The Jew of Malta



BELLAMIRA. Since this town was besieg'd, my gain grows cold:

The time has been, that but for one bare night

A hundred ducats have been freely given;

But now against my will I must be chaste:

And yet I know my beauty doth not fail.

]From Venice merchants, and from Padua

Were wont to come rare-witted gentlemen,

Scholars I mean, learned and liberal;

And now, save Pilia-Borza, comes there none,

And he is very seldom from my house;

And here he comes.



Hold thee, wench, there's something for thee to spend.

[Shewing a bag of silver.]

BELLAMIRA. 'Tis silver; I disdain it.

PILIA-BORZA. Ay, but the Jew has gold,

And I will have it, or it shall go hard.

BELLAMIRA. Tell me, how cam'st thou by this?

PILIA-BORZA. Faith, walking the back-lanes, through the gardens,

I chanced to cast mine eye up to the Jew's counting-house, where

I saw some bags of money, and in the night I clambered up with

my hooks; and, as I was taking my choice, I heard a rumbling in

the house; so I took only this, and run my way.—But here's the

Jew's man.

BELLAMIRA. Hide the bag.


PILIA-BORZA. Look not towards him, let's away. Zoons, what a

looking thou keepest! thou'lt betray's anon.


ITHAMORE. O, the sweetest face that ever I beheld! I know she

is a courtezan by her attire: now would I give a hundred of

the Jew's crowns that I had such a concubine.

Well, I have deliver'd the challenge in such sort,

As meet they will, and fighting die,—brave sport!



MATHIAS. This is the place: 92 now Abigail shall see

Whether Mathias holds her dear or no.


What, dares the villain write in such base terms?

[Looking at a letter.]

LODOWICK. I did it; and revenge it, if thou dar'st!

[They fight.]

Enter BARABAS above.

BARABAS. O, bravely fought! and yet they thrust not home.

Now, Lodovico! 93 now, Mathias!—So;

[Both fall.]

So, now they have shew'd themselves to be tall 94 fellows.

[Cries within] Part 'em, part 'em!

BARABAS. Ay, part 'em now they are dead. Farewell, farewell!

[Exit above.]


FERNEZE. What sight is this! 95 my Lodovico 96 slain!

These arms of mine shall be thy sepulchre. 97

KATHARINE. Who is this? my son Mathias slain!

FERNEZE. O Lodowick, hadst thou perish'd by the Turk,

Wretched Ferneze might have veng'd thy death!

KATHARINE. Thy son slew mine, and I'll revenge his death.

FERNEZE. Look, Katharine, look! thy son gave mine these wounds.

KATHARINE. O, leave to grieve me! I am griev'd enough.

FERNEZE. O, that my sighs could turn to lively breath,

And these my tears to blood, that he might live!

KATHARINE. Who made them enemies?

FERNEZE. I know not; and that grieves me most of all.

KATHARINE. My son lov'd thine.

FERNEZE. And so did Lodowick him.

KATHARINE. Lend me that weapon that did kill my son,

And it shall murder me.

FERNEZE. Nay, madam, stay; that weapon was my son's,

And on that rather should Ferneze die.

KATHARINE. Hold; let's inquire the causers of their deaths,

That we may venge their blood upon their heads.

FERNEZE. Then take them up, and let them be interr'd

Within one sacred monument of stone;

Upon which altar I will offer up

My daily sacrifice of sighs and tears,

And with my prayers pierce impartial heavens,

Till they [reveal] the causers of our smarts,

Which forc'd their hands divide united hearts.

Come, Katharine; 98 our losses equal are;

Then of true grief let us take equal share.

[Exeunt with the bodies.]

Enter ITHAMORE. 99

ITHAMORE. Why, was there ever seen such villany,

So neatly plotted, and so well perform'd?

Both held in hand, 100 and flatly both beguil'd?


ABIGAIL. Why, how now, Ithamore! why laugh'st thou so?

ITHAMORE. O mistress! ha, ha, ha!

ABIGAIL. Why, what ail'st thou?

ITHAMORE. O, my master!


ITHAMORE. O mistress, I have the bravest, gravest, secret,

subtle, bottle-nosed 101 knave to my master, that ever

gentleman had!

ABIGAIL. Say, knave, why rail'st upon my father thus?

ITHAMORE. O, my master has the bravest policy!

ABIGAIL. Wherein?

ITHAMORE. Why, know you not?

ABIGAIL. Why, no.


Know you not of Mathia[s'] and Don Lodowick['s] disaster?

ABIGAIL. No: what was it?

ITHAMORE. Why, the devil inverted a challenge, my master

writ it, and I carried it, first to Lodowick, and imprimis

to Mathia[s];

And then they met, [and], as the story says,

In doleful wise they ended both their days.

ABIGAIL. And was my father furtherer of their deaths?

ITHAMORE. Am I Ithamore?



So sure did your father write, and I carry the challenge.

ABIGAIL. Well, Ithamore, let me request thee this;

Go to the new-made nunnery, and inquire

For any of the friars of Saint Jaques, 102

And say, I pray them come and speak with me.

ITHAMORE. I pray, mistress, will you answer me to one question?

ABIGAIL. Well, sirrah, what is't?

ITHAMORE. A very feeling one: have not the nuns fine sport with

the friars now and then?

ABIGAIL. Go to, Sirrah Sauce! is this your question? get ye gone.

ITHAMORE. I will, forsooth, mistress.


ABIGAIL. Hard-hearted father, unkind Barabas!

Was this the pursuit of thy policy,

To make me shew them favour severally,

That by my favour they should both be slain?

Admit thou lov'dst not Lodowick for his sire, 103

Yet Don Mathias ne'er offended thee:

But thou wert set upon extreme revenge,

Because the prior dispossess'd thee once,

And couldst not venge it but upon his son;

Nor on his son but by Mathias' means;

Nor on Mathias but by murdering me:

But I perceive there is no love on earth,

Pity in Jews, nor piety in Turks.—

But here comes cursed Ithamore with the friar.


FRIAR JACOMO. Virgo, salve.

ITHAMORE. When duck you?

ABIGAIL. Welcome, grave friar.—Ithamore, be gone.


Know, holy sir, I am bold to solicit thee.


ABIGAIL. To get me be admitted for a nun.

FRIAR JACOMO. Why, Abigail, it is not yet long since

That I did labour thy admission,

And then thou didst not like that holy life.

ABIGAIL. Then were my thoughts so frail and unconfirm'd

As 104 I was chain'd to follies of the world:

But now experience, purchased with grief,

Has made me see the difference of things.

My sinful soul, alas, hath pac'd too long

The fatal labyrinth of misbelief,

Far from the sun that gives eternal life!

FRIAR JACOMO. Who taught thee this?

ABIGAIL. The abbess of the house,

Whose zealous admonition I embrace:

O, therefore, Jacomo, let me be one,

Although unworthy, of that sisterhood!

FRIAR JACOMO. Abigail, I will: but see thou change no more,

For that will be most heavy to thy soul.

ABIGAIL. That was my father's fault.

FRIAR JACOMO. Thy father's! how?

ABIGAIL. Nay, you shall pardon me.—O Barabas,

Though thou deservest hardly at my hands,

Yet never shall these lips bewray thy life!


FRIAR JACOMO. Come, shall we go?

ABIGAIL. My duty waits on you.


Enter BARABAS, 105 reading a letter.

BARABAS. What, Abigail become a nun again!

False and unkind! what, hast thou lost thy father?

And, all unknown and unconstrain'd of me,

Art thou again got to the nunnery?

Now here she writes, and wills me to repent:

Repentance! Spurca! what pretendeth 106 this?

I fear she knows—'tis so—of my device

In Don Mathias' and Lodovico's deaths:

If so, 'tis time that it be seen into;

For she that varies from me in belief,

Gives great presumption that she loves me not,

Or, loving, doth dislike of something done.—

But who comes here?


O Ithamore, come near;

Come near, my love; come near, thy master's life,

My trusty servant, nay, my second self; 107

For I have now no hope but even in thee,

And on that hope my happiness is built.

When saw'st thou Abigail?


BARABAS. With whom?

ITHAMORE. A friar.

BARABAS. A friar! false villain, he hath done the deed.

ITHAMORE. How, sir!

BARABAS. Why, made mine Abigail a nun.

ITHAMORE. That's no lie; for she sent me for him.

BARABAS. O unhappy day!

False, credulous, inconstant Abigail!

But let 'em go: and, Ithamore, from hence

Ne'er shall she grieve me more with her disgrace;

Ne'er shall she live to inherit aught of mine,

Be bless'd of me, nor come within my gates,

But perish underneath my bitter curse,

Like Cain by Adam for his brother's death.

ITHAMORE. O master—

BARABAS. Ithamore, entreat not for her; I am mov'd,

And she is hateful to my soul and me:

And, 'less 108 thou yield to this that I entreat,

I cannot think but that thou hat'st my life.

ITHAMORE. Who, I, master? why, I'll run to some rock,

And throw myself headlong into the sea;

Why, I'll do any thing for your sweet sake.

BARABAS. O trusty Ithamore! no servant, but my friend!

I here adopt thee for mine only heir:

All that I have is thine when I am dead;

And, whilst I live, use half; spend as myself;

Here, take my keys,—I'll give 'em thee anon;

Go buy thee garments; but thou shalt not want:

Only know this, that thus thou art to do—

But first go fetch me in the pot of rice

That for our supper stands upon the fire.

ITHAMORE. I hold my head, my master's hungry [Aside].—I go, sir.


BARABAS. Thus every villain ambles after wealth,

Although he ne'er be richer than in hope:—

But, husht!

Re-enter ITHAMORE with the pot.

ITHAMORE. Here 'tis, master.

BARABAS. Well said, 109 Ithamore! What, hast thou brought

The ladle with thee too?

ITHAMORE. Yes, sir; the proverb says, 110 he that eats with the

devil had need of a long spoon; I have brought you a ladle.

BARABAS. Very well, Ithamore; then now be secret;

And, for thy sake, whom I so dearly love,

Now shalt thou see the death of Abigail,

That thou mayst freely live to be my heir.

ITHAMORE. Why, master, will you poison her with a mess of rice-

porridge? that will preserve life, make her round and plump, and

batten 111 more than you are aware.

BARABAS. Ay, but, Ithamore, seest thou this?

It is a precious powder that I bought

Of an Italian, in Ancona, once,

Whose operation is to bind, infect,

And poison deeply, yet not appear

In forty hours after it is ta'en.

ITHAMORE. How, master?

BARABAS. Thus, Ithamore:

This even they use in Malta here,—'tis call'd

Saint Jaques' Even,—and then, I say, they use

To send their alms unto the nunneries:

Among the rest, bear this, and set it there:

There's a dark entry where they take it in,

Where they must neither see the messenger,

Nor make inquiry who hath sent it them.


BARABAS. Belike there is some ceremony in't.

There, Ithamore, must thou go place this pot: 112

Stay; let me spice it first.

ITHAMORE. Pray, do, and let me help you, master.

Pray, let me taste first.

BARABAS. Prithee, do.[ITHAMORE tastes.] What say'st thou now?

ITHAMORE. Troth, master, I'm loath such a pot of pottage should

be spoiled.

BARABAS. Peace, Ithamore! 'tis better so than spar'd.

[Puts the powder into the pot.]

Assure thyself thou shalt have broth by the eye: 113

My purse, my coffer, and myself is thine.

ITHAMORE. Well, master, I go.

BARABAS. Stay; first let me stir it, Ithamore.

As fatal be it to her as the draught

Of which great Alexander drunk, and died;

And with her let it work like Borgia's wine,

Whereof his sire the Pope was poisoned!

In few, 114 the blood of Hydra, Lerna's bane,

The juice of hebon, 115 and Cocytus' breath,

And all the poisons of the Stygian pool,

Break from the fiery kingdom, and in this

Vomit your venom, and envenom her

That, like a fiend, hath left her father thus!

ITHAMORE. What a blessing has he given't! was ever pot of

rice-porridge so sauced? [Aside].—What shall I do with it?

BARABAS. O my sweet Ithamore, go set it down;

And come again so soon as thou hast done,

For I have other business for thee.

ITHAMORE. Here's a drench to poison a whole stable of Flanders

mares: I'll carry't to the nuns with a powder.

BARABAS. And the horse-pestilence to boot: away!

ITHAMORE. I am gone:

Pay me my wages, for my work is done.

[Exit with the pot.]

BARABAS. I'll pay thee with a vengeance, Ithamore!



FERNEZE. Welcome, great basso: 117 how fares Calymath?

What wind drives you thus into Malta-road?

BASSO. The wind that bloweth all the world besides,

Desire of gold.

FERNEZE. Desire of gold, great sir!

That's to be gotten in the Western Inde:

In Malta are no golden minerals.

BASSO. To you of Malta thus saith Calymath:

The time you took for respite is at hand

For the performance of your promise pass'd;

And for the tribute-money I am sent.

FERNEZE. Basso, in brief, shalt have no tribute here,

Nor shall the heathens live upon our spoil:

First will we raze the city-walls ourselves,

Lay waste the island, hew the temples down,

And, shipping off our goods to Sicily,

Open an entrance for the wasteful sea,

Whose billows, beating the resistless banks, 118

Shall overflow it with their refluence.

BASSO. Well, governor, since thou hast broke the league

By flat denial of the promis'd tribute,

Talk not of razing down your city-walls;

You shall not need trouble yourselves so far,

For Selim Calymath shall come himself,

And with brass bullets batter down your towers,

And turn proud Malta to a wilderness,

For these intolerable wrongs of yours:

And so, farewell.

FERNEZE. Farewell.

[Exit BASSO.]

And now, you men of Malta, look about,

And let's provide to welcome Calymath:

Close your port-cullis, charge your basilisks, 119

And, as you profitably take up arms,

So now courageously encounter them,

For by this answer broken is the league,

And naught is to be look'd for now but wars,

And naught to us more welcome is than wars.



FRIAR JACOMO. O brother, brother, all the nuns are sick,

And physic will not help them! they must die.

FRIAR BARNARDINE. The abbess sent for me to be confess'd:

O, what a sad confession will there be!

FRIAR JACOMO. And so did fair Maria send for me:

I'll to her lodging; hereabouts she lies.



FRIAR BARNARDINE. What, all dead, save only Abigail!

ABIGAIL. And I shall die too, for I feel death coming.

Where is the friar that convers'd with me? 121

FRIAR BARNARDINE. O, he is gone to see the other nuns.

ABIGAIL. I sent for him; but, seeing you are come,

Be you my ghostly father: and first know,

That in this house I liv'd religiously,

Chaste, and devout, much sorrowing for my sins;

But, ere I came—


ABIGAIL. I did offend high heaven so grievously

As I am almost desperate for my sins;

And one offense torments me more than all.

You knew Mathias and Don Lodowick?

FRIAR BARNARDINE. Yes; what of them?

ABIGAIL. My father did contract me to 'em both;

First to Don Lodowick: him I never lov'd;

Mathias was the man that I held dear,

And for his sake did I become a nun.

FRIAR BARNARDINE. So: say how was their end?

ABIGAIL. Both, jealous of my love, envied 122 each other;

And by my father's practice, 123 which is there

[Gives writing.]

Set down at large, the gallants were both slain.

FRIAR BARNARDINE. O, monstrous villany!

ABIGAIL. To work my peace, this I confess to thee:

Reveal it not; for then my father dies.

FRIAR BARNARDINE. Know that confession must not be reveal'd;

The canon-law forbids it, and the priest

That makes it known, being degraded first,

Shall be condemn'd, and then sent to the fire.

ABIGAIL. So I have heard; pray, therefore, keep it close.

Death seizeth on my heart: ah, gentle friar,

Convert my father that he may be sav'd,

And witness that I die a Christian!


FRIAR BARNARDINE. Ay, and a virgin too; that grieves me most.

But I must to the Jew, and exclaim on him,

And make him stand in fear of me.


FRIAR JACOMO. O brother, all the nuns are dead! let's bury them.

FRIAR BARNARDINE. First help to bury this; then go with me,

And help me to exclaim against the Jew.

FRIAR JACOMO. Why, what has he done?

FRIAR BARNARDINE. A thing that makes me tremble to unfold.

FRIAR JACOMO. What, has he crucified a child? 124

FRIAR BARNARDINE. No, but a worse thing: 'twas told me in shrift;

Thou know'st 'tis death, an if it be reveal'd.

Come, let's away.