Act II, scene v

    Rome
    Enter CARDINAL and FERDINAND with a letter

FERDINAND: I have this night digg'd up a mandrake.

CARDINAL: Say you?

FERDINAND: And I am grown mad with't.

CARDINAL: What's the prodigy?

FERDINAND: Read there, a sister damn'd; she's loose i'th' hilts,
Grown a notorious strumpet.

CARDINAL: Speak lower.

FERDINAND: Lower!
Rogues do not whisper't now, but seek to publish't,
As servants do the bounty of their lords,
Aloud; and with a covetous searching eye,
To mark who note them. O, confusion seize her!
She hath had most cunning bawds to serve her turn,
And more secure conveyances for lust,
Than towns of garrison for service.

CARDINAL: Is't possible?
Can this be certain?

FERDINAND: Rhubarb, O for rhubarb
To purge this choler! here's the cursed day
To prompt my memory, and here't shall stick
Till of her bleeding heart I make a sponge
To wipe it out.

CARDINAL: Why do you make yourself
So wild a tempest?

FERDINAND: Would I could be one,
That I might toss her palace 'bout her ears,
Root up her goodly forests, blast her meads,
And lay her general territory as waste
As she hath done her honor's.

CARDINAL: Shall our blood,
The royal blood of Arragon and Castile,
Be thus attainted?

FERDINAND: Apply desperate physic:
We must not now use balsamum, but fire,
The smarting cupping-glass, for that's the mean
To purge infected blood, such blood as hers.
There is a kind of pity in mine eye,
I'll give it to my handkerchief; and now 'tis here
I'll bequeath this to her bastard.

CARDINAL: What to do?

FERDINAND: Why, to make soft lint for his mother's wounds,
When I have hewed her to pieces!

CARDINAL: Curs'd creature!
Unequal nature, to place women's hearts
So far upon the left side.

FERDINAND: Foolish men,
That e'er will trust their honor in a bark
Made of so slight weak bulrush as is woman,
Apt every minute to sink it!

CARDINAL: Thus ignorance, when it hath purchas'd honor,
It cannot wield it.

FERDINAND: Methinks I see her laughing--
Excellent hyena! Talk to me somewhat, quickly,
Or my imagination will carry me
To see her in the shameful act of sin.

CARDINAL: With whom?

FERDINAND: Happily with some strong-thigh'd bargeman,
Or one o'th' wood-yard that can quoit the sledge,
Or toss the bar, or else some lovely squire
That carries coals up to her privy lodgings.

CARDINAL: You fly beyond your reason.

FERDINAND: Go to, mistress!
'Tis not your whore's milk that shall quench my wild-fire
But your whore's blood.

CARDINAL: How idly shows this rage, which carries you,
As men convey'd by witches through the air,
On violent whirlwinds. This intemperate noise
Fitly resembles deaf men's shrill discourse
Who talk aloud, thinking all other men
To have their imperfection.

FERDINAND: Have not you
My palsy?

CARDINAL: Yes; I can be angry
Without this rupture. There is not in nature
A thing that makes man so deform'd, so beastly,
As doth intemperate anger. Chide yourself.
You have divers men, who never yet express'd
Their strong desire of rest but by unrest,
By vexing of themselves. Come, put yourself
In tune.

FERDINAND: So: I will only study to seem
The thing I am not. I could kill her now,
In you, or in myself; for I do think
It is some sin in us, heaven doth revenge
By her.

CARDINAL: Are you stark mad?

FERDINAND: I would have their bodies
Burnt in a coal-pit with the ventage stopp'd,
That their curs'd smoke might not ascend to heaven;
Or dip the sheets they lie in in pitch or sulphur,
Wrap them in't, and then light them like a match;
Or else to boil their bastard to a cullis
And give't his lecherous father, to renew
The sin of his back.

CARDINAL: I'll leave you.

FERDINAND: Nay, I have done.
I am confident, had I been damn'd in hell,
And should have heard of this, it would have put me
Into a cold sweat. In, in, I'll go sleep.
Till I know who leaps my sister, I'll not stir.
That known, I'll find scorpions to string my whips,
And fix her in a general eclipse.

   They exit


Commentary on Act II, scene v

Next scene

Table of contents