Act 1 Scene 2
Action continues from previous scene
Enter FERDINAND, CASTRUCHIO, SILVIO
ANTONIO: The lord cardinal’s
And other strangers that are now in court?
I shall: here comes the great Calabrian Duke.
FERDINAND: Who took the ring oftenest?
SILVIO: Antonio Bologna, my lord.
FERDINAND: Our sister Duchess’ great master of her household:
Give him the jewel. When shall we leave this sportive action,
And fall to action indeed?
CASTRUCHIO: Methinks, my lord,
You should not desire to go to war in person.
FERDINAND: [aside] Now, for some gravity — why, my lord?
CASTRUCHIO: It is fitting a soldier arise to be a prince, but not necessary
A prince descend to be a captain.
CASTRUCHIO: No, my lord;
He were far better do it by a deputy.
FERDINAND: Why should he not as well sleep or eat by a deputy?
This might take idle, offensive, and base office from him,
Whereas the other deprives him of honor.
CASTRUCHIO: Believe my experience: that realm is never long in quiet
Where the ruler is a soldier.
FERDINAND: Thou toldest me thy wife could not endure fighting.
CASTRUCHIO: True, my lord.
FERDINAND: And of a jest she broke of a captain she met full of wounds: I have forgot it.
FERDINAND: Why, there’s a wit were able to undo
All the chirugeons o’th’ city, for although
Gallants should quarrel, and had drawn their weapons,
And were ready to go to it, yet her persuasions would
Make them put up.
CASTRUCHIO: That she would, my lord.
How do you like my Spanish jennet?
RODERIGO: He is all fire.
SILVIO: True, my lord, he reels from the tilt often.
RODERIGO and GRISOLAN: Ha, ha, ha!
FERDINAND: Why do you laugh? Methinks you that are courtiers
Should be my touchwood, take fire when I give fire;
That is, not laugh but when I laugh, were the subject never so witty.
CASTRUCHIO: True, my lord; I myself have heard a very good jest,
And have scorned to seem to have so silly a wit as to understand it.
FERDINAND: But I can laugh at your fool, my lord.
CASTRUCHIO: He cannot speak, you know, but he makes faces.
My lady cannot abide him.
CASTRUCHIO: Nor endure to be in merry company, for she says
Too much laughing and too much company fills her
Too full of the wrinkle.
FERDINAND: I would then have a mathematical instrument
Made for her face, that she might not laugh out of compass. I shall shortly
Visit you at Milan, Lord Silvio.
SILVIO: Your grace shall arrive most welcome.
FERDINAND: You are a good horseman, Antonio.
You have excellent riders in France: what do you think of good horsemanship?
ANTONIO: Nobly, my lord: as out of the Grecian horse issued
Many famous princes, so out of brave horsemanship
Arise the first sparks of growing resolution, that raise
The mind to noble action.
FERDINAND: You have bespoke it worthily.
SILVIO: Your brother, the lord Cardinal, and sister Duchess.
Enter CARDINAL, DUCHESS, CARIOLA, and JULIA
CARDINAL: Are the galleys come about?
GRISOLAN: They are, my lord.
FERDINAND: Here’s the Lord Silvio is come to take his leave.
DELIO: [aside to Antonio] Now, sir, your promise: what’s that Cardinal?
I mean his temper? They say he’s a brave fellow,
Will play his five thousand crowns at tennis, dance,
Court ladies, and one that hath fought single combats.
ANTONIO: Some such flashes superficially hang on him, for form;
But observe his inward character: he is a melancholy
Churchman. The spring in his face is nothing but the
Engendering of toads. Where he is jealous of any man,
He lays worse plots for him than ever was imposed on
Hercules, for he strews in his way flatterers, panders,
Intelligencers, atheists, and a thousand such political
Monsters. He should have been Pope, but instead of
Coming to it by the primitive decency of the church,
He did bestow bribes so largely, and so impudently, as if he would
Have carried it away without heaven’s knowledge.
Some good he hath done.
DELIO: You have given too much of him: what’s his brother?
ANTONIO: The duke there? a most perverse and turbulent nature.
What appears in him mirth is merely outside.
If he laugh heartily, it is to laugh
All honesty out of fashion.
ANTONIO: In quality.
He speaks with others’ tongues and hears men’s suits
With others’ ears; will seem to sleep o’ th’ bench
Only to entrap offenders in their answers;
Dooms men to death by information,
Rewards by hearsay.
DELIO: Then the law to him
Is like a foul black cobweb to a spider,
He makes it his dwelling and a prison
To entangle those shall feed him.
ANTONIO: Most true.
He never pays debts unless they be shrewd turns,
And those he will confess that he doth owe.
Last, for his brother there, the cardinal,
They that do flatter him most say oracles
Hang at his lips, and verily I believe them,
For the devil speaks in them.
But for their sister, the right noble duchess,
You never fix’d your eye on three fair medals
Cast in one figure, of so different temper.
For her discourse, it is so full of rapture,
You only will begin then to be sorry
When she doth end her speech, and wish in wonder
She held it less vain-glory to talk much
Than your penance to hear her. Whilst she speaks,
She throws upon a man so sweet a look,
That it were able to raise one to a galliard
That lay in a dead palsy, and to dote
On that sweet countenance; but in that look
There speaketh so divine a continence
As cuts off all lascivious and vain hope.
Her days are practic’d in such noble virtue
That sure her nights, nay more, her very sleeps,
Are more in heaven, than other ladies’ shrifts.
Let all sweet ladies break their flattering glasses
And dress themselves in her.
DELIO: Fie, Antonio,
You play the wire-drawer with her commendation.
CARIOLA: You must attend my lady in the gallery
Some half an hour hence.
ANTONIO: I shall.
Exit ANTONIO and DELIO
FERDINAND: Sister, I have a suit to you.
DUCHESS: To me, sir?
FERDINAND: A gentleman here, Daniel de Bosola,
One that was in the galleys.
DUCHESS: Yes, I know him.
FERDINAND: A worthy fellow h’is. Pray let me entreat for
The provisorship of your horse.
DUCHESS: Your knowledge of him
Commends him and prefers him.
FERDINAND: Call him hither.
We are now upon parting. Good Lord Silvio,
Do us commend to all our noble friends
At the leaguer.
SILVIO: Sir, I shall.
FERDINAND: You are for Milan?
SILVIO: I am.
Exit all but the CARDINAL and FERDINAND
FERDINAND: Antonio, the great master of her household,
Had been far fitter.
CARDINAL: You are deceiv’d in him.
His nature is too honest for such business.
He comes: I’ll leave you
Exit CARDINAL, enter BOSOLA
BOSOLA: I was lur’d to you.
FERDINAND: My brother here, the Cardinal, could never
BOSOLA: Never since he was in my debt.
FERDINAND: May be some oblique character in your face
Made him suspect you.
BOSOLA: Doth he study physiognomy?
There’s no more credit to be given to th’ face
Than to a sick man’s urine, which some call
The physician’s whore, because she cozens him.
He did suspect me wrongfully.
FERDINAND: For that
You must give great men leave to take their times.
Distrust doth cause us seldom be deceiv’d:
You see, the oft shaking of the cedar-tree
Fastens it more at root.
BOSOLA: Yet take heed;
For to suspect a friend unworthily
Instructs him the next way to suspect you
And prompts him to deceive you.
FERDINAND: There’s gold.
FERDINAND: Your inclination to shed blood rides post
Before my occasion to use you. I give you that
To live i’th’ court here, and observe the duchess;
To note all the particulars of her ‘haviour,
What suitors do solicit her for marriage,
And whom she best affects. She’s a young widow:
I would not have her marry again.
BOSOLA: No, sir?
FERDINAND: Do not you ask the reason, but be satisfied
I say I would not.
BOSOLA: It seems you would create me
One of your familiars.
FERDINAND: Familiar? What’s that?
FERDINAND: Such a kind of thriving thing
I would wish thee, and ere long, thou may’st arrive
At a higher place by’t.
BOSOLA: Take your devils,
Which hell calls angels. These curs’d gifts would make
You a corrupter, me an impudent traitor,
And should I take these, they’d take me to hell.
FERDINAND: Sir, I’ll take nothing from you, that I have given.
There is a place that I procur’d for you
This morning, the provisorship o’th’horse;
Have you heard on’t?
FERDINAND: ‘Tis yours. Is’t not worth thanks?
BOSOLA: I would have you curse yourself now, that your bounty
(Which makes men truly noble) e’er should make
Me a villain. O, that to avoid ingratitude
For the good deed you have done me, I must do
All the ill man can invent! Thus the devil
Candies all sins o’er, and what heaven terms vile
That names he complemental.
FERDINAND: Be yourself;
Keep your old garb of melancholy; ’twill express
You envy those that stand above your reach,
Yet strive not to come near ’em. This will gain
Access to private lodgings, where yourself
May, like a politic dormouse—
BOSOLA: As I have seen some
Feed in a lord’s dish, half asleep, not seeming
To listen to any talk; and yet these rogues
Have cut his throat in a dream. What’s my place?
The provisorship o’th’ horse? Say, then, my corruption
Grew out of horse-dung. I am your creature.
Exit BOSOLA, enter DUCHESS, CARDINAL, and CARIOLA
CARDINAL: We are to part from you, and your own discretion
Must now be your director.
FERDINAND: You are a widow:
You know already what man is, and therefore
Let not youth, high promotion, eloquence —
Nor anything without the addition, honor,
Sway your high blood.
FERDINAND: Marry! They are most luxurious,
Will wed twice.
CARDINAL: O, fie!
DUCHESS: Diamonds are of most value,
They say, that have past through most jewelers’ hands.
FERDINAND: Whores by that rule are precious.
DUCHESS: Will you hear me?
I’ll never marry —
CARDINAL: So most widows say;
But commonly that motion lasts no longer
Than the turning of an hour-glass: the funeral sermon
And it, end both together.
FERDINAND: Now hear me:
You live in a rank pasture here i’th’ court.
There is a kind of honey-dew that’s deadly,
‘Twill poison your fame. Look to’t: be not cunning;
For they whose faces do belie their hearts
Are witches ere they arrive at twenty years,
Ay, and give the devil suck.
DUCHESS: This is terrible good counsel.
FERDINAND: Hypocrisy is woven of a fine small thread,
Subtler than Vulcan’s engine: yet believ’t,
Your darkest actions, nay, your privat’st thoughts,
Will come to light.
CARDINAL: You may flatter yourself
And take your own choice, privately be married
Under the eaves of night —
FERDINAND: Think’t the best voyage
That e’er you made; like the irregular crab,
Which, though’t goes backward, thinks that it goes right,
Because it goes its own way. But observe,
Such weddings may more properly be said
To be executed, than celebrated.
CARDINAL: The marriage night
Is the entrance into some prison.
FERDINAND: And those joys,
Those lustful pleasures, are like heavy sleeps
Which do forerun man’s mischief.
CARDINAL: Fare you well.
Wisdom begins at the end: remember it.
DUCHESS: I think this speech between you both was studied,
It came so roundly off.
FERDINAND: You are my sister;
This was my father’s poniard, do you see?
I’d be loath to see’t look rusty, ’cause ’twas his.
I would have you to give o’er these chargeable revels,
A visor and a mask are whispering rooms
That were never built for goodness. Fare ye well,
And beware that part, which like the lamprey,
Hath never a bone in’t.
DUCHESS: Fie, sir!
I mean the tongue, variety of courtship.
What cannot a neat knave with a smooth tale
Make a woman believe. Farewell, lusty widow.
DUCHESS: Shall this move me? If all my royal kindred
Lay in my way unto this marriage,
I’d make them my low footsteps. And even now,
Even in this hate, as men in some great battles
By apprehending danger have achiev’d
Almost impossible actions — I have heard soldiers say so–
So I through frights and threatenings will assay
This dangerous venture. Let old wives report
I wink’d, and chose a husband. Cariola,
To thy known secrecy I have given up
More than my life — my fame.
CARIOLA: Both shall be safe,
For I’ll conceal this secret from the world
As warily as those that trade in poison
Keep poison from their children.
DUCHESS: Thy protestation
Is ingenious and hearty: I believe it.
Is Antonio come?
CARIOLA: He attends you.
DUCHESS: Good dear soul,
Leave me, but place thyself behind the arras
Where thou may’st overhear us. Wish me good speed,
For I am going into a wilderness
Where I shall find no path nor friendly clew
To be my guide.
Exit CARIOLA, enter ANTONIO
I sent for you. Sit down;
Take pen and ink, and write: are you ready?
DUCHESS: What did I say?
ANTONIO: That I should write somewhat.
ANTONIO: So please your beauteous excellence.
DUCHESS: Beauteous? Indeed I thank you:
I look young for your sake;
You have ta’en my cares upon you.
ANTONIO: I’ll fetch your grace
The particulars of your revenue and expense.
DUCHESS: O, you are
An upright treasurer, but you mistook;
For when I said I meant to make inquiry
What’s laid up for tomorrow, I did mean
What’s laid up yonder for me.
DUCHESS: In heaven.
I am making my will, (as ’tis fit princes should
In perfect memory) and, I pray, sir, tell me
Were not one better make it smiling, thus,
Than in deep groans and terrible ghastly looks
As if the gifts we parted with procur’d
That violent distraction?
ANTONIO: O, much better.
DUCHESS: If I had a husband now, this care were quit;
But I intend to make you overseer.
What good deed shall we first remember? Say.
ANTONIO: Begin with that first good deed begun i’th’world
After man’s creation, the sacrament of marriage:
I’d have you first provide for a good husband;
Give him all.
ANTONIO: Yes, your excellent self.
DUCHESS: In a winding sheet?
ANTONIO: In a couple.
DUCHESS: St. Winifred, that were a strange will!
ANTONIO: ‘Twere strange if there were no will in you
To marry again.
DUCHESS: What do you think of marriage?
ANTONIO: I take’t, as those that deny purgatory,
It locally contains or heaven, or hell;
There’s no third place in’t.
DUCHESS: How do you affect it?
ANTONIO: My banishment, feeding my melancholy,
Would often reason thus.
DUCHESS: Pray, let’s hear it.
ANTONIO: Say a man never marry, nor have children,
What takes that from him? Only the bare name
Of being a father, or the weak delight
To see the little wanton ride a cock-horse
Upon a painted stick, or hear him chatter
Like a taught starling.
DUCHESS: Fie, fie, what’s all this?
One of your eyes is blood-shot. Use my ring to’t,
They say ’tis very sovereign. ‘Twas my wedding ring,
And I did vow never to part with it
But to my second husband.
ANTONIO: You have parted with it now.
DUCHESS: Yes, to help your eye-sight.
ANTONIO: You have made me stark blind.
ANTONIO: There is a saucy and ambitious devil,
Is dancing in this circle.
DUCHESS: Remove him.
DUCHESS: There needs small conjuration, when your finger
May do it, thus; is it fit?
ANTONIO: What said you?
DUCHESS: Sir, this goodly roof of yours, is too low built;
I cannot stand upright in’t nor discourse,
Without I raise it higher. Raise yourself,
Or, if you please, my hand to help you: so.
ANTONIO: Ambition, madam, is a great man’s madness,
That is not kept in chains and close-pent rooms
But in fair lightsome lodgings and is girt
With the wild noise of prattling visitants
Which makes it lunatic beyond all cure.
Conceive not I am so stupid but I aim
Whereto your favors tend: but he’s a fool,
That being a-cold, would thrust his hands i’th’ fire
To warm them.
DUCHESS: So now the ground’s broke,
You may discover what a wealthy mine
I make you lord of.
ANTONIO: O, my unworthiness!
DUCHESS: You were ill to sell yourself.
This darkening of your worth is not like that
Which tradesmen use i’th’ city; their false lights
Are to rid bad wares off. And I must tell you,
If you will know where breathes a complete man
(I speak it without flattery) turn your eyes,
And progress through yourself.
ANTONIO: Were there nor heaven nor hell,
I should be honest: I have long serv’d virtue,
And ne’er ta’en wages of her.
DUCHESS: Now she pays it.
The misery of us that are born great!
We are forc’d to woo, because none dare woo us.
And as a tyrant doubles with his words
And fearfully equivocates, so we
Are forc’d to express our violent passions
In riddles, and in dreams, and leave the path
Of simple virtue, which was never made
To seem the thing it is not. Go, go brag
You have left me heartless; mine is in your bosom:
I hope ’twill multiply love there. You do tremble:
Make not your heart so dead a piece of flesh,
To fear more than to love me. Sir, be confident:
What is’t distracts you? This is flesh and blood, sir;
‘Tis not the figure cut in alabaster
Kneels at my husbands tomb. Awake, awake, man!
I do here put off all vain ceremony,
And only do appear to you a young widow
That claims you for her husband, and like a widow,
I use but half a blush in’t.
ANTONIO: Truth speak for me:
I will remain the constant sanctuary
Of your good name.
DUCHESS: I thank you, gentle love.
And ’cause you shall not come to me in debt,
Being now my steward, here upon your lips
I sign your Quietus est. This you should have begg’d now;
I have seen children oft eat sweetmeats thus,
As fearful to devour them too soon.
ANTONIO: But for your brothers?
ANTONIO: These words should be mine,
And all the parts you have spoke, if some part of it
Would not have savour’d flattery.
DUCHESS: Be not amaz’d, this woman’s of my counsel.
I have heard lawyers say a contract in a chamber
Per verba presenti is absolute marriage.
Bless, heaven, this sacred gordian, which let violence
DUCHESS: Quickening and make
The like soft music.
ANTONIO: That we may imitate the loving palms,
Best emblem of a peaceful marriage
That never bore fruit divided.
DUCHESS: What can the church force more?
ANTONIO: That fortune may not know an accident
Either of joy, or sorrow, to divide
Our fixed wishes.
ANTONIO: What’s your conceit in this?
DUCHESS: I would have you lead your fortune by the hand
Unto your marriage bed
(You speak in me this, for we now are one).
We’ll only lie, and talk together, and plot
T’appease my humourous kindred; and if you please,
Like the old tale in Alexander and Lodowick,
Lay a naked sword between us, keep us chaste.
O, let me shroud my blushes in your bosom,
Since ’tis the treasury of all my secrets!
CARIOLA: Whether the spirit of greatness or of woman
Reign most in her, I know not, but it shows
A fearful madness. I owe her much of pity.
primitive decency: following the tradition of the early church (a Protestant complaint that the Catholic church had over the centuries strayed far from the original purity of the early Christian community)
showers: Zeus impregnated Danae (the mother of Perseus) by falling into her lap as a golden shower; Zeus was also known for hurling lightning, so Bosola suggests that this shower of gold must be followed by some deadly deed.
candies … complemental: thus the devil makes sin seem sweet, and what heaven calls vile, he describes as something complimentary or good. (complemental: fine behavior which completes a gentleman, OED).
melancholy: one of four bodily fluids called humours, melancholy causing sadness, moodiness; see 2.5 commentary notes on humours
I’ll never marry: notice that her speech is cut off. Perhaps she would say, “I will never marry against the honor of the family” or something to that effect, but in any case she doesn’t necessarily lie to her brothers about her intentions, but considers it none of their business.
couple: two bed sheets, with an allusion to coupling as in sex. Antonio continues to play along, teasing her with a sexual innuendo; in his own way he is as bold as she is, as he knows someone of his status cannot marry a duchess.
saucy and ambitious devil: sorcerers would conjure up devils within a magic circle; here Antonio looks through the ring (circle) to see the Duchess, whom he assumes may be toying dangerously with his affections.
Quietus est: “It is finished” (Latin), written at the closing of an account or in this case, the end of Antonio’s status as her servant. However, Hamlet uses the term to refer to death, “release from life” (III.i) which Webster may be suggesting here.
Per verba [de] presenti: “through words about the present” (Latin); she claims that their vows to each other are legally binding, although not sanctified by the Catholic church. However, even in Protestant England the law required two witnesses (only Cariola is present), so that audiences at the time may not have considered their union legitimate.
humourous: not laughable, but affected by ill-humours, emotionally unbalanced (see commentary for theory of humours)
spirit of greatness: Cariola questions whether the Duchess’ independent spirit to follow her own path regardless of the dangers comes from her “greatness,” her confidence in her aristocratic heritage, or from her supposed weakness as a woman to be led more by passion than reason, a common perception of women in that time.