Digital Renaissance Editions

Authors: Thomas Dekker, Thomas Middleton
Editor: Joost Daalder
Peer Reviewed

The Honest Whore, Part 1 (Modern)

0.1The Honest Whore, [Part One]
Enter at one door a funeral (a coronet lying on the hearse, scutcheons and garlands hanging on the sides) attended by Gasparo Trebazzi, Duke of Milan, Castruccio, Sinezi, Pioratto, 5Fluello, and others, [including Attendants]. At another door, enter Hippolito in discontented appearance, [and] Mattheo, a gentleman, his friend, labouring to hold him back.
Behold, yon comet shows his head again!
10Twice hath he thus at cross-turns thrown on us
Prodigious looks; twice hath he troubled
The waters of our eyes. See, he’s turned wild. –
Go on, in God’s name.
[To Attendants] On afore there, ho!
Kinsmen and friends, take from your manly sides
Your weapons to keep back the desp’rate boy
From doing violence to the innocent dead.
[The Gentlemen draw; Mattheo continues to struggle with Hippolito.]
I prithee, dear Mattheo –
Come, you’re mad.
[To the Duke] I do arrest thee, murderer.
[To Attendants] Set down,
Villains, set down that sorrow; ’tis all mine.
[To the Gentlemen] I do beseech you all, for my blood’s sake
Send hence your milder spirits, and let wrath
Join in confederacy with your weapons’ points;
25If he proceed to vex us, let your swords
Seek out his bowels. Funeral grief loathes words.
[To Attendants] Set on.
[To Attendants] Set down the body.
O my lord,
30You’re wrong! I’th’ open street? You see she’s dead.
I know she is not dead.
Frantic young man,
Wilt thou believe these gentlemen? Pray speak.
Thou dost abuse my child, and mockst the tears
35That here are shed for her. If to behold
Those roses withered that set out her cheeks,
That pair of stars that gave her body light
Darkened and dim for ever, all those rivers
That fed her veins with warm and crimson streams
40Frozen and dried up – if these be signs of death,
Then is she dead. Thou unreligious youth,
Art not ashamed to empty all these eyes
Of funeral tears, a debt due to the dead
As mirth is to the living? Sham’st thou not
45To have them stare on thee? Hark, thou art curst
Even to thy face by those that scarce can speak.
My lord –
What wouldst thou have? Is she not dead?
O, you ha’ killed her by your cruelty!
Admit I had, thou killst her now again,
And art more savage than a barbarous Moor.
Let me but kiss her pale and bloodless lip.
O fie, fie, fie!
Or if not touch her, let me look on her.
As you regard your honour –
Honour? Smoke!
Or if you loved her living, spare her now.
Ay, well done, sir; you play the gentleman.
[Aside to Attendants] Steal hence. ’Tis nobly done. Away.
[To Mattheo] I’ll join
60My force to yours, to stop this violent torrent.
[To Attendants] Pass on.
Exeunt with funeral [all but the Duke, Hippolito, and Mattheo].
Mattheo, thou dost wound me more.
I give you physic, noble friend, not wounds.
O, well said, well done; a true gentleman!
65Alack, I know the sea of lovers’ rage
Comes rushing with so strong a tide it beats
And bears down all respects of life, of honour,
Of friends, of foes. [To Hippolito] Forget her, gallant youth.
Forget her?
Nay, nay, be but patient,
Forwhy death’s hand hath sued a strict divorce
’Twixt her and thee. What’s beauty but a corse?
What but fair sand-dust are earth’s purest forms?
Queens’ bodies are but trunks to put in worms.
[Aside to Duke] Speak no more sentences, my good lord, but slip hence. You see they are but fits; I’ll rule him, I warrant ye. Ay, so, tread gingerly; your Grace is here somewhat too long already.
[Exit Duke.]
[Aside] ’Sblood, the jest were now, if having ta’en some knocks o’th’ pate already, he should get loose again, and, like a mad 80ox, toss my new black cloaks into the kennel. I must humour his lordship. [To Hippolito] My lord Hippolito, is it in your stomach to go to dinner?
Where is the body?
The body, as the Duke spake very wisely, is gone 85to be wormed.
I cannot rest. I’ll meet it at next turn.
I’ll see how my love looks.
Mattheo holds him in’s arms.
How your love looks? Worse than a scarecrow. Wrestle not with me; the great fellow gives the fall for a ducat.
I shall forget myself!
Pray do so; leave yourself behind yourself, and go whither you will. ’Sfoot, do you long to have base rogues, that maintain a Saint Anthony’s fire in their noses by nothing but twopenny ale, make ballads of you? If the Duke had but so 95much mettle in him as is in a cobbler’s awl, he would ha’ been a vexed thing; he and his train had blown you up but that their powder has taken the wet of cowards. You’ll bleed three pottles of Alicant, by this light, if you follow ’em, and then we shall have a hole made in a wrong place, to have surgeons roll 100thee up like a baby in swaddling clouts.
What day is today, Mattheo?
Yea, marry, this is an easy question. Why, today is – let me see – Thursday.
O, Thursday.
Here’s a coil for a dead commodity! ’Sfoot, women 105when they are alive are but dead commodities, for you shall have one woman lie upon many men’s hands.
She died on Monday, then.
And that’s the most villainous day of all the week to die in; and she was well, and ate a mess of water-gruel on 110Monday morning.
Ay, it cannot be
Such a bright taper should burn out so soon.
O yes, my lord, so soon. Why, I ha’ known them that at dinner have been as well, and had so much health, that they 115were glad to pledge it, yet before three o’clock have been found dead drunk.
On Thursday buried, and on Monday died!
Quick haste, by’r Lady; sure her winding sheet
Was laid out ’fore her body, and the worms
120That now must feast with her were even bespoke,
And solemnly invited like strange guests.
Strange feeders they are indeed, my lord, and, like your jester or young courtier, will enter upon any man’s trencher without bidding.
Curst be that day for ever that robbed her
Of breath, and me of bliss! Henceforth let it stand
Within the wizard’s book, the calendar,
Marked with a marginal finger, to be chosen
By thieves, by villains, and black murderers
130As the best day for them to labour in.
If henceforth this adulterous, bawdy world
Be got with child with treason, sacrilege,
Atheism, rapes, treacherous friendship, perjury,
Slander (the beggar’s sin), lies (sin of fools),
135Or any other damned impieties,
On Monday let ’em be deliverèd!
I swear to thee, Mattheo, by my soul,
Hereafter weekly on that day I’ll glue
Mine eyelids down, because they shall not gaze
140On any female cheek. And being locked up
In my close chamber, there I’ll meditate
On nothing but my Infelice’s end,
Or on a dead man’s skull draw out mine own.
You’ll do all these good works now every Monday, 145because it is so bad; but I hope upon Tuesday morning I shall take you with a wench.
If ever, whilst frail blood through my veins run,
On woman’s beams I throw affection
Save her that’s dead, or that I loosely fly
150To th’shore of any other wafting eye,
Let me not prosper, heaven! I will be true,
Even to her dust and ashes. Could her tomb
Stand, whilst I lived, so long that it might rot,
That should fall down, but she be ne’er forgot.
If you have this strange monster, Honesty, in your belly, why, so: jig-makers and chroniclers shall pick something out of you. But, an I smell not you and a bawdy-house out within these ten days, let my nose be as big as an English bag-pudding. I’ll follow your lordship, though it be to 160the place aforenamed.