« PreviousContinue »
Vit. You have one virtue left,
Fra. Who brought this letter?
Mon. My lord duke sent to you a thousand ducats,
Vit. 'Twas to keep your cousin
Mon. I rather think,
Vit. Who says so but yourself? if you be my accuser,
Mon. Go to, go to.
Vit. Of your own grafting ?
Mon. You were born in Venice, honourably descended
Mon. He spent there in six months
Vit. My lord!
Mon. Nay, hear me,
Fra. I stand for Marcello.
Mon. For you, Vittoria, your public fault,
Fla. Who, I?
Vit. Do the noblemen in Rome
Fra. You must have patience.
Vit. I must first have vengeance.
Mon. Away with her,
Vit. A rape! a rape!
Vit. Yes, you have ravish'd justice;
Mon. Fie, she's mad !
Vit. Die with those pills in your most cursed maw, Should bring you health! or while you sit o'th' bench, Let your own spittle choke you!
Mon. She's turn'd fury.
Vit. That the last day of judgement may so find you, And leave you the same devil you were before ! Instruct me some good horse-leach to speak treason, For since you cannot take my life for deeds, Take it for words: 0 woman's poor revenge! Which dwells but in the tongue. I will not weep. No; I do scorn to call up one poor tear To fawn on your injustice : bear me hence Unto this house of—what's your mitigating title?
Mon. Of converts.
Vit. It shall not be a house of converts ; My mind shall make it honester to me
Than the pope's palace, and more peaceable
Through darkness diamonds spread their richest light." Our author is not, in general, either felicitous or hearty in his legal pleadings ; indeed, nothing can be inore wretched than the stuff he puts into the mouths of his lawyers, both in this play and in The Devil's Law-Case. The preceding passage, however, is as fine a piece of ingenious pleading as the defence of that refined sophist, Eugene Aram. Vittoria is too much for the Cardinal, with all his cunning, and the advantage of his station to boot: yet, her answers are so pertinent, and her appeals so natural, that we never for a moment doubt the probability and consistency of the scene. She is truly “a woman of a most prodigious spirit.” Her confidence and fearlessness, her dextrous retreats, and ready ingenuity at every turn, spread over the whole a very lively and dramatic air.
In the last extract we shall make from this play, there is solemn grief—a wild pathos, which accords well with the subject. Flamineo having slain Marcello, his gallant and honourable brother, Cornelia, their mother, becomes distracted in mind.
“ Francisco de Medicis in disguise, and Flamineo.
Fla. Thou meet’st another here, a pitiful
Fra. Your reverend mother
Fla. I will see them.
Fra. 'Twere much uncharity in you: for your sight
Their superstitious howling.
corse. A song.,
When I am dead and rotten. Reach the bays;
Moor. Look you, who are yonder ?
Wom. Alas! her grief
Cor. You're very welcome.
[to Flam. Heart's-ease for you. I pray make much of it, . I have left none for myself.
Fra. Lady, who's this?
Cor. Will you make me such a fool ? here's a white hand :
Cor. Do you hear, sir?
Fla. Do and you will, do.
Cor. Call for the robin red-breast, and the wren,
The next of Webster's Plays in chronological order is The Devil's Law-Case, which is, upon the whole, a tolerable play, and would afford us a few extracts; but as they are not of the same rank or importance with those we shall make from his two remaining plays, and as, moreover, any extracts from it would carry us beyond the limit assigned to this article, we must pass on to The Dutchess of Malfy. There is not much of plot in the tragedy; the chief incidents in which are as follows: The widowed Dutchess of Malfy, eminent in beauty and excellent in virtue, secretly marries Antonio her steward, an accomplished and brave gentleman, by whom she has three children. Her brothers, Ferdinand and the Cardinal, who had, from motives of avarice and ambition, used both threats and persuasions to prevent her marrying again, are informed by Bosola, their creature, of the birth of the children; but he is unable to communicate to them the name of the father. The brothers resolve to punish the Dutchess for the pretended indignity done to their house, with the most ferocious vengeance. The Dutchess, apprehensive of injury from the well-known violence of Ferdinand, under pretence of a pilgrimage, flies to Ancona, where she is seized with two of her children by the followers of her brothers, and is brought back to Malfy; Antonio, at her request, having taken a different route with the remaining child. The first and chief scene in the drama, is the one in which the Dutchess is subjected to the most excruciating mental tortures; which commences thus :
“Ferdinand, Bosola, Dutchess, Cariola, Servants.
“ Fer. How doth our sister dutchess bear herself
Bos. Nobly : I'll describe her:
Fer. Her melancholy seems to be fortified with a strange
Bos. 'Tis so; and this restraint