Page images

Duke. “Dishonour !" then my soul is cleft with

fear: I half-presage my misery; say on, Speak it at once, for I am great with grief.

D'Av. I trust your highness will pardon me; yet I will not deliver a syllable which shall be less innocent than truth itself.

Duke. By all our wish of joys, we pardon thee.

D'Av. Get from me, cowardly servility! my service is noble, and my loyalty an armour of brass : in short, my lord, and plain discovery,

Duke. Out with the word !

D'Av. Fernando is your rival, has stolen your dutchess's heart, murther'd friendship.

Duke. My heart is split.

D'Av. Take courage, be a prince in resolution: I knew it would nettle you in the fire of your composition, and was loath to have given the first report of this more than ridiculous blemish to all patience or moderation ; but oh, my lord, what would not a subject do to approve his loyalty to his sovereign ?

Duke. The icy current of my frozen blood Is kindled up in agonies as hot As flames of burning sulphur. Oh my fate ! Dishonour'd! had my dukedom's whole inheritance Been rent, mine honours levell'd in the dust, So she, that wicked woman, might have slept Chaste in my bosom, 't had been all a sport.And he, that villain, viper to my heart, That he should be the man! death above utter

ance !Take heed you prove this true.

D’Av. My lord.

Duke. If not,
I'll tear thee joint by joint.-Phew! methinks
It should not be :-Bianca! why, I took her
From lower than a bondage ;-hell of hells !
See that you make it good.



An Apartment in the Palace.
Fior. Art thou Caraffa ? is there in thy veins
One drop of blood that issued from the loins
Of Pavy's ancient dukes? or dost thou sit
On great Lorenzo's seat, our glorious father,
And canst not blush to be so far beneath
The spirit of heroic ancestors ?
Canst thou engross a slavish shame, which men,
Far, far below the region of thy state,
Not more abhor, than study to revenge ?
Thou an Italian! I could burst with rage,
To think I have a brother so befool'd,
In giving patience to a harlot's lust.

Duke. Forbear; the ashy paleness of my cheek
Is scarleted in ruddy flakes of wrath;
And like some bearded meteor shall suck up,
With swiftest terror, all those dusky mists
That overcloud compassion in our breast.
You have rous'd a sleeping lion, whom no art,
No fawning smoothness shall reclaim; but blood.
And, sister, thou, thou Roderico, thou,
Froin whom I take the surfeit of my bane,
Henceforth no more so eagerly pursue,
To whet my dulness : you shall see Caraffa
Equal his birth, and matchless in revenge.

Fior. Why, now I hear you speak in majesty.
D'Av. And it becomes my lord most princely.

Duke. Does it ? come hither, sister; thou art near
In nature, and as near to me in love.
I love thee, yes, by yon bright firmament,
I love thee dearly: but observe me well;
If any private grudge, or female spleen,
Malice or envy, or such woman's frailty,

Have spurr'd thee on to set my soul on fire,
Without apparent certainty,-I vow,
And vow again, by all our princely blood,
Hadst thou a double soul, or were the lives
Of fathers, mothers, children, or the hearts
Of all our tribes in thine, I would unrip
That womb of bloody mischief with these nails,
Where such a cursed plot as this was hatch'd.
But, D'Avolos, for thee—no more; to work
A yet more strong impression in my brain,
You must produce an instance to mine eye,
Both present and apparent-nay, you shall-or--

Fior. Or what? you will be mad? be rather wise;
Think on Ferentes first, and think by whom
The harmless youth was slaughter'd; had he liv'd,
He would have told you tales: Fernando feard it;
And to prevent him, under show, forsooth,
Of rare device, most trimly cut him off.
Have you yet eyes, duke ?

Duke. Shrewdly urged,—'t is piercing.

Fior. For looking on a sight shall split your soul. You shall not care; I'll undertake myself To do't some two days hence; for need, to-nightBut that you are in court.

D’Av. Right. Would you desire, my lord, to see them exchange kisses? Give but a little way by a feigned absence, and you shall find 'em at it.

Duke. D’ye play upon me? as I am your prince, There's some shall roar for this! Why, what was I Both to be thought or made so vile a thing ? Stay-madam marquess:-ho, Roderico, you, sir, Bear witness, that if ever I neglect One day, one hour, one minute, to wear out With toil of plot, or practice of conceit, My busy scull, till I have found a death More horrid than the bull of Phalaris, Or all the fabling poets' dreaming whips; If ever I take rest, or force a smile Which is not borrowed from a royal vengeance,

Before I know which way to satisfy
Fury and wrong,-nay, kneel down-[They kneel.]-

let me die
More wretched than despair, reproach, contempt.
Laughter, and poverty itself can make me!
Let's rise on all sides, friends ;-[They rise.]-now

all 's agreed: If the moon serve, some that are safe shall bleed.

[Exeunt DUKE and D'Avolos.

Fior. My lord Fernando.
Fern. Madam.

Fior. Do you note
My brother's odd distractions? You were wont
To bosom in his counsels; I am sure
You know the ground of it.

Fern. Not I, in troth.
Fior. Is't possible! What would you say, my

If he, out of some melancholy spleen,
Edged on by some thank-picking parasite,
Should now prove jealous? I mistrust it shrewdly.

Fern. What, madam ! jealous ?

Fior. Yes; for but observe;
A prince, whose eye is chooser to his heart,
Is seldom steady in the lists of love,
Unless the party he affects do match
His rank in equal portion, or in friends :
I never yet, out of report, or else
By warranted description, have observ'd
The nature of fantastic jealousy,
If not in him; yet, on my conscience now,
He has no cause.

1. If the moon serve, some that are safe shall bleed.] In Ford's time, and indeed long before and after it, the days of the moon held to be pro pitious to bleeding were distinguished by particular marks; and such was the absurd reliance on this ignorant medley of quackery and superstition, that few families would have ventured on the operation on one of the dies nefasti.-GIFFORD.

Fern. Cause, madam! by this light,
I'll pledge my soul against a useless rush.

Fior. I never thought her less; yet trust me, sir,
No merit can be greater than your praise :
Whereat I strangely wonder, how a man
Vow'd, as you told me, to a single life,
Should so much deify the saints, from whom
You have disclaim'd devotion.

Fern. Madam, 't is true ;
From them I have, but from their virtues never.

Fior. You are too wise, Fernando. To be plain,
You are in love; nay, shrink not, man, you are ;
Bianca is your aim: why do you blush ?
She is, I know she is.

Fern. My aim ?

Fior. Yes, yours; I hope I talk no news. Fernando, know Thou runn'st to thy confusion, if, in time, Thou dost not wisely shun that Circe's charm. Unkindest man! I have too long conceald My hidden flames, when still in silent signs I courted thee for love, without respect. To youth or state ; and yet thou art unkind; Fernando, leave that sorceress, if not For love of me, for pity of thyself. Fern. (Walks aside.] Injurious woman, I defy thy

lust. "T is not your subtle sisting that shall creep Into the secrets of a heart unsoil'd.You are my prince's sister, else your malice Had rail'd itself to death ; but as for me, Be record, all my fate! I do detest Your fury or affection-judge the rest. [Exit.

Fior. What, gone! well, go thy ways; I see the more I humble my firm love, the more he shuns Both it and me. So plain! then 't is too late To hope; change, peevish passion, to contempt: Whatever rages in my blood I feel, Fool, he shall know I was not born to kneel. [Exit.

« PreviousContinue »