Act 3, Scene 2

The Arraignment of Vittoria

Enter Francisco, Monticelso, the six Lieger Ambassadors, Brachiano,
  Vittoria, Zanche, Flamineo, Marcello, Lawyer, and a Guard.

Mont. Forbear, my lord, here is no place assign'd you.
  This business, by his Holiness, is left
  To our examination.

Brach. May it thrive with you. [Lays a rich gown under him.

Fran. A chair there for his Lordship.

Brach. Forbear your kindness: an unbidden guest
  Should travel as Dutch women go to church,
  Bear their stools with them.

Mont. At your pleasure, sir.
  Stand to the table, gentlewoman. Now, signior,
  Fall to your plea.

Lawyer. Domine judex, converte oculos in hanc pestem, mulierum

Vit. What 's he?

Fran. A lawyer that pleads against you.

Vit. Pray, my lord, let him speak his usual tongue,
  I 'll make no answer else.

Fran. Why, you understand Latin.

Vit. I do, sir, but amongst this auditory
  Which come to hear my cause, the half or more
  May be ignorant in 't.

Mont. Go on, sir.

Vit. By your favour,
  I will not have my accusation clouded
  In a strange tongue: all this assembly
  Shall hear what you can charge me with.

Fran. Signior,
  You need not stand on 't much; pray, change your language.

Mont. Oh, for God's sake—Gentlewoman, your credit
  Shall be more famous by it.

Lawyer. Well then, have at you.

Vit. I am at the mark, sir; I 'll give aim to you,
  And tell you how near you shoot.

Lawyer. Most literated judges, please your lordships
  So to connive your judgments to the view
  Of this debauch'd and diversivolent woman;
  Who such a black concatenation
  Of mischief hath effected, that to extirp
  The memory of 't, must be the consummation
  Of her, and her projections——

Vit. What 's all this?

Lawyer. Hold your peace!
  Exorbitant sins must have exulceration.

Vit. Surely, my lords, this lawyer here hath swallow'd
  Some 'pothecaries' bills, or proclamations;
  And now the hard and undigestible words
  Come up, like stones we use give hawks for physic.
  Why, this is Welsh to Latin.

Lawyer. My lords, the woman
  Knows not her tropes, nor figures, nor is perfect
  In the academic derivation
  Of grammatical elocution.

Fran. Sir, your pains
  Shall be well spar'd, and your deep eloquence
  Be worthily applauded amongst thouse
  Which understand you.

Lawyer. My good lord.

Fran. Sir,
  Put up your papers in your fustian bag—
                                      [Francisco speaks this as in scorn.
  Cry mercy, sir, 'tis buckram and accept
  My notion of your learn'd verbosity.

Lawyer. I most graduatically thank your lordship:
  I shall have use for them elsewhere.

Mont. I shall be plainer with you, and paint out
  Your follies in more natural red and white
  Than that upon your cheek.

Vit. Oh, you mistake!
  You raise a blood as noble in this cheek
  As ever was your mother's.

Mont. I must spare you, till proof cry whore to that.
  Observe this creature here, my honour'd lords,
  A woman of most prodigious spirit,
  In her effected.

Vit. My honourable lord,
  It doth not suit a reverend cardinal
  To play the lawyer thus.

Mont. 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 envenom'd 'pothecary should do 't.

Mont. I am resolv'd,
  Were there a second paradise to lose,
  This devil would betray it.

Vit. O poor Charity!
  Thou art seldom found in scarlet.

Mont. Who knows not how, when several night by night
  Her gates were chok'd with coaches, and her rooms
  Outbrav'd the stars with several kind of lights;
  When she did counterfeit a prince's court
  In music, banquets, and most riotous surfeits;
  This whore forsooth was holy.

Vit. Ha! whore! what 's that?

Mont. 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 cozening alchemy;
  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 emptied by curs'd riot. They are worse,
  Worse than dead bodies which are begg'd at gallows,
  And wrought upon by surgeons, to teach man
  Wherein he is imperfect. What's a whore!
  She 's like the guilty counterfeited coin,
  Which, whosoe'er first stamps it, brings in trouble
  All that receive it.

Vit. This character 'scapes me.

Mont. You, gentlewoman!
  Take from all beasts and from all minerals
  Their deadly poison——

Vit. Well, what then?

Mont. I 'll tell thee;
  I 'll find in thee a 'pothecary's shop,
  To sample them all.

Fr. Ambass. She hath liv'd ill.

Eng. Ambass. True, but the cardinal 's too bitter.

Mont. You know what whore is. Next the devil adultery,
  Enters the devil murder.

Fran. Your unhappy husband
  Is dead.

Vit. Oh, he 's a happy husband!
  Now he owes nature nothing.

Fran. And by a vaulting engine.

Mont. An active plot; he jump'd into his grave.

Fran. What a prodigy was 't,
  That from some two yards' height, a slender man
  Should break his neck!

Mont. I' th' rushes!

Fran. 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.

Mont. 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.

Mont. Oh, you are cunning!

Vit. You shame your wit and judgment,
  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.

Mont. See, my lords,
  She scandals our proceedings.

Vit. Humbly thus,
  Thus low to the most worthy and respected
  Lieger ambassadors, my modesty
  And womanhood I tender; but withal,
  So entangled in a curs'd 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 yours, or any man's entreaty, sir.

Eng. Ambass. She hath a brave spirit.

Mont. Well, well, such counterfeit jewels
  Make true ones oft suspected.

Vit. You are deceiv'd:
  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 am past such needless palsy. For your names
  Of 'whore' and 'murderess', they proceed from you,
  As if a man should spit against the wind,
  The filth returns in 's face.

Mont. Pray you, mistress, satisfy me one question:
  Who lodg'd beneath your roof that fatal night
  Your husband broke his neck?

Brach. That question
  Enforceth me break silence: I was there.

Mont. Your business?

Brach. 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.

Brach. And 'twas strangely fear'd,
  That you would cozen her.

Mont. Who made you overseer?

Brach. Why, my charity, my charity, which should flow
  From every generous and noble spirit,
  To orphans and to widows.

Mont. Your lust!

Brach. 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!

Brach. Your mercenary post-boys;
  Your letters carry truth, but 'tis your guise
  To fill your mouths with gross and impudent lies.

Servant. My lord, your gown.

Brach. 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 a demy foot-cloth
  For his most reverend moil. Monticelso,
  Nemo me impune lacessit. [Exit.

Mont. Your champion's gone.

Vit. The wolf may prey the better.

Fran. 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 husbandmen plant vines,
  And with warm blood manure them; even so
  One summer she will bear unsavoury fruit,
  And ere next spring wither both branch and root.
  The act of blood let pass; only descend
  To matters of incontinence.

Vit. I discern poison
  Under your gilded pills.

Mont. Now the duke's gone, I will produce a letter
  Wherein 'twas plotted, he and you should meet
  At an apothecary's summer-house,
  Down by the River Tiber,—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.

Mont. Frost i' th' dog-days! strange!

Vit. Condemn you me for that the duke did love me?
  So may you blame some fair and crystal river,
  For that some melancholic distracted man
  Hath drown'd himself in 't.

Mont. 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.

Mont. Very good.

Vit. But take your course: it seems you 've beggar'd me first,
  And now would fain undo me. I have houses,
  Jewels, and a poor remnant of crusadoes;
  Would those would make you charitable!

Mont. If the devil
  Did ever take good shape, behold his picture.

Vit. You have one virtue left,
  You will not flatter me.

Fran. Who brought this letter?

Vit. I am not compell'd to tell you.

Mont. My lord duke sent to you a thousand ducats
  The twelfth of August.

Vit. 'Twas to keep your cousin
  From prison; I paid use for 't.

Mont. I rather think,
  'Twas interest for his lust.

Vit. Who says so but yourself?
  If you be my accuser,
  Pray cease to be my judge: come from the bench;
  Give in your evidence 'gainst me, and let these
  Be moderators. My lord cardinal,
  Were your intelligencing ears as loving
  As to my thoughts, had you an honest tongue,
  I would not care though you proclaim'd them all.

Mont. Go to, go to.
  After your goodly and vainglorious banquet,
  I 'll give you a choke-pear.

Vit. O' your own grafting?

Mont. You were born in Venice, honourably descended
  From the Vittelli: 'twas my cousin's fate,
  Ill may I name the hour, to marry you;
  He bought you of your father.

Vit. Ha!

Mont. He spent there in six months
  Twelve thousand ducats, and (to my acquaintance)
  Receiv'd in dowry with you not one Julio:
  'Twas a hard pennyworth, the ware being so light.
  I yet but draw the curtain; now to your picture:
  You came from thence a most notorious strumpet,
  And so you have continued.

Vit. My lord!

Mont. Nay, hear me,
  You shall have time to prate. My Lord Brachiano—
  Alas! I make but repetition
  Of what is ordinary and Rialto talk,
  And ballated, and would be play'd a' th' stage,
  But that vice many times finds such loud friends,
  That preachers are charm'd silent.
  You, gentlemen, Flamineo and Marcello,
  The Court hath nothing now to charge you with,
  Only you must remain upon your sureties
  For your appearance.

Fran. I stand for Marcello.

Flam. And my lord duke for me.

Mont. For you, Vittoria, your public fault,
  Join'd to th' condition of the present time,
  Takes from you all the fruits of noble pity,
  Such a corrupted trial have you made
  Both of your life and beauty, and been styl'd
  No less an ominous fate than blazing stars
  To princes. Hear your sentence: you are confin'd
  Unto a house of convertites, and your bawd——

Flam. [Aside.] Who, I?

Mont. The Moor.

Flam. [Aside.] Oh, I am a sound man again.

Vit. A house of convertites! what 's that?

Mont. A house of penitent whores.

Vit. Do the noblemen in Rome
  Erect it for their wives, that I am sent
  To lodge there?

Fran. You must have patience.

Vit. I must first have vengeance!
  I fain would know if you have your salvation
  By patent, that you proceed thus.

Mont. Away with her,
  Take her hence.

Vit. A rape! a rape!

Mont. How?

Vit. Yes, you have ravish'd justice;
  Forc'd her to do your pleasure.

Mont. 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!

Mont. She 's turned fury.

Vit. That the last day of judgment may so find you,
  And leave you the same devil you were before!
  Instruct me, some good horse-leech, to speak treason;
  For since you cannot take my life for deeds,
  Take it for words. O 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?

Mont. Of convertites.

Vit. It shall not be a house of convertites;
  My mind shall make it honester to me
  Than the Pope's palace, and more peaceable
  Than thy soul, though thou art a cardinal.
  Know this, and let it somewhat raise your spite,
  Through darkness diamonds spread their richest light. [Exit.

Enter Brachiano

Brach. Now you and I are friends, sir, we'll shake hands
  In a friend's grave together; a fit place,
  Being th' emblem of soft peace, t' atone our hatred.

Fran. Sir, what 's the matter?

Brach. I will not chase more blood from that lov'd cheek;
  You have lost too much already; fare you well. [Exit.

Fran. How strange these words sound! what 's the interpretation?

Flam. [Aside.] Good; this is a preface to the discovery of the duchess' death: he carries it well. Because now I cannot counterfeit a whining passion for the death of my lady, I will feign a mad humour for the disgrace of my sister; and that will keep off idle questions. Treason's tongue hath a villainous palsy in 't; I will talk to any man, hear no man, and for a time appear a politic madman.

Enter Giovanni, and Count Lodovico

Fran. How now, my noble cousin? what, in black!

Giov. Yes, uncle, I was taught to imitate you
  In virtue, and you must imitate me
  In colours of your garments. My sweet mother

Fran. How? where?

Giov. Is there; no, yonder: indeed, sir, I 'll not tell you,
  For I shall make you weep.

Fran. Is dead?

Giov. Do not blame me now,
  I did not tell you so.

Lodo. She 's dead, my lord.

Fran. Dead!

Mont. Bless'd lady, thou art now above thy woes!
  Will 't please your lordships to withdraw a little?

Giov. What do the dead do, uncle? do they eat,
  Hear music, go a-hunting, and be merry,
  As we that live?

Fran. No, coz; they sleep.

Giov. Lord, Lord, that I were dead!
  I have not slept these six nights. When do they wake?

Fran. When God shall please.

Giov. Good God, let her sleep ever!
  For I have known her wake an hundred nights,
  When all the pillow where she laid her head
  Was brine-wet with her tears. I am to complain to you, sir;
  I 'll tell you how they have us'd her now she 's dead:
  They wrapp'd her in a cruel fold of lead,
  And would not let me kiss her.

Fran. Thou didst love her?

Giov. I have often heard her say she gave me suck,
  And it should seem by that she dearly lov'd me,
  Since princes seldom do it.

Fran. Oh, all of my poor sister that remains!
  Take him away for God's sake! [Exit Giovanni.

Mont. How now, my lord?

Fran. Believe me, I am nothing but her grave;
  And I shall keep her blessed memory
  Longer than thousand epitaphs.

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