The Duchess of Malfi/Act II, scene ii

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Act II, scene ii

Action is continuous


BOSOLA: So, so, there's no question but her tetchiness

And most vulturous eating of the apricocks, are

Apparent signs of breeding. Now?

Enter an OLD LADY

OLD LADY: I am in haste, sir.

BOSOLA: There was a young waiting-woman, had a monstrous desire

To see the glass-house--

OLD LADY: Nay, pray let me go.

BOSOLA: And it was only to know what strange instrument it was,

Should swell up a glass to the fashion of a woman's belly.

OLD LADY: I will hear no more of the glass house.

You are still abusing women.

BOSOLA: Who I? no, only, by the way, now and then,

Mention your frailties. The orange-tree

Bears ripe and green fruit and blossoms,

Altogether: and some of you

Give entertainment for pure love, but more,

For precious reward. The lusty

Spring smells well; but drooping autumn tastes well. If we

Have the same golden showers, that rained in the time of Jupiter

The thunderer, you have the same Danaes still, to hold up

Their laps to receive them. Didst thou never study

The mathematics?

OLD LADY: What's that, sir?

BOSOLA: Why, to know the trick how to make a many lines meet

In one center. Go, go, give your foster-daughters good counsel:

Tell them, that the devil takes delight to hang at a woman's girdle,

Like a false rusty watch, that she cannot discern

How the time passes.



ANTONIO: Shut up the court-gates.

RODERIGO: Why, sir? what's the danger?

ANTONIO: Shut up the posterns presently, and call

All the officers o'th'court.

GRISOLAN: I shall instantly.

He exits

ANTONIO: Who keeps the key o'th' park gate?

RODERIGO: Forobosco.

ANTONIO: Let him bring't presently.


SERVANT 1: O, gentlemen o'th' court, the foulest treason!

BOSOLA: [aside] If that these apricocks should be poison'd now,

Without my knowledge!

SERVANT 1: There was taken even now a Switzer in the duchess' bed-chamber--

SERVANT 2: A Switzer!

SERVANT 1: With a pistol in his great cod-piece.

BOSOLA: Ha, ha, ha!

SERVANT 1: The cod-piece was the case for't.

SERVANT 2: There was a cunning traitor; who would

have search'd his cod-piece?

SERVANT 1: True, if he had kept out of the ladies' chambers:

and all the moulds of his buttons were leaden bullets.

SERVANT 2: O, wicked cannibal! a firelock in's codpiece!

SERVANT 1: 'Twas a French plot, upon my life.

SERVANT 2: To see what the devil can do!

ANTONIO: Are all the officers here?


ANTONIO: Gentlemen,

We have lost much plate you know; and but this evening

Jewels, to the value of four thousand ducats,

Are missing in the duchess' cabinet.

Are the gates shut?


ANTONIO: 'Tis the duchess' pleasure

Each officer be lock'd into his chamber

Till the sun-rising; and to send the keys

Of all their chests, and of their outward doors

Into her bed-chamber. She is very sick.

RODERIGO: At her pleasure.

ANTONIO: She entreats you tak't not ill: the innocent

Shall be the more approv'd by it.

BOSOLA: Gentlemen o'th' wood-yard, where's your Switzer now?

SERVANT 1: By this hand 'twas credibly reported by one o'th' blackguard.

Exit Gentlemen

DELIO: How fares it with the duchess?

ANTONIO: She's expos'd

Unto the worst of torture, pain and fear.

DELIO: Speak to her all happy comfort.

ANTONIO: How I do play the fool with mine own danger!

You are this night, dear friend, to post to Rome:

My life lies in your service.

DELIO: Do not doubt me.

ANTONIO: O, 'tis far from me! and yet fear presents me

Somewhat that looks like danger.

DELIO: Believe it,

'Tis but the shadow of your fear, no more:

How superstitiously we mind our evils!

The throwing down salt, or crossing of a hare,

Bleeding at nose, the stumbling of a horse,

Or singing of a cricket, are of power

To daunt whole man in us. Sir, fare you well:

I wish you all the joys of a blest father;

And, for my faith, lay this unto your breast,

Old friends, like old swords, still are trusted best.


CARIOLA: Sir, you are the happy father of a son:

Your wife commends him to you.

ANTONIO: Blessed comfort!

For heaven' sake tend her well: I'll presently

Go set a figure for's nativity.

They exit