The Duchess of Malfi/Act II, scene iv

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Act II, scene iv

The Cardinal's apartments in Rome Enter CARDINAL and JULIA

CARDINAL: Sit: thou art my best of wishes. Prithee tell me,

What trick didst thou invent to come to Rome

Without thy husband?

JULIA: Why, my lord, I told him

I came to visit an old anchorite

Here, for devotion.

CARDINAL: Thou art a witty false one;

I mean, to him.

JULIA: You have prevail'd with me

Beyond my strongest thoughts: I would not now

Find you inconstant.

CARDINAL: Do not put thyself

To such a voluntary torture, which proceeds

Out of your own guilt.

JULIA: How, my lord?

CARDINAL: You fear

My constancy, because you have approv'd

Those giddy and wild turnings in yourself.

JULIA: Did you e'er find them?

CARDINAL: Sooth, generally for women;

A man might strive to make glass malleable,

Ere he should make them fixed.

JULIA: So, my lord.

CARDINAL: We had need go borrow that fantastic glass,

Invented by Galileo the Florentine,

To view another spacious world i'th' moon,

And look to find a constant woman there.

JULIA: This is very well, my lord.

CARDINAL: Why do you weep?

Are tears your justification? the self-same tears

Will fall into your husband's bosom, lady,

With a loud protestation that you love him

Above the world. Come, I'll love you wisely,

That's jealously, since I am very certain

You cannot make me cuckold.

JULIA: I'll go home

To my husband.

CARDINAL: You may thank me, lady:

I have taken you off your melancholy perch,

Bore you upon my fist, and show'd you game,

And let you fly at it. I pray thee kiss me.

When thou was't with thy husband, thou wast watch'd

Like a tame elephant: (still you are to thank me.)

Thou hadst only kisses from him, and high feeding,

But what delight was that? 'Twas just like one

That hath a little fing'ring on the lute,

Yet cannot tune it: (still you are to thank me.)

JULIA: You told me of a piteous wound i'th' heart,

And a sick liver, when you woo'd me first,

And spake like one in physic.

CARDINAL: Who's that?


Rest firm, for my affection to thee,

Lightning moves slow to't.

SERVANT: Madam, a gentleman,

That's come post from Malfi, desires to see you.

CARDINAL: Let him enter, I'll withdraw.

He exits

SERVANT: He says,

Your husband, old Castruchio, is come to Rome,

Most pitifully tired with riding post.

He exits


JULIA: Signior Delio! [aside] 'tis one of my old suitors.

DELIO: I was bold to come and see you.

JULIA: Sir, you are welcome.

DELIO: Do you lie here?

JULIA: Sure, your own experience

Will satisfy you, no: our Roman prelates

Do not keep lodging for ladies.

DELIO: Very well:

I have brought you no commendations from your husband,

For I know none by him.

JULIA: I hear he's come to Rome.

DELIO: I never knew man and beast, of a horse and a knight,

So weary of each other; if he had had a good back,

He would have undertook to have borne his horse,

His breech was so pitifully sore.

JULIA: Your laughter

Is my pity.

DELIO: Lady, I know not whether

You want money, but I have bought you some.

JULIA: From my husband?

DELIO: No, from mine own allowance.

JULIA: I must hear the condition, ere I be bound to take it.

DELIO: Look on't, 'tis gold; hath it not a fine colour?

JULIA: I have a bird more beautiful.

DELIO: Try the sound on't.

JULIA: A lute-string far exceeds it:

It hath no smell, like cassia, or civet;

Nor is it physical, though some fond doctors

Persuade us seeth't in cullises. I'll tell you,

This is a creature bred by--


SERVANT: Your husband's come,

Hath deliver'd a letter to the Duke of Calabria,

That to my thinking, hath put him out of his wits.

He exits

JULIA: Sir, you hear:

Pray let me know your business, and your suit,

As briefly as can be.

DELIO: With good speed, I would wish you,

At such time as you are non-resident

With your husband, my mistress.

JULIA: Sir, I'll go ask my husband if I shall,

And straight return your answer.

She exits

DELIO: Very fine.

Is this her wit, or honesty, that speaks thus?

I heard one say the Duke was highly mov'd

With a letter sent from Malfi. I do fear

Antonio is betray'd: how fearfully

Shows his ambition now; unfortunate fortune!

They pass through whirlpools, and deep woes do shun,

Who the event weigh, ere the action's done.

He exits