The Revenger's Tragedy

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The Revenger's Tragedy

The Revenger's Tragedy was published in 1607 without author's name on the title page. Once generally accepted as the work of Cyril Tourneur, most modern scholars now attribute it to Thomas Middleton.

[Dramatis Personae in order of appearance

VINDICI, the revenger, sometimes disguised as Piato
HIPPOLITO, his brother
GRATIANA, his mother
CASTIZA, his sister
LUSSURIOSO, the Duke's son by a previous marriage
AMBITIOSO, the eldest of the Duchess's three sons by a previous marriage
SPURIO, the Duke's bastard son
JUNIOR, the Duchess's youngest son
SUPERVACUO, the Duchess's middle son
ANTONIO, a virtuous old lord
PIERO, a virtuous lord
DONDOLO, Castiza's servant
Two SERVANTS of Spurio
Four prison OFFICERS
A prison KEEPER
SORDIDO } Lussurioso's attendants
A FOURTH MAN in the final masque, Ambitioso's henchman


Act 1, Scene 1: Outside Vindici's house[edit]

Enter Vindici [with a skull]; the Duke, Duchess, Lussurioso [his] son, Spurio the bastard, with a train pass over the stage with torchlight.


Duke, royal lecher, go, gray-hair'd adultery;

And thou his son, as impious steep'd as he;

And thou his bastard, true-begot in evil;

And thou his duchess that will do with [the] devil:

Four ex'lent characters. Oh, that marrowless age

Would stuff the hollow bones with damn'd desires,

And stead of heat kindle infernal fires

Within the spendthrift veins of a dry duke,

A parch'd and juiceless luxur! Oh God, one

That has scarce blood enough to live upon!

And he to riot it like a son and heir?

Oh, the thought of that

Turns my abused heartstrings into fret!

Thou sallow picture of my poisoned love,

My study's ornament, thou shell of death,

Once the bright face of my betrothed lady,

When life and beauty naturally fill'd out

These ragged imperfections,

When two heaven-pointed diamonds were set

In those unsightly rings: then 'twas a face

So far beyond the artificial shine

Of any woman's bought complexion

That the uprightest man, if such there be,

That sin but seven times a day, broke custom

And made up eight with looking after her.

Oh, she was able to ha' made a usurer's son

Melt all his patrimony in a kiss,

And what his father fifty years told

To have consum'd, and yet his suit been cold!

But oh, accursed palace!

Thee, when thou wert apparel'd in thy flesh,

The old duke poison'd,

Because thy purer part would not consent

Unto his palsy-lust, for old men lustful

Do show like young men angry, eager-violent,

Outbid like their limited performances.

Oh, 'ware an old man hot and vicious!

"Age, as in gold, in lust is covetous."

Vengeance, thou murder's quit-rent, and whereby

Thou shouldst thyself tenant to tragedy,

Oh, keep thy day, hour, minute, I beseech,

For those thou hast determin'd! Hum: whoe'er knew

Murder unpaid? Faith, give revenge her due:

Sh'as kept touch hitherto. Be merry, merry;

Advance thee, O thou terror to fat folks,

To have their costly three-pil'd flesh worn of

As bare as this: for banquets, ease, and laughter

Can make great men, as greatness goes by clay,

But wise men little are more great than they.

Enter [his] brother Hippolito.


Still sighing o'er death's vizard?


Brother, welcome;

What comfort bringst thou? How go things at court?


In silk and silver, brother; never braver.



Thou play'st upon my meaning. Prithee say,

Has that bald madam, opportunity,

Yet thought upon's? Speak, are we happy yet?

Thy wrongs and mine are for one scabbard fit.


It may prove happiness.


What is't may prove?

Give me to taste.


Give me your hearing then.

You know my place at court.


Ay, the duke's chamber.

But 'tis a marvel thou'rt not turn'd out yet!


Faith, I have been shov'd at, but 'twas still my hap

To hold by th' duchess' skirt. You guess at that;

Whom such a coat keeps up can ne'er fall flat.

But to the purpose.

Last evening predecessor unto this,

The duke's son warily enquir'd for me,

Whose pleasure I attended: he began

By policy to open and unhusk me

About the time and common rumour;

But I had so much wit to keep my thoughts

Up in their built houses, yet afforded him

An idle satisfaction without danger.

But the whole aim and scope of his intent

Ended in this: conjuring me in private

To seek some strange-digested fellow forth

Of ill-contented nature, either disgrac'd

In former times, or by new grooms displac'd

Since his stepmother's nuptials, such a blood

A man that were for evil only good;

To give you the true word, some base-coin'd pander.


I reach you, for I know his heat is such:

Were there as many concubines as ladies

He would not be contain'd, he must fly out.

I wonder how ill-featur'd, vild-proportion'd

That one should be, if she were made for woman,

Whom at the insurrection of his lust

He would refuse for once. Heart, I think none,

Next to a skull, tho' more unsound than one:

Each face he meets he strongly dotes upon.


Brother, y'ave truly spoke him.

He knows not you, but I'll swear you know him.


And therefore I'll put on that knave for once,

And be a right man then, a man a' th' time,

For to be honest is not to be i' th' world.

Brother, I'll be that strange-composed fellow.


And I'll prefer you, brother.


Go to then;

The small'st advantage fattens wronged men,

It may point out. Occasion, if I meet her,

I'll hold her by the foretop fast enough,

Or like the French mole heave up hair and all.

I have a habit that will fit it quaintly.

[Enter Gratiana and Castiza.] Here comes our mother.


And sister.


We must coin.

Women are apt, you know, to take false money,

But I dare stake my soul for these two creatures,

Only excuse excepted that they'll swallow

Because their sex is easy in belief.


What news from [court], son Carlo?


Faith, Mother,

'Tis whisper'd there the duchess' youngest son

Has play'd a rape on Lord Antonio's wife.


On that religious lady!


Royal blood!

Monster, he deserves to die,

If Italy had no more hopes but he.


Sister, y'ave sentenc'd most direct and true:

The law's a woman, and would she were you.

Mother, I must take leave of you.


Leave for what?


I intend speedy travel.


That he does, madam.


Speedy indeed!


For since my worthy father's funeral,

My life's unnatural to me, e'en compell'd

As if I liv'd now when I should be dead.


Indeed he was a worthy gentleman,

Had his estate been fellow to his mind.


The duke did much deject him.




Too much.

And through disgrace oft smother'd in his spirit

When it would mount, surely I think he died

Of discontent, the nobleman's consumption.


Most sure he did!


Did he? 'Lack, you know all;

You were his midnight secretary.



He was too wise to trust me with his thoughts.


I'faith then, father, thou wast wise indeed:

"Wives are but made to go to bed and feed."

Come mother, sister; you'll bring me onward, brother?


I will.


[Aside to him] I'll quickly turn into another.


Act 1, Scene 2: A court of Law[edit]

Enter the old Duke, Lussurioso his son, the Duchess, the Bastard, the Duchess' two sons Ambitioso and Supervacuo, the third her youngest brought out with Officers for the rape, two Judges.

Duchess, it is your youngest son; we're sorry.
His violent act has e'en drawn blood of honour
And stain'd our honours,
Thrown ink upon the forehead of our state,
Which envious spirits will dip their pens into
After our death and blot us in our tombs,
For that which would seem treason in our lives
Is laughter when we're dead: who dares now whisper
That dares not then speak out, and e'en proclaim,
With loud words and broad pens our closest shame?

Your grace hath spoke like to your silver years
Full of confirmed gravity, for what is it to have
A flattering false insculption on a tomb,
And in men's hearts' reproach? The bowell'd corpse
May be cer'd in, but with free tongue I speak,
"The faults of great men through their [cerecloths] break."

They do, we're sorry for't; it is our fate:
To live in fear and die to live in hate.
I leave him to your sentence; doom him, lords,
The fact is great, whilst I sit by and sigh.

My gracious lord, I pray be merciful.
Although his trespass far exceed his years,
Think him to be your own as I am yours;
Call him not son-in-law. The law I fear
Will fall too soon upon his name and him;
Temper his fault with pity.

Good my lord,
Then 'twill not taste so bitter and unpleasant
Upon the judge's palate, for offenses
Gilt o'er with mercy show like fairest women,
Good only for their beauties, which wash'd of,
No sin is uglier.

I beseech your grace,
Be soft and mild: let not relentless law,
Look with an iron forehead on our brother.

He yields small comfort yet; hope he shall die,
And if a bastard's wish might stand in force,
Would all the court were turn'd into a corse.

No pity yet? Must I rise fruitless then?
A wonder in a woman. Are my knees
Of such low metal that without respect--

Let the offender stand forth.
'Tis the duke's pleasure that impartial doom
Shall take [fast] hold of his unclean attempt.
A rape! Why, 'tis the very core of lust,
Double adultery!

So, sir.

And which was worse,
Committed on the Lord Antonio's wife,
That general honest lady. Confess, my lord!
What mov'd you to't?

Why, flesh and blood, my lord.
What should move men unto a woman else?

Oh, do not jest thy doom; trust not an axe
Or sword too far: the law is a wise serpent
And quickly can beguile thee of thy life.
Tho' marriage only has [made] thee my brother,
I love thee so far; play not with thy death.

I thank you, troth; good admonitions, faith,
If I'd the grace now to make use of them.

That lady's name has spread such a fair wing
Over all Italy, that if our tongues
Were sparing toward the fact, judgment itself
Would be condemned and suffer in men's thoughts.

Well then, 'tis done, and it would please me well
Were it to do again: sure [she's] a goddess,
For I'd no power to see her and to live.
It falls out true in this, for I must die:
Her beauty was ordain'd to be my scaffold.
And yet [methinks] I might be easier [cess'd],
My fault being sport, let me but die in jest.

This be the sentence.

Oh, keep 't upon your tongue; let it not slip:
Death too soon steals out of a lawyer's lip.
Be not so cruel-wise.

Your grace must pardon us;
'Tis but the justice of the law.

The law
Is grown more subtle than a woman should be.

[Aside] Now, now he dies; rid 'em away.

[Aside] Oh, what it is to have an old, cool duke,
To be as slack in tongue as in performance!

Confirm'd; this be the doom irrevocable.


Tomorrow early--

Pray be a-bed, my lord.

Your grace much wrongs yourself.

No, 'tis that tongue,
Your too much right, does do us too much wrong.

Let that offender--

Live, and be in health.

Be on a scaffold--

Hold, hold, my lord.

[Aside] Pax on't,
What makes my dad speak now?

We will defer the judgment till next sitting.
In the meantime let him be kept close prisoner:
Guard, bear him hence.

[Ambitioso and Supervacuo take Junior aside.]

Brother, this makes for thee;
Fear not, we'll have a trick to set thee free.

Brother, I will expect it from you both,
And in that hope I rest.

Farewell, be merry.

Exit [Junior] with a guard.

[Aside] Delay'd, deferr'd! Nay, then if judgment have cold blood,
Flattery and bribes will kill it.

About it then, my lords, with your best powers;
More serious business calls upon our hours.

Exeunt [omnes]. Manet Duchess.

Wast ever known step-duchess was so mild
And calm as I? Some now would plot his death
With easy doctors, those loose-living men,
And make his wither'd grace fall to his grave
And keep church better.
Some second wife would do this, and dispatch
Her double-loath'd lord at meat and sleep.
Indeed, 'tis true an old man's twice a child.
Mine cannot speak; one of his single words
Would quite have freed my youngest, dearest son
From death or durance, and have made him walk
With a bold foot upon the thorny law,
Whose prickles should bow under him: but 'tis not,
And therefore wedlock, faith, shall be forgot.
I'll kill him in his forehead; hate there feed:
That wound is deepest tho' it never bleed.

[Enter Spurio.]

[Aside] And here comes he whom my heart points unto,
His bastard son, but my love's true-begot.
Many a wealthy letter have I sent him,
Swell'd up with jewels, and the timorous man
Is yet but coldly kind;
That jewel's mine that quivers in his ear,
Mocking his master's chillness and vain fear.
H'as spied me now.

Madam? Your grace so private?
My duty on your hand.

[He kisses her hand.]

Upon my hand, sir! Troth, I think you'd fear
To kiss my hand too if my lip stood there.

Witness I would not, madam.

Tis a wonder,
For ceremony [has] made many fools.
It is as easy way unto a duchess
As to a hatted dame, if her love answer,
But that by timorous honours, pale respects,
Idle degrees of fear, men make their ways
Hard of themselves. What have you thought of me?

Madam, I ever think of you in duty,
Regard, and--

Puh, upon my love, I mean!

I would 'twere love, but ['t 'as] a fouler name
Than lust; you are my father's wife: your grace may guess now
What I could call it.

Why, th'art his son but falsely;
'Tis a hard question whether he begot thee.

I'faith, 'tis true too; I'm an uncertain man,
Of more uncertain woman. Maybe his groom
A' th' stable begot me; you know I know not.
He could ride a horse well; a shrewd suspicion, marry!
He was wondrous tall; he had his length, i'faith,
For peeping over half shut holy-day windows:
Men would desire him light! When he was afoot,
He made a goodly show under a penthouse,
And when he rid, his hat would check the signs
And clatter barbers' basins.

Nay, set you a-horseback once,
You'll ne'er light off.

Indeed, I am a beggar.

That's more the sign thou art great. But to our love:
Let it stand firm both in thought and mind.
That the duke was thy father, as no doubt then
He bid fair for't, thy injury is the more,
For had he cut thee a right diamond,
Thou hadst been next set in the dukedom's ring
When his worn self like age's easy slave
Had dropp'd out of the collet into th' grave.
What wrong can equal this? Canst thou be tame
And think upon't?

No, mad and think upon't!

Who would not be reveng'd of such a father,
E'en in the worst way? I would thank that sin
That could most injury him and be in league with it.
Oh, what a grief 'tis, that a man should live
But once i' th' world, and then to live a bastard,
The curse a' the womb, the thief of nature,
Begot against the seventh commandment,
Half-damn'd in the conception, by the justice
Of that unbribed, everlasting law!

Oh, I'd a hot-back'd devil to my father!

Would not this mad e'en patience, make blood rough?
Who but an eunuch would not sin, his bed
By one false minute disinherited?

Ay, there's the vengeance that my birth was wrapp'd in;
I'll be reveng'd for all. Now hate begin;
I'll call foul incest but a venial sin.

Cold still? In vain then must a duchess woo?

Madam, I blush to say what I will do.

Thence flew sweet comfort, earnest and farewell.

[She kisses him.]

Oh, one incestuous kiss picks open hell!

[Aside] Faith, now, old duke, my vengeance shall reach high;
I'll arm thy brow with woman's heraldry.


Duke, thou didst do me wrong, and by thy act
Adultery is my nature.
Faith, if the truth were known, I was begot
After some gluttonous dinner; some stirring dish
Was my first father. When deep healths went round,
And ladies' cheeks were painted red with wine,
Their tongues as short and nimble as their heels,
Uttering words sweet and thick, and when they [rose]
Were merrily dispos'd to fall again:
In such a whisp'ring and withdrawing hour,
When base male-bawds kept sentinel at stair-head,
Was I stol'n softly. Oh, damnation met
The sin of feasts, drunken adultery!
I feel it swell me; my revenge is just:
I was begot in impudent wine and lust.
Stepmother, I consent to thy desires;
I love thy mischief well, but I hate thee
And those three cubs, thy sons, wishing confusion,
Death, and disgrace may be their epitaphs.
As for my brother, the duke's only son,
Whose birth is more beholding to report
Than mine, and yet perhaps as falsely sown--
Women must not be trusted with their own--
I'll loose my days upon him: hate all I.
Duke, on thy brow I'll draw my bastardy,
For indeed a bastard by nature should make cuckolds,
Because he is the son of a cuckold-maker.


Act 1, Scene 3: The Palace[edit]

Enter Vindici and Hippolito, Vindici in disguise [as Piato] to attend Lord Lussurioso, the duke's son.

VINDICI What, brother? Am I far enough from myself?

HIPPOLITO As if another man had been sent Into the world, and none wist how he came.

VINDICI It will confirm me bold, the child a' th' court: Let blushes dwell i' th' country. Impudence, Thou goddess of the palace, [mistress] of [mistresses] To whom the costly-perfum'd people pray, Strike thou my forehead into dauntless marble, Mine eyes to steady sapphires: turn my visage, And if I must needs glow, let me blush inward That this immodest season may not spy That scholar in my cheeks, fool-bashfulness, That maid in the old time, whose flush of grace Would never suffer her to get good clothes. Our maids are wiser and are less asham'd; Save grace the bawd I seldom hear grace nam'd!

HIPPOLITO Nay, brother, you reach out a' th' verge now.

[Enter Lussurioso.]

'Sfoot, the duke's son! Settle your looks.

VINDICI Pray let me not be doubted.


LUSSURIOSO Hippolito? Be absent; leave us.

HIPPOLITO My lord, after long search, wary inquiries And politic siftings, I made choice of yon fellow, Whom I guess rare for many deep employments; This our age swims within him: and if Time Had so much hair, I should take him for Time, He is so near kin to this present minute.

LUSSURIOSO 'Tis enough; We thank thee. Yet words are but great men's blanks: Gold, tho' it be dumb, does utter the best thanks.

[He gives Hippolito gold.]

HIPPOLITO Your plenteous honour; an ex'lent fellow, my lord.

LUSSURIOSO So, give us leave.

Exit [Hippolito].

Welcome, be not far off, we must be better acquainted. Push, be bold with us, thy hand!

VINDICI With all my heart, i'faith. How dost, sweet musk-cat? When shall we lie together?

LUSSURIOSO [Aside] Wondrous knave! Gather him into boldness? 'Sfoot, the slave's Already as familiar as an ague, And shakes me at his pleasure!--Friend, I can Forget myself in private, but elsewhere, I pray do you remember me.

VINDICI Oh, very well, sir. I conster myself saucy.

LUSSURIOSO What hast been? Of what profession?

VINDICI A bone-setter.

LUSSURIOSO A bone-setter!

VINDICI A bawd, my lord, One that sets bones together.

LUSSURIOSO [Aside] Notable bluntness! Fit, fit for me, e'en train'd up to my hand.-- Thou hast been scrivener to much knavery then?

VINDICI Fool to abundance, sir. I have been witness To the surrenders of a thousand virgins, And not so little; I have seen patrimonies wash'd a' pieces, Fruit-fields turn'd into bastards, And in a world of acres, Not so much dust due to the heir 'twas left to As would well gravel a petition!

LUSSURIOSO [Aside] Fine villain! Troth, I like him wondrously. He's e'en shap'd for my purpose.--Then thou know'st I' th' world strange lust.

VINDICI Oh, Dutch lust! Fulsome lust! Drunken procreation, which begets So many drunkards! Some father dreads not, gone To bed in wine, to slide from the mother And cling the daughter-in-law, Some uncles are adulterous with their nieces, Brothers with brothers' wives. Oh, hour of incest! Any kin now next to the rim a' th' sister Is man's meat in these days, and in the morning When they are up and dress'd, and their mask on, Who can perceive this save that eternal eye That sees through flesh and all well. If anything be damn'd, It will be twelve a' clock at night; that twelve Will never 'scape: It is the Judas of the hours, wherein Honest salvation is betray'd to sin.

LUSSURIOSO In troth, it is too; but let this talk glide. It is our blood to err, tho' hell gap'd loud: Ladies know Lucifer fell, yet still are proud. Now, sir. Wert thou as secret as thou'rt subtle, And deeply fadom'd into all estates, I would embrace thee for a near employment, And thou shouldst swell in money, and be able To make lame beggars crouch to thee.

VINDICI My lord? Secret? I ne'er had that disease a' th' mother, I praise my father: why are men made close, But to keep thoughts in best? I grant you this, Tell but some woman a secret overnight, Your doctor may find it in the urinal i' th' morning. But, my lord--

LUSSURIOSO So, thou'rt confirmed in me, And thus I enter thee.

VINDICI This Indian devil Will quickly enter any man but a usurer; He prevents that by ent'ring the devil first.

LUSSURIOSO Attend me: I am past my [depth] in lust And I must swim or drown; all my desires Are level'd at a virgin not far from court, To whom I have convey'd by messenger Many wax'd lines, full of my neatest spirit, And jewels that were able to ravish her Without the help of man, all which and more She, foolish-chaste, sent back, the messengers Receiving frowns for answers.

VINDICI Possible? 'Tis a rare phoenix, whoe'er she be, If your desires be such, she so repugnant. In troth, my lord, I'd be reveng'd and marry her.

LUSSURIOSO Push, the dowry of her blood and of her fortunes Are both too mean, good enough to be bad withal. I'm one of that number can defend Marriage is good, yet rather keep a friend. Give me my bed by stealth; there's true delight: What breeds a loathing in't but night by night?

VINDICI A very fine religion!

LUSSURIOSO Therefore thus: I'll trust thee in the business of my heart Because I see thee well experienc'd In this luxurious day wherein we breathe. Go thou, and with a smooth, enchanting tongue Bewitch her ears and cozen her of all grace. Enter upon the portion of her soul, Her honour, which she calls her chastity, And bring it into expense, for honesty Is like a stock of money laid to sleep, Which ne'er so little broke does never keep.

VINDICI You have gi'n 't the tang, i'faith, my lord. Make known the lady to me, and my brain Shall swell with strange invention: I will move it Till I expire with speaking, and drop down Without a word to save me; but I'll work.

LUSSURIOSO We thank thee, and will raise thee: receive her name; It is the only daughter to Madam Gratiana, The late widow.

VINDICI [Aside] Oh, my sister, my sister!

LUSSURIOSO Why dost walk aside?

VINDICI My lord, I was thinking how I might begin, As thus, "Oh, lady," or twenty hundred devices; Her very bodkin will put a man in.

LUSSURIOSO Ay, or the wagging of her hair.

VINDICI No, that shall put you in, my lord.

LUSSURIOSO Shall 't? Why, content. Dost know the daughter then?

VINDICI Oh, ex'lent well by sight.

LUSSURIOSO That was her brother That did prefer thee to us.

VINDICI My lord, I think so; I knew I had seen him somewhere.

LUSSURIOSO And therefore, prithee, let thy heart to him Be as a virgin, close.

VINDICI Oh, [my] good lord!

LUSSURIOSO We may laugh at that simple age within him.

VINDICI Ha, ha, ha!

LUSSURIOSO Himself being made the subtle instrument To wind up a good fellow.

VINDICI That's I, my lord.

LUSSURIOSO That's thou, To entice and work his sister.

VINDICI A pure novice!

LUSSURIOSO 'Twas finely manag'd.

VINDICI Gallantly carried. [Aside] A pretty, perfum'd villain!

LUSSURIOSO I've bethought me, If she prove chaste still and immoveable, Venture upon the mother, and with gifts As I will furnish thee, begin with her.

VINDICI Oh, fie, fie, that's the wrong end, my lord! 'Tis mere impossible that a mother by any gifts should become a bawd to her own daughter!

LUSSURIOSO Nay, then I see thou'rt but a puny in the subtle mystery of a woman. Why, 'tis held now no dainty dish: the name Is so in league with age that nowadays It does eclipse three quarters of a mother.

VINDICI Dost so, my lord? Let me alone then to eclipse the fourth.

LUSSURIOSO Why, well said; come, I'll furnish thee, but first Swear to be true in all.


LUSSURIOSO Nay, but swear!

VINDICI Swear? I hope your honour little doubts my faith.

LUSSURIOSO Yet for my humour's sake, 'cause I love swearing.

VINDICI 'Cause you love swearing, 'slud, I will.

LUSSURIOSO Why, enough, Ere long look to be made of better stuff.

VINDICI That will do well indeed, my lord.



VINDICI Oh, Now let me burst: I've eaten noble poison! We are made strange fellows, brother, innocent villains. Wilt not be angry when thou hear'st on't, think'st thou? I'faith, thou shalt; swear me to foul my sister! Sword, I durst make a promise of him to thee, Thou shalt dis-heir him, it shall be thine honour! And yet now angry froth is down in me, It would not prove the meanest policy In this disguise to try the faith of both; Another might have had the selfsame office, Some slave that would have wrought effectually, Ay, and perhaps o'erwrought 'em. Therefore I, Being thought travell'd, will apply myself Unto the selfsame form, forget my nature, As if no part about me were kin to 'em; So touch 'em, tho' I durst almost for good Venture my lands in heaven upon their [blood].


Act 1, Scene 4: Antonio's House[edit]

Enter the discontented Lord Antonio, whose wife the Duchess' youngest son ravish'd, he discovering the body of her dead to [Piero and other] certain Lords and Hippolito.

ANTONIO Draw nearer, lords, and be sad witnesses Of a fair, comely building newly fall'n, Being falsely undermined: violent rape Has play'd a glorious act. Behold, my lords, A sight that strikes man out of me.

PIERO That virtuous lady?

ANTONIO President for wives!

HIPPOLITO The blush of many women, whose chaste presence Would e'en call shame up to their cheeks, And make pale wanton sinners have good colours--

ANTONIO Dead! Her honour first drunk poison, and her life, Being fellows in one house, did pledge her honour.

PIERO Oh, grief of many!

ANTONIO I mark'd not this before. A prayer book the pillow to her cheek, This was her rich confection, and another Plac'd in her right hand, with a leaf tuck'd up, Pointing to these words: "Melius virtute mori, quam per dedecus vivere." True and effectual it is indeed.

HIPPOLITO My lord, since you invite us to your sorrows, Let's truly taste 'em, that with equal comfort As to ourselves we may relieve your wrongs; We have grief too that yet walks without tongue: Curae leves loquuntur, majores stupent.

ANTONIO You deal with truth, my lord. Lend me but your attentions, and I'll cut Long grief into short words: last revelling night, When torch-light made an artificial noon About the court, some courtiers in the masque, Putting on better faces than their own, Being full of fraud and flattery, amongst whom The duchess' youngest son, that moth to honour, Fill'd up a room, and with long lust to eat Into my wearing, amongst all the ladies, Singled out that dear form, who ever liv'd As cold in lust as she is now in death, Which that step-duchess' monster knew too well; And therefore in the height of all the revels, When music was hard loudest, courtiers busiest, And ladies great with laughter. Oh, vicious minute! Unfit but for relation to be spoke of! Then with a face more impudent than his vizard, He harried her amidst a throng of panders, That live upon damnation of both kinds, And fed the ravenous vulture of his lust! Oh, death to think on't! She, her honour forc'd, Deem'd it a nobler dowry for her name To die with poison than to live with shame.

HIPPOLITO A wondrous lady; of rare fire compact: Sh'as made her name an empress by that act.

PIERO My lord, what judgment follows the offender?

ANTONIO Faith, none, my lord: it cools and is deferr'd.

PIERO Delay the doom for rape?

ANTONIO Oh, you must note who 'tis should die: The Duchess' son; she'll look to be a saver. "Judgment in this age is ne'er kin to favour."

HIPPOLITO [Drawing his sword] Nay, then step forth, thou bribeless officer. I bind you all in steel to bind you surely: Here let your oaths meet to be kept and paid, Which else will stick like rust and shame the blade. Strengthen my vow, that if at the next sitting Judgment speak all in gold, and spare the blood Of such a serpent, e'en before their seats, To let his soul out, which long since was found Guilty in heaven.

ALL [LORDS] We swear it and will act it.

ANTONIO Kind gentlemen, I thank you in mine ire.

HIPPOLITO 'Twere pity The ruins of so fair a monument Should not be dipp'd in the defacer's blood.

PIERO Her funeral shall be wealthy, for her name Merits a tomb of pearl. My Lord Antonio, For this time wipe your lady from your eyes; No doubt our grief and yours may one day court it, When we are more familiar with revenge.

ANTONIO That is my comfort, gentlemen, and I joy In this one happiness above the rest, Which will be call'd a miracle at last, That being an old man I'd a wife so chaste.


Act 2, Scene 1: Vindici's House[edit]

Enter Castiza the sister.

CASTIZA How hardly shall that maiden be beset Whose only fortunes are her constant thoughts, That has no other child's part but her honour That keeps her low and empty in estate. Maids and their honours are like poor beginners: Were not sin rich there would be fewer sinners. Why had not virtue a revenue? Well, I know the cause: 'twould have impoverish'd hell.

Enter Dondolo.

How now, Dondolo?

DONDOLO [Madonna], there is one, as they say, a thing of flesh and blood, a man I take him by his beard, that would very desirously mouth to mouth with you.

CASTIZA What's that?

DONDOLO Show his teeth in your company.

CASTIZA I understand thee not.

DONDOLO Why, speak with you, Madonna!

CASTIZA Why, say so, madman, and cut of a great deal of dirty way. Had it not been better spoke in ordinary words that one would speak with me?

DONDOLO Ha, ha, that's as ordinary as two shillings! I would strive a little to show myself in my place: a gentleman usher scorns to use the phrase and fancy of a serving-man.

CASTIZA Yours be your [own], sir; go direct him hither.

[Exit Dondolo.]

I hope some happy tidings from my brother That lately travell'd, whom my soul affects.

Enter [Vindici] her brother disguised [as Piato].

Here he comes.

VINDICI [Giving her a jewel] Lady, the best of wishes to your sex, Fair skins and new gowns.

CASTIZA Oh, they shall thank you, sir. Whence this?

VINDICI Oh, from a dear and worthy friend, mighty!

CASTIZA From whom?

VINDICI The duke's son!

CASTIZA Receive that!

A box a' th' ear to her brother.

I swore I'd put anger in my hand And pass the virgin limits of myself To him that next appear'd in that base office To be his sin's attorney; bear to him That figure of my hate upon thy cheek Whilst 'tis yet hot, and I'll reward thee for't. Tell him my honour shall have a rich name When several harlots shall share his with shame. Farewell; commend me to him in my hate!


VINDICI It is the sweetest box That e'er my nose came nigh, The finest drawn-work cuff that e'er was worn. I'll love this blow forever, and this cheek Shall still hence forward take the wall of this. Oh, I'm above my tongue! Most constant sister, In this thou hast right honourable shown; Many are call'd by their honour that have none. Thou art approv'd forever in my thoughts. It is not in the power of words to taint thee, And yet for the salvation of my oath, As my resolve in that point, I will lay Hard siege unto my mother, tho' I know A siren's tongue could not bewitch her so.

[Enter Gratiana.]

[Aside] Mass, fitly here she comes; thanks, my disguise.-- Madam, good afternoon.

[GRATIANA] Y'are welcome, sir.

VINDICI The next of Italy commends him to you, Our mighty expectation, the duke's son.

[GRATIANA] I think myself much honour'd that he pleases To rank me in his thoughts.

VINDICI So may you, lady: One that is like to be our sudden duke; The crown gapes for him every tide, and then Commander o'er us all. Do but think on him; How bless'd were they now that could pleasure him E'en with anything almost.

[GRATIANA] Ay, save their honour.

VINDICI Tut, one would let a little of that go too And ne'er be seen in't: ne'er be seen [in't], mark you; I'd wink and let it go.

[GRATIANA] Marry, but I would not.

VINDICI Marry, but I would I hope; I know you would too, If you'd that blood now which you gave your daughter. To her indeed 'tis this wheel comes about: That man that must be all this, perhaps ere morning, For his white father does but mould away, Has long desir'd your daughter.

[GRATIANA] Desir'd?

VINDICI Nay, but hear me: He desires now that will command hereafter. Therefore be wise; I speak as more a friend To you than him. Madam, I know y'are poor And 'lack the day, there are too many poor ladies already: Why should you vex the number? 'Tis despis'd. Live wealthy, rightly understand the world, And chide away that foolish country girl Keeps company with your daughter, chastity.

[GRATIANA] Oh, fie, fie, The riches of the world cannot hire A mother to such a most unnatural task!

VINDICI No, but a thousand angels can: Men have no power; angels must work you to't. The world descends into such base-born evils That forty angels can make fourscore devils. There will be fools still, I perceive, still [fools]. Would I be poor, dejected, scorn'd of greatness, Swept from the palace, and see other daughters Spring with the dew a' th' court, having mine own So much desir'd and lov'd by the duke's son? No, I would raise my state upon her breast And call her eyes my tenants; I would count My yearly maintenance upon her cheeks, Take coach upon her lip, and all her parts Should keep men after men, and I would ride In pleasure upon pleasure. You took great pains for her, once when it was; Let her requite it now, tho' it be but some: You brought her forth; she may well bring you home.

[GRATIANA] Oh, heavens! This overcomes me.

VINDICI [Aside] Not, I hope, already?

[GRATIANA] It is too strong for me; men know that know us: We are so weak their words can overthrow us. He touch'd me nearly, made my virtues bate When his tongue struck upon my poor estate.

VINDICI [Aside] I e'en quake to proceed; my spirit turns edge. I fear me she's unmother'd, yet I'll venture: "That woman is all male whom none can enter."-- What think you now, lady? Speak, are you wiser? What said advancement to you? Thus it said: The daughter's fall lifts up the mother's head. Did it not, madam? But I'll swear it does In many places; tut, this age fears no man: "'Tis no shame to be bad, because 'tis common."

[GRATIANA] Ay, that's the comfort on't.

VINDICI [Aside] The comfort on't!-- [Giving her gold] I keep the best for last: can these persuade you To forget heaven and--

[GRATIANA] Ay, these are they--

VINDICI [Aside] Oh!

[GRATIANA] That enchant our sex; these are the means That govern our affections. That woman Will not be troubled with the mother long That sees the comfortable shine of you; I blush to think what for your sakes I'll do!

VINDICI [Aside] Oh, suff'ring heaven, with thy invisible finger E'en at this instant turn the precious side Of both mine eye-balls inward, not to see myself!

[GRATIANA] Look you, sir.


[GRATIANA] [Giving him gold] Let this thank your pains.

VINDICI Oh, you're a kind [madam].

[GRATIANA] I'll see how I can move.

VINDICI Your words will sting.

[GRATIANA] If she be still chaste I'll ne'er call her mine.

VINDICI [Aside] Spoke truer than you meant it.

Enter Castiza.

[GRATIANA] Daughter Castiza.


VINDICI Oh, she's yonder. Meet her. [Aside] Troops of celestial soldiers guard her heart; Yon dam has devils enough to take her part.

CASTIZA Madam, what makes yon evil-offic'd man In presence of you?


CASTIZA He lately brought Immodest writing sent from the duke's son To tempt me to dishonourable act.

[GRATIANA] Dishonourable act? Good honourable fool, That wouldst be honest 'cause thou wouldst be so, Producing no one reason but thy will. And 't 'as a good report, prettily commended, But pray by whom? Mean people, ignorant people; The better sort I'm sure cannot abide it. And by what rule should we square out our lives But by our betters actions? Oh, if thou knew'st What 'twere to lose it, thou would never keep it! But there's a cold curse laid upon all maids: Whilst other[s] clip the sun, they clasp the shades! Virginity is paradise, lock'd up. You cannot come by yourselves without fee, And 'twas decreed that man should keep the key! Deny advancement, treasure, the duke's son!

CASTIZA I cry you mercy. Lady, I mistook you. Pray did you see my mother? Which way went you? Pray God I have not lost her.

VINDICI [Aside] Prettily put by.

[GRATIANA] Are you as proud to me as coy to him? Do you not know me now?

CASTIZA Why, are you she? The world's so chang'd, one shape into another: It is a wise child now that knows her mother.

VINDICI [Aside] Most right, i'faith.

[GRATIANA] I owe your cheek my hand For that presumption now, but I'll forget it. Come, you shall leave those childish 'haviours And understand your time; fortunes flow to you. What, will you be a girl? If all fear'd drowning that spy waves ashore, Gold would grow rich and all the merchants poor.

CASTIZA It is a pretty saying of a wicked one, but methinks now It does not show so well out of your mouth, Better in his.

VINDICI [Aside] Faith, bad enough in both, Were I in earnest, as I'll seem no less.-- I wonder, lady, your own mother's words Cannot be taken, nor stand in full force. 'Tis honesty you urge. What's honesty? 'Tis but heavens beggar, And what woman is so foolish to keep honesty, And be not able to keep herself? No, Times are grown wiser and will keep less charge: A maid that has small portion now intends To break up house and live upon her friends. How bless'd are you; you have happiness alone: Others must fall to thousands, you to one, Sufficient in himself to make your forehead Dazzle the world with jewels, and petitionary people Start at your presence.

[GRATIANA] Oh, if I were young, I should be ravish'd!

CASTIZA Ay, to lose your honour.

VINDICI 'Slid, how can you lose your honour To deal with my lord's grace? He'll add more honour to it by his title; Your mother will tell you how.

[GRATIANA] That I will.

VINDICI Oh, think upon the pleasure of the palace: Secured ease and state, the stirring meats, Ready to move out of the dishes, That e'en now quicken when they're eaten, Banquets abroad by torch-light, musics, sports, Bare-headed vassals that had ne'er the fortune To keep on their own hats but let horns [wear] 'em, Nine coaches waiting. Hurry, hurry, hurry!

CASTIZA Ay, to the devil.

VINDICI [Aside] Ay, to the devil!--To th' duke, by my faith.

[GRATIANA] Ay, to the duke: daughter, you'd scorn to think A' th' devil and you were there once.

VINDICI True, for most There are as proud as he for his heart, i'faith. Who'd sit at home in a neglected room, Dealing her short-liv'd beauty to the pictures That are as useless as old men, when those Poorer in face and fortune than herself Walk with a hundred acres on their backs, Fair meadows cut into green foreparts? Oh, It was the greatest blessing ever happened to women When farmers' sons agreed, and met again, To wash their hands and come up gentlemen; The commonwealth has flourish'd ever since. Lands that were [mete] by the rod, that labours spar'd: Tailors ride down, and measure 'em by the yard. Fair trees, those comely foretops of the field, Are cut to maintain head-tires, much untold. All thrives but chastity; she lies a-cold. Nay, shall I come nearer to you? Mark but this: Why are there so few honest women but Because 'tis the poorer profession? That's accounted best that's best followed: Least in trade, least in fashion, And that's not honesty. Believe it, and do But note the [low] and dejected price of it: "Lose but a pearl, we search and cannot brook it, But that once gone, who is so mad to look it?"

[GRATIANA] Troth, he says true.

CASTIZA False! I defy you both! I have endur'd you with an ear of fire; Your tongues have struck hot irons on my face! Mother, come from that poisonous woman there.


CASTIZA Do you not see her? She's too inward then. Slave, perish in thy office! You heavens, please Henceforth to make the mother a disease, Which first begins with me, yet I've outgone you.


VINDICI [Aside] Oh angels, clap your wings upon the skies, And give this virgin crystal plaudities!

[GRATIANA] Peevish, coy, foolish! But return this answer: My lord shall be most welcome when his pleasure Conducts him this way. I will sway mine own; Women with women can work best alone.

VINDICI Indeed, I'll tell him so.


Oh, more uncivil, more unnatural, Than those base-titled creatures that look downward! Why does not heaven [turn] black, or with a frown Undo the world? Why does not earth start up And strike the sins that tread upon't? Oh, Wert not gold and women, there would be no damnation; Hell would look like a lord's great kitchen without fire in't! But 'twas decreed before the world began That they should be the hooks to catch at man.


Act 2, Scene 2: The Palace[edit]

Enter Lussurioso with Hippolito, Vindici's brother.

LUSSURIOSO I much applaud thy judgment; thou art well-read in a fellow, And 'tis the deepest art to study man. I know this, which I never learnt in schools: The world's divided into knaves and fools.

HIPPOLITO [Aside] Knave in your face, my lord, behind your back.

LUSSURIOSO And I much thank thee that thou hast preferr'd A fellow of discourse, well-mingled, And whose brain time hath season'd.

HIPPOLITO True, my lord. [Aside] We shall find season once I hope. Oh, villain, To make such an unnatural slave of me! But--

[Enter Vindici, disguised as Piato.]

LUSSURIOSO Mass, here he comes.

HIPPOLITO [Aside] And now shall I have free leave to depart.

LUSSURIOSO Your absence; leave us.

HIPPOLITO [Aside] Are not my thoughts true? I must remove; but brother, you may stay: Heart, we are both made bawds a new-found way!


LUSSURIOSO Now we're an even number; a third man's dangerous, Especially her brother. Say, be free: Have I a pleasure toward?

VINDICI Oh, my lord!

LUSSURIOSO Ravish me in thine answer. Art thou rare? Hast thou beguil'd her of salvation, And rubb'd hell o'er with honey? Is she a woman?

VINDICI In all but in desire.

LUSSURIOSO Then she's in nothing; I bate in courage now.

VINDICI The words I brought, Might well have made indifferent-honest naught. A right good woman in these days is chang'd Into white money with less labour far: Many a maid has turn'd to Mahomet With easier working. I durst undertake Upon the pawn and forfeit of my life With half those words to flat a Puritan's wife, But she is close and good. Yet 'tis a doubt By this time: oh, the mother, the mother!

LUSSURIOSO I never thought their sex had been a wonder Until this minute. What fruit from the mother?

VINDICI [Aside] Now must I blister my soul, be forsworn, Or shame the woman that receiv'd me first. I will be true; thou liv'st not to proclaim: Spoke to a dying man, shame has no shame.-- My lord.

LUSSURIOSO Who's that?

VINDICI Here's none but I, my lord.

LUSSURIOSO What would thy haste utter?

VINDICI Comfort.


VINDICI The maid being dull, having no mind to travel Into unknown lands, what did me straight But set spurs to the mother; golden spurs Will put her to a false gallop in a trice.

LUSSURIOSO Is't possible that in this The mother should be damn'd before the daughter?

VINDICI Oh, that's good manners, my lord; the mother For her age must go foremost, you know.

LUSSURIOSO Thou'st spoke that true! But where comes in this comfort?

VINDICI In a fine place, my lord. The unnatural mother Did with her tongue so hard beset her honour That the poor fool was struck to silent wonder, Yet still the maid like an unlighted taper Was cold and chaste, save that her mothers breath Did blow fire on her [cheeks]; the girl departed, But the good, ancient madam half-mad threw me These promising words, which I took deeply note of: "My lord shall be most welcome"--

LUSSURIOSO Faith, I thank her.

VINDICI "When his pleasure conducts him this way"--

LUSSURIOSO That shall be soon, i'faith.

VINDICI "I will sway mine own"--

LUSSURIOSO She does the wiser; I commend her for't.

VINDICI "Women with women can work best alone."

LUSSURIOSO By this light, and so they can. Give 'em their due; Men are not comparable to 'em.

VINDICI No, That's true, for you shall have one woman knit More in a hour than any man can ravel Again in seven and twenty year.

LUSSURIOSO Now my Desires are happy, I'll make 'em freemen now. Thou art a precious fellow; faith, I love thee. Be wise and make it thy revenue: beg, leg! What office couldst thou be ambitious for?

VINDICI Office, my lord? Marry, if I might have my wish I would have one that was never begg'd yet.

LUSSURIOSO Nay, then thou canst have none.

VINDICI Yes, my lord, I could pick out another office yet, Nay, and keep a horse and drab upon't.

LUSSURIOSO Prithee, good bluntness, tell me.

VINDICI Why I would desire but this, My lord: to have all the fees behind the arras, And all the farthingales that fall plump About twelve a' clock at night upon the rushes.

LUSSURIOSO Thou'rt a mad, apprehensive knave. Dost think to make any great purchase of that?

VINDICI Oh, 'tis an unknown thing, My lord; I wonder 't 'as been miss'd so long.

LUSSURIOSO Well, this night I'll visit her, and 'tis till then A year in my desires. Farewell, attend, Trust me with thy preferment.

VINDICI My lov'd lord!


Oh, shall I kill him a' th' wrong side now? No. Sword, thou wast never a back-biter yet. I'll pierce him to his face; he shall die looking upon me. Thy veins are swell'd with lust; this shall unfill 'em: Great men were gods if beggars could not kill 'em. Forgive me, heaven, to call my mother wicked; Oh, lessen not my days upon the earth! I cannot honour her; by this I fear me Her tongue has turn'd my sister into use. I was a villain not to be forsworn To this our lecherous hope, the duke's son, For lawyers, merchants, some divines and all Count beneficial perjury a sin small. It shall go hard yet, but I'll guard her honour And keep the ports sure.

Enter Hippolito.

HIPPOLITO Brother, how goes the world? I would know news of you, But I have news to tell you.

VINDICI What, in the name of knavery?

HIPPOLITO Knavery? Faith, This vicious old duke's worthily abus'd: The pen of his bastard writes him cuckold!

VINDICI His bastard?

HIPPOLITO Pray, believe it: he and the duchess By night meet in their linen; they have been seen By stair-foot panders!

VINDICI Oh, sin foul and deep, Great faults are wink'd at when the duke's asleep!

[Enter Spurio and his two Servants, one whispering to him.]

See, see, here comes the Spurio.

HIPPOLITO Monstrous luxur!

VINDICI Unbrac'd, two of his valiant bawds with him. Oh, there's a wicked whisper; hell is in his ear! Stay, let's observe his passage.

[They retire.]

SPURIO Oh, but are you sure on't?

[FIRST] SERVANT My lord, most sure on't, for 'twas spoke by one That is most inward with the duke's son's lust, That he intends within this hour to steal Unto Hippolito's sister, whose chaste life The mother has corrupted for his use.

SPURIO Sweet world, sweet occasion! Faith, then, brother I'll disinherit you in as short time, As I was when I was begot in haste: I'll damn you at your pleasure: precious deed After your lust; oh, 'twill be fine to bleed! Come, let our passing out be soft and wary.

Exeunt [Spurio and Servants].

VINDICI Mark, there, there, that step! Now to the duchess: This their second meeting writes the duke cuckold With new additions, his horns newly reviv'd. Night, thou that lookst like funeral heralds' fees Torn down betimes i' th' morning, thou hang'st fitly To grace those sins that have no grace at all. Now 'tis full sea a-bed over the world; There's juggling of all sides. Some that were maids E'en at sunset are now perhaps i' th' toll-book: This woman in immodest, thin apparel Lets in her friend by water; here a dame Cunning nails leather hinges to a door, To avoid proclamation. Now cuckolds are a-coining, apace, apace, apace, apace; And careful sisters spin that thread i' th' night That does maintain them and their bawds i' th' day!

HIPPOLITO You flow well, brother.

VINDICI Puh, I'm shallow yet, Too sparing and too modest. Shall I tell thee? If every trick were told that's dealt by night, There are few here that would not blush outright.

HIPPOLITO I am of that belief too.

Enter Lussurioso.

VINDICI [Aside to Hippolito] Who's this comes? The duke's son up so late! Brother, fall back, And you shall learn some mischief.--My good lord.

LUSSURIOSO Piato! Why, the man I wish'd for. Come, I do embrace this season for the fittest To taste of that young lady.

VINDICI [Aside] Heart and hell!

HIPPOLITO [Aside] Damn'd villain!

VINDICI [Aside] I ha' no way now to cross it but to kill him.

LUSSURIOSO Come, only thou and I.

VINDICI My lord, my lord.

LUSSURIOSO Why dost thou start us?

VINDICI I'd almost forgot: the bastard!

LUSSURIOSO What of him?

VINDICI This night, this hour, this minute, now!


VINDICI Shadows the duchess--

LUSSURIOSO Horrible word.

VINDICI And like strong poison eats Into the duke your father's forehead.


VINDICI He makes horn royal.

LUSSURIOSO Most ignoble slave!

VINDICI This is the fruit of two beds.


VINDICI That passage he trod warily.


VINDICI And hush'd his villains every step he took.

LUSSURIOSO His villains! I'll confound them!

VINDICI Take 'em finely, finely now.

LUSSURIOSO The duchess' chamber-door shall not control me.

[Exeunt Lussurioso and Vindici.]

HIPPOLITO Good, happy, swift; there's gunpowder i' th' court, Wildfire at midnight in this heedless fury. He may show violence to cross himself; I'll follow the event.


Act 2, Scene 3: The Duke's Bedchamber[edit]

[The Duke and Duchess are discovered in bed. Lussurioso and Vindici] enter again [with Hippolito following].

LUSSURIOSO Where is that villain?

VINDICI Softly, my lord, and you may take 'em twisted.

LUSSURIOSO I care not how!

VINDICI Oh, 'twill be glorious To kill 'em doubled, when they're heap'd! Be soft, my lord.

LUSSURIOSO Away! My [spleen] is not so lazy; thus and thus I'll shake their eyelids ope, and with my sword Shut 'em again forever.

[He draws his sword and approaches the bed.]

Villain, strumpet!

DUKE You upper guard defend us!

DUCHESS Treason, treason!

DUKE Oh, take me not in sleep; I have great sins: I must have days, Nay, months, dear son, with penitential heaves To lift 'em out and not to die unclear! Oh, thou wilt kill me both in heaven and here!

LUSSURIOSO I am amaz'd to death.

DUKE Nay, villain traitor, Worse than the foulest epithet, now I'll gripe thee E'en with the nerves of wrath, and throw thy head Amongst the lawyer's! Guard!

Enter Nobles and sons [Ambitioso and Supervacuo, with guards].

FIRST NOBLE How comes the quiet of your grace disturb'd?

DUKE This boy that should be myself after me Would be myself before me, and in heat Of that ambition bloodily rush'd in Intending to depose me in my bed.

SECOND NOBLE Duty and natural loyalty forfend!

DUCHESS He call'd his father villain and me strumpet, A word that I abhor to 'file my lips with.

AMBITIOSO That was not so well done, brother.

LUSSURIOSO I am abus'd. I know there's no excuse can do me good.

VINDICI [Aside to Hippolito] 'Tis now good policy to be from sight; His vicious purpose to our sister's honour Is cross'd beyond our thought.

HIPPOLITO [Aside to Vindici] You little dreamt his father slept here.

VINDICI [Aside to Hippolito] Oh, 'twas far beyond me. But since it fell so-- Without frightful word, Would he had kill'd him, 'twould have eas'd our swords.

DUKE Be comforted, our duchess: he shall die.

[The Duchess exits as the guards seize Lussurioso. Vindici and Hippolito] dissemble a flight.

LUSSURIOSO Where's this slave-pander now? Out of mine eye, Guilty of this abuse.

Enter Spurio with his villains [to one side].

SPURIO Y'are villains, fablers; You have knaves' chins and harlots' tongues: you lie, And I will damn you with one meal a day.

FIRST SERVANT Oh, good my lord!

SPURIO 'Sblood, you shall never sup.

SECOND SERVANT Oh, I beseech you, sir!

SPURIO To let my sword catch cold so long and miss him!

FIRST SERVANT Troth, my lord, 'twas his intent to meet there.

SPURIO Heart, he's yonder! Ha! What news here? Is the day out a' th' socket That it is noon at midnight? The court up? How comes the guard so saucy with his elbows?

LUSSURIOSO The bastard here? Nay, then the truth of my intent shall out. My lord and father, hear me.

DUKE Bear him hence.

LUSSURIOSO I can with loyalty excuse.

DUKE Excuse? To prison with the villain; Death shall not long lag after him.

SPURIO [Aside] Good, i'faith, then 'tis not much amiss.

LUSSURIOSO [To Ambitioso and Supervacuo aside] Brothers, my best release lies on your tongues; I pray persuade for me.

AMBITIOSO It is our duties: make yourself sure of us.

SUPERVACUO We'll sweat in pleading.

LUSSURIOSO And I may live to thank you.

Exeunt [Lussurioso and guards].

AMBITIOSO [Aside] No, thy death shall thank me better.

SPURIO He's gone: I'll after him And know his trespass, seem to bear a part In all his ills, but with a puritan heart.

Exit [with Servants].

AMBITIOSO [Aside to Supervacuo] Now, brother, let our hate and love be woven So subtly together, that in speaking one word for his life, We may make three for his death: The craftiest pleader gets most gold for breath.

SUPERVACUO [Aside to Ambitioso] Set on; I'll not be far behind you, brother.

DUKE Is't possible a son Should be disobedient as far as the sword? It is the highest; he can go no farther.

AMBITIOSO My gracious lord, take pity--

DUKE Pity, boys?

AMBITIOSO Nay, we'd be loath to move your grace too much; We know the trespass is unpardonable, Black, wicked, and unnatural.

SUPERVACUO In a son, oh, monstrous!

AMBITIOSO Yet, my lord, A duke's soft hand strokes the rough head of law And makes it lie smooth.

DUKE But my hand shall ne'er do't.

AMBITIOSO That as you please, my lord.

SUPERVACUO We must needs confess Some father would have enter'd into hate, So deadly pointed, that before his eyes He would ha' seen the execution sound Without corrupted favour.

AMBITIOSO But, my lord, Your grace may live the wonder of all times In pard'ning that offence which never yet Had face to beg a pardon.

DUKE Honey? How's this?

AMBITIOSO Forgive him, good my lord: he's your own son, And I must needs say 'twas the vildlier done.

SUPERVACUO He's the next heir, yet this true reason gathers: None can possess that dispossess their fathers. Be merciful--

DUKE [Aside] Here's no stepmother's wit: I'll try 'em both upon their love and hate.

AMBITIOSO Be merciful, although--

DUKE You have prevail'd: My wrath like flaming wax hath spent itself. I know 'twas but some peevish moon in him: Go, let him be releas'd.

SUPERVACUO [Aside to Ambitioso] 'Sfoot, how now, brother?

AMBITIOSO Your grace doth please to speak beside your spleen; I would it were so happy.

DUKE Why, go, release him.

SUPERVACUO Oh, my good lord, I know the fault's too weighty And full of general loathing, too inhuman, Rather by all men's voices worthy death.

DUKE 'Tis true too. Here then, receive this signet; doom shall pass: Direct it to the judges; he shall die Ere many days. Make haste.

AMBITIOSO All speed that may be. We could have wish'd his burthen not so sore; We knew your grace did but delay before.

Exeunt [Ambitioso and Supervacuo].

DUKE Here's envy with a poor, thin cover o'er 't, Like scarlet hid in lawn, easily spied through. This their ambition by the mother's side Is dangerous, and for safety must be purg'd; I will prevent their envies. Sure it was But some mistaken fury in our son, Which these aspiring boys would climb upon: He shall be releas'd suddenly.

Enter Nobles. [They kneel.]

FIRST NOBLE Good morning to your grace.

DUKE Welcome, my lords.

SECOND NOBLE Our knees shall take away the office of our feet forever, Unless your grace bestow a father's eye Upon the clouded fortunes of your son, And in compassionate virtue grant him that Which makes e'en mean men happy: liberty.

DUKE [Aside] How seriously their loves and honours woo For that which I am about to pray them do!-- Rise, my lords, your knees sign his release: We freely pardon him.

FIRST NOBLE We owe your grace much thanks, and he much duty.

Exeunt [Nobles].

DUKE It well becomes that judge to nod at crimes That does commit greater himself and lives. I may forgive a disobedient error That expect pardon for adultery, And in my old days am a youth in lust: Many a beauty have I turn'd to poison In the denial, covetous of all. Age hot is like a monster to be seen: My hairs are white, and yet my sins are green.


Act 3, Scene 1: The Palace[edit]

Enter Ambitioso and Supervacuo.

SUPERVACUO Brother, let my opinion sway you once,

I speak it for the best, to have him die Surest and soonest; if the signet come Unto the judges' hands, why, then his doom Will be deferr'd till sittings and court-days, Juries and further. Faiths are bought and sold; Oaths in these days are but the skin of gold.

AMBITIOSO In troth, 'tis true too!

SUPERVACUO Then let's set by the judges And fall to the officers; 'tis but mistaking The duke our father's meaning, and where he nam'd "Ere many days," 'tis but forgetting that And have him die i' th' morning.

AMBITIOSO Excellent; Then am I heir, duke in a minute.

SUPERVACUO [Aside] Nay, And he were once puff'd out, here is a pin Should quickly prick your bladder.

AMBITIOSO [Bless'd] occasion! He being pack'd, we'll have some trick and wile To wind our younger brother out of prison That lies in for the rape; the lady's dead, And people's thoughts will soon be buried.

SUPERVACUO We may with safety do't, and live and feed; The duchess' sons are too proud to bleed.

AMBITIOSO We are, i'faith, to say true. Come, let's not linger. I'll to the officers; go you before And set an edge upon the executioner.

SUPERVACUO Let me alone to grind him.

AMBITIOSO Meet; farewell.

Exit [Supervacuo].

I am next now; I rise just in that place Where thou'rt cut off: upon thy neck, kind brother. The falling of one head lifts up another.


Act 3, Scene 2: Outside the Prison[edit]

Enter with the Nobles, Lussurioso from prison.

LUSSURIOSO My lords, I am so much indebted to your loves For this, oh, this delivery!

FIRST NOBLE But our duties, My lord, unto the hopes that grow in you.

LUSSURIOSO If e'er I live to be myself, I'll thank you. Oh liberty, thou sweet and heavenly dame! But hell for prison is too mild a name.


Act 3, Scene 3: The Prison[edit]

Enter Ambitioso and Supervacuo, with Officers.

AMBITIOSO Officers, here's the duke's signet, your firm warrant, Brings the command of present death along with it Unto our brother, the duke's son; we are sorry That we are so unnaturally employ'd In such an unkind office, fitter far For enemies than brothers.

SUPERVACUO But you know, The duke's command must be obey'd.

FIRST OFFICER It must and shall my lord; this morning then. So suddenly?

AMBITIOSO Ay, alas, poor good soul, He must breakfast betimes; the executioner Stands ready to put forth his cowardly valour.


SUPERVACUO Already, i'faith. Oh, sir, destruction hies, And that is least impudent soonest dies.

FIRST OFFICER Troth, you say true, my lord. We take our leaves; Our office shall be sound: we'll not delay The third part of a minute.

AMBITIOSO Therein you show Yourselves good men and upright officers. Pray let him die as private as he may; Do him that favour, for the gaping people Will but trouble him at his prayers And make him curse and swear, and so die black. Will you be so far kind?

FIRST OFFICER It shall be done, my lord.

AMBITIOSO Why, we do thank you; if we live to be, You shall have a better office.

SECOND OFFICER Your good lordship.

SUPERVACUO Commend us to the scaffold in our tears.

FIRST OFFICER We'll weep and do your commendations.

Exeunt [Officers].

AMBITIOSO Fine fools in office!

SUPERVACUO Things fall out so fit.

AMBITIOSO So happily! Come, brother, ere next clock His head will be made serve a bigger block.


Act 3, Scene 4: Junior Brother's cell in the prison[edit]

Enter in prison Junior brother.

JUNIOR Keeper.

[Enter the Keeper.]

KEEPER My lord.

JUNIOR No news lately from our brothers? Are they unmindful of us?

KEEPER My lord, a messenger came newly in And brought this from 'em.

[He hands him a letter.]

JUNIOR Nothing but paper comforts? I look'd for my delivery before this Had they been worth their oaths. Prithee be from us.

[Exit the Keeper.]

Now what say you, forsooth? Speak out, I pray.

[Opens and reads the] letter.

"Brother be of good cheer." 'Slud, it begins like a whore with good cheer! "Thou shalt not be long a prisoner." Not five and thirty year like a bankrout, I think so. "We have thought upon a device to get thee out by a trick." By a trick! Pox a' your trick and it be so long a-playing! "And so rest comforted, be merry and expect it suddenly." Be merry, hang merry, draw and quarter merry, I'll be mad! Is't not strange that a man should lie in a whole month for a woman? Well, we shall see how sudden our brothers will be in their promise. I must expect still a trick! I shall not be long a prisoner!

[Enter the Keeper with four Officers.]

How now, what news?

KEEPER Bad news, my lord; I am discharg'd of you.

JUNIOR Slave, call'st thou that bad news? I thank you, brothers!

KEEPER My lord, 'twill prove so; here come the officers Into whose hands I must commit you.

JUNIOR Ha, officers? What, why?

FIRST OFFICER You must pardon us, my lord; Our office must be sound: here is our warrant, The signet from the duke; you must straight suffer.

JUNIOR Suffer? I'll suffer you to be gone, I'll suffer you To come no more! What would you have me suffer?

SECOND OFFICER My lord, those words were better chang'd to prayers; The time's but brief with you: prepare to die.

JUNIOR Sure 'tis not so.

THIRD OFFICER It is too true, my lord.

JUNIOR I tell you 'tis not, for the duke my father Deferr'd me till next sitting, and I look E'en every minute, threescore times an hour, For a release, a trick wrought by my brothers.

FIRST OFFICER A trick, my lord? If you expect such comfort, Your hopes as fruitless as a barren woman: Your brothers were the unhappy messengers That brought this powerful token for your death.

JUNIOR My brothers? No, no!

SECOND OFFICER 'Tis most true, my lord.

JUNIOR My brothers to bring a warrant for my death? How strange this shows!

THIRD OFFICER There's no delaying time.

JUNIOR Desire 'em hither, call 'em up, my brothers! They shall deny it to your faces.

FIRST OFFICER My lord, They're far enough by this, at least at court, And this most strict command they left behind 'em, When grief swum in their eyes: they show'd like brothers, Brimful of heavy sorrow; but the duke Must have his pleasure.

JUNIOR His pleasure?

FIRST OFFICER These were their last words which my memory bears: "Commend us to the scaffold in our tears."

JUNIOR Pox dry their tears! What should I do with tears? I hate 'em worse than any citizen's son Can hate salt water. Here came a letter now, New-bleeding from their pens, scarce stinted yet; Would I'd been torn in pieces when I tore it. Look, you officious whoresons, words of comfort: "Not long a prisoner."

FIRST OFFICER It says true in that, sir, for you must suffer presently.

JUNIOR A villainous duns upon the letter! Knavish exposition! Look you then here, sir: "we'll get thee out by a trick," says he.

SECOND OFFICER That may hold too, sir, for you know a trick is commonly four cards, which was meant by us four officers.

JUNIOR Worse and worse dealing!

FIRST OFFICER The hour beckons us. The heads-man waits; lift up your eyes to heaven.

JUNIOR I thank you, faith; good, pretty, wholesome counsel. I should look up to heaven, as you said, Whilst he behind me cozens me of my head; Ay, that's the trick.

THIRD OFFICER You delay too long, my lord.

JUNIOR Stay, good authority's bastards, since I must Through brothers' perjury die, oh, let me venom Their souls with curses!

FIRST OFFICER Come, 'tis no time to curse.

JUNIOR Must I bleed then without respect of sign? Well, My fault was sweet sport, which the world approves; I die for that which every woman loves.


Act 3, Scene 5: A lodge[edit]

Enter Vindici with Hippolito his brother.

VINDICI Oh, sweet, delectable, rare, happy, ravishing!

HIPPOLITO Why, what's the matter, brother?

VINDICI Oh, 'tis able To make a man spring up and knock his forehead Against yon silver ceiling!

HIPPOLITO Prithee tell me. Why, may not I partake with you? You vow'd once To give me share to every tragic thought.

VINDICI By th' mass, I think I did too. Then I'll divide it to thee: the old duke Thinking my outward shape and inward heart Are cut out of one piece--for he that prates his secrets, His heart stands a' th' outside--hires me by price To greet him with a lady In some fit place veil'd from the eyes a' th' court, Some dark'ned, blushless angle, that is guilty Of his forefathers' lusts and great-folks' riots, To which I easily, to maintain my shape, Consented, and did wish his impudent grace To meet her here in this unsunned lodge, Wherein 'tis night at noon, and here the rather, Because unto the torturing of his soul The bastard and the duchess have appointed Their meeting too in this luxurious circle, Which most afflicting sight will kill his eyes Before we kill the rest of him.

HIPPOLITO 'Twill, i'faith, most dreadfully digested. I see not how you could have miss'd me, brother.

VINDICI True, but the violence of my joy forgot it.

HIPPOLITO Ay, but where's that lady now?

VINDICI Oh, at that word I'm lost again; you cannot find me yet: I'm in a throng of happy apprehensions! He's suited for a lady; I have took care For a delicious lip, a sparkling eye: You shall be witness brother. Be ready; stand with your hat off.


HIPPOLITO Troth, I wonder what lady it should be? Yet 'tis no wonder, now I think again, To have a lady stoop to a duke that stoops unto his men. 'Tis common to be common through the world: And there's more private common shadowing vices Than those who are known both by their names and prices. [Taking off his hat] 'Tis part of my allegiance to stand bare To the duke's concubine, and here she comes.

Enter [Vindici] with the skull of his love dress'd up in tires.

VINDICI Madam, his grace will not be absent long. Secret? Ne'er doubt us, madam; 'twill be worth Three velvet gowns to your ladyship. Known? Few ladies respect that. Disgrace? A poor, thin shell; 'Tis the best grace you have to do it well. I'll save your hand that labour; I'll unmask you.

[Draws back the tires.]

HIPPOLITO Why, brother, brother!

VINDICI Art thou beguil'd now? Tut, a lady can At such, all hid, beguile a wiser man. Have I not fitted the old surfeiter With a quaint piece of beauty? Age and bare bone Are e'er allied in action: here's an eye Able to tempt a great man to serve God, A pretty, hanging lip that has forgot now to dissemble; Methinks this mouth should make a swearer tremble, A drunkard clasp his teeth and not undo 'em To suffer wet damnation to run through 'em. Here's a cheek keeps her colour, let the wind go whistle: Spout rain, we fear thee not; be hot or cold Alls one with us. And is not he absurd Whose fortunes are upon their faces set, That fear no other God but wind and wet?

HIPPOLITO Brother, y'ave spoke that right. Is this the form that living shone so bright?

VINDICI The very same; And now methinks I [could] e'en chide myself For doting on her beauty, tho' her death Shall be reveng'd after no common action. Does the silkworm expend her yellow labours For thee? For thee does she undo herself? Are lordships sold to maintain ladyships For the poor benefit of a bewitching minute? Why does yon fellow falsify highways And put his life between the judge's lips To refine such a thing, keeps horse and men To beat their valours for her? Surely we're all mad people, and they Whom we think are, are not; we mistake those: 'Tis we are mad in sense, they but in clothes.

HIPPOLITO Faith, and in clothes too we; give us our due.

VINDICI Does every proud and self-affecting dame Camphor her face for this, and grieve her maker In sinful baths of milk, when many an infant starves, For her superfluous outside fall for this? Who now bids twenty pound a-night, prepares Music, perfumes, and sweetmeats? All are hush'd; Thou mayst lie chaste now! It were fine, methinks, To have thee seen at revels, forgetful feasts, And unclean brothels; sure 'twould fright the sinner And make him a good coward, put a reveller Out of his antic amble, And cloy an epicure with empty dishes. Here might a scornful and ambitious woman Look through and through herself; see, ladies, with false forms You deceive men but cannot deceive worms. Now to my tragic business. Look you, brother, I have not fashion'd this only for show And useless property; no, it shall bear a part E'en in [its] own revenge.

[Applies poison to the skull's mouth.]

This very skull, Whose mistress the duke poisoned, with this drug, The mortal curse of the earth, shall be reveng'd In the like strain, and kiss his lips to death. As much as the dumb thing can, he shall feel: What fails in poison, we'll supply in steel.

HIPPOLITO Brother, I do applaud thy constant vengeance, The quaintness of thy malice above thought.

VINDICI So 'tis laid on. Now come and welcome, duke; I have her for thee. I protest it, brother: Methinks she makes almost as fair a sign As some old gentlewoman in a periwig. Hide thy face now for shame; thou hadst need have a mask now: 'Tis vain when beauty flows, but when it fleets, This would become graves better than the streets.

HIPPOLITO You have my voice in that. Hark, the duke's come!

VINDICI Peace, let's observe what company he brings, And how he does absent 'em, for you know He'll wish all private: brother, fall you back a little With the bony lady.

HIPPOLITO That I will.

VINDICI So, so: now nine years' vengeance crowd into a minute!

[Enter the Duke talking to his Gentlemen.]

DUKE You shall have leave to leave us, with this charge: Upon your lives, if we be miss'd by th' duchess Or any of the nobles, to give out We're privately rid forth.

VINDICI [Aside] Oh, happiness!

DUKE With some few honourable gentlemen, you may say; You may name those that are away from court.

[FIRST] GENTLEMAN Your will and pleasure shall be done, my lord.

[Exeunt the Gentlemen.]

VINDICI [Aside] Privately rid forth! He strives to make sure work on't.--Your good grace?

DUKE Piato, well done. Hast brought her? What lady is't?

VINDICI Faith, my lord, a country lady, a little bashful at first, as most of them are, but after the first kiss, my lord, the worst is past with them. Your grace knows now what you have to do; sh'as somewhat a grave look with her, but--

DUKE I love that best: conduct her.

VINDICI Have at all.

DUKE In gravest looks the greatest faults seem less; Give me that sin that's rob'd in holiness.

VINDICI [Aside to Hippolito] Back with the torch; brother, raise the perfumes.

DUKE How sweet can a duke [breathe]? Age has no fault; Pleasure should meet in a perfumed mist. Lady, sweetly encount'red. I came from court: I must be bold with you--

[Kisses the skull.]

Oh, what's this? Oh!

VINDICI Royal villain, white devil!


VINDICI Brother, Place the torch here, that his affrighted eyeballs May start into those hollows. Duke, dost know Yon dreadful vizard? View it well: 'tis the skull Of Gloriana, whom thou poisoned'st last.

DUKE Oh, 't 'as poisoned me!

VINDICI Didst not know that till now?

DUKE What are you two?

VINDICI Villains all three! The very ragged bone Has been sufficiently reveng'd!

DUKE Oh, Hippolito? Call treason!

HIPPOLITO stamping on him Yes, my good lord: treason, treason, treason!

DUKE Then I'm betray'd!

VINDICI Alas, poor lecher in the hands of knaves: A slavish duke is baser than his slaves.

DUKE My teeth are eaten out!

VINDICI Hadst any left?

HIPPOLITO I think but few.

VINDICI Then those that did eat are eaten.

DUKE Oh, my tongue!

VINDICI Your tongue? 'Twill teach you to kiss closer, Not like a [slobbering] Dutchman! You have eyes still: Look, monster, what a lady hast thou made me, My once betrothed wife!

DUKE Is it thou, villain? Nay, then--

VINDICI 'Tis I, 'tis Vindici, 'tis I!

HIPPOLITO And let this comfort thee: our lord and father Fell sick upon the infection of thy frowns And died in sadness; be that thy hope of life!


VINDICI He had his tongue, yet grief made him die speechless. Puh, 'tis but early yet; now I'll begin To stick thy soul with ulcers, I will make Thy spirit grievous sore: it shall not rest, But like some pestilent man toss in thy breast. Mark me, duke, Thou'rt a renowned, high, and mighty cuckold.


VINDICI Thy bastard, thy bastard rides a-hunting in thy brow.

DUKE Millions of deaths!

VINDICI Nay, to afflict thee more, Here in this lodge they meet for damned clips; Those eyes shall see the incest of their lips.

DUKE Is there a hell besides this, villains?

VINDICI Villain? Nay, heaven is just: scorns are the hires of scorns; I ne'er knew yet adulterer without horns.

HIPPOLITO Once ere they die 'tis quitted.

[Music within.]

VINDICI Hark, the music! Their banquet is prepar'd; they're coming.

DUKE Oh, kill me not with that sight!

VINDICI Thou shalt not lose that sight for all thy dukedom.

DUKE Traitors, murderers!

VINDICI What? Is not thy tongue eaten out yet? Then we'll invent a silence. Brother, stifle the torch.

DUKE Treason, murther!

VINDICI Nay, faith, we'll have you hush'd now with thy dagger. Nail down his tongue, and mine shall keep possession About his heart: if he but gasp he dies; We dread not death to quittance injuries. Brother, If he but wink, not brooking the foul object, Let our two other hands tear up his lids, And make his eyes like comets shine through blood; When the bad bleeds, then is the tragedy good.

HIPPOLITO Whist, brother: music's at our ear, they come.

Enter [Spurio] the bastard meeting the Duchess. [They kiss.]

SPURIO Had not that kiss a taste of sin, 'twere sweet.

DUCHESS Why, there's no pleasure sweet but it is sinful.

SPURIO True, such a bitter sweetness fate hath given; Best side to us is the worst side to heaven.

DUCHESS Push, come: 'tis the old duke thy doubtful father; The thought of him rubs heaven in thy way, But I protest by yonder waxen fire, Forget him or I'll poison him.

SPURIO Madam, you urge a thought which ne'er had life. So deadly do I loathe him for my birth, That if he took me hasp'd within his bed, I would add murther to adultery, And with my sword give up his years to death.

DUCHESS Why, now thou'rt sociable! Let's in and feast. Loud'st music sound: pleasure is banquet's guest.

[Loud music.] Exeunt.

DUKE I cannot brook--

[Vindici stabs the Duke, who dies.]

VINDICI The brook is turn'd to blood.

HIPPOLITO Thanks to loud music.

VINDICI 'Twas our friend indeed: 'Tis state in music for a duke to bleed. The dukedom wants a head, tho' yet unknown; As fast as they peep up, let's cut 'em down.


Act 3, Scene 6: The Prison[edit]

Enter the Duchess' two sons, Ambitioso and Supervacuo.

AMBITIOSO Was not this execution rarely plotted? We are the duke's sons now.

SUPERVACUO Ay, you may thank my policy for that.

AMBITIOSO Your policy for what?

SUPERVACUO Why, was 't not my invention, brother, To slip the judges, and in lesser compass, Did not I draw the model of his death, Advising you to sudden officers And e'en extemporal execution?

AMBITIOSO Heart, 'twas a thing I thought on too.

SUPERVACUO You thought on't too! 'Sfoot, slander not your thoughts With glorious untruth! I know 'twas from you.

AMBITIOSO Sir, I say 'twas in my head.

[SUPERVACUO] Ay, like your brains then, Ne'er to come out as long as you liv'd.

AMBITIOSO You'd have the honour on't, forsooth, that your wit Led him to the scaffold.

SUPERVACUO Since it is my due, I'll publish 't, but I'll ha't in spite of you.

AMBITIOSO Methinks y'are much too bold; you should a little Remember us, brother, next to be honest duke.

SUPERVACUO Ay, it shall be as easy for you to be duke As to be honest, and that's never, i'faith.

AMBITIOSO Well, cold he is by this time, and because We're both ambitious, be it our amity, And let the glory be shar'd equally.

SUPERVACUO I am content to that.

AMBITIOSO This night our younger brother shall out of prison; I have a trick.

SUPERVACUO A trick? Prithee, what is't?

AMBITIOSO We'll get him out by a wile.

SUPERVACUO Prithee, what wile?

AMBITIOSO No, sir, you shall not know it till 't be done, For then you'd swear 'twere yours.

[Enter an Officer, holding a severed head.]

SUPERVACUO How now, what's he?

AMBITIOSO One of the officers.

SUPERVACUO Desired news.

AMBITIOSO How now, my friend?

OFFICER My lords, under your pardon, I am allotted To that desertless office, to present you With the yet bleeding head.

SUPERVACUO [Aside to Ambitioso] Ha, ha, excellent!

AMBITIOSO [Aside to Supervacuo] All's sure our own: brother, canst weep, think,st thou? 'Twould grace our flattery much; think of some dame: 'Twill teach thee to dissemble.

SUPERVACUO [Aside to Ambitioso] I have thought; Now for yourself.

AMBITIOSO Our sorrows are so fluent, Our eyes o'erflow our tongues; words spoke in tears Are like the murmurs of the waters; the sound Is loudly heard, but cannot be distinguish'd.

SUPERVACUO How died he, pray?

OFFICER Oh, full of rage and spleen!

SUPERVACUO He died most valiantly then; we're glad to hear it.

OFFICER We could not woo him once to pray.

AMBITIOSO He show'd himself a gentleman in that: Give him his due.

OFFICER But in the stead of prayer, He drew forth oaths.

SUPERVACUO Then did he pray, dear heart, Although you understood him not.

OFFICER My lords, E'en at his last, with pardon be it spoke, He curs'd you both.

SUPERVACUO He curs'd us? 'Las, good soul!

AMBITIOSO It was not in our powers, but the duke's pleasure. [Aside to Supervacuo] Finely dissembled a' both sides. Sweet fate, Oh, happy opportunity!

Enter Lussurioso.

LUSSURIOSO Now, my lords.


LUSSURIOSO Why do you shun me, brothers? You may come nearer now; The savour of the prison has forsook me. I thank such kind lords as yourselves, I'm free.



AMBITIOSO Releas'd! We were both e'en amaz'd with joy to see it.

LUSSURIOSO I am much to thank you.

SUPERVACUO Faith, we spar'd no tongue unto my lord the duke.

AMBITIOSO I know your delivery, brother, Had not been half so sudden but for us.

SUPERVACUO Oh, how we pleaded!

LUSSURIOSO Most deserving brothers, In my best studies I will think of it.

Exit Lussurioso.

AMBITIOSO Oh, death and vengeance!

SUPERVACUO Hell and torments!

AMBITIOSO Slave, cam'st thou to delude us?

OFFICER Delude you, my lords?

SUPERVACUO Ay, villain, where's this head now?

OFFICER Why, here, my lord. Just after his delivery, you both came With warrant from the duke to behead your brother.

AMBITIOSO Ay, our brother, the duke's son.

OFFICER The duke's son, My lord, had his release before you came.

AMBITIOSO Whose head's that then?

OFFICER His whom you left command for, your own brother's.

AMBITIOSO Our brother's? Oh, furies!


AMBITIOSO Confusions!



SUPERVACUO Fell it out so accursedly?

AMBITIOSO So damnedly?

SUPERVACUO Villain, I'll brain thee with it!

OFFICER Oh, my good lord!

[Exit Officer, running.]

SUPERVACUO The devil overtake thee!

AMBITIOSO Oh, fatal!

SUPERVACUO Oh, prodigious to our bloods!

AMBITIOSO Did we dissemble?

SUPERVACUO Did we make our tears women for thee?

AMBITIOSO Laugh and rejoice for thee?

SUPERVACUO Bring warrant for thy death?

AMBITIOSO Mock off thy head?

SUPERVACUO You had a trick, you had a wile, forsooth!

AMBITIOSO A murrain meet 'em! There's none of these wiles That ever come to good: I see now There is nothing sure in mortality but mortality. Well, no more words; shalt be reveng'd, i'faith. Come, throw off clouds now, brother, think of vengeance And deeper-settled hate. Sirrah, sit fast: We'll pull down all, but thou shalt down at last.


Act 4, Scene 1: The Palace[edit]

Enter Lussurioso with Hippolito.


HIPPOLITO My lord, has your good lordship Ought to command me in?

LUSSURIOSO I prithee leave us.

HIPPOLITO [Aside] How's this? Come and leave us?


HIPPOLITO Your honour, I stand ready for any duteous employment.

LUSSURIOSO Heart, what mak'st thou here?

HIPPOLITO [Aside] A pretty, lordly humour: He bids me to be present, to depart; Something has stung his honour.

LUSSURIOSO Be nearer, draw nearer: Ye are not so good, methinks; I'm angry with you.

HIPPOLITO With me, my lord? I'm angry with myself for't.

LUSSURIOSO You did prefer a goodly fellow to me. 'Twas wittily elected, 'twas; I thought H'ad been a villain, and he proves a knave, To me a knave.

HIPPOLITO I chose him for the best, my lord. 'Tis much my sorrow if neglect in him, Breed discontent in you.

LUSSURIOSO Neglect? 'Twas will! Judge of it: Firmly to tell of an incredible act, Not to be thought, less to be spoken of, 'Twixt my stepmother and the bastard, oh, Incestuous sweets between 'em!

HIPPOLITO Fie, my lord!

LUSSURIOSO I, in kind loyalty to my father's forehead, Made this a desperate arm, and in that fury Committed treason on the lawful bed, And with my sword e'en [ras'd] my father's bosom, For which I was within a stroke of death.

HIPPOLITO Alack, I'm sorry.

Enter Vindici [disguised as Piato].

[Aside] 'Sfoot, just upon the stroke Jars in my brother; 'twill be villainous music.

VINDICI My honoured lord.

LUSSURIOSO Away! Prithee forsake us; Hereafter we'll not know thee.

VINDICI Not know me, my lord? Your lordship cannot choose.

LUSSURIOSO Be gone, I say: thou art a false knave.

VINDICI Why, the easier to be known, my lord.

LUSSURIOSO Push, I shall prove too bitter with a word, Make thee a perpetual prisoner, And lay this ironage upon thee!

VINDICI Mum, For there's a doom would make a woman dumb. [Aside] Missing the bastard, next him, the wind's come about; Now 'tis my brother's turn to stay, mine to go out.

Exit Vindici.

LUSSURIOSO H'as greatly mov'd me.

HIPPOLITO Much to blame, i'faith.

LUSSURIOSO But I'll recover to his ruin: 'twas told me lately, I know not whether falsely, that you'd a brother.

HIPPOLITO Who I? Yes, my good lord, I have a brother.

LUSSURIOSO How chance the court ne'er saw him? Of what nature? How does he apply his hours?

HIPPOLITO Faith, to curse fates, Who, as he thinks, ordain'd him to be poor, Keeps at home full of want and discontent.

LUSSURIOSO There's hope in him, for discontent and want Is the best clay to mould a villain of. Hippolito, wish him repair to us, If there be ought in him to please our blood; For thy sake we'll advance him and build fair His meanest fortunes, for it is in us To rear up towers from cottages.

HIPPOLITO It is so, my lord, he will attend your honour; But he's a man in whom much melancholy dwells.

LUSSURIOSO Why, the better; bring him to court.

HIPPOLITO With willingness and speed. [Aside] Whom he cast off e'en now must now succeed. Brother, disguise must off; In thine own shape now I'll prefer thee to him: How strangely does himself work to undo him.


LUSSURIOSO This fellow will come fitly; he shall kill That other slave that did abuse my spleen And made it swell to treason. I have put Much of my heart into him; he must die. He that knows great men's secrets and proves slight, That man ne'er lives to see his beard turn white. Ay, he shall speed him; I'll employ the brother: Slaves are but nails to drive out one another. He being of black condition, suitable To want and ill content, hope of preferment Will grind him to an edge.

The Nobles enter.

FIRST NOBLE Good days unto your honour.

LUSSURIOSO My kind lords, I do return the like.

SECOND NOBLE Saw you my lord the duke?

LUSSURIOSO My lord and father, is he from court?

FIRST NOBLE He's sure from court, But where, which way his pleasure took, we know not, Nor can we hear on't.

[Enter the Duke's Gentlemen.]

LUSSURIOSO Here come those should tell. Saw you my lord and father?

[FIRST GENTLEMAN] Not since two hours before noon, my lord, And then he privately rid forth.

LUSSURIOSO Oh, he's [rid] forth?

FIRST NOBLE 'Twas wondrous privately.

SECOND NOBLE There's none i' th' court had any knowledge on't.

LUSSURIOSO His grace is old and sudden; 'tis no treason To say the duke my father has a humour Or such a toy about him: what in us Would appear light, in him seems virtuous.

[FIRST GENTLEMAN] 'Tis oracle, my lord.


Act 4, Scene 2: The Palace[edit]

Enter [Vindici] and Hippolito, Vindici out of his disguise.

HIPPOLITO So, so, all's as it should be; y'are yourself.

VINDICI How that great villain puts me to my shifts!

HIPPOLITO He that did lately in disguise reject thee Shall, now thou art thyself, as much respect thee.

VINDICI 'Twill be the quainter fallacy; but, brother, 'Sfoot, what use will he put me to now, think'st thou?

HIPPOLITO Nay, you must pardon me in that, I know not: H'as some employment for you, but what 'tis He and his secretary, the devil, knows best.

VINDICI Well, I must suit my tongue to his desires, What colour soe'er they be, hoping at last To pile up all my wishes on his breast.

HIPPOLITO Faith, brother, he himself shows the way.

VINDICI Now the duke is dead, the realm is clad in clay: His death being not yet known, under his name The people still are govern'd. Well, thou his son Art not long-liv'd; thou shalt not 'joy his death: To kill thee then, I should most honour thee, For 'twould stand firm in every man's belief Thou'st a kind child and only died'st with grief.

HIPPOLITO You fetch about well, but let's talk in present. How will you appear in fashion different, As well as in apparel, to make all things possible? If you be but once tripp'd, we fall forever. It is not the least policy to be doubtful; You must change tongue: familiar was your first.

VINDICI Why, I'll bear me in some strain of melancholy And string myself with heavy-sounding wire, Like such an instrument, that speaks merry Things sadly.

HIPPOLITO Then 'tis as I meant: I gave you out at first in discontent.

VINDICI I'll turn myself, and then--

[Enter Lussurioso.]

HIPPOLITO [Aside to Vindici] 'Sfoot, here he comes! Hast thought upon't?

VINDICI [Aside to Hippolito] Salute him, fear not me.


HIPPOLITO Your lordship.

LUSSURIOSO What's he yonder?

HIPPOLITO 'Tis Vindici, my discontented brother, Whom 'cording to your will I've brought to court.

LUSSURIOSO Is that thy brother? Beshrew me, a good presence; I wonder h'as been from the court so long. [To Vindici] Come nearer.

HIPPOLITO Brother, Lord Lussurioso, the duke['s] son.

[Vindici] snatches off his hat and makes legs to him.

LUSSURIOSO Be more near to us; welcome, nearer yet.

VINDICI How don you? God you god den.

LUSSURIOSO We thank thee. How strangely such a coarse, homely salute Shows in the palace, where we greet in fire Nimble and desperate tongues; should we name God in a salutation, 'twould ne'er be stood on't. Heaven! Tell me, what has made thee so melancholy?

VINDICI Why, going to law.

LUSSURIOSO Why, will that make a man melancholy?

VINDICI Yes, to look long upon ink and black buckram: I went me to law in anno quadregesimo secundo, and I waded out of it in anno sextagesimo tertio.

LUSSURIOSO What, three and twenty years in law?

VINDICI I have known those that have been five and fifty, and all about pullen and pigs.

LUSSURIOSO May it be possible such men should breath, To vex the terms so much?

VINDICI 'Tis food to some, my lord. There are old men at the present that are so poisoned with the affectation of law-words, having had many suites canvass'd, that their common talk is nothing but Barbary Latin: they cannot so much as pray but in law, that their sins may be remov'd with a writ of error, and their souls fetch'd up to heaven with a sasarara.

[LUSSURIOSO] It seems most strange to me, Yet all the world meets round in the same bent: Where the heart's set, there goes the tongue's consent. How dost apply thy studies, fellow?

VINDICI Study? Why, to think how a great, rich man lies a-dying, and a poor cobbler tolls the bell for him; how he cannot depart the world, and see the great chest stand before him; when he lies speechless, how he will point you readily to all the boxes; and when he is past all memory, as the gossips guess, then thinks he of forfeitures and obligations; nay, when to all men's hearings he whirls and rattles in the throat, he's busy threat'ning his poor tenants; and this would last me now some seven years thinking or thereabouts. But I have a conceit a-coming in picture upon this: I draw it myself, which, i'faith la, I'll present to your honour; you shall not choose but like it, for your lordship shall give me nothing for it.

LUSSURIOSO Nay, you mistake me then, For I am publish'd bountiful enough; Let's taste of your conceit.

VINDICI In picture, my lord?

LUSSURIOSO Ay, in picture.

VINDICI Marry, this it is: "A usuring father to be boiling in hell, And his son and heir with a whore dancing over him."

HIPPOLITO [Aside] H'as par'd him to the quick.

LUSSURIOSO The conceit's pretty, i'faith, But take 't upon my life, 'twill ne'er be lik'd.

VINDICI No? Why, I'm sure the whore will be lik'd well enough.

HIPPOLITO [Aside] Ay, if she were out a' th' picture, he'd like her then himself.

VINDICI And as for the son and heir, he shall be an eyesore to no young revellers, for he shall be drawn in cloth-of-gold breeches.

LUSSURIOSO And thou hast put my meaning in the pockets And canst not draw that out; my thought was this: To see the picture of a usuring father Boiling in hell, our rich men would ne'er like it.

VINDICI Oh, true, I cry you heartily mercy! I know the reason, for some of 'em had rather be damn'd indeed than damn'd in colours.

LUSSURIOSO [Aside] A parlous melancholy; h'as wit enough To murder any man, and I'll give him means.-- I think thou art ill-monied.

VINDICI Money! Ho, ho! 'T 'as been my want so long, 'tis now my scoff. I've e'en forgot what colour silver's of.

LUSSURIOSO [Aside] It hits as I could wish.

VINDICI I get good clothes Of those that dread my humour, and for tableroom, I feed on those that cannot be rid of me.

LUSSURIOSO [Giving him gold] Somewhat to set thee up withal.

VINDICI Oh, mine eyes!

LUSSURIOSO How now, man?

VINDICI Almost struck blind! This bright, unusual shine to me seems proud; I dare not look till the sun be in a cloud.

LUSSURIOSO [Aside] I think I shall affect his melancholy.-- How are they now?

VINDICI The better for your asking.

LUSSURIOSO You shall be better yet if you but fasten Truly on my intent; now y'are both present, I will unbrace such a close, private villain Unto your vengeful swords, the like ne'er heard of, Who hath disgrac'd you much and injur'd us.

HIPPOLITO Disgraced us, my lord?

LUSSURIOSO Ay, Hippolito. I kept it here till now that both your angers Might meet him at once.

VINDICI I'm covetous To know the villain.

LUSSURIOSO You know him: that slave pander, Piato, whom we threatened last With iron's perpetual prisonment.

VINDICI [Aside] All this is I.

HIPPOLITO Is't he, my lord?

LUSSURIOSO I'll tell you, You first preferr'd him to me.

VINDICI Did you, brother?

HIPPOLITO I did indeed.

LUSSURIOSO And the ingrateful villain, To quit that kindness, strongly wrought with me, Being as you see a likely man for pleasure, With jewels to corrupt your virgin sister.

HIPPOLITO Oh, villain!

VINDICI He shall surely die that did it.

LUSSURIOSO Ay, far from thinking any virgin harm, Especially knowing her to be as chaste As that part which scarce suffers to be touch'd, Th' eye would not endure him.

VINDICI Would you not, my lord? 'Twas wondrous honourably done.

LUSSURIOSO But with some [fine] frowns kept him out.

VINDICI Out, slave!

LUSSURIOSO What did me he but in revenge of that Went of his own free will to make infirm Your sister's honour, whom I honour with my soul For chaste respect, and not prevailing there, As 'twas but desperate folly to attempt it, In mere spleen, by the way, waylays your mother, Whose honour being a coward as it seems Yielded by little force.

VINDICI Coward indeed!

LUSSURIOSO He, proud of their advantage, as he thought, Brought me these news for happy, but I, Heaven forgive me for't--

VINDICI What did your honour?

LUSSURIOSO In rage push'd him from me, Trampled beneath his throat, spurn'd him, and bruis'd: Indeed I was too cruel, to say troth.

HIPPOLITO Most nobly manag'd.

VINDICI Has not heaven an ear? Is all lightning wasted?

LUSSURIOSO If I now were so impatient in a modest cause, What should you be?

VINDICI Full mad: he shall not live To see the moon change.

LUSSURIOSO He's about the palace; Hippolito, entice him this way, that thy brother May take full mark of him.

HIPPOLITO Heart, that shall not need, my lord, I can direct him so far.

LUSSURIOSO Yet for my hate's sake, Go, wind him this way; I'll see him bleed myself.

HIPPOLITO [Taking Vindici aside] What now, brother?

VINDICI Nay, e'en what you will: y'are put to't, brother.

HIPPOLITO An impossible task, I'll swear, To bring him hither that's already here.

Exit Hippolito.

LUSSURIOSO Thy name, I have forgot it.

VINDICI [Vindici], my lord.

LUSSURIOSO 'Tis a good name, that.

VINDICI Ay, a revenger.

LUSSURIOSO It does betoken courage: [thou] shouldst be valiant And kill thine enemies.

VINDICI That's my hope, my lord.

LUSSURIOSO This slave is one.

VINDICI I'll doom him.

LUSSURIOSO Then I'll praise thee. Do thou observe me best, and I'll best raise thee.

Enter Hippolito.

VINDICI Indeed, I thank you.

LUSSURIOSO Now, Hippolito, Where's the slave pander?

HIPPOLITO Your good lordship Would have a loathsome sight of him, much offensive. He's not in case now to be seen, my lord; The worst of all the deadly sins is in him: That beggarly damnation, drunkenness.

LUSSURIOSO Then he's a double slave.

VINDICI [Aside to Hippolito] 'Twas well convey'd Upon a sudden wit.

LUSSURIOSO What, are you both Firmly resolv'd? I'll see him dead myself.

VINDICI Or else let not us live.

LUSSURIOSO You may direct Your brother to take note of him.


LUSSURIOSO Rise but in this and you shall never fall.

VINDICI Your honour's vassals.

LUSSURIOSO [Aside] This was wisely carried. Deep policy in us makes fools of such: Then must a slave die when he knows too much.

Exit Lussurioso.

VINDICI Oh, thou almighty patience, 'tis my wonder That such a fellow, impudent and wicked, Should not be cloven as he stood, Or with a secret wind burst open! Is there no thunder left, or is't kept up In stock for heavier vengeance? There it goes!

HIPPOLITO Brother, we lose ourselves.

VINDICI But I have found it. 'Twill hold, 'tis sure; thanks, thanks to any spirit That mingled it 'mongst my inventions!

HIPPOLITO What is't?

VINDICI 'Tis sound and good, thou shalt partake it: I'm hir'd to kill myself.


VINDICI Prithee mark it: And the old duke being dead but not convey'd, For he's already miss'd too, and you know Murder will peep out of the closest husk.

HIPPOLITO Most true.

VINDICI What say you then to this device, If we dress'd up the body of the duke?

HIPPOLITO In that disguise of yours.

VINDICI Y'are quick, y'ave reach'd it.

HIPPOLITO I like it wondrously.

VINDICI And being in drink, as you have publish'd him, To lean him on his elbow, as if sleep had caught him, Which claims most interest in such sluggy men.

HIPPOLITO Good yet, but here's a doubt: [We], thought by th' duke's son to kill that pander, Shall when he is known be thought to kill the duke.

VINDICI Neither. Oh, thanks, it is substantial! For that disguise being on him, which I wore, It will be thought I, which he calls the pander, Did kill the duke and fled away in his apparel, Leaving him so disguis'd to avoid swift pursuit.

HIPPOLITO Firmer and firmer.

VINDICI Nay, doubt not 'tis in grain; I warrant it hold colour.

HIPPOLITO Let's about it.

VINDICI But, by the way too, now I think on't, brother, Let's conjure that base devil out of our mother.


Act 4, Scene 3: The Palace[edit]

Enter the Duchess arm in arm with the bastard [Spurio]; he seemeth lasciviously to her. After them, enter Supervacuo, running with a rapier, his brother [Ambitioso] stops him.

SPURIO Madam, unlock yourself; should it be seen, Your arm would be suspected.

DUCHESS Who is't that dares suspect, or this or these? May not we deal our favours where we please?

SPURIO I'm confident you may.

Exeunt [Duchess and Spurio].

AMBITIOSO 'Sfoot, brother, hold!

SUPERVACUO Woult let the bastard shame us?

AMBITIOSO Hold, hold, brother; There's fitter time than now.

SUPERVACUO Now, when I see it!

AMBITIOSO 'Tis too much seen already.

SUPERVACUO Seen and known, The nobler she's, the baser is she grown.

AMBITIOSO If she were bent lasciviously, the fault Of mighty women that sleep soft. Oh, death, Must she needs choose such an unequal sinner To make all worse?

SUPERVACUO A bastard, the duke's bastard! Shame heap'd on shame!

AMBITIOSO Oh, our disgrace! Most women have small [waist] the world throughout, But [their] desires are thousand miles about.

SUPERVACUO Come, stay not here, let's after and prevent, Or else they'll sin faster than we'll repent.

Act 4, Scene 4: Vindici's House[edit]

Enter [Vindici] and Hippolito bringing out [their] mother [Gratiana], one by one shoulder, and the other by the other, with daggers in their hands.

VINDICI Oh, thou for whom no name is bad enough!

[GRATIANA] What means my sons? What, will you murder me?

VINDICI Wicked, unnatural parent!

HIPPOLITO Fiend of women!

[GRATIANA] Oh! Are sons turn'd monsters? Help!

VINDICI In vain.

[GRATIANA] Are you so barbarous to set iron nipples Upon the breast that gave you suck?

VINDICI That breast Is turned to quarled poison.

[GRATIANA] Cut not your days for't: am not I your mother?

VINDICI Thou dost usurp that title now by fraud, For in that shell of mother breeds a bawd.

[GRATIANA] A bawd? Oh, name far loathsomer than hell!

HIPPOLITO It should be so, knew'st thou thy office well.

[GRATIANA] I hate it!

VINDICI Ah, is't possible, you powers on high, That women should dissemble when they die?

[GRATIANA] Dissemble!

VINDICI Did not the duke's son direct A fellow of the world's condition hither, That did corrupt all that was good in thee, Made thee uncivilly forget thyself, And work our sister to his lust?

[GRATIANA] Who, I? That had been monstrous! I defy that man For any such intent: none lives so pure But shall be soil'd with slander. Good son, believe it not.

VINDICI Oh, I'm in doubt, Whether I'm myself or no. Stay, let me look again upon this face. Who shall be sav'd when mothers have no grace?

HIPPOLITO 'Twould make one half despair.

VINDICI I was the man. Defy me now? Let's see do't modestly.

[GRATIANA] Oh, hell unto my soul!

VINDICI In that disguise, I sent from the duke's son, Tried you, you, and found you base metal As any villain might have done.

[GRATIANA] Oh, no, No tongue but yours could have bewitch'd me so.

VINDICI Oh, nimble in damnation, quick in tune; There is no devil could strike fire so soon! I am confuted in a word.

[GRATIANA] Oh, sons, Forgive me; to myself I'll prove more true: You that should honour me, I kneel to you.

VINDICI A mother to give aim to her own daughter.

HIPPOLITO True, brother, how far beyond nature 'tis, Tho' many mothers do't.

VINDICI Nay, and you draw tears once, go you to bed. Wet will make iron blush and change to red: Brother, it rains, 'twill spoil your dagger; house it.

HIPPOLITO 'Tis done.

VINDICI I'faith, 'tis a sweet shower; it does much good. The fruitful grounds and meadows of her soul Has been long dry: pour down thou blessed dew. Rise, mother; troth, this shower has made you higher.

[GRATIANA] Oh, you heavens! Take this infectious spot out of my soul; I'll rinse it in seven waters of mine eyes. Make my tears salt enough to taste of grace. To weep is to our sex naturally given, But to weep truly, that's a gift from heaven.

VINDICI Nay, I'll kiss you now. Kiss her, brother. Let's marry her to our souls, wherein's no lust, And honourably love her.

HIPPOLITO Let it be.

VINDICI For honest women are so [seld] and rare, 'Tis good to cherish those poor few that are. Oh, you of easy wax, do but imagine Now the disease has left you, how leprously That office would have cling'd unto your forehead. All mothers that had any graceful hue Would have worn masks to hide their face at you; It would have grown to this: at your foul name Green-colour'd maids would have turn'd red with shame.

HIPPOLITO And then our sister, full of hire and baseness--

VINDICI There had been boiling lead again. The duke's son's great concubine! A drab of state, a cloth-a'-silver slut, To have her train borne up and her soul trail I' th' dirt: great!

HIPPOLITO To be miserably great; rich, To be eternally wretched.

VINDICI Oh, common madness! Ask but the thriving'st harlot in cold blood, She'd give the world to make her honour good. Perhaps you'll say but only to th' duke's son In private; why, she first begins with one Who afterward to thousand proves a whore: "Break ice in one place, it will crack in more."

[GRATIANA] Most certainly applied.

HIPPOLITO Oh, brother, you forget our business.

VINDICI And well rememb'red; joy's a subtle elf: I think man's happiest when he forgets himself. Farewell, once dried, now holy-wat'red mead; Our hearts wear feathers that before wore lead.

[GRATIANA] I'll give you this, that one I never knew Plead better for and 'gainst the devil than you.

VINDICI You make me proud on't.

HIPPOLITO Commend us in all virtue to our sister.

VINDICI Ay, for the love of heaven, to that true maid.

[GRATIANA] With my best words.

VINDICI Why, that was motherly said.

Exeunt [Vindici and Hippolito].

[GRATIANA] I wonder now what fury did transport me? I feel good thoughts begin to settle in me. Oh, with what forehead can I look on her Whose honour I've so impiously beset?

[Enter Castiza.]

And here she comes.

CASTIZA Now, mother, you have wrought with me so strongly That what for my advancement, as to calm The trouble of your tongue: I am content.

[GRATIANA] Content to what?

CASTIZA To do as you have wish'd me, To prostitute my breast to the duke's son, And to put myself to common usury.

[GRATIANA] I hope you will not so!

CASTIZA Hope you I will not? That's not the hope you look to be saved in.

[GRATIANA] Truth, but it is.

CASTIZA Do not deceive yourself; I am as you e'en out of marble wrought. What would you now? Are ye not pleas'd yet with me? You shall not wish me to be more lascivious Than I intend to be.

[GRATIANA] Strike not me cold.

CASTIZA How often have you charg'd me on your blessing To be a cursed woman! When you knew Your blessing had no force to make me lewd, You laid your curse upon me. That did more; The mother's curse is heavy: where that fights, Suns set in storm and daughters lose their lights.

[GRATIANA] Good child, dear maid, if there be any spark Of heavenly intellectual fire within thee, Oh, let my breath revive it to a flame! Put not all out with woman's wilful follies. I am recover'd of that foul disease That haunts too many mothers. Kind, forgive me; Make me not sick in health: if then My words prevail'd when they were wickedness, How much more now when they are just and good?

CASTIZA I wonder what you mean. Are not you she For whose infect persuasions I could scarce Kneel out my prayers, and had much ado In three hours reading to untwist so much Of the black serpent as you wound about me?

[GRATIANA] 'Tis unfruitful, held tedious to repeat what's past; I'm now your present mother.

CASTIZA Push, now 'tis too late.

[GRATIANA] Bethink again, thou know'st not what thou sayst.

CASTIZA No? Deny advancement, treasure, the duke's son?

[GRATIANA] Oh, see, I spoke those words, and now they poison me! What will the deed do then? Advancement? True, as high as shame can pitch. For treasure, whoe'er knew a harlot rich, Or could build by the purchase of her sin An hospital to keep their bastards in? The duke's son! Oh, when women are young courtiers, They are sure to be old beggars! To know the miseries most harlots taste, Thou'dst wish thyself unborn when thou art unchaste.

CASTIZA Oh, mother, let me twine about your neck, And kiss you till my soul melt on your lips: I did but this to try you.

[GRATIANA] Oh, speak truth!

CASTIZA Indeed, I did not, for no tongue has force To alter me from honest. If maidens would, men's words could have no power. A virgin honour is a crystal tower, Which being weak is guarded with good spirits: Until she basely yields no ill inherits.

[GRATIANA] Oh, happy child! Faith and thy birth hath saved me. 'Mongst thousands daughters happiest of all others! [Be] thou a glass for maids, and I for mothers.


Act 5, Scene 1: A room in the palace[edit]

Enter [Vindici] and Hippolito [with the Duke's corpse in Piato's clothes, which they prop up in chair].

VINDICI So, so, he leans well; take heed you wake him not, brother.

HIPPOLITO I warrant you, my life for yours.

VINDICI That's a good lay, for I must kill myself! Brother, that's I: that sits for me, do you mark it? And I must stand ready here to make away myself yonder: I must sit to be kill'd, and stand to kill myself. I could vary it not so little as thrice over again, 't 'as some eight returns like Michaelmas Term.

HIPPOLITO That's enow, a' conscience.

VINDICI But, sirrah, does the duke's son come single?

HIPPOLITO No, there's the hell on't, his faith's too feeble to go alone; he brings flesh-flies after him that will buzz against suppertime and hum for his coming out.

VINDICI Ah, the fly-flop of vengeance beat 'em to pieces! Here was the sweetest occasion, the fittest hour, to have made my revenge familiar with him, show him the body of the duke his father, and how quaintly he died like a politician in huggermugger, made no man acquainted with it, and in catastrophe slain him over his father's breast, and oh, I'm mad to lose such a sweet opportunity!

HIPPOLITO Nay, push, prithee be content! There's no remedy present; may not hereafter times open in as fair faces as this?

VINDICI They may if they can paint so well.

HIPPOLITO Come, now to avoid all suspicion, let's forsake this room, and be going to meet the duke's son.

VINDICI Content, I'm for any weather.

Enter Lussurioso.

Heart, step close, here he comes!

HIPPOLITO My honour'd lord?

LUSSURIOSO Oh, me; you both present?

VINDICI E'en newly, my lord, just as your lordship enter'd now; about this place we had notice given he should be, but in some loathsome plight or other.

HIPPOLITO Came your honour private?

LUSSURIOSO Private enough for this: only a few Attend my coming out.

HIPPOLITO [Aside] Death rot those few!

LUSSURIOSO Stay, yonder's the slave.

VINDICI Mass, there's the slave indeed, my lord! [Aside] 'Tis a good child, he calls his father slave.

LUSSURIOSO Ay, that's the villain, the damn'd villain: softly, Tread easy.

VINDICI Puh, I warrant you, my lord, We'll stifle in our breaths.

LUSSURIOSO That will do well. [Aside] Base rogue, thou sleepest thy last; 'tis policy To have him kill'd in's sleep, for if he wak'd He would betray all to them.

VINDICI But, my lord--

LUSSURIOSO Ha, what sayst?

VINDICI Shall we kill him now he's drunk?

LUSSURIOSO Ay, best of all.

VINDICI Why, then he will ne'er live to be sober.

LUSSURIOSO No matter, let him reel to hell.

VINDICI But being so full of liquor, I fear he will put out all the fire--

LUSSURIOSO Thou art a mad beast.

VINDICI And leave none to warm your lordship's golls withal, For he that dies drunk falls into hellfire Like a bucket a' water, qush, qush.

LUSSURIOSO Come, be ready, nake your swords; think of your wrongs: This slave has injur'd you.

VINDICI [Aside] Troth, so he has, And he has paid well for't.

LUSSURIOSO Meet with him now.

VINDICI You'll bear us out, my lord?

LUSSURIOSO Puh, am I a lord for nothing think you? Quickly, now.

VINDICI Sa, sa, sa! [Stabs the corpse.] Thump, there he lies.

LUSSURIOSO Nimbly done. Ha? Oh, villains, murderers, 'Tis the old duke my father!

VINDICI That's a jest.

LUSSURIOSO What stiff and cold already? Oh, pardon me to call you from your names; 'Tis none of your deed: that villain Piato, Whom you thought now to kill, has murder'd him And left him thus disguis'd.

HIPPOLITO And not unlikely.

VINDICI Oh, rascal! Was he not asham'd To put the duke into a greasy doublet?

LUSSURIOSO He has been cold and stiff who knows how long?

VINDICI [Aside] Marry, that do I!

LUSSURIOSO No words, I pray, of anything intended.

VINDICI Oh, my lord!

HIPPOLITO I would fain have your lordship think that we have small reason to prate.

LUSSURIOSO Faith, thou sayst true; I'll forthwith send to court For all the nobles, bastard, duchess, all, How here by miracle we found him dead, And in his raiment that foul villain fled.

VINDICI That will be the best way, my lord, to clear us all: let's cast about to be clear.

LUSSURIOSO Ho, Nencio, Sordido, and the rest!

Enter all [Lussurioso's attendants].

[SORDIDO] My lord.

[NENCIO] My lord.

LUSSURIOSO Be witnesses of a strange spectacle: Choosing for private conference that sad room, We found the duke my father 'geal'd in blood.

[SORDIDO] My lord, the duke! Run, hie thee, Nencio, Startle the court by signifying so much.

[Exit Nencio.]

VINDICI [Aside to Hippolito] Thus much by wit a deep revenger can: When murder's known, to be the clearest man. We're fardest off, and with as bold an eye Survey his body as the standers-by.

LUSSURIOSO My royal father, too basely let blood By a malevolent slave!

HIPPOLITO [Aside to Vindici] Hark, he calls thee slave again.

VINDICI [Aside to Hippolito] Ha's lost, he may.

LUSSURIOSO Oh, sight, look hither! See, his lips are gnawn with poison!

VINDICI How! His lips? By th' mass, they be!

LUSSURIOSO Oh, villain! Oh, rogue! Oh, slave! Oh, rascal!

HIPPOLITO [Aside] Oh, good deceit! He quits him with like terms.

[Enter Ambitioso, Supervacuo, Spurio, Duchess, the Duke's Gentlemen, Nobles, and guards.]



AMBITIOSO Over what roof hangs this prodigious comet In deadly fire?

LUSSURIOSO Behold, behold, my lords: The duke my father's murder'd by a vassal That owes this habit, and here left disguis'd.

DUCHESS My lord and husband!

SECOND NOBLE Reverend majesty!

FIRST NOBLE I have seen these clothes often attending on him.

VINDICI [Aside] That nobleman has been i' th' country, for he does not lie.

SUPERVACUO [Aside to Ambitioso] Learn of our mother; let's dissemble too. I am glad he's vanish'd; so I hope are you.

AMBITIOSO [Aside to Supervacuo] Ay, you may take my word for't.

SPURIO [Aside] Old Dad dead? Ay, one of his cast sins will send the fates Most hearty commendations by his own son. I'll tug the new stream till strength be done.

LUSSURIOSO Where be those two that did affirm to us My lord the duke was privately rid forth?

FIRST GENTLEMAN Oh, pardon us, my lords, he gave that charge Upon our lives if he were miss'd at court To answer so; he rode not anywhere, We left him private with that fellow here.

VINDICI [Aside] Confirm'd.

LUSSURIOSO Oh heavens, that false charge was his death! Impudent beggars, durst you to our face, Maintain such a false answer? Bear him straight To execution.


LUSSURIOSO Urge me no more. In this excuse may be call'd half the murther.

VINDICI [Aside] You've sentenc'd well.

LUSSURIOSO Away, see it be done.

[Exit the First Gentleman, guarded.]

VINDICI [Aside] Could you not stick? See what confession doth. Who would not lie when men are hang'd for truth?

HIPPOLITO [Aside to Vindici] Brother, how happy is our vengeance?

VINDICI [Aside to Hippolito] Why, it hits, Past the apprehension of indifferent wits.

LUSSURIOSO My lord, let post-horse be sent Into all places to entrap the villain.

VINDICI [Aside] Post-horse? Ha, ha!

[FIRST] NOBLE My lord, we're something bold to know our duty. You father's accidentally departed; The titles that were due to him meet you.

LUSSURIOSO Meet me? I'm not at leisure, my good lord; I've many griefs to dispatch out a' th' way. [Aside] Welcome, sweet titles!--Talk to me, my lords, Of sepulchers and mighty emperors' bones, That's thought for me.

VINDICI [Aside] So, one may see by this How foreign markets go: Courtiers have feet a' th' nines and tongues a' th' twelves; They flatter dukes and dukes flatter themselves.

[FIRST] NOBLE My lord, it is your shine must comfort us.

LUSSURIOSO Alas, I shine in tears like the sun in April.

[FIRST] NOBLE You're now my lord's grace.

LUSSURIOSO My lord's grace? I perceive you'll have it so.

[FIRST] NOBLE 'Tis but your own.

LUSSURIOSO Then heavens give me grace to be so.

VINDICI [Aside] He prays well for himself.

[FIRST] NOBLE Madam, all sorrows Must run their circles into joys; no doubt but time Will make the murderer bring forth himself.

VINDICI [Aside] He were an ass then, i'faith.

[FIRST] NOBLE In the mean season, Let us bethink the latest funeral honours Due to the duke's cold body, and withal, Calling to memory our new happiness, Spread in his royal son: lords, gentlemen, Prepare for revels.

VINDICI [Aside] Revels!

NOBLE Time hath several falls. Griefs lift up joys, feasts put down funerals.

LUSSURIOSO Come then, my lords, my favours to you all. [Aside] The duchess is suspected foully bent; I'll begin dukedom with her banishment.

Exeunt Duke [Lussurioso], Nobles, [Gentlemen, Attendants,] and Duchess.

HIPPOLITO [Aside to Vindici] Revels!

VINDICI [Aside to Hippolito] Ay, that's the word; we are firm yet: Strike one strain more and then we crown our wit.

Exeunt brothers [Vindici and Hippolito].

SPURIO Well, have the fairest mark, so said the duke when he begot me, And if I miss his heart or near about, Then have at any: a bastard scorns to be out.

[Exit Spurio.]

SUPERVACUO Not'st thou that Spurio, brother?

[AMBITIOSO] Yes, I note him to our shame.

SUPERVACUO He shall not live; his hair shall not grow much longer: in this time of revels, tricks may be set afoot. Seest thou yon new moon? It shall out-live the new duke by much; this hand shall dispossess him, then we're mighty. A masque is treason's license; that build upon: 'Tis murder's best face when a vizard's on.

Exit [Supervacuo].

AMBITIOSO Is't so? ['Tis] very good. And do you think to be duke then, kind brother? I'll see fair play: drop one and there lies t'other.

Exit Ambitioso.

Act 5, Scene 2: Vindici's House[edit]

Enter [Vindici] and Hippolito, with Piero and other Lords.

VINDICI My lords, be all of music; strike old griefs into other countries That flow in too much milk and have faint livers, Not daring to stab home their discontents: Let our hid flames break out as fire, as lightning, To blast this villainous dukedom vex'd with sin; Wind up your souls to their full height again.


FIRST LORD Which way?

THIRD LORD Any way: our wrongs are such, We cannot justly be reveng'd too much.

VINDICI You shall have all enough. Revels are toward, And those few nobles that have long suppress'd you Are busied to the furnishing of a masque, And do affect to make a pleasant tale on't. The masquing suits are fashioning; now comes in That which must glad us all: we to take pattern Of all those suits, the colour, trimming, fashion, E'en to an undistinguish'd hair almost, Then ent'ring first, observing the true form, Within a strain or two we shall find leisure To steal our swords out handsomely, And when they think their pleasure sweet and good, In midst of all their joys, they shall sigh blood.

PIERO Weightily, effectually.

THIRD LORD Before the t'other masquers come.

VINDICI We're gone, all done and past.

PIERO But how for the duke's guard?

VINDICI Let that alone; By one and one their strengths shall be drunk down.

HIPPOLITO There are five hundred gentlemen in the action That will apply themselves and not stand idle.

PIERO Oh, let us hug your bosoms!

VINDICI Come, my lords, Prepare for deeds; let other times have words.


Act 5, Scene 3: The palace banqueting hall[edit]

In a dumb show, the possessing of the young duke [Lussurioso] with all his Nobles. Then sounding music, a furnish'd table is brought forth; then enters the duke [Lussurioso] and his [three] Nobles to the banquet. A blazing star appeareth.

[FIRST] NOBLE Many harmonious hours and choicest pleasures Fill up the royal numbers of your years.

LUSSURIOSO My lords, we're pleas'd to thank you [aside] tho' we know 'Tis but your duty now to wish it so.

[FIRST] NOBLE That shine makes us all happy.

THIRD NOBLE [Aside] His grace frowns?

SECOND NOBLE [Aside] Yet we must say he smiles.

FIRST NOBLE [Aside] I think we must.

LUSSURIOSO [Aside] That foul, incontinent duchess we have banish'd; The bastard shall not live: after these revels I'll begin strange ones; he and the stepsons Shall pay their lives for the first subsidies. We must not frown so soon, else 't 'ad been now.

FIRST NOBLE My gracious lord, please you prepare for pleasure: The masque is not far off.

LUSSURIOSO We are for pleasure. [To the comet] Beshrew thee, what art thou mad'st me start? Thou hast committed treason: a blazing star!

FIRST NOBLE A blazing star? Oh, where, my lord?


SECOND NOBLE See, see, my lords: a wondrous, dreadful one.

LUSSURIOSO I am not pleas'd at that ill-knotted fire, That bushing, flaring star. Am not I duke? It should not quake me now: had it appear'd Before it, I might then have justly fear'd; But yet they say, whom art and learning weds, When stars [wear] locks, they threaten great men's heads. Is it so? You are read, my lords.

FIRST NOBLE May it please your grace, It shows great anger.

LUSSURIOSO That does not please our grace.

SECOND NOBLE Yet here's the comfort, my lord: many times When it seems most, it threatens fardest off.

LUSSURIOSO Faith, and I think so too.

FIRST NOBLE Beside, my lord, You're gracefully establish'd with the loves Of all your subjects: and for natural death, I hope it will be threescore years a-coming.

LUSSURIOSO True. No more but threescore years?

FIRST NOBLE Fourscore I hope, my lord.

SECOND NOBLE And fivescore, I.

THIRD NOBLE But 'tis my hope, my lord, you shall ne'er die.

LUSSURIOSO Give me thy hand; these others I rebuke. He that hopes so is fittest for a duke. Thou shalt sit next me; take your places, lords: We're ready now for sports; let 'em set on. [To the comet] You thing, we shall forget you quite anon!

THIRD NOBLE I hear 'em coming, my lord.

Enter the Masque of Revengers: the two brothers [Vindici and Hippolito] and two Lords more.

LUSSURIOSO Ah, 'tis well. [Aside] Brothers and bastard, you dance next in hell.

The Revengers dance. At the end, steal out their swords and these four kill the four at the table in their chairs. It thunders.

VINDICI Mark thunder? Dost know thy cue, thou big-voic'd crier? Dukes' groans are thunder's watchwords.

HIPPOLITO So, my lords, you have enough.

VINDICI Come, let's away, no ling'ring.

HIPPOLITO Follow, go.

Exeunt [Hippolito and the two lords].

VINDICI No power is angry when the lustful die; When thunder claps, heaven likes the tragedy.

Exit Vindici. Enter the other masque of intended murderers: stepsons [Ambitioso, Supervacuo], bastard [Spurio], and a Fourth Man [Ambitioso's henchman], coming in dancing; the duke [Lussurioso] recovers a little in voice and groans, calls, "A guard, treason," at which they all start out of their measure, and turning towards the table, they find them all to be murdered.


SPURIO Whose groan was that?

LUSSURIOSO Treason, a guard!

AMBITIOSO How now? All murder'd!


FOURTH MAN And those his nobles?

AMBITIOSO Here's a labour sav'd: I thought to have sped him. 'Sblood, how came this?

[SUPERVACUO] Then I proclaim myself: now I am duke.

AMBITIOSO Thou duke! Brother, thou liest.

[Kills Supervacuo.]

SPURIO Slave, so dost thou!

[Kills Ambitioso.]

FOURTH MAN Base villain, hast thou slain my lord and master?

[Kills Spurio.] Enter the first men [Vindici, Hippolito, the two Lords].

VINDICI Pistols, treason, murder! Help, guard my lord the duke!

[Enter Antonio, guards.]

HIPPOLITO Lay hold upon this traitor!

[The guards seize the Fourth Man.]


VINDICI Alas, the duke is murder'd!

HIPPOLITO And the nobles!

VINDICI Surgeons, surgeons! Heart, does he breathe so long?

ANTONIO A piteous tragedy, able to [make] An old man's eyes bloodshot.


VINDICI Look to my lord the duke! [Aside] A vengeance throttle him! [To the Fourth Man] Confess, thou murd'rous and [unhallowed] man, Didst thou kill all these?

FOURTH MAN None but the bastard I.

VINDICI How came the duke slain then?

FOURTH MAN We found him so.

LUSSURIOSO Oh, villain!


LUSSURIOSO Those in the masque did murder us.

VINDICI Law you now, sir. Oh, marble impudence! Will you confess now?

FOURTH MAN ['Sblood], 'tis all false!

ANTONIO Away with that foul monster, Dipp'd in a prince's blood!

FOURTH MAN Heart, 'tis a lie!

ANTONIO Let him have bitter execution.

[Exit Fourth Man, guarded.]

VINDICI [Aside] New marrow! No, I cannot be express'd!-- How fares my lord the duke?

LUSSURIOSO Farewell to all; He that climbs highest has the greatest fall. My tongue is out of office.

VINDICI Air, gentlemen, air! [Whispering] Now thou'lt not prate on't, 'twas [Vindici] murd'red thee--


VINDICI Murd'red thy father--


VINDICI And I am he. Tell nobody. [Lussurioso dies.] So, so, the duke's departed.

ANTONIO It was a deadly hand that wounded him. The rest, ambitious who should rule and sway, After his death were so made all away.

VINDICI My lord was unlikely.

HIPPOLITO Now the hope Of Italy lies in your reverend years.

VINDICI Your hair will make the silver age again, When there was fewer but more honest men.

ANTONIO The burden's weighty and will press age down; May I so rule that heaven [may] keep the crown.

VINDICI The rape of your good lady has been quitted With death on death.

ANTONIO Just is the law above. But of all things it puts me most to wonder How the old duke came murd'red.

VINDICI Oh, my lord!

ANTONIO It was the strangeliest carried, I not [heard] Of the like.

HIPPOLITO 'Twas all done for the best, my lord.

VINDICI All for your grace's good; we may be bold to speak it now, 'Twas somewhat witty carried, tho' we say it. 'Twas we two murd'red him.

ANTONIO You two?

VINDICI None else, i'faith, my lord; nay, 'twas well manag'd.

ANTONIO Lay hands upon those villains!

[Guards seize Vindici and Hippolito.]

VINDICI How? On us?

ANTONIO Bear 'em to speedy execution.

VINDICI Heart, was't not for your good, my lord?

ANTONIO My good! Away with 'em! Such an old man as he! You that would murder him would murder me.

VINDICI Is't come about?

HIPPOLITO 'Sfoot, brother, you begun.

VINDICI May not we set as well as the duke's son? Thou hast no conscience: are we not reveng'd? Is there one enemy left alive amongst those? 'Tis time to die when we are ourselves our foes. When murders shut deeds close, this curse does seal 'em: If none disclose 'em they themselves reveal 'em! This murder might have slept in tongueless brass But for ourselves, and the world died an ass. Now I remember too, here was Piato Brought forth a knavish sentence: no doubt, said he, But time will make the murderer bring forth himself. 'Tis well he died; he was a witch. And now, my lord, since we are in forever, This work was ours which else might have been slipp'd, And if we list, we could have nobles clipp'd And go for less than beggars, but we hate To bleed so cowardly; we have enough. I'faith, We're well: our mother turn'd, our sister true, We die after a nest of dukes. Adieu.

Exeunt [Vindici and Hippolito, guarded].

ANTONIO How subtly was that murder clos'd! Bear up Those tragic bodies; 'tis a heavy season: Pray heaven their blood may wash away all treason.

[Exeunt omnes.]