Page images
PDF
EPUB

ACT V. SCENE I.

The Palace.The Dutchess's Bedchamber. Bianca, FERNANDO (FIORMONDA watching them from

above). While they are talking, the Duke and D'Avolos, with their swords drawn, appear at the door. Col. [within.] Help, help! madain, you are be

tray'd, madam ; help, help! D'Av. Is there confidence in credit, now, sir? belief in your own eyes ? do you see ? do you see, sir ? can you behold it without lightning ?

Col. [within.] Help, madam, help!
Fern. What noise is that? I heard one cry.

Duke. [comes forward.] Ha! did you?
Know you who I am ?

Fern. Yes; thou art Pavy's duke,
Dress'd like a hangman : see, I am unarm’d,
Yet do not fear thee; though the coward doubt
Of what I could have done, hath made thee steal
The advantage of this time, yet, duke, I dare
Thy worst, for murder sits upon thy cheeks :
To't man.

Duke. I am too angry in my rage,
To scourge thee unprovided ; take him hence :
Away with him.

[The guard seize Fern.
Fern. Unhand me!
D'Av. You must go, sir.
Fern. Duke, do not shame thy manhood to lay

hands On that most innocent lady.'

1 Our author seems to have very loose notions of female honour. He certainly goes much beyond his age, which was far enough from squeamish on this point, in terming Bianca innocent. She is, in fact, a gross and profligate adúlteress, and her ridiculous reservations, while they mark her lubricity, only enhance her shame. --GIFPORD.

Duke. Yet again!
Coníine him to his chamber.

[Exeunt D’Av. and the guard with FERN. Duke. Woman, stand forth before me ;-wretched

creature,
What canst thou hope for ?

Bian. Death ; I wish no less.
You told me you had dream'd; and, gentle duke,
Unless you be mistook, you are now awaked.

Duke. Strumpet, I am ; and in my hand hold up
The edge that must uncut thy twist of life :
Dost thou not shake ?

Bian. For what? to see a weak,
Faint, trembling arm advance a leaden blade ?
Alas, good man! put up, put up; thine eyes
Are likelier much to weep, than arms to strike;
What would you do now, pray ?

Duke. What?-
Yet come, and if thou think'st thou canst deserve
One mite of mercy, ere the boundless spleen
Of just consuming wrath o'erswell my reason,
Tell me, bad woman, tell me what could move
Thy heart to crave variety of youth.
Biun. I'll tell you, if you needs would be re-

solv'd;
I held Fernando much the better man.

Duke. Shameless, intolerable harlot!
Bian. What ails

you?
Can you imagine, sir, the name of duke
Could make a crooked leg, a scrambling foot,'
A tolerable face, a wearish hand,
A bloodless lip, or such an untrimm'd beard
As yours, fit for a lady's pleasure ? no:
I wonder you could think 't were possible,
When I had once but look'd on your Fernando,
I ever could love you again; fy, fy!

1 A scrambling foot,] i. e. a sprawling, shuffling foot : wearish is used by our old writers for wizened, withered, decayed, &c.--GIFFORD.

Now, by my life, I thought that long ago
You'd known it; and been glad you had a friend
Your wife did think so well of.

Duke. O my stars !
Here's impudence above all history.
Why, thou detested reprobate in virtue,
Dar'st thou, without a blush, before mine eyes,
Speak such immodest language ?

Bian. Dare ? yes, 'faith,
You see I dare : I know what you would say now;
You would fain tell me how exceeding much
I am beholden to you, that vouchsafed
Me, from a simple gentlewoman's place,
The honour of your bed : 't is true you did;
But why ? 't was but because you thought I had
A spark of beauty more than you had seen.
To answer this, my reason is the like;
The self-same appetite which led you on
To marry me, led me to love your friend:
O, he's a gallant man! if ever yet
Mine eyes beheld a miracle, composed
Of flesh and blood, Fernando has my voice.
I must confess, my lord, that, for-a prince,
Handsome enough you are,
But to compare yourself with him! trust me,
You are too much in fault.

Duke. Excellent, excellent! the pangs of death Are music to this.Forgive me, my good genius, I had thought I match'd a woman, but I find she is A devil, worse than the worst in hell. Nay, nay, since we are in, e'en come, say on; I mark you to a syllable.

Bian. Look, what I said, 't is true ; for, know it now: I must confess I miss'd no means, no time, To win him to my bosom; but so much, So holily, with such religion, He kept the laws of friendship, that my suit Was held but in comparison a jest;

Vol. II.-22

[ocr errors]

Nor did I ofter urge the violence
Of my affection, but as oft he urged
The sacred vows of faith 'twixt friend and friend:
Yet be assured, my lord, if ever language
Of cunning, servile flatteries, entreaties,
Of what in me is, could procure his love,
I would not blush to speak it.

Duke. Such another
As thou art, miserable creature, would
Sink the whole sex of women: yet confess
What witchcraft used the wretch to charm the

heart'
Of the once spotless temple of thy mind?
For without witchcraft it could ne'er be done.

Bian. Phew!--an you be in these tunes, sir, I 'll

leave you;

You know the best, and worst, and all.

Duke. Nay, then,
Thou tempt’st me to thy ruin. Come, black angel,
Fair devil, in thy prayers reckon up
The sum in gross of all thy veined follies;
There, among other, weep in tears of blood,
For one above the rest, adultery !
Adultery, Bianca! such a guilt,
As, were the sluices of thine eyes let up,
Tears cannot wash it off: 't is not the tide
Of trivial wantonness from youth to youth,
But thy abusing of thy lawful bed,
Thy husband's bed; his, in whose breast thou

sleep'st,
His, that did prize thee more than all the trash
Which hoarding worldlings make an idol of.
Now turn thine eyes into thy hovering soul,

1 To charm the heart.). This reading has been made out of the old copy, which has “the art.” I can think of no word nearer the traces of the original; and yet to "charm the heart of the temple of the mind,” is an expression which will be as little admired as comprehended. GIFTORD. Perhaps we should read ark.

3 j. e. ingrained, as we say: follies that run in the blood.

And do not hope for life; would angels sing
A requiem at my hearse, but to dispense
With my revenge on thee, 't were all in vain ;
Prepare to die!

Bian. [opens her bosom.] I do; and to the point
Of thy sharp sword, with open breast, I'll run
Half-way thus naked; do not shrink, Caraffa,
This daunts not me : but in the latter act
Of thy revenge, 't is all the suit I ask-
At my last gasp,—to spare thy noble friend;
For life to me, without him, were a death.
Duke. Not this, I'll none of this; 't is not so

fit. Why should I kill her? she may live and change, Or

[Throws down his sword. Fior. (above.] Dost thou halt? faint coward, dost

thou wish To blemish all thy glorious ancestors ? Is this thy courage ?

Duke. Ha! say you so too ? Give me thy hand, Bianca.

Bian. Here.

Duke. Farewell;
Thus go in everlasting sleep to dwell;

[Draws his dagger, and stabs her. Here's blood for lust, and sacrifice for wrong. Bian. 'Tis bravely done; thou hast struck home

at once : Live to repent too late. Commend my love To thy true friend, my love to him that owes' it ; My tragedy to thee; my heart to-to-Fernando. 0-oh!

[Dies. Duke. Sister, she's dead.

Fior. Then, while thy rage is warm, Pursue the causer of her trespasses.

1 i. e. ans, possesses it. 2 My tragedy to thee.] Bianca alludes either to her husband or to Fiormonda, who from the gallery had urged on her murder with suck violence.-GIFFORD,

« PreviousContinue »