Act 5, Scene 6

Enter Vittoria with a book in her hand, Zanche; Flamineo following them

Flam. What, are you at your prayers? Give o'er.

Vit. How, ruffian?

Flam. I come to you 'bout worldly business.
  Sit down, sit down. Nay, stay, blowze, you may hear it:
  The doors are fast enough.

Vit. Ha! are you drunk?

Flam. Yes, yes, with wormwood water; you shall taste
  Some of it presently.

Vit. What intends the fury?

Flam. You are my lord's executrix; and I claim
  Reward for my long service.

Vit. For your service!

Flam. Come, therefore, here is pen and ink, set down
  What you will give me.

Vit. There. [She writes.

Flam. Ha! have you done already?
  'Tis a most short conveyance.

Vit. I will read it:
  I give that portion to thee, and no other,
  Which Cain groan'd under, having slain his brother.

Flam. A most courtly patent to beg by.

Vit. You are a villain!

Flam. Is 't come to this? they say affrights cure agues:
  Thou hast a devil in thee; I will try
  If I can scare him from thee. Nay, sit still:
  My lord hath left me yet two cases of jewels,
  Shall make me scorn your bounty; you shall see them. [Exit.

Vit. Sure he 's distracted.

Zan. Oh, he 's desperate!
  For your own safety give him gentle language.
                                    [He enters with two cases of pistols.

Flam. Look, these are better far at a dead lift,
  Than all your jewel house.

Vit. And yet, methinks,
  These stones have no fair lustre, they are ill set.

Flam. I 'll turn the right side towards you: you shall see
  How they will sparkle.

Vit. Turn this horror from me!
  What do you want? what would you have me do?
  Is not all mine yours? have I any children?

Flam. Pray thee, good woman, do not trouble me
  With this vain worldly business; say your prayers:
  Neither yourself nor I should outlive him
  The numbering of four hours.

Vit. Did he enjoin it?

Flam. He did, and 'twas a deadly jealousy,
  Lest any should enjoy thee after him,
  That urged him vow me to it. For my death,
  I did propound it voluntarily, knowing,
  If he could not be safe in his own court,
  Being a great duke, what hope then for us?

Vit. This is your melancholy, and despair.

Flam. Away:
  Fool thou art, to think that politicians
  DO use to kill the effects or injuries
  And let the cause live. Shall we groan in irons,
  Or be a shameful and a weighty burthen
  To a public scaffold? This is my resolve:
  I would not live at any man's entreaty,
  Nor die at any's bidding.

Vit. Will you hear me?

Flam. My life hath done service to other men,
  My death shall serve mine own turn: make you ready.

Vit. Do you mean to die indeed?

Flam. With as much pleasure,
  As e'er my father gat me.

Vit. Are the doors lock'd?

Zan. Yes, madam.

Vit. Are you grown an atheist? will you turn your body,
  Which is the goodly palace of the soul,
  To the soul's slaughter-house? Oh, the cursed devil,
  Which doth present us with all other sins
  Thrice candied o'er, despair with gall and stibium;
  Yet we carouse it off. [Aside to Zanche.] Cry out for help!
  Makes us forsake that which was made for man,
  The world, to sink to that was made for devils,
  Eternal darkness!

Zan. Help, help!

Flam. I 'll stop your throat
  With winter plums.

Vit. I pray thee yet remember,
  Millions are now in graves, which at last day
  Like mandrakes shall rise shrieking.

Flam. Leave your prating,
  For these are but grammatical laments,
  Feminine arguments: and they move me,
  As some in pulpits move their auditory,
  More with their exclamation than sense
  Of reason, or sound doctrine.

Zan. [Aside.] Gentle madam,
  Seem to consent, only persuade him to teach
  The way to death; let him die first.

Vit. 'Tis good, I apprehend it.—
  To kill one's self is meat that we must take
  Like pills, not chew'd, but quickly swallow it;
  The smart o' th' wound, or weakness of the hand,
  May else bring treble torments.

Flam. I have held it
  A wretched and most miserable life,
  Which is not able to die.

Vit. Oh, but frailty!
  Yet I am now resolv'd; farewell, affliction!
  Behold, Brachiano, I that while you liv'd
  Did make a flaming altar of my heart
  To sacrifice unto you, now am ready
  To sacrifice heart and all. Farewell, Zanche!

Zan. How, madam! do you think that I 'll outlive you;
  Especially when my best self, Flamineo,
  Goes the same voyage?

Flam. O most loved Moor!

Zan. Only, by all my love, let me entreat you,
  Since it is most necessary one of us
  Do violence on ourselves, let you or I
  Be her sad taster, teach her how to die.

Flam. Thou dost instruct me nobly; take these pistols,
  Because my hand is stain'd with blood already:
  Two of these you shall level at my breast,
  The other 'gainst your own, and so we 'll die
  Most equally contented: but first swear
  Not to outlive me.

Vit. and Zan. Most religiously.

Flam. Then here 's an end of me; farewell, daylight.
  And, O contemptible physic! that dost take
  So long a study, only to preserve
  So short a life, I take my leave of thee. [Showing the pistols.
  These are two cupping-glasses, that shall draw
  All my infected blood out. Are you ready?

Both. Ready.

Flam. Whither shall I go now? O Lucian, thy ridiculous purgatory! to
  find Alexander the Great cobbling shoes, Pompey tagging points, and
  Julius Cæsar making hair-buttons, Hannibal selling blacking, and
  Augustus crying garlic, Charlemagne selling lists by the dozen, and
  King Pepin crying apples in a cart drawn with one horse!
  Whether I resolve to fire, earth, water, air,
  Or all the elements by scruples, I know not,
  Nor greatly care.—Shoot! shoot!
  Of all deaths, the violent death is best;
  For from ourselves it steals ourselves so fast,
  The pain, once apprehended, is quite past.
                         [They shoot, and run to him, and tread upon him.

Vit. What, are you dropped?

Flam. I am mix'd with earth already: as you are noble,
  Perform your vows, and bravely follow me.

Vit. Whither? to hell?

Zan. To most assur'd damnation?

Vit. Oh, thou most cursed devil!

Zan. Thou art caught——

Vit. In thine own engine. I tread the fire out
  That would have been my ruin.

Flam. Will you be perjured? what a religious oath was Styx, that the gods never durst swear by, and violate! Oh, that we had such an oath to minister, and to be so well kept in our courts of justice!

Vit. Think whither thou art going.

Zan. And remember
  What villainies thou hast acted.

Vit. This thy death
  Shall make me, like a blazing ominous star,
  Look up and tremble.

Flam. Oh, I am caught with a spring!

Vit. You see the fox comes many times short home;
  'Tis here prov'd true.

Flam. Kill'd with a couple of braches!

Vit. No fitter offing for the infernal furies,
  Than one in whom they reign'd while he was living.

Flam. Oh, the way 's dark and horrid! I cannot see:
  Shall I have no company?

Vit. Oh, yes, thy sins
  Do run before thee to fetch fire from hell,
  To light thee thither.

Flam. Oh, I smell soot,
  Most stinking soot! the chimney 's afire:
  My liver 's parboil'd, like Scotch holly-bread;
  There 's a plumber laying pipes in my guts, it scalds.
  Wilt thou outlive me?

Zan. Yes, and drive a stake
  Through thy body; for we 'll give it out,
  Thou didst this violence upon thyself.

Flam. Oh, cunning devils! now I have tried your love,
  And doubled all your reaches: I am not wounded.
                                                        [Flamineo riseth.
  The pistols held no bullets; 'twas a plot
  To prove your kindness to me; and I live
  To punish your ingratitude. I knew,
  One time or other, you would find a way
  To give me a strong potion. O men,
  That lie upon your death-beds, and are haunted
  With howling wives! ne'er trust them; they 'll re-marry
  Ere the worm pierce your winding-sheet, ere the spider
  Make a thin curtain for your epitaphs.
  How cunning you were to discharge! do you practise at the Artillery
  yard? Trust a woman? never, never; Brachiano be my precedent. We lay
  our souls to pawn to the devil for a little pleasure, and a woman makes
  the bill of sale. That ever man should marry! For one Hypermnestra
  that saved her lord and husband, forty-nine of her sisters cut their
  husbands' throats all in one night. There was a shoal of virtuous
  horse leeches! Here are two other instruments.

Enter Lodovico, Gasparo, still disguised as Capuchins

Vit. Help, help!

Flam. What noise is that? ha! false keys i' th 'court!

Lodo. We have brought you a mask.

Flam. A matachin it seems by your drawn swords.
  Churchmen turned revelers!

Gas. Isabella! Isabella!

Lodo. Do you know us now?

Flam. Lodovico! and Gasparo!

Lodo. Yes; and that Moor the duke gave pension to
  Was the great Duke of Florence.

Vit. Oh, we are lost!

Flam. You shall not take justice forth from my hands,
  Oh, let me kill her!—I 'll cut my safety
  Through your coats of steel. Fate 's a spaniel,
  We cannot beat it from us. What remains now?
  Let all that do ill, take this precedent:
  Man may his fate foresee, but not prevent;
  And of all axioms this shall win the prize:
  'Tis better to be fortunate than wise.

Gas. Bind him to the pillar.

Vit. Oh, your gentle pity!
  I have seen a blackbird that would sooner fly
  To a man's bosom, than to stay the gripe
  Of the fierce sparrow-hawk.

Gas. Your hope deceives you.

Vit. If Florence be i' th' court, would he would kill me!

Gas. Fool! Princes give rewards with their own hands,
  But death or punishment by the hands of other.

Lodo. Sirrah, you once did strike me; I 'll strike you
  Unto the centre.

Flam. Thou 'lt do it like a hangman, a base hangman,
  Not like a noble fellow, for thou see'st
  I cannot strike again.

Lodo. Dost laugh?

Flam. Wouldst have me die, as I was born, in whining?

Gas. Recommend yourself to heaven.

Flam. No, I will carry mine own commendations thither.

Lodo. Oh, I could kill you forty times a day,
  And use 't four years together, 'twere too little!
  Naught grieves but that you are too few to feed
  The famine of our vengeance. What dost think on?

Flam. Nothing; of nothing: leave thy idle questions.
  I am i' th' way to study a long silence:
  To prate were idle. I remember nothing.
  There 's nothing of so infinite vexation
  As man's own thoughts.

Lodo. O thou glorious strumpet!
  Could I divide thy breath from this pure air
  When 't leaves thy body, I would suck it up,
  And breathe 't upon some dunghill.

Vit. You, my death's-man!
  Methinks thou dost not look horrid enough,
  Thou hast too good a face to be a hangman:
  If thou be, do thy office in right form;
  Fall down upon thy knees, and ask forgiveness.

Lodo. Oh, thou hast been a most prodigious comet!
  But I 'll cut off your train. Kill the Moor first.

Vit. You shall not kill her first; behold my breast:
  I will be waited on in death; my servant
  Shall never go before me.

Gas. Are you so brave?

Vit. Yes, I shall welcome death,
  As princes do some great ambassadors;
  I 'll meet thy weapon half-way.

Lodo. Thou dost tremble:
  Methinks, fear should dissolve thee into air.

Vit. Oh, thou art deceiv'd, I am too true a woman!
  Conceit can never kill me. I 'll tell thee what,
  I will not in my death shed one base tear;
  Or if look pale, for want of blood, not fear.

Gas. Thou art my task, black fury.

Zan. I have blood
  As red as either of theirs: wilt drink some?
  'Tis good for the falling-sickness. I am proud:
  Death cannot alter my complexion,
  For I shall ne'er look pale.

Lodo. Strike, strike,
  With a joint motion. [They strike.

Vit. 'Twas a manly blow;
  The next thou giv'st, murder some sucking infant;
  And then thou wilt be famous.

Flam. Oh, what blade is 't?
  A Toledo, or an English fox?
  I ever thought a culter should distinguish
  The cause of my death, rather than a doctor.
  Search my wound deeper; tent it with the steel
  That made it.

Vit. Oh, my greatest sin lay in my blood!
  Now my blood pays for 't.

Flam. Th' art a noble sister!
  I love thee now; if woman do breed man,
  She ought to teach him manhood. Fare thee well.
  Know, many glorious women that are fam'd
  For masculine virtue, have been vicious,
  Only a happier silence did betide them:
  She hath no faults, who hath the art to hide them.

Vit. My soul, like to a ship in a black storm,
  Is driven, I know not whither.

Flam. Then cast anchor.
  Prosperity doth bewitch men, seeming clear;
  But seas do laugh, show white, when rocks are near.
  We cease to grieve, cease to be fortune's slaves,
  Nay, cease to die by dying. Art thou gone?
  And thou so near the bottom? false report,
  Which says that women vie with the nine Muses,
  For nine tough durable lives! I do not look
  Who went before, nor who shall follow me;
  No, at my self I will begin the end.
  While we look up to heaven, we confound
  Knowledge with knowledge. Oh, I am in a mist!

Vit. Oh, happy they that never saw the court,
  Nor ever knew great men but by report! [Vittoria dies.

Flam. I recover like a spent taper, for a flash,
  And instantly go out.
  Let all that belong to great men remember th' old wives' tradition, to
  be like the lions i' th' Tower on Candlemas-day; to mourn if the sun
  shine, for fear of the pitiful remainder of winter to come.
  'Tis well yet there 's some goodness in my death;
  My life was a black charnel. I have caught
  An everlasting cold; I have lost my voice
  Most irrecoverably. Farewell, glorious villains.
  This busy trade of life appears most vain,
  Since rest breeds rest, where all seek pain by pain.
  Let no harsh flattering bells resound my knell;
  Strike, thunder, and strike loud, to my farewell! [Dies.

Enter Ambassadors and Giovanni

Eng. Ambass. This way, this way! break open the doors! this way!

Lodo. Ha! are we betray'd?
  Why then let 's constantly all die together;
  And having finish'd this most noble deed,
  Defy the worst of fate, nor fear to bleed.

Eng. Ambass. Keep back the prince: shoot! shoot!

Lodo. Oh, I am wounded!
  I fear I shall be ta'en.

Giov. You bloody villains,
  By what authority have you committed
  This massacre?

Lodo. By thine.

Giov. Mine!

Lodo. Yes; thy uncle, which is a part of thee, enjoined us to 't:
  Thou know'st me, I am sure; I am Count Lodowick;
  And thy most noble uncle in disguise
  Was last night in thy court.

Giov. Ha!

Lodo. Yes, that Moor thy father chose his pensioner.

Giov. He turn'd murderer!
  Away with them to prison, and to torture:
  All that have hands in this shall taste our justice,
  As I hope heaven.

Lodo. I do glory yet,
  That I can call this act mine own. For my part,
  The rack, the gallows, and the torturing wheel,
  Shall be but sound sleeps to me: here 's my rest;
  I limn'd this night-piece, and it was my best.

Giov. Remove these bodies. See, my honour'd lord,
  What use you ought make of their punishment.
  Let guilty men remember, their black deeds
  Do lean on crutches made of slender reeds.

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