Digital Renaissance Editions

About this text

  • 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)

    1225Enter Candido, [Viola] his Wife, George, and two Prentices, in the shop. Fustigo enters, walking by.
    See, gentlemen, what you lack; a fine holland, a fine cambric. See what you buy.
    1 Prentice
    Holland for shirts, cambric for bands; what is’t you lack?
    [Aside] ’Sfoot, I lack ’em all; nay more, I lack money to buy ’em. Let me see, let me look again. Mass, this is the shop! [To Viola] What, coz! Sweet coz! How dost, i’faith, since last night after candlelight? We had good sport, i’faith, had we not? And when shall’s laugh again?
    When you will, cousin.
    Spoke like a kind Lacedemonian. I see yonder’s thy husband.
    Ay, there’s the sweet youth, God bless him.
    And how is’t, cousin? And how, how is’t, thou squall?
    Well, cousin. How fare you?
    How fare I? Troth, for sixpence a meal, wench, as well as heart can wish, with calves’ chawdrons and chitterlings; besides, I have a punk after supper, as good as a roasted apple.
    [Approaching] Are you my wife’s cousin?
    I am, sir. What hast thou to do with that?
    O, nothing; but you’re welcome.
    The devil’s dung in thy teeth! I’ll be welcome whether thou wilt or no, I. [To Viola] What ring’s this, coz? Very pretty and fantastical, i’faith. Let’s see it.
    [He tries to remove it.]
    Pooh! Nay, you wrench my finger.
    I ha’ sworn I’ll ha’t, and I hope you will not let my oaths be cracked in the ring, will you? [He grabs the ring. To Candido] I hope, sir, you are not mallicolly at this, for all your great looks. Are you angry?
    Angry? Not I, sir; nay, if she can part
    So easily with her ring, ’tis with my heart.
    [To Candido] Suffer this, sir, and suffer all. A whoreson gull, to –
    Peace, George. When she has reaped what I have sown,
    She’ll say one grain tastes better of her own
    Than whole sheaves gathered from another’s land;
    Wit’s never good till bought at a dear hand.
    [Fustigo and Viola whisper, and kiss each other behind his back.]
    But in the meantime she makes an ass of somebody.
    2 Prentice
    See, see, see, sir; as you turn your back, they do nothing but kiss.
    No matter, let ’em. When I touch her lips,
    I shall not feel his kisses, no, nor miss
    1265Any of her lips; no harm in kissing is.
    Look to your business; pray make up your wares.
    [To Viola] Troth, coz, and well remembered. [To Candido] I would thou wouldst give me five yards of lawn, to make my punk some falling bands o’the fashion, three falling one upon 1270another ; for that’s the new edition now. She’s out of linen horribly, too. Troth, sh’as never a good smock to her back neither but one that has a great many patches in’t, and that I’m fain to wear myself for want of shift, too. Prithee, put me into wholesome napery, and bestow some clean commodities 1275upon us.
    [To George and the Prentices] Reach me those cambrics and the lawns hither.
    What to do, wife? To lavish out my goods upon a fool?
    Fool? ’Snails, eat the ‘fool’, or I’ll so batter your crown that it shall scarce go for five shillings.
    12802 Prentice
    [To Candido] Do you hear, sir? You’re best be quiet, and say a fool tells you so.
    Nails, I think so – [To 2 Prentice] for thou tellst me.
    Are you angry, sir, because I named thee fool?
    Trust me, you are not wise, in mine own house
    And to my face to play the antic thus.
    1285If you’ll needs play the madman, choose a stage
    Of lesser compass, where few eyes may note
    Your action’s error. But if still you miss,
    As here you do, for one clap ten will hiss.
    [To Viola] Zounds, cousin, he talks to me as if I were a 1290scurvy tragedian.
    [The Prentices and George talk apart.]
    2 Prentice
    Sirrah George, I ha’ thought upon a device how to break his pate, beat him soundly, and ship him away.
    2 Prentice
    I’ll go in, pass through the house, give some of our fellow prentices the watchword when 1295they shall enter, then come and fetch my master in by a while, and place one in the hall to hold him in conference, whilst we cudgel the gull out of his coxcomb.
    Do’t. Away, do’t.
    [To them] Must I call twice for these cambrics and lawns?
    Nay, see, you anger her, George; prithee, despatch.
    2 Prentice
    Two of the choicest pieces are in the warehouse, sir.
    Go fetch them presently.
    Ay, do, make haste, sirrah.
    Exit 2 Prentice.
    [To Fustigo] Why were you such a stranger all this while, 1305being my wife’s cousin?
    Stranger? No, sir, I’m a natural Milaner born.
    I perceive still it is your natural guise to mistake me. But you are welcome, sir; I much wish your acquaintance.
    My acquaintance? I scorn that, i’faith. I hope my 1310acquaintance goes in chains of gold three-and-fifty times double. – You know who I mean, coz; the posts of his gate are a-painting, too.
    Enter 2 Prentice [with pieces of cambric and lawn].
    2 Prentice
    [To Candido] Signor Pandulfo the merchant desires conference with you.
    Signor Pandulfo? I’ll be with him straight.
    1315Attend your mistress and the gentleman.
    [To 2 Prentice] When do you show those pieces?
    Ay, when do you show those pieces?
    George and the Prentices
    Presently, sir, presently; we are but charging them.
    [To George] Come, sirrah, you flat-cap; where be these whites?
    Flat-cap? [Aside to Fustigo] Hark in your ear, sir: you’re a flat fool, an 1320ass, a gull, and I’ll thrum you. Do you see this cambric, sir?
    [To Viola] ’Sfoot, coz, a good jest! Did you hear him? He told me in my ear I was ‘a flat fool, an ass, a gull, and I’ll thrum you. Do you see this cambric, sir?’
    [At some distance] What, not my men, I hope?
    No, not your men, but one of your men, i’faith.
    1 Prentice
    I pray, sir, come hither. [Indicating a piece of cambric] What say you to this? Here’s an excellent good one.
    Ay, marry, this likes me well; cut me off some half-score yards.
    2 Prentice
    [Aside to him] Let your whores cut. You’re an impudent coxcomb; 1330you get none, and yet I’ll thrum you. [Aloud] A very good cambric, sir.
    Again, again, as God judge me! ’Sfoot, coz, they stand thrumming here with me all day, and yet I get nothing.
    1 Prentice
    A word, I pray, sir. You must not be angry. Prentices 1335have hot bloods – young fellows. What say you to this piece? Look you, ’tis so delicate, so soft, so even, so fine a thread that a lady may wear it.
    ’Sfoot, I think so. If a knight marry my punk, a lady shall wear it. Cut me off twenty yards, thou’rt an honest lad.
    13401 Prentice
    [Aside to him] Not without money, gull, and I’ll thrum you too.
    George and the Prentices
    [Aside to him] Gull, we’ll thrum you.
    O Lord, sister, did you not hear something cry ‘thump’? Zounds, your men here make a plain ass of me.
    What, to my face so impudent?
    Ay, in a cause so honest; we’ll not suffer
    Our master’s goods to vanish moneyless.
    You’ll not suffer them?
    2 Prentice
    No, and you may blush
    In going about to vex so mild a breast
    1350As is our master’s.
    [To Fustigo] Take away those pieces,
    Cousin; I give them freely.
    [Taking the pieces] Mass, and I’ll take ’em as freely.
    George and the Prentices
    We’ll make you lay ’em down again more freely.
    [Enter fellow Prentices; Fustigo is beaten with clubs.]
    Help, help! My brother will be murderèd.
    Enter Candido.
    How now, what coil is here? Forbear, I say.
    [Peace returns. Exeunt the fellow Prentices.]
    He calls us flat-caps, and abuses us.
    Why, sirs? Do such examples flow from me?
    They are of your keeping, sir. – Alas, poor brother.
    I’faith, they ha’ peppered me, sister. Look, does’t not 1360spin? Call you these prentices? I’ll ne’er play at cards more when clubs is trump. I have a goodly coxcomb, sister, have I not?
    ‘Sister’ and ‘brother’? Brother to my wife?
    If you have any skill in heraldry, you may soon know that. Break but her pate, and you shall see her blood 1365and mine is all one.
    [To 1 Prentice] A surgeon! Run; a surgeon!
    [Exit 1 Prentice.]
    [To Fustigo] Why, then, wore you that forged name of cousin?
    Because it’s a common thing to call coz and ningle nowadays, all the world over.
    ‘Cousin’! A name of much deceit, folly, and sin,
    For under that common abusèd word
    Many an honest-tempered citizen
    Is made a monster, and his wife trained out
    To foul adulterous action, full of fraud.
    1375I may well call that word a city’s bawd.
    Troth, brother, my sister would needs ha’ made me take upon me to gull your patience a little; but it has made double gules on my coxcomb.
    [To Fustigo] What, playing the woman? Blabbing now, you fool?
    O, my wife did but exercise a jest upon your wit.
    ’Sfoot, my wit bleeds for’t, methinks.
    Then let this warning more of sense afford;
    The name of ‘cousin’ is a bloody word.
    I’ll ne’er call coz again whilst I live, to have such 1385a coil about it. This should be a coronation day, for my head runs claret lustily.
    [To 2 Prentice] Go, wish the surgeon to have great respect.
    [Exit 2 Prentice.]
    Enter an Officer.
    [To the Officer] How now, my friend; what, do they sit today?
    Yes, sir, they expect you at the Senate House.
    I thank your pains; I’ll not be last man there.
    Exit Officer.
    My gown, George; go, my gown.
    [Exit George.]
    A happy land,
    Where grave men meet, each cause to understand,
    Whose consciences are not cut out in bribes
    To gull the poor man’s right, but in even scales
    1395Peize rich and poor, without corruption’s vails.
    [Enter George.]
    [To him] Come, where’s the gown?
    I cannot find the key, sir.
    Request it of your mistress.
    Come not to me for any key;
    I’ll not be troubled to deliver it.
    Good wife, kind wife, it is a needful trouble,
    But for my gown.
    Moths swallow down your gown!
    You set my teeth on edge with talking on’t.
    Nay, prithee, sweet, I cannot meet without it;
    1405I should have a great fine set on my head.
    Set on your coxcomb! Tush, fine me no fines.
    Believe me, sweet, none greets the Senate House
    Without his robe of reverence – that’s his gown.
    Well, then you’re like to cross that custom once.
    1410You get nor key nor gown; and so depart.
    [Aside] This trick will vex him sure, and fret his heart.
    Stay, let me see; I must have some device.
    My cloak’s too short; fie, fie, no cloak will do’t.
    It must be something fashioned like a gown,
    1415With my arms out. O George, come hither, George;
    I prithee, lend me thine advice.
    Truth, sir, were it any but you, they would break open chest.
    O, no! Break open chest? That’s a thief’s office.
    Therein you counsel me against my blood;
    1420’Twould show impatience, that. Any meek means
    I would be glad to embrace. Mass, I have got it!
    Go, step up, fetch me down one of the carpets –
    The saddest-coloured carpet, honest George.
    Cut thou a hole i’th’ middle for my neck;
    1425Two for mine arms. Nay, prithee, look not strange.
    I hope you do not think, sir, as you mean.
    Prithee, about it quickly; the hour chides me.
    Warily, George, softly; take heed of eyes.
    Exit George.
    Out of two evils, he’s accounted wise
    1430That can pick out the least. The fine imposed
    For an ungownèd senator is about
    Forty crusadoes, the carpet not ’bove four.
    Thus have I chosen the lesser evil yet,
    Preserved my patience, foiled her desperate wit.
    Enter George [with carpet].
    Here, sir, here’s the carpet.
    O, well done, George; we’ll cut it just i’th’ midst.
    [They cut one hole into the carpet for Candido’s neck, and two for his arms.]
    ’Tis very well; I thank thee. Help it on.
    It must come over your head, sir, like a wench’s petticoat.
    Thou’rt in the right, good George; it must indeed.
    1440Fetch me a nightcap, for I’ll gird it close,
    As if my health were queasy. ’Twill show well
    For a rude, careless nightgown; will’t not, thinkst?
    Indifferent well, sir, for a nightgown, being girt and pleated.
    Ay, and a nightcap on my head.
    That’s true, sir; I’ll run and fetch one, and a staff.
    Exit George.
    For thus they cannot choose but conster it:
    One that is out of health takes no delight,
    Wears his apparel without appetite,
    And puts on heedless raiment without form.
    Enter George [with nightcap and staff].
    [Candido puts on the nightcap and takes the staff.]
    So, so, kind George. Be secret now; and, prithee,
    Do not laugh at me till I’m out of sight.
    I laugh? Not I, sir.
    Now to the Senate House.
    Methinks I’d rather wear, without a frown,
    A patient carpet than an angry gown.
    Now looks my master just like one of our carpet-knights; only he’s somewhat the honester of the two.
    Enter [Viola], Candido’s Wife, [with a key].
    What, is your master gone?
    Yes, forsooth, his back is but new turned.
    And in his cloak? Did he not vex and swear?
    [Aside] No, but he’ll make you swear anon.
    [To her] No, indeed, he went away like a lamb.
    Key, sink to hell! Still patient, patient still?
    I am with child to vex him. Prithee, George,
    If e’er thou lookst for favour at my hands,
    1465Uphold one jest for me.
    Against my master?
    ’Tis a mere jest, in faith. Say, wilt thou do’t?
    Well, what is’t?
    Here, take this key. Thou knowst where all things lie.
    Put on thy master’s best apparel – gown,
    1470Chain, cap, ruff, everything. Be like himself,
    And, ’gainst his coming home, walk in the shop;
    Feign the same carriage and his patient look.
    ’Twill breed but a jest, thou knowst. Speak, wilt thou?
    ’Twill wrong my master’s patience.
    Prithee, George.
    Well, if you’ll save me harmless, and put me under covert barn, I am content to please you, provided it may breed no wrong against him.
    No wrong at all.
    [Giving him the key]
    Here, take the key; begone.
    If any vex him, this; if not this, none.