Texto utilizado para esta edición digital:
Webster, John. The Duchess of Malfi. Edited by Elizabeth M. Brennan. 2nd ed. London: A.C. Black, 1983. The New Mermaids. First published, London: Ernest Benn, 1960.
- Soler Sánchez, Victoria
|BOSOLA, gentleman of the horse|
|FERDINAND, Duke of Calabria|
|CARDINAL, his brother|
|ANTONIO, steward of the Duchess’ household|
|DELIO, his friend|
|MALATESTA, a Count|
|THE MARQUIS OF PESCARA|
|SILVIO, a Lord|
|CASTRUCHIO, an old Lord|
|RODERIGO, a Lord|
|GRISOLAN, a Lord|
|CARIOLA, her woman|
|JULIA, wife to Castruchio and mistress to the Cardinal.|
|The several mad men, including: Astrologer, Tailor, Priest, Doctor.|
|Three young children|
|Attendans, Ladies, Executioners.|
|The ECHO from the Duchess’s grave|
|Guards, other servants.|
My Noble Lord,
That I may present my excuse why, (being a stranger to your Lordship) I offer this poem to your patronage, I plead this warrant; men, who never saw the sea, yet desire to behold that regiment of waters, choose some eminent river to guide them thither; and make that as it were, their conduct, or postilion. By the like ingenious means has your fame arrived at my knowledge, receiving it from some of worth, who both in contemplation, and practice, owe to your Honour their clearest service. I do not altogether look up at your title: The ancientest nobility, being but a relic of time past, and the truest honour indeed being for a man to confer honour on himself, which your learning strives to propagate, and shall make you arrive at the dignity of a great example. I am confident this work is not unworthy your Honour’s perusal for by such poems as this, poets have kissed the hands of great princes, and drawn their gentle eyes to look down upon their sheets of paper, when the poets themselves were bound up in their winding sheets. The like courtesy from your Lordship, shall make you live in your grave, and laurel spring out of it; when the ignorant scorners of the Muses (that like worms in libraries, seem to live only, to destroy learning) shall wither, neglected and forgotten. This work and myself I humbly present to your approved censure. It being the utmost of my wishes, to have your honourable self my weighty and perspicuous comment: which grace so done me, shall ever be acknowledged
By your Lordship’s,
in all duty and
In this thou imitat’st one rich, and wise,
That sees his good deeds done before he dies;
As he by works, thou by this work of fame,
Hast well provided for thy living name;
To trust to others’ honourings, is worth’s crime,
Thy monument is raised in thy life time;
And ’tis most just; for every worthy man
Is his own marble; and his merit can
Cut him to any figure, and express
More art, than Death’s cathedral palaces,
Where royal ashes keep their court: thy note
Be ever plainness, ’tis the richest coat:
Thy epitaph only the title be,
Write, Duchess, that will fetch a tear for thee,
For who e’er saw this Duchess live, and die,
That could get off under a bleeding eye?
Ut lux ex tenebris ictu percussa tonantis;
Illa, (ruina malis) claris sit vita poetis.
Poëta & Chron:
I never saw thy Duchess, till the day,
That she was lively bodied in thy play;
Howe’er she answered her low-rated love,
Her brothers’ anger did so fatal prove,
Yet my opinion is, she might speak more;
But never (in her life) so well before.
Crown him a poet, whom nor Rome, nor Greece,
Transcend in all theirs, for a masterpiece:
In which, whiles words and matter change, and men
Act one another; he, from whose clear pen
They all took life, to memory hath lent
A lasting fame, to raise his monument.
Miserable age, where only the reward of doing well,
is the doing of it!
two years together, I wore two towels instead of a shirt,
with a knot on the shoulder, after the fashion of a Roman
mantle. Slighted thus? I will thrive some way: blackbirds
fatten best in hard weather: why not I, in these dog days?
to it. I have known many travel far for it, and yet return
as arrant knaves, as they went forth; because they carried
[Exit Cardinal] Are themselves always along with them.
you gone? Some fellows, they say, are possessed with the
evil, but this great fellow were able to possess the greatest
devil and make him worse.
crooked over standing pools, they are rich, and o’erladen
with fruit, but none but crows, pies, and caterpillars feed
on them. Could I be one of their flatt’ring panders, I would
hang on their ears like a horse-leech, till I were full, and
then drop off. I pray leave me. Who would rely upon these
miserable dependences, in expectation to be advanced
tomorrow? What creature ever fed worse, than hoping
Tantalus; nor ever died any man more fearfully, than he
that hoped for a pardon? There are rewards for hawks, and
dogs, when they have done us service; but for a soldier, that
hazards his limbs in a battle, nothing but a kind of geo-
metry is his last supportation.
swing in the world, upon an honourable pair of crutches,
from hospital to hospital: fare ye well sir. And yet do not
you scorn us, for places in the court are but like beds in the
hospital, where this man’s head lies at that man’s foot, and
so lower and lower.
hold? Give him the jewel: when shall we leave this sportive
action, and fall to action indeed?
go to war, in person.
not necessary a prince descend to be a captain!
deputy? This might take idle, offensive, and base office from
him, whereas the other deprives him of honour.
long in quiet, where the ruler is a soldier.
full of wounds: I have forgot it.
to lie, like the children of Ismael, all in tents.
chirurgeons o’ the city, for although gallants should quarrel,
and had drawn their weapons, and were ready to go to it;
yet her persuasions would make them put up.
How do you like my Spanish jennet?
by the wind; he runs as if he were ballasted with quick-
courtiers should be my touchwood, take fire when I give
fire; that is, laugh when I laugh, were the subject never so
good jest, and have scorned to seem to have so silly a wit, as
to understand it.
faces; my lady cannot abide him.
says too much laughing, and too much company, fills her
too full of the wrinkle.
made for her face, that she might not laugh out of compass.
I shall shortly visit you at Milan, Lord Silvio.
excellent riders in France, what do you think of good
issued many famous princes: so out of brave horsemanship,
arise the first sparks of growing resolution, that raise the
mind to noble action.
that Cardinal? I mean his temper? They say he’s a brave
fellow, will play his five thousand crowns at tennis, dance,
court ladies, and one that hath fought single combats.
form: but observe his inward character: he is a melancholy
churchman. The spring in his face is nothing but the engen-
d’ring of toads: where he is jealous of any man, he lays
worse plots for them, than ever was imposed on Hercules:
for he strews in his way flatterers, panders, intelligencers,
atheists: and a thousand such political monsters: he
should have been Pope: but instead of coming to it by the
primitive decency of the Church, he did bestow bribes, so
largely, and so impudently, as if he would have carried it
away without Heaven’s knowledge. Some good he hath done.
already, and your nightcap expresses your ears sufficient
largely; I would have you learn to twirl the strings of your
band with a good grace; and in a set speech, at th’ end of
every sentence, to hum, three or four times, or blow your
nose, till it smart again, to recover your memory. When
you come to be a president in criminal causes, if you smile
upon a prisoner, hang him, but if you frown upon him, and
threaten him, let him be sure to scape the gallows.
to quarrel, for they say your roaring boys eat meat seldom,
and that makes them so valiant: but how shall I know
whether the people take me for an eminent fellow?
dying, and if you hear the common people curse you, be
sure you are taken for one of the prime nightcaps. [Enter Old Lady]
You come from painting now?
thee not painted inclines somewhat near a miracle. These
in thy face here, were deep ruts and foul sloughs, the last
progress. There was a lady in France, that having had the
smallpox, flayed the skin off her face, to make it more level;
and whereas before she looked like a nutmeg grater, after
she resembled an abortive hedgehog.
phewed lady, to make her disembogue again. There’s rough-
cast phrase to your plastic.
to find in it the fat of serpents; spawn of snakes, Jews’
spittle, and their young children’s ordure, and all these for
the face. I would sooner eat a dead pigeon, taken from the soles
of the feet of one sick of the plague, than kiss one of you
fasting. Here are two of you, whose sin of your youth is the
very patrimony of the physician, makes him renew his
footcloth with the spring, and change his high-prized
courtesan with the fall of the leaf: I do wonder you do not
loathe yourselves. Observe my meditation now:
that runs all over a man’s body: if simplicity direct us to
have no evil, it directs us to a happy being. For the subtlest
folly proceeds from the subtlest wisdom. Let me be simply
compliment whatsoever: shall I confess myself to you? I
look no higher than I can reach: they are the gods, that
must ride on winged horses, a lawyer’s mule of a slow pace
will both suit my disposition and business. For, mark me,
when a man’s mind rides faster than his horse can gallop
they quickly both tire.
with the Duchess: a duke was your cousin-german,
removed. Say you were lineally descended from King
Pippin, or he himself, what of this? Search the heads of the
greatest rivers in the world, you shall find them but bubbles
of water. Some would think the souls of princes were
brought forth by some more weighty cause, than those of
meaner persons; they are deceived, there’s the same hand to
them: the like passions sway them: the same reason, that
makes a vicar go to law for a tithe-pig, and undo his neigh-
bours, makes them spoil a whole province, and batter down
goodly cities with the cannon.
most vulturous eating of the apricots, are apparent signs
of breeding, now?
monstrous desire to see the glass-house―
it was, should swell up a glass to the fashion of a woman’s
still abusing women?
mention your frailties. The orange tree bears ripe and
green fruit and blossoms altogether. And some of you give
entertainment for pure love: but more, for more precious
reward. The lusty spring smells well: but drooping autumn
tastes well. If we have the same golden showers, that rained
in the time of Jupiter the Thunderer: you have the same
Danaes still, to hold up their laps to receive them: didst
thou never study the mathematics?
meet in one centre. Go, go; give your foster-daughters good
counsel: tell them, that the devil takes delight to hang at a
woman’s girdle, like a false rusty watch, that she cannot
discern how the time passes.
twelve and one, in the night: Anno Dom: 1504. (that’s this
year) decimo nono Decembris (that’s this night) taken
according to the Meridian of Malfi (that’s our Duchess: happy
discovery). The Lord of the first house, being combust in the
ascendant, signifies short life: and Mars being in a human
sign, joined to the tail of the Dragon, in the eighth house, doth
threaten a violent death; Cætera non scrutantur.
Act III, Scene i
drawn out of the sea, when foul weather comes, pours down,
and runs into the sea again.
I thought your Grace would find him a Jew:
those came to him for money said he was thick of hearing.
could not abide a woman.
treasury was full. Well, let him go.
him, to scour his gold chain.
such who study to know how many knots was in Hercules’
club; of what colour Achilles’ beard was, or whether Hector
were not troubled with the toothache. He hath studied
himself half blear-eyed, to know the true symmetry of
Caesar’s nose by a shoeing-horn: and this he did to gain the
name of a speculative man.
oppression than ever Michael Angelo made good ones: he
lifts up’s nose, like a foul porpoise before a storm,―
let not that trouble him, I had rather have his heart than his
nearer by a perspective, or make a glass, that shall set all the
world on fire upon an instant. I cannot sleep, my pillow is
stufft with a litter of porcupines.
are continually blowing up women’s souls on hollow irons,
and the fire never goes out.
the tenth night: I will tithe them over like haycocks.
a cuckold? I have found out his roguery: he makes allum of
his wife’s urine, and sells it to Puritans, that have sore
throats with over-straining.
head, with the brains picked out on’t. You are a very ancient
by the Helvetian translation.
law to you.
to the bone.
should make all the women here call me mad doctor.
shows the tombs, will have his hand in a wench’s placket.
wife from the masque, at three o’clock in the morning; it
had a large featherbed in it.
roasted them in ravens’ eggs, and cured agues with them.
possets to procure sleep.
have made a soap-boiler costive: it was my masterpiece:―
vatory of green mummy: what’s this flesh? a little cruded
milk, fantastical puff-paste: our bodies are weaker than those
paper prisons boys use to keep flies in: more contemptible;
since ours is to preserve earth-worms: didst thou ever see
a lark in a cage? such is the soul in the body: this world
is like her little turf of grass, and the heaven o’er our heads,
like her looking-glass, only gives us a miserable knowledge
of the small compass of our prison.
to sit on thy forehead (clad in gray hairs) twenty years sooner
than on a merry milkmaid’s. Thou sleep’st worse, than if a
mouse should be forced to take up her lodging in a cat’s ear:
a little infant, that breeds its teeth, should it lie with thee,
would cry out as if thou wert the more unquiet bedfellow.
I am a tomb-maker.
Do we affect fashion in the grave?
daws, and starlings that flock together. Look, what’s that
catch my shadow unless I fall upon’t? When I go to hell, I
mean to carry a bribe: for look you, good gifts evermore
make way for the worst persons.
to Moscow; neither use goad nor whip to them, but let
them take their own time: (the patient’st man i’th’ world
match me for an experiment!) and I’ll crawl after like a
water: he and I’ll go pelt one another with them; now he
begins to fear me. Can you fetch a frisk, sir?
[aside to Cardinal] Let him go, let him go upon my peril. I find by
his eye, he stands in awe of me: I’ll make him as tame as a
into a cullis; flay off his skin, to cover one of the anatomies,
this rogue hath set i’th’ cold yonder, in Barber-Chirur-
geons’ Hall. Hence, hence! you are all of you like beasts for
[throws the Doctor down and beats him] there’s sacrifice,
nothing left of you, but tongue and belly, flattery and lechery.
leeches to any rank swelling, use to cut off their tails, that
the blood may run through them the faster. Let me have no
train, when I go to shed blood, lest it make me have a greater,
when I ride to the gallows.
Bosola, and my death: listen, I hear one’s footing.
was harder than Pompey’s: Caesar died in the arms of
prosperity, Pompey at the feet of disgrace: you both
died in the field, the pain’s nothing. Pain many times is
taken away with the apprehension of greater, as the tooth-
ache with the sight of a barber that comes to pull it out:
there’s philosophy for you.