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 a Servant setting out a table, on which he places a skull, a picture [of Infelice], a book, and a taper.
    So. This is Monday morning, and now must I to my 1705huswifery. Would I had been created a shoemaker, for all the gentle craft are gentlemen every Monday by their copy, and scorn then to work one true stitch. My master means sure to turn me into a student, for here’s my book, here my desk, here my light, this my close chamber, and here 1710my punk. So that this dull, drowsy first day of the week makes me half a priest, half a chandler, half a painter, half a sexton, ay, and half a bawd; for all this day my office is to do nothing but keep the door. To prove it, look you, this good face and yonder gentleman, so soon as ever my 1715back’s turned, will be naught together.
    Enter Hippolito.
    Are all the windows shut?
    Close, sir, as the fist of a courtier that hath stood in three reigns.
    Thou art a faithful servant, and observ’st
    The calendar both of my solemn vows
    1720And ceremonious sorrow. Get thee gone;
    I charge thee, on thy life, let not the sound
    Of any woman’s voice pierce through that door.
    If they do, my lord, I’ll pierce some of them. What will your lordship have to breakfast?
    What to dinner?
    The one of them, my lord, will fill you too full of wind, the other wet you too much. What to supper?
    That which now thou canst not get me, the constancy of a woman.
    Indeed, that’s harder to come by than ever was Ostend.
    Prithee, away.
    I’ll make away myself presently, which few servants will do for their lords, but rather help to make 1735them away. [Aside] Now to my door-keeping; I hope to pick something out of it.
    [Taking the picture] My Infelice’s face: her brow, her eye,
    The dimple on her cheek; and such sweet skill
    Hath from the cunning workman’s pencil flown,
    1740These lips look fresh and lively as her own,
    Seeming to move and speak. ’Las, now I see
    The reason why fond women love to buy
    Adulterate complexion. Here ’tis read:
    False colours last after the true be dead.
    1745Of all the roses grafted on her cheeks,
    Of all the graces dancing in her eyes,
    Of all the music set upon her tongue,
    Of all that was past woman’s excellence
    In her white bosom – look, a painted board
    1750Circumscribes all. Earth can no bliss afford,
    Nothing of her, but this. This cannot speak;
    It has no lap for me to rest upon,
    No lip worth tasting. Here the worms will feed
    As in her coffin. Hence then, idle art!
    [He puts the picture aside.]
    1755True love’s best pictured in a true-love’s heart.
    Here art thou drawn, sweet maid, till this be dead,
    So that thou liv’st twice, twice art burièd.
    Thou, figure of my friend, lie there.
    [Taking the skull] What’s here?
    Perhaps this shrewd pate was mine enemy’s.
    1760’Las, say it were; I need not fear him now!
    For all his braves, his contumelious breath,
    His frowns (though dagger-pointed), all his plots
    (Though ne’er so mischievous), his Italian pills,
    His quarrels, and that common fence, his law –
    1765See, see, they’re all eaten out; here’s not left one.
    How clean they’re picked away, to the bare bone!
    How mad are mortals, then, to rear great names
    On tops of swelling houses! Or to wear out
    Their fingers’ ends in dirt, to scrape up gold!
    1770Not caring – so that sumpter-horse, the back,
    Be hung with gaudy trappings – with what coarse,
    Yea, rags most beggarly, they clothe the soul;
    Yet, after all, their gayness looks thus foul.
    What fools are men to build a garish tomb,
    1775Only to save the carcass whilst it rots,
    To maintain’t long in stinking, make good carrion,
    But leave no good deeds to preserve them sound!
    For good deeds keep men sweet long above ground.
    And must all come to this? Fools, wise, all hither?
    1780Must all heads thus at last be laid together?
    Draw me my picture then, thou grave, neat workman,
    After this fashion – not like this [Indicating the picture]; these colours
    In time, kissing but air, will be kissed off.
    But here’s a fellow; that which he lays on
    1785Till doomsday alters not complexion.
    Death’s the best painter, then. They that draw shapes
    And live by wicked faces are but God’s apes;
    They come but near the life, and there they stay.
    This fellow draws life too. His art is fuller;
    1790The pictures which he makes are without colour.
    Enter his Servant.
    Here’s a person would speak with you, sir.
    A parson, sir, would speak with you.
    Vicar? No, sir, h’as too good a face to be a vicar yet; a youth, a very youth.
    What youth? Of man or woman? Lock the doors.
    If it be a woman, marrowbones and potato-pies keep 1800me fro’ meddling with her, for the thing has got the breeches. ’Tis a male varlet, sure, my lord, for a woman’s tailor ne’er measured him.
    Let him give thee his message and be gone.
    He says he’s Signor Mattheo’s man, but I know he 1805lies.
    How dost thou know it?
    ’Cause h’as ne’er a beard. ’Tis his boy, I think, sir, whosoe’er paid for his nursing.
    Send him, and keep the door.
    [Exit Servant.]
    Reads [aloud from his book]:
    1810Fata si liceat mihi
    Fingere arbitrio meo,
    Temperem Zephyro levi
    Vela –
    I’d sail, were I to choose, not in the ocean;
    Cedars are shaken, when shrubs do feel no bruise –
    1815Enter Bellafront, like a page, [and gives him a letter].
    [To her] How? From Mattheo?
    Yes, my lord.
    Art sick?
    Not all in health, my lord.
    Keep off.
    I do.
    [Aside] Hard fate, when women are compelled to woo.
    This paper does speak nothing.
    Yes, my lord,
    1825Matter of life it speaks, and therefore writ
    In hidden character. To me instruction
    My master gives, and – ’less you please to stay
    Till you both meet – I can the text display.
    Do so; read out.
    [Revealing herself] I am already out;
    Look on my face, and read the strangest story.
    [Calling out] What, villain, ho!
    Enter his Servant.
    Call you, my lord?
    Thou slave, thou hast let in the devil.
    Lord bless us, where? He’s not cloven, my lord, that I can see. Besides, the devil goes more like a gentleman than a page. Good my lord, buon coraggio!
    Thou hast let in a woman, in man’s shape;
    And thou art damned for’t.
    Not damned, I hope, for putting in a woman to a lord.
    Fetch me my rapier! – Do not: I shall kill thee.
    Purge this infected chamber of that plague
    That runs upon me thus; slave, thrust her hence.
    Alas, my lord, I shall never be able to thrust her hence 1845without help. – Come, mermaid, you must to sea again.
    Hear me but speak; my words shall be all music.
    Hear me but speak!
    [Knocking within.]
    [To the Servant] Another beats the door.
    T’other she-devil! Look!
    Why, then hell’s broke loose.
    Hence, guard the chamber. Let no more come on;
    One woman serves for man’s damnation.
    Exit [Servant].
    [To Bellafront] Beshrew thee, thou dost make me violate
    The chastest and most sanctimonious vow
    1855That e’er was entered in the court of heaven.
    I was on meditation’s spotless wings
    Upon my journey thither. Like a storm
    Thou beatst my ripened cogitations
    Flat to the ground, and like a thief dost stand
    1860To steal devotion from the holy land.
    If woman were thy mother, if thy heart
    Be not all marble (or if’t marble be
    Let my tears soften it, to pity me),
    I do beseech thee, do not thus with scorn
    1865Destroy a woman.
    Woman, I beseech thee,
    Get thee some other suit; this fits thee not.
    I would not grant it to a kneeling queen;
    I cannot love thee, nor I must not. [Indicating the picture] See
    1870The copy of that obligation
    Where my soul’s bound in heavy penalties.
    She’s dead, you told me. She’ll let fall her suit.
    My vows to her fled after her to heaven.
    Were thine eyes clear as mine, thou mightst behold her,
    1875Watching upon yon battlements of stars,
    How I observe them. Should I break my bond,
    This board would rive in twain, these wooden lips
    Call me most perjured villain. Let it suffice
    I ha’ set thee in the path; is’t not a sign
    1880I love thee, when with one so most, most dear
    I’ll have thee fellows? All are fellows there.
    Be greater than a king; save not a body,
    But from eternal shipwreck keep a soul.
    If not, and that again sin’s path I tread,
    1885The grief be mine, the guilt fall on thy head!
    Stay, and take physic for it. Read this book.
    Ask counsel of this head what’s to be done;
    He’ll strike it dead that ’tis damnation
    If you turn Turk again. O do it not!
    1890Though heaven cannot allure you to do well,
    From doing ill let hell fright you. And learn this:
    The soul whose bosom lust did never touch
    Is God’s fair bride, and maidens’ souls are such;
    The soul that, leaving chastity’s white shore,
    1895Swims in hot sensual streams, is the devil’s whore.
    Enter his Servant [with a letter].
    [To him] How now? Who comes?
    No more knaves, my lord, that wear smocks. Here’s a letter from Doctor Benedict. I would not enter his man, though he had hairs at his mouth, for fear he should be a woman, for 1900some women have beards; marry, they are half-witches. [To Bellafront] ’Slid, you are a sweet youth, to wear a codpiece and have no pins to stick upon’t.
    [To the Servant] I’ll meet the doctor, tell him. Yet tonight
    I cannot; but at morrow rising sun
    1905I will not fail. Go. – Woman, fare thee well.
    Exeunt [Hippolito and Servant, severally].
    The lowest fall can be but into hell.
    It does not move him. I must therefore fly
    From this undoing city, and with tears
    Wash off all anger from my father’s brow.
    1910He cannot sure but joy, seeing me new born.
    A woman honest first and then turn whore
    Is, as with me, common to thousands more;
    But from a strumpet to turn chaste, that sound
    Has oft been heard, that woman hardly found.