The Duchess of Malfi/Act II, scene iii

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Act II, scene iii

Later that night
Enter BOSOLA with a dark lantern

BOSOLA: Sure I did hear a woman shriek: list, ha!

And the sound came, if I receiv'd it right,

From the duchess' lodgings. There's some stratagem

In the confining all our courtiers

To their several wards: I must have part of it;

My intelligence will freeze else. List, again!

It may be 'twas the melancholy bird,

Best friend of silence and of solitariness,

The owl, that scream'd so. Ha! Antonio!


ANTONIO: I heard some noise. Who's there? what art thou? speak.

BOSOLA: Antonio? Put not your face nor body

To such a forc'd expression of fear:

I am Bosola, your friend.

ANTONIO: Bosola!

[aside] This mole does undermine me-- Heard you not

A noise even now?

BOSOLA: From whence?

ANTONIO: From the duchess' lodging.

BOSOLA: Not I: did you?

ANTONIO: I did, or else I dream'd.

BOSOLA: Let's walk towards it.

ANTONIO: No, it may be 'twas

But the rising of the wind.

BOSOLA: Very likely.

Methinks 'tis very cold, and yet you sweat.

You look wildly.

ANTONIO: I have been setting a figure

For the duchess' jewels.

BOSOLA: Ah, and how falls your question?

Do you find it radical?

ANTONIO: What's that to you?

'Tis rather to be question'd what design,

When all men were commanded to their lodgings,

Makes you a night-walker.

BOSOLA: In sooth I'll tell you:

Now all the court's asleep, I thought the devil

Had least to do here; I came to say my prayers,

And if it do offend you I do so,

You are a fine courtier.

ANTONIO: [aside] This fellow will undo me.--

You gave the duchess apricocks today:

Pray heaven they were not poison'd.

BOSOLA: Poison'd! a Spanish fig

For the imputation.

ANTONIO: Traitors are ever confident,

Till they are discover'd. There were jewels stol'n too:

In my conceit, none are to be suspected

More than yourself.

BOSOLA: You are a false steward.

ANTONIO: Saucy slave, I'll pull thee up by the roots.

BOSOLA: Maybe the ruin will crush you to pieces.

ANTONIO: You are an impudent snake indeed, sir.

Are you scarce warm, and do you show your sting?

You libel well, sir.

BOSOLA: No, sir: copy it out,

And I will set my hand to't.

ANTONIO: [aside] My nose bleeds.

One that were superstitious would count

This ominous, when it merely comes by chance:

Two letters, that are wrote here for my name,

Are drown'd in blood!

Mere accident. -- For you, sir, I'll take order

I'th' morn you shall be safe-- 'tis that must colour

Her lying in-- sir, this door you pass not:

I do not hold it fit that you come near

The duchess' lodgings, till you have quit yourself.--

The great are like the base, nay, they are the same,

When they seek shameful ways to avoid shame.


BOSOLA: Antonio hereabout did drop a paper.

Some of your help, false friend. O, here it is:

What's here? a child's nativity calculated!

The Duchess was delivered of a son, 'tween the hours

twelve and one in the night, Anno Dom. 1504, (that's this

year) decimo nono Decembris, (that's this night,) taken

according to the Meridian of Malfi (that's our Duchess:

happy discovery!) The lord of the first house being combust

in the ascendant, signifies short life; and Mars being in a

human sign, joined to the tail of the Dragon, in the eighth

house, doth threaten a violent death. Caetera non scrutantur.

Why, now 'tis most apparent: this precise fellow

Is the duchess' bawd. I have it to my wish!

This is a parcel of intelligency

Our courtiers were cas'd up for: it needs must follow,

That I must be committed, on pretence

Of poisoning her; which I'll endure, and laugh at.

If one could find the father now! but that

Time will discover. Old Castruchio

I'th' morning posts to Rome: by him I'll send

A letter, that shall make her brothers' galls

O'erflow their livers. This was a thrifty way.

Though lust do mask in ne'er so strange disguise,

She's oft found witty, but is never wise.