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  • Title: The Honest Whore, Part 1 (Modern)
  • Editor: Joost Daalder
  • ISBN: 978-1-55058-490-5

    Copyright Digital Renaissance Editions. This text may be freely used for educational, non-profit purposes; for all other uses contact the Editor.
    Authors: Thomas Dekker, Thomas Middleton
    Editor: Joost Daalder
    Peer Reviewed

    The Honest Whore, Part 1 (Modern)

    Enter Roger with a stool, cushion, looking-glass, and chafing-dish. Those being set down, he pulls out of his pocket a vial with white colour in it, and two boxes, one with white, another red 740painting. He places all things in order, and a candle by them, singing with the ends of old ballads as he does it. At last Bellafront, as he rubs his cheek with the colours, whistles within.
    Anon, forsooth.
    [Within] What are you playing the rogue about?
    About you, forsooth; I’m drawing up a hole in your white silk stocking.
    Is my glass there? And my boxes of complexion?
    Yes, forsooth. Your boxes of complexion are 750here, I think. Yes, ’tis here; here’s your two complexions. [Aside] An if I had all the four complexions, I should ne’er set a good face upon’t. Some men, I see, are born under hard-favoured planets as well as women. Zounds, I look worse now than I did before; and it makes her face glister most 755damnably. There’s knavery in daubing, I hold my life; or else this is only female pomatum.
    Enter Bellafront not full ready, without a gown. She sits down, with her bodkin curls her hair, colours her lips [etc.].
    Where’s my ruff and poker, you blockhead?
    Your ruff and your poker are engendering together upon the cupboard of the court, or the court-cupboard.
    Fetch ’em! Is the pox in your hams, you can go no faster?
    [She throws something at him.]
    Would the pox were in your fingers, unless you could 765leave flinging. Catch!
    [He throws back the object.]
    I’ll catch you, you dog, by and by. Do you grumble?
    Exit [Roger].
    She sings:
    Cupid is a god
    As naked as my nail;
    I’ll whip him with a rod
    If he my true love fail.
    [Enter Roger with ruff and poker.]
    There’s your ruff. Shall I poke it?
    Yes, honest Roger – no, stay. Prithee, good boy, hold here.
    [Roger holds the looking-glass and candle for her. She sings:]
    Down, down, down, down; I fall down, and arise I never shall.
    Troth, mistress, then leave the trade, if you shall never rise.
    What trade, Goodman Abram?
    Why, that of down and arise, or the falling trade.
    I’ll fall with you, by and by.
    If you do, I know who shall smart for’t. Troth, mistress, what do I look like now?
    Like as you are: a panderly sixpenny rascal.
    I may thank you for that. No, faith, I look like an old proverb, ‘Hold the candle before the devil.’
    Ud’s life, I’ll stick my knife in your guts an you prate to me so! – What?
    She sings:
    Well met, pug, the pearl of beauty, umm, umm.
    785How now, Sir Knave, you forget your duty, umm, umm.
    Marry-muff, sir, are you grown so dainty? Fa, la, la, leera, la.
    Is it you, sir? The worst of twenty, fa, la, la, leera, la.
    Pox on you, how dost thou hold my glass?
    Why, as I hold your door: with my fingers.
    Nay, prithee, sweet honey Roger, hold up handsomely. (Sings ‘Pretty wantons, warble’, etc.) We shall ha’ guests today, I lay my little maidenhead, my nose itches so.
    I said so too, last night, when our fleas twinged me.
    [Completing her make-up] So. Poke my ruff now. My gown, my gown! Have I my fall? 795Where’s my fall, Roger?
    Your fall, forsooth, is behind.
    One knocks.
    God’s my pitikins! Some fool or other knocks.
    Shall I open to the fool, mistress?
    And all these baubles lying thus? Away with it 800quickly!
    [They tidy up. More knocking.]
    – Ay, ay, knock and be damned, whosoever you be. – So. Give the fresh salmon line now; let him come ashore. He shall serve for my breakfast, though he go against my stomach.
    Roger fetches in Fluello, Castruccio, and Pioratto.
    [He brings in some stools.]
    [To Bellafront] Morrow, coz.
    How does my sweet acquaintance?
    Save thee, little marmoset. How dost thou, good pretty rogue?
    Well, God-a-mercy, good pretty rascal.
    [Producing tobacco] Roger, some light, I prithee.
    You shall, signor; for we that live here in this vale of misery are as dark as hell.
    Exit for a candle.
    Good tobacco, Fluello?
    It may be tickling gear, for it plays with my nose already.
    Enter Roger [with candle].
    [To Fluello] Here’s another light angel, signor.
    [Fluello lights a pipe, which afterwards he passes to Castruccio.]
    What, you pied curtal? What’s that you are neighing?
    I say, ‘God send us the light of heaven, or some more angels’.
    Go fetch some wine; [Aside, to him]and drink half of it.
    I must fetch some wine, gentlemen, [Aside to her] and drink half of it.
    [Offering him money] Here, Roger.
    No, let me send, prithee.
    [To Roger] Hold, you cankerworm.
    You shall send both, if you please, signors. [Castruccio gives him money.]
    Stay, what’s best to drink a-mornings?
    Hippocras, sir, for my mistress, if I fetch it, is most dear to her.
    Hippocras? [Giving Roger more money] There, then; here’s a teston for you, you snake.
    Right, sir; here’s three shillings sixpence for a pottle and a manchet.
    [Smoking] Here’s most Herculean tobacco. [Offering the pipe to Bellafront] Ha’ some, acquaintance?
    Faugh, not I – makes your breath stink like the piss of a fox. Acquaintance, where supped you last night?
    At a place, sweet acquaintance, where your health danced the canaries, i’faith; you should ha’ been there.
    I there, among your punks? Marry faugh, hang ’em! 835Scorn’t. Will you never leave sucking of eggs in other folks’ hens’ nests?
    Why, in good troth, if you’ll trust me, acquaintance, there was not one hen at the board. Ask Fluello.
    No, faith, coz, none but cocks. Signor Malavolta 840drunk to thee.
    O, a pure beagle! That horseleech there?
    And the knight, Sir Oliver Lollio, swore he would bestow a taffeta petticoat on thee, but to break his fast with thee.
    With me? I’ll choke him then. Hang him, mole-catcher! It’s the dreamingest snotty-nose.
    Well, many took that Lollio for a fool; but he’s a subtle fool.
    Ay, and he has fellows; of all filthy, dry-fisted knights, I cannot abide that he should touch me.
    Why, wench, is he scabbed?
    Hang him! He’ll not live to be so honest, nor to the 850credit to have scabs about him; his betters have ’em. But I hate to wear out any of his coarse knighthood, because he’s made like an alderman’s nightgown, faced all with cony before, and within nothing but fox. This sweet Oliver will eat mutton till he be ready to burst, but the 855lean-jawed slave will not pay for the scraping of his trencher.
    Plague him; set him beneath the salt, and let him not touch a bit till everyone has had his full cut.
    Sordello, the gentleman-usher, came in to us too. Marry, ’twas in our cheese, for he had been to borrow money 860for his lord, of a citizen.
    What an ass is that lord, to borrow money of a citizen!
    Nay, God’s my pity, what an ass is that citizen to lend money to a lord!
    865Enter Mattheo and Hippolito, who, saluting the company as a stranger, walks off. Roger comes in sadly behind them, with a pottle pot, and stands aloof off.
    Save you, gallants. Signor Fluello, exceedingly well met, as I may say.
    Signor Mattheo, exceedingly well met too, as I may say.
    And how fares my little pretty mistress?
    E’en as my little pretty servant; sees three court dishes before her, and not one good bit in them. [To Roger] How now? 875Why the devil standst thou so? Art in a trance?
    Yes, forsooth.
    Why dost not fill out their wine?
    Forsooth, ’tis filled out already: all the wine that the signors has bestowed upon you is cast away. A porter ran a tilt at me, and so faced me down that I had not a drop.
    I’m accurst to let such a withered artichoke-faced rascal grow under my nose! Now you look like an old he-cat, going to the gallows. I’ll be hanged if he ha’ not put up the money to cony-catch us all.
    No, truly, forsooth, ’tis not put up [Aside to her] yet.
    How many gentlemen hast thou served thus?
    None [Aside] but five hundred, besides prentices and servingmen.
    Dost think I’ll pocket it up at thy hands?
    Yes, forsooth, [Aside to her] I fear you will pocket it up.
    [To Mattheo] Fie, fie, cut my lace, good servant; I shall ha’ the 890mother presently, I’m so vexed at this horse-plum!
    Plague, not for a scald pottle of wine!
    Nay, sweet Bellafront, for a little pig’s wash!
    Here, Roger, fetch more. [He gives him more money.] – A mischance, i’faith, acquaintance.
    [To Roger] Out of my sight, thou ungodly puritanical creature!
    For the tother pottle? Yes, forsooth.
    [Aside to him] Spill that too!
    Exit [Roger].
    [Observing Hippolito] What gentleman is that, servant? Your friend?
    Godso! A stool, a stool! If you love me, mistress, 900entertain this gentleman respectively, and bid him welcome.
    He’s very welcome. [To Hippolito] Pray, sir, sit.
    Thanks, lady.
    [Moving towards him] Count Hippolito, is’t not? Cry you mercy, signor; you walk here all this while, and we not heed you? Let me 905bestow a stool upon you, beseech you. You are a stranger here; we know the fashions o’th’ house.
    [He offers Hippolito a stool.]
    Please you be here, my lord. [He offers Hippolito] tobacco.
    [Declining the offer] No, good Castruccio.
    You have abandoned the court, I see, my lord, since 910the death of your mistress. Well, she was a delicate piece – [Aside to Bellafront] Beseech you, sweet, come, let us serve under the colours of your acquaintance still, for all that. [Aloud to Hippolito] Please you to meet here at the lodging of my coz; I shall bestow a banquet upon you.
    [Bellafront and Mattheo speak privately without hearing the others, who converse aloud with one another.]
    [To Fluello] I never can deserve this kindness, sir.
    915What may this lady be, whom you call coz?
    Faith, sir, a poor gentlewoman, of passing good carriage; one that has some suits in law, and lies here in an attorney’s house.
    Is she married?
    Ha, as all your punks are, a captain’s wife or so. Never saw her before, my lord?
    Never, trust me. A goodly creature.
    By gad, when you know her as we do, you’ll swear she is the prettiest, kindest, sweetest, most bewitching honest ape 925under the pole. A skin – your satin is not more soft, nor lawn whiter.
    Belike, then, she’s some sale courtesan.
    Troth, as all your best faces are; a good wench.
    Great pity that she’s a good wench. [They whisper.]
    [Aloud to Bellafront] Thou shalt have it i’faith, mistress. – How now, signors? What? Whispering? [Talking apart to Hippolito] Did not I lay a wager I should take you within seven days in a house of vanity?
    You did, and, I beshrew your heart, you have won.
    How do you like my mistress?
    Well, for such a mistress. Better, if your mistress be not your master. [Aloud] I must break manners, gentlemen; fare you well.
    ’Sfoot, you shall not leave us.
    The gentleman likes not the taste of our company.
    940All Gentlemen
    Beseech you, stay.
    Trust me, my affairs beckon for me. Pardon me.
    Will you call for me half an hour hence here?
    Perhaps I shall.
    Perhaps? Faugh! I know you can; swear to me you will.
    Since you will press me, on my word I will.
    What sullen picture is this, servant?
    It’s Count Hippolito, the brave count.
    As gallant a spirit as any in Milan, you sweet Jew.
    O, he’s a most essential gentleman, coz.
    Did you never hear of Count Hippolito, acquaintance?
    Marry-muff o’your counts, an be no more life in ’em.
    He’s so malcontent! Sirrah Bellafront – [To the others] An you be honest gallants, let’s sup together, and have the count dine with us. [To her] 955Thou shalt sit at the upper end, punk.
    ‘Punk’, you soused gurnet?
    King’s truce! Come, I’ll bestow the supper to have him but laugh.
    He betrays his youth too grossly to that tyrant, melancholy.
    All this is for a woman.
    A woman? Some whore! What sweet jewel is’t?
    Would she heard you.
    Troth, so would I.
    And I, by heaven.
    Nay, good servant, what woman?
    Prithee, tell me; a buss, and tell me! I warrant he’s an honest fellow, if he take on thus for a wench. Good rogue, who?
    By th’Lord, I will not, must not, faith, mistress. – Is’t a match, sirs? This night, at th’Antelope; for there’s best wine, and good boys.
    970All Gentlemen
    It’s done; at th’Antelope.
    I cannot be there tonight.
    ‘Cannot’? By th’Lord, you shall.
    By the Lady, I will not. ‘Shall’!
    Why then, put it off till Friday. Wu’t come then, coz?
    Well –
    Enter Roger.
    You’re the waspishest ape. – Roger, put your mistress in mind, your scurvy mistress here, to sup with us on Friday next. [To her] You’re best come like a madwoman, without a band, in your waistcoat, and the linings of your kirtle outward, like 980every common hackney that steals out at the back gate of her sweet knight’s lodging.
    Go, go, hang yourself!
    It’s dinner-time, Mattheo; shall’s hence?
    All Gentlemen
    Yes, yes. – Farewell, wench.
    Farewell, boys.
    Exeunt [Fluello, Castruccio, Pioratto, and Mattheo].
    Roger, what wine sent they for?
    Bastard wine; for if it had been truly begotten, it would not ha’ been ashamed to come in. Here’s six shillings, to pay for nursing the bastard.
    A company of rooks! O good sweet Roger, run to the poulter’s and buy me some fine larks.
    No woodcocks?
    Yes, faith, a couple, if they be not dear.
    I’ll buy but one: there’s one already here.
    Enter Hippolito.
    Is the gentleman my friend departed, mistress?
    His back is but new turned, sir.
    [Going] Fare you well.
    I can direct you to him.
    Can you, pray?
    If you please, stay; he’ll not be absent long.
    I care not much.
    Pray sit, forsooth.
    [Putting down his rapier] I’m hot;
    If I may use your room, I’ll rather walk.
    At your best pleasure. Whew!
    [Offering towels] Some rubbers, there.
    Indeed, I’ll none – indeed, I will not. Thanks.
    Pretty fine lodging. I perceive my friend
    1005Is old in your acquaintance.
    Troth, sir, he comes
    As other gentlemen, to spend spare hours.
    If yourself like our roof, such as it is,
    Your own acquaintance may be as old as his.
    Say I did like, what welcome should I find?
    Such as my present fortunes can afford.
    But would you let me play Mattheo’s part?
    What part?
    Why, embrace you, dally with you, kiss.
    Faith, tell me: will you leave him, and love me?
    I am in bonds to no man, sir.
    Why then,
    You’re free for any man; if any, me.
    But I must tell you, lady, were you mine,
    You should be all mine. I could brook no sharers;
    I should be covetous, and sweep up all.
    1020I should be pleasure’s usurer; faith, I should.
    O fate!
    Why sigh you, lady? May I know?
    ’T has never been my fortune yet to single
    Out that one man whose love could fellow mine,
    1025As I have ever wished it. O my stars!
    Had I but met with one kind gentleman
    That would have purchased sin alone, to himself,
    For his own private use, although scarce proper
    (Indifferent handsome, meetly legged and thighed),
    1030And my allowance reasonable (i’faith,
    According to my body), by my troth
    I would have been as true unto his pleasures
    Yea, and as loyal to his afternoons,
    As ever a poor gentlewoman could be.
    This were well now to one but newly fledged
    And scarce a day old in this subtle world;
    ’Twere pretty art, good bird-lime, cunning net.
    But come, come, faith, confess: how many men
    Have drunk this self-same protestation
    1040From that red ’ticing lip?
    Indeed, not any.
    ‘Indeed’? And blush not?
    No, in truth, not any.
    ‘Indeed’! ‘In truth’! How warily you swear!
    1045’Tis well, if ill it be not. Yet had I
    The ruffian in me, and were drawn before you
    But in light colours, I do know indeed
    You would not swear ‘indeed’, but thunder oaths
    That should shake heaven, drown the harmonious spheres,
    1050And pierce a soul that loved her maker’s honour
    With horror and amazement.
    Shall I swear?
    Will you believe me then?
    Worst then of all;
    1055Our sins by custom seem at last but small.
    Were I but o’er your threshold, a next man,
    And after him a next, and then a fourth,
    Should have this golden hook and lascivious bait
    Thrown out to the full length. Why, let me tell you
    1060I ha’ seen letters, sent from that white hand,
    Tuning such music to Mattheo’s ear.
    Mattheo! That’s true. But if you’ll believe
    My honest tongue, my eyes no sooner met you
    But they conceived and led you to my heart.
    O, you cannot feign with me! Why, I know, lady,
    This is the common fashion of you all,
    To hook in a kind gentleman, and then
    Abuse his coin, conveying it to your lover;
    And in the end you show him a French trick,
    1070And so you leave him that a coach may run
    Between his legs for breadth.
    O, by my soul,
    Not I! Therein I’ll prove an honest whore –
    In being true to one and to no more.
    If any be disposed to trust your oath,
    Let him; I’ll not be he. I know you feign
    All that you speak, I; for a mingled harlot
    Is true in nothing but in being false.
    What, shall I teach you how to loathe yourself?
    1080And mildly too, not without sense or reason?
    I am content; I would fain loathe myself
    If you not love me.
    Then if your gracious blood
    Be not all wasted, I shall assay to do’t.
    1085Lend me your silence and attention.
    You have no soul; that makes you weigh so light.
    Heaven’s treasure bought it,
    And half a crown hath sold it. For your body,
    It’s like the common shore, that still receives
    All the town’s filth. The sin of many men
    1090Is within you; and thus much I suppose,
    That, if all your committers stood in rank,
    They’d make a lane, in which your shame might dwell,
    And with their spaces reach from hence to hell.
    Nay, shall I urge it more? There has been known
    1095As many by one harlot maimed and dismembered
    As would ha’ stuffed an hospital. This I might
    Apply to you, and perhaps do you right.
    O, you’re as base as any beast that bears;
    Your body is e’en hired, and so are theirs.
    1100For gold and sparkling jewels, if he can,
    You’ll let a Jew get you with Christian.
    Be he a Moor, a Tartar, though his face
    Look uglier than a dead man’s skull,
    Could the devil put on a human shape,
    1105If his purse shake out crowns, up then he gets;
    Whores will be rid to hell with golden bits.
    So that you’re crueller than Turks, for they
    Sell Christians only; you sell yourselves away.
    Why, those that love you, hate you, and will term you
    1110Lickerish damnation, wish themselves half sunk
    After the sin is laid out, and e’en curse
    Their fruitless riot. For what one begets,
    Another poisons. Lust and murder hit;
    A tree being often shook, what fruit can knit?
    O me unhappy!
    I can vex you more.
    A harlot is like Dunkirk, true to none;
    Swallows both English, Spanish, fulsome Dutch,
    Back-doored Italian, last of all the French.
    1120And he sticks to you, faith; gives you your diet,
    Brings you acquainted, first with Monsieur Doctor,
    And then you know what follows.
    Rank, stinking, and most loathsome misery.
    Methinks a toad is happier than a whore:
    That with one poison swells, with thousands more
    The other stocks her veins. Harlot? Fie, fie!
    You are the miserablest creatures breathing.
    The very slaves of nature. Mark me else:
    1130You put on rich attires, others’ eyes wear them;
    You eat but to supply your blood with sin.
    And this strange curse e’en haunts you to your graves:
    From fools you get, and spend it upon slaves.
    Like bears and apes, you’re baited and show tricks
    1135For money, but your bawd the sweetness licks.
    Indeed, you are their journey-women, and do
    All base and damned works they list set you to,
    So that you ne’er are rich. For do but show me,
    In present memory or in ages past,
    1140The fairest and most famous courtesan –
    Whose flesh was dear’st, that raised the price of sin,
    And held it up; to whose intemperate bosom
    Princes, earls, lords (the worst has been a knight,
    The mean’st a gentleman) have offered up
    1145Whole hecatombs of sighs, and rained in show’rs
    Handfuls of gold – yet, for all this, at last
    Diseases sucked her marrow; then grew so poor
    That she has begged, e’en at a beggar’s door.
    And – wherein heav’n has a finger – when this idol
    1150From coast to coast has lept on foreign shores,
    And had more worship than th’outlandish whores;
    When several nations have gone over her;
    When for each several city she has seen
    Her maidenhead has been new, and been sold dear;
    1155Did live well there, and might have died unknown
    And undefamed – back comes she to her own,
    And there both miserably lives and dies,
    Scorned even of those that once adored her eyes,
    As if her fatal-circled life thus ran
    1160Her pride should end there where it first began.
    [She weeps.]
    What, do you weep to hear your story read?
    Nay, if you spoil your cheeks, I’ll read no more.
    [Weeping] O yes, I pray, proceed.
    Indeed, ’twill do me good to weep, indeed.
    To give those tears a relish, this I add:
    You’re like the Jews, scattered, in no place certain.
    Your days are tedious, your hours burdensome;
    And were’t not for full suppers, midnight revels,
    Dancing, wine, riotous meetings, which do drown
    1170And bury quite in you all virtuous thoughts,
    And on your eyelids hang so heavily
    They have no power to look so high as heaven,
    You’d sit and muse on nothing but despair,
    Curse that devil Lust, that so burns up your blood,
    1175And in ten thousand shivers break your glass
    For his temptation. Say you taste delight
    To have a golden gull from rise to set,
    To mete you in his hot luxurious arms,
    Yet your nights pay for all: I know you dream
    1180Of warrants, whips, and beadles, and then start
    At a door’s windy creak, think every weasel
    To be a constable and every rat
    A long-tailed officer. Are you now not slaves?
    O, you have damnation without pleasure for it!
    1185Such is the state of harlots. To conclude,
    When you are old and can well paint no more,
    You turn bawd, and are then worse than before.
    Make use of this. Farewell.
    [He starts to go.]
    O, I pray, stay!
    I see Mattheo comes not. Time hath barred me.
    Would all the harlots in the town had heard me.
    [Calling after him] Stay yet a little longer! No? Quite gone!
    Curst be that minute – for it was no more,
    So soon a maid is changed into a whore –
    1195Wherein I first fell; be it for ever black!
    Yet why should sweet Hippolito shun mine eyes,
    For whose true love I would become pure-honest,
    Hate the world’s mixtures and the smiles of gold?
    Am I not fair? Why should he fly me, then?
    1200Fair creatures are desired, not scorned of men.
    How many gallants have drunk healths to me
    Out of their daggered arms, and thought them blest
    Enjoying but mine eyes at prodigal feasts?
    And does Hippolito detest my love?
    1205O, sure their heedless lusts but flattered me;
    I am not pleasing, beautiful, nor young.
    Hippolito has spied some ugly blemish,
    Eclipsing all my beauties. I am foul.
    Harlot! Ay, that’s the spot that taints thy soul.
    1210[Finding Hippolito’s rapier] His weapon left here? O, fit instrument
    To let forth all the poison of my flesh!
    Thy master hates me ’cause my blood hath ranged;
    But when ’tis forth, then he’ll believe I’m changed.
    [As she is about to stab herself], enter Hippolito.
    Mad woman, what art doing?
    Either love me,
    Or cleave my bosom on thy rapier’s point.
    Yet do not neither, for thou then destroyst
    That which I love thee for – thy virtues. Here, here!
    [She gives him his sword.]
    Thou’rt crueller, and killst me with disdain;
    1220To die so sheds no blood, yet ’tis worse pain.
    Exit Hippolito.
    Not speak to me! Not look! Not bid farewell!
    Hated! This must not be; some means I’ll try.
    Would all whores were as honest now as I.