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)

    Enter Bellafront with a lute; pen, ink and paper being placed before her [on a table by Servants. She sings:]
    The courtier’s flatt’ring jewels,
    Temptation’s only fuels;
    The lawyer’s ill-got moneys,
    That suck up poor bees’ honeys;
    1575The citizen’s son’s riot;
    The gallant’s costly diet;
    Silks and velvets, pearls and ambers,
    Shall not draw me to their chambers.
    Silks and velvets, etc.
    She writes [but soon stops].
    1580O, ’tis in vain to write! It will not please.
    Ink on this paper would ha’ but presented
    The foul black spots that stick upon my soul,
    And rather made me loathsomer than wrought
    My love’s impression in Hippolito’s thought.
    1585No, I must turn the chaste leaves of my breast,
    And pick out some sweet means to breed my rest.
    Hippolito, believe me, I will be
    As true unto thy heart as thy heart to thee,
    And hate all men, their gifts, and company.
    1590Enter Mattheo, Castruccio, Fluello, and Pioratto.
    You, Goody Punk, subaudi Cockatrice! O, you’re a sweet whore of your promise, are you not, think you? How well you came to supper to us last night! Mew, a whore and break her word! Nay, you may blush and hold down your 1595head at it well enough. ’Sfoot, ask these gallants if we stayed not till we were as hungry as sergeants.
    Ay, and their yeomen too.
    Nay, faith, acquaintance, let me tell you you forgot yourself too much. We had excellent cheer, rare vintage, 1600and were drunk after supper.
    And when we were in our woodcocks, sweet rogue, a brace of gulls dwelling here in the city came in and paid all the shot.
    Pox on her! Let her alone.
    O, I pray do, if you be gentlemen;
    1605I pray depart the house. Beshrew the door
    For being so easily entreated! Faith,
    I lent but little ear unto your talk;
    My mind was busied otherwise, in troth,
    And so your words did unregarded pass.
    1610Let this suffice: I am not as I was.
    ‘I am not what I was’! No, I’ll be sworn thou art not. For thou wert honest at five, and now thou’rt a punk at fifteen; thou wert yesterday a simple whore, and now thou’rt a cunning cony-catching baggage today.
    I’ll say I’m worse; I pray forsake me then.
    I do desire you leave me, gentlemen.
    And leave yourselves. O, be not what you are,
    Spendthrifts of soul and body!
    Let me persuade you to forsake all harlots,
    1620Worse than the deadliest poisons; they are worse,
    For o’er their souls hangs an eternal curse.
    In being slaves to slaves, their labours perish;
    They’re seldom blest with fruit, for ere it blossoms
    Many a worm confounds it.
    1625They have no issue but foul ugly ones
    That run along with them e’en to their graves;
    For ’stead of children they breed rank diseases,
    And all you gallants can bestow on them
    Is that French infant which ne’er acts but speaks.
    1630What shallow son and heir, then, foolish gallant,
    Would waste all his inheritance to purchase
    A filthy, loathed disease, and pawn his body
    To a dry evil? That usury’s worst of all
    When th’interest will eat out the principal.
    [Aside] ’Sfoot, she gulls ’em the best! This is always her fashion, when she would be rid of any company that she cares not for, to enjoy mine alone.
    What’s here? Instructions, admonitions, and caveats? Come out, you scabbard of vengeance.
    [He grabs his scabbard.]
    Fluello, spurn your hounds when they fist; you shall not spurn my punk. I can tell you my blood is vexed.
    Pox o’your blood! Make it a quarrel.
    You’re a slave. Will that serve turn?
    [He draws; they fight.]
    All [but Fluello and Mattheo]
    ’Sblood, hold, hold!
    Mattheo, Fluello, for shame, put up!
    [They sheathe their swords.]
    Spurn my sweet varlet!
    O how many, thus
    Moved with a little folly, have let out
    Their souls in brothel-houses, fell down and died
    1650Just at their harlot’s foot, as ’twere in pride!
    Mattheo, we shall meet.
    Ay, ay, anywhere, saving at church; pray take heed we meet not there.
    [To Bellafront] Adieu, damnation!
    Cockatrice, farewell!
    There’s more deceit in women than in hell.
    Exeunt [Castruccio, Fluello, and Pioratto].
    Ha, ha, thou dost gull ’em so rarely, so naturally! If I did not think thou hadst been in earnest! Thou art a sweet rogue for’t, i’faith.
    Why are not you gone too, Signor Mattheo?
    I pray depart my house. You may believe me,
    In troth I have no part of harlot in me.
    How’s this?
    Indeed I love you not, but hate you worse
    1665Than any man, because you were the first
    Gave money for my soul. You brake the ice
    Which after turned a puddle; I was led
    By your temptation to be miserable.
    I pray seek out some other that will fall;
    1670Or rather, I pray, seek out none at all.
    Is’t possible to be impossible, an honest whore? I have heard many honest wenches turn strumpets with a wet finger; but for a harlot to turn honest is one of Hercules’ labours. It was more easy for him in one night to 1675make fifty queans than to make one of them honest again in fifty years. Come, I hope thou dost but jest.
    ’Tis time to leave off jesting; I had almost
    Jested away salvation. I shall love you
    If you will soon forsake me.
    God b’wi’ thee.
    O, tempt no more women! Shun their weighty curse!
    Women at best are bad; make them not worse.
    You gladly seek our sex’s overthrow,
    But not to raise our states. For all your wrongs
    1685Will you vouchsafe me but due recompense,
    To marry with me?
    How, marry with a punk, a cockatrice, a harlot? Marry faugh, I’ll be burnt through the nose first.
    Why, la, these are your oaths! You love to undo us,
    1690To put heaven from us, whilst our best hours waste;
    You love to make us lewd, but never chaste.
    I’ll hear no more of this, this ground upon:
    Thou’rt damned for alt’ring thy religion.
    Thy lust and sin speak so much. Go thou, my ruin,
    1695The first fall my soul took. By my example
    I hope few maidens now will put their heads
    Under men’s girdles. Who least trusts is most wise;
    Men’s oaths do cast a mist before our eyes.
    My best of wit be ready! Now I go
    1700By some device to greet Hippolito.