself yonder. I must sit to be killed, and stand to kill
myself. I
could vary it not so little as thrice over again; 't has some eight returns,
like Michaelmas term.
Hip. That's enow, o' conscience.
Ven. But, sirrah, does the duke's son come single?
Hip. No; there's the hell on't; his faith's too feeble to go
alone. He
brings flesh-flies after him, that will buzz against supper-time, and hum for
his coming out.
Ven. Ah, the fly-flap of vengeance beat 'em to pieces! Here was the
sweetest occasion, the fittest hour, to have made my revenge familiar with him;

show him the body of the duke his father, and how quaintly he died, like a
politician, in hugger-mugger, made no man acquainted with it; and in
slay him over his father's breast. O, I'm mad to lose such a sweet
Hip. Nay, tush! prythee, be content! there's no remedy
present; may not
hereafter times open in as fair faces as this?
Ven. They may, if they can paint so well.
Hip. Come now: to avoid all suspicion, let's forsake
this room, and be
going to meet the duke's son.
Ven. Content: I'm for any weather. Heart! step close: here he comes.


Hip. My honoured lord!
Lus. O me! you both present?
Ven. E'en newly, my lord, just as your lordship
entered now: about this
place we had notice given he should be, but in some loathsome plight or other.
Hip. Came your honour private?
Lus. Private enough for this; only a few
Attend my coming out.
Hip. Death rot those few! [Aside.
Lus. Stay, yonder's the slave.
Ven. Mass, there's the slave, indeed, my lord.
'Tis a good child: he calls his father a slave! [Aside.
Lus. Ay, that's the villain, the damned villain.
Softly. Tread easy.
Ven. Pah! I warrant you, my lord, we'll stifle-in our breaths.
Lus. That will do well:
Base rogue, thou sleepest thy last; 'tis policy
To have him killed in's sleep; for if he waked,
He would betray all to them.
Ven. But, my lord—
Lus. Ha, what say'st?
Ven. Shall we kill him now he's drunk?
Lus. Ay, best of all.
Ven. Why, then he will ne'er live to be sober.
Lus. No matter, let him reel to hell.
Ven. But being so full of liquor, I fear he will put out all the
Lus. Thou art a mad beast.
Ven. And leave none to warm your lordship's golls withal; for he that
dies drunk falls into hell-fire like a bucket of water—qush, qush!
Lus. Come, be ready: nake your swords: think of your wrongs; this
has injured you.
Ven. Troth, so he has, and he has paid well for't.
Lus. Meet with him now.
Ven. You'll bear us out, my lord?
Lus. Pooh! am I a lord for nothing, think you? quickly now!
Ven. Sa, sa, sa, thump [Stabs the DUKE'S
corpse]—there he
Lus. Nimbly done.—Ha! O villains! murderers!
'Tis the old duke, my father.
Ven. That's a jest.
Lus. What stiff and cold already!
O, pardon me to call you from your names:
'Tis none of your deed. That villain Piato,
Whom you thought now to kill, has murdered
And left him thus disguised.
Hip. And not unlikely.
Ven. O rascal! was he not ashamed
To put the duke into a greasy doublet?
Lus. He has been stiff and cold–who knows how long?
Ven. Marry, that I do. [Aside.
Lus. No words, I pray, of anything intended.
Ven. O my lord.
Hip. I would fain have your lordship think
that we have small reason to
Lus. Faith, thou say'st true; I'll forthwith send to court
For all the nobles, bastard, duchess; tell,
How here by miracle we found him dead,
And in his raiment that foul villain fled.
Ven. That will be the best way, my lord,
To clear us all; let's cast about to be clear.
Lus. Ho! Nencio, Sordido, and the rest!

Enter all of them.

1st Ser. My lord.
2nd Ser. My lord.
Lus. Be witnesses of a strange spectacle.
Choosing for private conference that sad room,
We found the duke my father gealed in blood.
1st Ser. My lord the duke! run, hie thee, Nencio.
Startle the court by signifying so much.
Ven. Thus much by wit a deep revenger can,
When murder's known, to be the clearest man.
We're farthest off, and with as bold an eye
Survey his body as the standers-by. [Aside.
Lus. My royal father, too basely let blood
By a malevolent slave!
Hip. Hark! he calls thee slave again. [Aside.
Ven. He has lost: he may. [Aside.
Lus. O sight! look hither, see, his lips are gnawn
With poison.
Ven. How! his lips? by the mass, they be.
O villain! O rogue! O slave! O rascal!
Hip. O good deceit! he quits him with like terms.
Amb. [Within.] Where?
Sup. [Within.] Which way?

Enter AMBITIOSO and SUPERVACUO, with Nobles and Gentlemen.

Amb. Over what roof hangs this prodigious comet
In deadly fire?
Lus. Behold, behold, my lords, the duke my father's murdered by a
vassal that owes this habit, and here left disguised.


Duch. My lord and husband!
1st Noble. Reverend majesty!
2nd Noble. I have seen these clothes often attending on him.
Ven. That nobleman has been i' th' country, for he does not lie.
Sup. Learn of our mother; let's dissemble too:
I am glad he's vanished; so, I hope, are you.
Amb. Ay, you may take my word for't.
Spu. Old dad dead!
I, one of his cast sins, will send the Fates
Most hearty commendations by his own son;
I'll tug in the new stream, till strength be done.
Lus. Where be those two that did affirm to us,
My lord the duke was privately rid forth?
1st Gent. O, pardon us, my lords; he gave that charge—
Upon our lives, if he were missed at court,
To answer so; he rode not anywhere;
We left him private with that fellow here.
Ven. Confirmed. [Aside.
Lus. O Heavens! that false charge was his death.
Impudent beggars! durst you to our face
Maintain such a false answer? Bear him straight
To execution.
1st Gent. My lord!
Lus. Urge me no more in this!
The excuse may be called half the murder.
Ven. You've sentenced well. [Aside.
Lus. Away; see it be done.
Ven. Could you not stick? See what confession doth!
Who would not lie, when men are hanged for truth?
Hip. Brother, how happy is our vengeance! [Aside.
Ven. Why, it hits past the apprehension of
Indifferent wits. [Aside.
Lus. My lord, let post-horses be sent
Into all places to entrap the villain.
Ven. Post-horses, ha, ha! [Aside.
1st Noble. My lord, we're something bold to know our duty.
Your father's accidentally departed;
The titles that were due to him meet you.
Lus. Meet me! I'm not at leisure, my good lord.
I've many griefs to despatch out o' the way.
Welcome, sweet titles!— [Aside.
Talk to me, my lords,
Of sepulchres and mighty emperors' bones;
That's thought for me.
Ven. So one may see by this
How foreign markets go;
Courtiers have feet o' the nines, and tongues o' the twelves;
They flatter dukes, and dukes flatter themselves. [Aside
2nd Noble. My lord, it is your shine must comfort us.
Lus. Alas! I shine in tears, like the sun in April.
1st Noble. You're now my lord's grace.
Lus. My lord's grace! I perceive you'll have it so.
2nd Noble. 'Tis but your own.
Lus. Then, Heavens, give me grace to be so!
Ven. He prays well for himself. [Aside.
1st Noble. Madam, all sorrows
Must run their circles into joys. No doubt but time
Will make the murderer bring forth himself.
Ven. He were an ass then, i' faith. [Aside.
1st Noble. In the mean season,
Let us bethink the latest funeral honours
Due to the duke's cold body. And withal,
Calling to memory our new happiness
Speed in his royal son: lords, gentlemen,
Prepare for revels.
Ven. Revels! [Aside.
1st Noble. Time hath several falls.
Griefs lift up joys: feasts put down funerals.
Lus. Come then, my lords, my favour's to you all.
The duchess is suspected foully bent;
I'll begin dukedom with her banishment. [Aside.
[Exeunt LUSSURIOSO, DUCHESS, and Nobles.
Hip. Revels!
Ven. Ay, that's the word: we are firm yet;
Strike one strain more, and then we crown our wit.
Spu. Well, have at the fairest mark—so said the duke when he
And if I miss his heart, or near about,
Then have at any; a bastard scorns to be out. [Exit.
Sup. Notest thou that Spurio, brother?
Ant. Yes, I note him to our shame.
Sup. He shall not live: his hair shall not grow much longer. In this
time of revels, tricks may be set afoot. Seest thou yon new moon? it shall
outlive the new duke by much; this hand shall dispossess him. Then we're
A mask is treason's licence, that build upon:
'Tis murder's best face, when a vizard's on. [Exit.
Amb. Is't so? 'tis very good!
And do you think to be duke then, kind brother?
I'll see fair play; drop one, and there lies t'other.

SCENE II.—A Room in PIERO'S House.

Enter VENDICE and HIPPOLITO, with PIERO and other Lords.

Ven. My lords, be all of music, strike old griefs into other
That flow in too much milk, and have faint livers,
Not daring to stab home their discontents.
Let our hid flames break out as fire, as lightning,
To blast this villainous dukedom, vexed with sin;
Wind up your souls to their full height again.
Piero. How?
1st Lord. Which way?
2nd Lord. Any way: our wrongs are such,
We cannot justly be revenged too much.
Ven. You shall have all enough. Revels are toward,
And those few nobles that have long suppressed you,
Are busied to the furnishing of a masque,
And do affect to make a pleasant tale on't:
The masquing suits are fashioning: now comes in
That which must glad us all. We too take pattern
Of all those suits, the colour, trimming, fashion,
E'en to an undistinguished hair almost:
Then entering first, observing the true form,
Within a strain or two we shall find leisure
To steal our swords out handsomely;
And when they think their pleasure sweet and good,
In midst of all their joys they shall sigh blood.
Piero. Weightily, effectually!
3rd Lord. Before the t'other maskers come—
Ven. We're gone, all done and past.
Piero. But how for the duke's guard?
Ven. Let that alone;
By one and one their strengths shall be drunk down.
Hip. There are five hundred gentlemen in the action,
That will apply themselves, and not stand idle.
Piero. O, let us hug your bosoms!
Ven. Come, my lords,
Prepare for deeds: let other times have words.

SCENE III.—Hall of State in the Palace.

In a dumb show, the possessing of the YOUNG DUKE with all his Nobles;
sounding music. A furnished table is brought forth; then enter the DUKE
and his Nobles to the banquet. A blazing star appeareth.

1st Noble. Many harmonious hours and choicest pleasures
Fill up the royal number of your years!
Lus. My lords, we're pleased to thank you, though we know
'Tis but your duty now to wish it so.
1st Noble. That shine makes us all happy.
3rd Noble. His grace frowns.
2nd Noble. Yet we must say he smiles.
1st Noble. I think we must.
Lus. That foul incontinent duchess we have banished;
The bastard shall not live. After these revels,
I'll begin strange ones: he and the step-sons
Shall pay their lives for the first subsidies;
We must not frown so soon, else't had been now.
1st Noble. My gracious lord, please you prepare for pleasure.
The masque is not far off.
Lus. We are for pleasure.
Beshrew thee, what art thou? thou mad'st me start!
Thou has committed treason. A blazing star!
1st Noble. A blazing star! O, where, my lord?
Lus. Spy out.
2nd Noble. See; see, my lords, a wondrous dreadful one!
Lus. I am not pleased at that ill-knotted fire,
That bushing, staring star. Am I not duke?
It should not quake me now. Had it appeared
Before, it I might then have justly feared;
But yet they say, whom art and learning weds,
When stars wear locks, they threaten great men's heads :
Is it so? you are read, my lords.
1st Noble. May it please your grace,
It shows great anger.
Lus. That does not please our grace.
2nd Noble. Yet here's the comfort, my lord: many times,
When it seems most near, it threatens farthest off.
Lus. Faith, and I think so too.
1st Noble. Beside, my lord,
You're gracefully established with the loves
Of all your subjects; and for natural death,
I hope it will be threescore years a-coming.
Lus. True? no more but threescore years?
1st Noble. Fourscore, I hope, my lord.
2nd Noble. And fivescore, I.
3rd Noble. But 'tis my hope, my lord, you shall ne'er die.
Lus. Give me thy hand; these others I rebuke:
He that hopes so is fittest for a duke:
Thou shalt sit next me; take your places, lords;
We're ready now for sports; le 'em set on:
You think! we shall forget you quite anon!
3rd Noble. I hear 'em coming, my lord.

Enter the Masque of revengers: VENDICE and HIPPOLITO, with two

Lus. Ah, 'tis well!
Brothers and bastard, you dance next in hell! [Aside.
[They dance; at the end they steal out their swords, and kill the four
at the table. Thunder.
Ven. Mark, thunder!
Dost know thy cue, thou big-voiced crier?
Dukes' groans are thunder's watchwords.
Hip. So, my lords, you have enough.
Ven. Come, let's away, no lingering.
Hip. Follow! go! [Exeunt except VENDICE.
Ven. No power is angry when the lustful die;
When thunder claps, heaven likes the tragedy. [Exit.
Lus. O, O!

Enter the Masque of intended murderers: AMBITIOSO, SUPERVACUO,
and a Lord, coming in dancing. LUSSURIOSO recovers a little
in voice,
groans, and calls, "A guard! treason!" at which the Dancers
start out of
their measure, and, turning towards the table, find them all to be murdered.

Spu. Whose groan was that?
Lus. Treason! a guard!
Amb. How now? all murdered!
Sup. Murdered!
3rd. Lord. And those his nobles?
Amb. Here's a labour saved;
I thought to have sped him. 'Sblood, how came this?
Spu. Then I proclaim myself; now I am duke.
Amb. Thou duke! brother, thou liest.
Spu. Slave! so dost thou. [Kills AMBITIOSO.
3rd Lord. Base villain! hast thou slain my lord and
master? [Stabs

Re-enter VENDICE and HIPPOLITO and the two Lords.

Ven. Pistols! treason! murder! Help! guard my lord the duke!

Enter ANTONIO and Guard.

Hip. Lay hold upon this traitor.
Lus. O!
Ven. Alas! the duke is murdered.
Hip. And the nobles.
Ven. Surgeons! surgeons! Heart! does he breathe so long? [Aside.
Ant. A piteous tragedy! able to make
An old man's eyes bloodshot.
Lus. O!
Ven. Look to my lord the duke. A vengeance throttle him! [Aside.
Confess, thou murderous and unhallowed man,
Didst thou kill all these?
3rd Lord. None but the bastard, I.
Ven. How came the duke slain, then?
3rd Lord. We found him so.
Lus. O villain!
Ven. Hark!
Lus. Those in the masque did murder us.
Ven. La you now, sir—
O marble impudence! will you confess now?
3rd Lord. 'Sblood, 'tis all false.
Ant. Away with that foul monster,
Dipped in a prince's blood.
3rd Lord. Heart! 'tis a lie.
Ant. Let him have bitter execution.
Ven. New marrow! no, I cannot be expressed.
How fares my lord the duke?
Lus. Farewell to all;
He that climbs highest has the greatest fall.
My tongue is out of office.
Ven. Air, gentlemen, air.
Now thou'lt not prate on't, 'twas Vendice murdered thee. [Whispers in his
Lus. O!
Ven. Murdered thy father. [Whispers.
Lus. O! [Dies.
Ven. And I am he—tell nobody: [Whispers] So, so, the duke's
Ant. It was a deadly hand that wounded him.
The rest, ambitious who should rule and sway
After his death, were so made all away.
Ven. My lord was unlikely—
Hip. Now the hope
Of Italy lies in your reverend years.
Ven. Your hair will make the silver age again,
When there were fewer, but more honest men.
Ant. The burthen's weighty, and will press age down;
May I so rule, that Heaven may keep the crown!
Ven. The rape of your good lady has been quitted
With death on death.
Ant. Just is the law above.
But of all things it put me most to wonder
How the old duke came murdered!
Ven. O my lord!
Ant. It was the strangeliest carried: I've not heard of the like.
Hip. 'Twas all done for the best, my lord.
Ven. All for your grace's good. We may be bold to speak it now,
'Twas somewhat witty carried, though we say it—
'Twas we two murdered him.
Ant. You two?
Ven. None else, i' faith, my lord. Nay, 'twas well-managed.
Ant. Lay hands upon those villains!
Ven. How! on us?
Ant. Bear 'em to speedy execution.
Ven. Heart! was't not for your good, my lord?
Ant. My good! Away with 'em: such an old man as he!
You, that would murder him, would murder me.
Ven. Is't come about?
Hip. 'Sfoot, brother, you begun.
Ven. May not we set as well as the duke's son?
Thou hast no conscience, are we not revenged?
Is there one enemy left alive amongst those?
'Tis time to die, when we're ourselves our foes:
When murderers shut deeds close, this curse does seal 'em:
If none disclose 'em, they themselves reveal 'em!
This murder might have slept in tongueless brass
But for ourselves, and the world died an ass.
Now I remember too, here was Piato
Brought forth a knavish sentence once;
No doubt (said he), but time
Will make the murderer bring forth himself.
'Tis well he died; he was a witch.
And now, my lord, since we are in for ever,
This work was ours, which else might have been slipped!
And if we list, we could have nobles clipped,
And go for less than beggars; but we hate
To bleed so cowardly: we have enough,
I' faith, we're well, our mother turned, our sister true,
We die after a nest of dukes. Adieu! [Exeunt.
Ant. How subtlely was that murder closed!
Bear up
Those tragic bodies: 'tis a heavy season;
Pray Heaven their blood may wash away all treason!

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