Duke—royal lecher! Go, grey-haired adultery;
And thou his son, as impious steeped as he;
And thou his bastard true-begot in evil;
And thou his duchess that will do with devil;
Four ex’lent characters.
[To the skull] Thou sallow picture of my poisoned love,
My study’s ornament, thou shell of death,
Once the bright face my betrothed lady,
When life and beauty naturally filled out these
These ragged imperfections,
When two heaven-pointed diamonds were set
In those unsightly rings […]
Thee when thou wert appareled in thy flesh
The old duke poisoned,
Because thy purer part would not consent
Unto his palsy-lust
Duchess, it is your youngest son, we’re sorry,
His violent act has e'en drawn blood of honour
And stained 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."
SECOND JUDGE: Confess, my lord,
What moved you to’t?
JUNIOR BROTHER: Why, flesh and blood, my lord.
What should move men unto a woman else?
LUSSURIOSO: O 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.
DUCHESS: Who would not be revenged 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 o' the womb, the thief of Nature,
Begot against the seventh commandment
Half damned in the conception by the justice
Of that unbribed everlasting law.
SPURIO: O, I’d a hot-backed devil to my father.
LUSSURIOSO: Attend me, I am past my depth in lust,
And I must swim or drown. All my desires
Are levelled at a virgin not far from Court,
To whom I have conveyed by messenger
Many waxed 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.
'Tis a rare phoenix whoe'er she be.
If your desires be such, she so repugnant.
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!
[Unsheathes his sword]
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.
I marked not this before:
A prayer book the pillow to her cheek;
This was her rich confection, and another
Placed in her right hand with a leaf tucked up,
Pointing to these words:
Melius virtute mori, quam per dedecus viyere.
True and effectual it is indeed.
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 impoverished hell.
VINDICE: 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: Aye, that's the comfort on't.
VINDICE: The comfort on't!
I keep the best for last; can these persuade you
To forget heaven—
[Gives her money]
GRATIANA: Ay, these are they—
VINDICE [aside]: O!
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.
VINDICE [aside]: Oh suffering heaven with thy invisible finger
E'en at this instant turn the precious side
Of both mine eyeballs inward, not to see myself.
GRATIANA: O, 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 others clip the sun they clasp the shades!
Virginity is paradise, locked 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.
LUSSURIOSO: Well this night I'll visit her, and 'tis till then
A year in my desires. Farewell, attend,
Trust me with thy preferment.
[Exit Lussurioso. Vindice puts his hand to his sword]
VINDICE: My loved lord.—
Oh shall I kill him o'the 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 swelled with lust, this shall unfill 'em.
O, 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;
O, thou wilt kill me both in heaven and here.
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 turned 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.
VINDICE: Look you brother,
I have not fashioned this only for show
And useless property, no — it shall bear a part
E'en in it own revenge. This very skull,
Whose mistress the duke poisoned with this drug,
The mortal curse of the earth, shall be revenged
In the like strain and kiss his lips to death.
GRATIANA: Are you so barbarous, to set iron nipples
Upon the breast that gave you suck?
VINDICE: That breast
Is turned to quarled poison.
GRATIANA: Cut not your days for't: am not I your mother?
VINDICE: 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: Bethink again, thou know'st not what thou say'st.
CASTIZA: No—deny advancement, treasure, the duke's son?
GRATIANA: O 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? Who e'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'd'st wish thyself unborn, when thou’rt 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.
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 vexed with sin:
Wind up your souls to their full height again […]
And when they think their pleasures sweet and good,
In midst of all their joys, they shall sigh blood.
ANTONIO: Bear 'em to speedy execution. […]
VINDICE: May not we set as well as the duke's son?
Thou hast no conscience: are we not revenged?
Is there one enemy left alive amongst those?
When murderers 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 once:
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 for ever:
This work was ours, which else might have been slipped;
And if we list we could have nobles clipped
And go for less than beggars. But we hate
To bleed so cowardly: we have enough—
I'faith we're well: our mother turned, our sister true,
We die after a nest of dukes! Adieu.
Exeunt [Vindice and Hippolito, guarded)
ANTONIO: How subtly was that murder closed! Bear up
Those tragic bodies; 'tis a heavy season.
Pray heaven their blood may wash away all treason.