Act 5 Scene 5
The CARDINAL’S apartments
Enter CARDINAL, with a book
CARDINAL: I am puzzled in a question about hell.
He says, in hell there’s one material fire,
And yet it shall not burn all men alike.
Lay him by. How tedious is a guilty conscience!
When I look into the fish-ponds in my garden,
Methinks I see a thing arm’d with a rake,
That seems to strike at me.
Enter BOSOLA and SERVANT
Now, art thou come? Thou look’st ghastly.
There sits in thy face some great determination,
Mix’d with some fear.
BOSOLA: Thus it lightens into action.
I am come to kill thee.
CARDINAL: Ha! Help! Our guard!
BOSOLA: Thou art deceiv’d;
They are out of thy howling.
CARDINAL: Hold, and I will faithfully divide
Revenues with thee.
CARDINAL: Raise the watch. We are betray’d!
CARDINAL: Help! We are betray’d!
Enter MALATESTE, PESCARA, RODERIGO, and GRISOLAN, above
CARDINAL: My dukedom for rescue!
RODERIGO: Fie upon his counterfeiting.
MALATESTE: Why, ’tis not the Cardinal.
RODERIGO: Yes, yes, ’tis he,
But I’ll see him hang’d ere I’ll go down to him.
CARDINAL: Here’s a plot upon me; I am assaulted! I am lost
Unless some rescue!
GRISOLAN: He doth this pretty well;
But it will not serve to laugh me out of mine honor.
CARDINAL: The sword’s at my throat!
RODERIGO: You would not bawl so loud then.
MALATESTE: Come, come, let’s go to bed. He told us thus much aforehand.
PESCARA: He wish’d you should not come at him; but believe’t,
The accent of the voice sounds not in jest.
I’ll down to him, howsoever, and with engines
Force ope the doors.
RODERIGO: Let’s follow him aloof,
And note how the Cardinal will laugh at him.
Exit above, Malateste, Roderigo, and Grisolan
BOSOLA: There’s for you first,
‘Cause you shall not unbarricade the door
To let in rescue.
He kills the servant
CARDINAL: What cause hast thou to pursue my life?
BOSOLA: Look there.
BOSOLA: Slain by my hand unwittingly.
Pray, and be sudden. When thou kill’d’st thy sister,
Thou took’st from Justice her most equal balance,
And left her naught but her sword.
CARDINAL: O mercy!
CARDINAL: Thou hast hurt me.
CARDINAL: Shall I die like a leveret,
Without any resistance? Help, help, help!
I am slain.
CARDINAL: Help me, I am your brother!
FERDINAND: The devil! My brother fight upon the adverse party?
He wounds the CARDINAL, and (in the scuffle)
gives BOSOLA his death wound
There flies your ransom.
CARDINAL: O justice!
I suffer now for what hath former been:
Sorrow is held the eldest child of sin.
FERDINAND: Now you’re brave fellows.
Caesar’s fortune was harder than Pompey’s;
Caesar died in the arms of prosperity,
Pompey at the feet of disgrace.
You both died in the field,
The pain’s nothing. Pain many time is taken away with
The apprehension of greater, as the toothache with the sight
Of a barber that comes to pull it out; there’s philosophy for you.
BOSOLA: Now my revenge is perfect. Sink, thou main cause
Of my undoing. The last part of my life
Hath done me best service.
He stabs Ferdinand
BOSOLA: He seems to come to himself, now he’s so near the bottom.
FERDINAND: My sister, O my sister! there’s the cause on’t.
Whether we fall by ambition, blood, or lust,
Like diamonds, we are cut with our own dust.
CARDINAL: Thou hast thy payment too.
BOSOLA: Yes, I hold my weary soul in my teeth;
‘Tis ready to part from me. I do glory
That thou, which stood’st like a huge pyramid
Begun upon a large and ample base,
Shalt end in a little point, a kind of nothing.
Enter PESCARA and the others
PESCARA: How now, my lord!
MALATESTE: O, sad disaster!
RODERIGO: How comes this?
BOSOLA: Revenge for the Duchess of Malfi, murder’d
By the Arragonian brethren; for Antonio,
Slain by this hand; for lustful Julia,
Poison’d by this man; and lastly for myself,
That was an actor in the main of all
Much ‘gainst mine own good nature, yet i’th’ end
PESCARA: How now, my lord?
CARDINAL: Look to my brother:
He gave us these large wounds, as we were struggling
Here i’th’ rushes. And now, I pray, let me
Be laid by and never thought of.
PESCARA: How fatally, it seems, he did withstand
His own rescue!
MALATESTE: Thou wretched thing of blood,
How came Antonio by his death?
BOSOLA: In a mist; I know not how.
Such a mistake as I have often seen
In a play. O, I am gone!
We are only like dead walls, or vaulted graves,
That ruin’d, yield no echo. Fare you well.
It may be pain, but no harm to me to die
In so good a quarrel. O, this gloomy world!
In what a shadow, or deep pit of darkness,
Doth womanish and fearful mankind live!
Let worthy minds ne’er stagger in distrust
To suffer death or shame for what is just:
Mine is another voyage.
PESCARA: The noble Delio, as I came to th’ palace,
Told me of Antonio’s being here, and show’d me
A pretty gentleman, his son and heir.
Enter DELIO, and Antonio’s son
MALATESTE: O sir, you come too late!
DELIO: I heard so, and
Was arm’d for’t ere I came. Let us make noble use
Of this great ruin, and join all our force
To establish this young hopeful gentleman
In’s mother’s right. These wretched eminent things
Leave no more fame behind ’em, than should one
Fall in a frost, and leave his print in snow:
As soon as the sun shines, it ever melts,
Both form and matter. I have ever thought
Nature doth nothing so great for great men,
As when she’s pleas’d to make them lords of truth:
Integrity of life is fame’s best friend,
Which nobly, beyond death, shall crown the end.
play: note Webster’s tongue-in-cheek reference to the implausible circumstances which conclude most tragedies, with everyone of importance dead at the end. Also see theatrical self-references in the Duchess’ line, “I account this world a tedious theatre, for I do play a part in’t ‘gainst my will” (4.1) and Ferdinand’s line to Bosola, “We observe in tragedies that a good actor many times is curs’d for playing a villain’s part” (4.2).
another voyage: Although he has avenged the Duchess and dies in a just cause, Bosola seems to think that his death comes not because of this final deed but as payment for his earlier villainy (as the Cardinal says), thus he assumes that his voyage after death will not take him to a hero’s reward.