« PreviousContinue »
Let me hear once more, what I would not hear,
Isa. O my unkind lord! may your sins find mercy,
As I upon a woful widow'd bed
Shall pray for you, if not to turn your eyes
Upon your wretched wife and hopeful son,
Yet that in time you'll fix them upon heaven.
Bra. No more; go, go, complain to the great duke.
Isa. Now, my dear lord, you shall have present witness
How I'll work peace between you. I will make
Myself the author of your cursed vow,
I have some cause to do it, you have none;
Conceal it, I beseech you, for the weal.
Of both your dukedoms, that you wrought the means
Of such a separation : let the fault
Remain with my supposed jealousy,
And think with what a piteous and rent heart
I shall perform this sad ensuing part.”
The arraignment of Vittoria Corombona. Enter Francisco de Medicis, Cardinal Monticelso, Brachiano, Vit
toria Corombona, Ambassadors, fc.
“ Mon. I shall be plainer with you, and paint out
Your follies in more natural red and white,
Than that upon your cheek.
Vit. O you mistake,
You raise a blood as noble in this cheek
As ever was your mother's:
Mon. I must spare you, till proof cry whore to that.
Observe this creature here, my honoured lords,
A woman of a most prodigious spirit.
Vit. My honourable lord,
It doth not suit a reverend cardinal
To play the lawyer thus. .
· Mon. Oh your trade instructs your language !
You see, my lords, what goodly fruit she seems,
Yet like those apples travellers report
To grow where Sodom and Gomorrah stood,
I will but touch her, and you straight shall see
She'll fall to soot and ashes.
Vit. Your invenom'd apothecary should do't..
Mon. I am resolved
Were there a second paradise to lose,
This devil would betray it.
Vit. O poor charity!
Thou art seldom found in scarlet.
Mon. Who knows not how, when several night by night
Her gates were choakt with coaches, and her rooms ·
Outbrav'd the stars with several kinds of lights;
When she did counterfeit a prince's court
In musick, banquets, and most riotous surfeits,
This whore forsooth was holy.
Vit. Ha ? whore? what's that?
Mon. Shall I expound whore to you? sure I shall !
I'll give their perfect character. They are first,
Sweetmeats which rot the eater: in man's nostrils
Poison'd perfumes. They are coz’ning alchymy;
Shipwrecks in calmest weather. What are whores ?
Cold Russian winters, that appear so barren,
As if that nature had forgot the spring.
They are the true material fire of hell.
Worse than those tributes i'th’ Low-countries paid,
Exactions upon meat, drink, garments, sleep;
Ay even on man's perdition, his sin.
They are those brittle evidences of law,
Which forfeit all a wretched man's estate
For leaving out one syllable. What are whores?
They are those flattering bells have all one tune,
At weddings and at funerals. Your rich whores
Are only treasuries by extortion fill’d, .
And empty'd by cursed riot. They are worse,
Worse than dead bodies, which are begg’d at th' gallows,
And wrought upon by surgeons, to teach man"
Wherein he is imperfect. What's a whore?
She's like the gilt counterfeited coin,
Which, whosoe'er first stamps it, brings in trouble
All that receive it.
Vit. This character 'scapes me.
Mon. You, gentlewoman?
Take from all beasts and from all minerals
Their deadly poison
Vit. Well, what then?
Mon. I'll tell thee';
I'll find in thee an apothecary's shop,
To sample them all.
Fr. Amb. She hath Jived ill.
En. Amb. True, but the cardinal's too bitter.
Mon. You know what whore is. Next the devil adult'ry,
Enters the devil murder.
Fru. Your unhappy husband Is dead.
Vit. O he's a happy husband; Now he owes nature nothing.
Fru. And by a vaulting engine.
Mon. An active plot;
He jumpt into his grave..
Fra. What a prodigy was't,
That from some two yards high, a slender man
Should break his neck ?
Mon. I'th' rushes ! .
Fra. And what's more, Upon the instant lose all use of speech, All vital motion, like a man had lain Wound up three days. Now mark each circumstance.
Mon. And look upon this creature was his wife. She comes not like a widow: she comes arm'd With scorn and impudence: is this a mourning-habit?
Vit. Had I foreknown his death as you suggest, I would have bespoke my mourning..
Mon. O you are cunning!
Vit. You shame your wit and judgement,
To call it so; what, is my just defence,
By him that is my judge, call'd impudence ?
Let me appeal then from this Christian court
To the uncivil Tartar.
Mon. See, my lords,
She scandals our proceedings.
Vit. Humbly thus,
Thus low, to the most worthy and respected
Leiger ambassadors, my modesty
And womanhood I tender; but withall,
So intangled in a cursed accusation,
That my defence, of force, like Perseus,
Must personate masculine virtue. To the point;
Find me but guilty, sever head from body;
We'll part good friends : I scorn to hold my life
At your's, or any man's intreaty, sir.
En. Amb. She hath a brave spirit.
Mon. Well, well, such counterfeit jewels
Make true ones oft suspected.
Vit. You are deceived;
For know, that all your strict combined heads, .
Which strike against this mine of diamonds,
Shall prove but glassen hammers, they shall break;
These are but feigned shadows of my evils.
'Terrify babes, my lord, with painted devils,
I'm past such needless palsy. For your names
Of whore and murdress, they proceed from you,
As if a man should spit against the wind;
The filth returns in's face.
Mon. Pray you mistress, satisfy me one question :
Who lodg'd beneath your roof that fatal night
Your husband brake his neck ?
Bra. That question ·
Inforceth me break silence; I was there. .
Mont. Your business?
Bra. Why, I came to comfort her, .
And take some course for settling her estate,
Because I heard her husband was in debt
To you, my lord. :
Mont. He was.
Bra. And 'twas strangely fear'd, . That you would cozen her.
Mont. Who made you overseer?
Bra. Why, my charity, my charity, which should flow
From every generous and noble spirit,
To orphans and to widows.
Mont. Your lust.
Bra. Cowardly dogs bark loudest! sirrah, priest,
I'll talk with you hereafter. - Do you hear?
The sword you frame of such an excellent temper, ,
I'll sheath in your own bowels.
There are a number of thy coat resemble
Your common post-boys.
Mont. Ha ?
Bra. Your mercenary post-boys; . Your letters carry truth, but 'tis your guise. To fill your mouths with gross and impudent lies.
Ser. My lord, your gown.
Bra. Thou liest, 'twas my stool.
Bestow't upon thy master, that will challenge
The rest o'th' household stuff, for Brachiano
Was ne'er so beggarly to take a stool
Out of another's lodging: let him make
Vallance for his bed on't, or demy foot-cloth
For his most reverend moile. Monticelso,
Nemo me impune lacessit.
[exit Brachiano. Mon. Your champion's gone.
Vit. The wolf may prey the better.
Fra. My lord, there's great suspicion of the murder ;
But no sound proof who did it. For my part
I do not think she hath a soul so black
To act a deed so bloody: if she have,
As in cold countries husband-men plant vines,
And with warm blood manure them, even so
One summer she will bear unsavory fruit,
And e'er next spring wither both branch and root.
The act of blood let pass, only descend
To matter of incontinence.
Vit. I discern poison
Under your gilded pills.
Mon. Now the duke's gone I will produce a letter,
Wherein 'twas plotted, he and you shall meet
At an apothecary's summer-house,
Down by the river Tyber. View't, my lords:
Where after wanton bathing and the heat
Of a lascivious banquet.— I pray read it,
I shame to speak the rest.
: Vit. Grant I was tempted;
Temptation to lust proves not the act :
Casta est quam nemo rogavit.
You read his hot love to me, but you want
My frosty answer.
Mon, Frost i'th' dog-days! strange !
Vit. Condemn you me for that the duke did love me?
So may you blame some fair and chrystal river
For that some melancholic distracted man
Hath drown'd himself in't.
Mon. Truly drown’d, indeed.
Vit. Sum up my faults, I pray, and you shall find,
That beauty and gay clothes, a merry heart,
And a good stomach to feast, are all,
All the poor crimes that you can charge me with.
In faith, my lord, you might go pistol flies,
The sport would be more noble.
Mon. Very good.
Vit. But take you your course, it seems you have beggar'd
And now would fain undo me. I have houses,
Jewels, and a poor remnant of crusados;
Would those would make you charitable.
Mon. If the devil
· Did ever take good shape, behold his picture.
VOL. VII. PART 1.