Notes on Act III, scene i
feeder of pedigrees: breeder of a noble family line
wink: it seems only a wink's time while I have been away (since I last saw your face)
this half hour: Webster's self-referential joke on how rapidly the action progresses in his play, skipping years between scenes.
in law: involved in a lawsuit
insensibly: no sense of time; if you had been involved in any of these tedious activities, the time would not have seemed so short.
news: of the children's birth
till the devil be up: haunted houses are quiet until the devil rouses himself (that is, Ferdinand's stillness is a dangerous sign).
graver: wiser, more serious
politic: more prudent
censure: judge, what opinion do they have
left-hand way: underhanded
princes: can refer to both male and female rulers
bespeak: arrange, speak in favor of. Earlier Ferdinand opposed any remarriage for the Duchess, but clearly what's most important to him is having control over his sister. On the other hand, he may be testing her, knowing that she already has a lover.
Malateste: Webster may be making an obscene pun, as his name means "bad testes."
sugar-candy: he's a man of little substance, one can almost see through him.
Pasquil's paper bullets: a statue in Rome where writers would post satirical bulletins.
pestilent air: the poisonous environment of court gossip
I pour it in your bosom: I tell you confidentially
extenuate: lessen the seriousness of
cultures: blades of a plough; in Medieval times women accused of adultery had to demonstrate their innocence by walking unharmed over hot blades.
by whom: Bosola thinks that Antonio is the Duchess' go-between, arranging lovers for her; as yet he doesn't suspect that he is her husband.
may ... stars: might as well try to find out by astrology as by credible evidence.
dote: show affection for
faith: can you really believe
gulleries: tricks for the gullible
mountebanks: con-men who sell magic potions as cure-alls
lenative: lenitive, soothing; these medicines were sweet to take, but poisonous
equivocation: an oath that could mean more than one thing, ambiguous
her rank blood:: Ferdinand believes that the duchess' lechery comes from her own nature, not sorcery
false key: duplicate key
drifts: plans, direction I am going
put a girdle: traveled around the world
sounded: measured the depths of (that is, if someone can figure Ferdinand out, he can accomplish anything).
chronicle: you speak too much of yourself
that friend ... defects: someone who tells a great man the truth about himself and points out his faults helps him to avoid misfortune.
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