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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)

    [4.1]
    Enter a Servant setting out a table, on which he places a skull, a picture [of Infelice], a book, and a taper.
    Servant
    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.
    Hippolito
    Are all the windows shut?
    Servant
    Close, sir, as the fist of a courtier that hath stood in three reigns.
    Hippolito
    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.
    Servant
    If they do, my lord, I’ll pierce some of them. What will your lordship have to breakfast?
    1725Hippolito
    Sighs.
    Servant
    What to dinner?
    Hippolito
    Tears.
    Servant
    The one of them, my lord, will fill you too full of wind, the other wet you too much. What to supper?
    Hippolito
    That which now thou canst not get me, the constancy of a woman.
    1730Servant
    Indeed, that’s harder to come by than ever was Ostend.
    Hippolito
    Prithee, away.
    Servant
    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.
    Exit.
    Hippolito
    [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.
    Servant
    Here’s a person would speak with you, sir.
    Hippolito
    Ha?
    Servant
    A parson, sir, would speak with you.
    1795Hippolito
    Vicar?
    Servant
    Vicar? No, sir, h’as too good a face to be a vicar yet; a youth, a very youth.
    Hippolito
    What youth? Of man or woman? Lock the doors.
    Servant
    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.
    Hippolito
    Let him give thee his message and be gone.
    Servant
    He says he’s Signor Mattheo’s man, but I know he 1805lies.
    Hippolito
    How dost thou know it?
    Servant
    ’Cause h’as ne’er a beard. ’Tis his boy, I think, sir, whosoe’er paid for his nursing.
    Hippolito
    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?
    Bellafront
    Yes, my lord.
    Hippolito
    Art sick?
    Bellafront
    Not all in health, my lord.
    1820Hippolito
    Keep off.
    Bellafront
    I do.
    [Aside] Hard fate, when women are compelled to woo.
    Hippolito
    This paper does speak nothing.
    Bellafront
    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.
    Hippolito
    Do so; read out.
    1830Bellafront
    [Revealing herself] I am already out;
    Look on my face, and read the strangest story.
    Hippolito
    [Calling out] What, villain, ho!
    Enter his Servant.
    Servant
    Call you, my lord?
    Hippolito
    Thou slave, thou hast let in the devil.
    1835Servant
    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!
    Hippolito
    Thou hast let in a woman, in man’s shape;
    And thou art damned for’t.
    1840Servant
    Not damned, I hope, for putting in a woman to a lord.
    Hippolito
    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.
    Servant
    Alas, my lord, I shall never be able to thrust her hence 1845without help. – Come, mermaid, you must to sea again.
    Bellafront
    Hear me but speak; my words shall be all music.
    Hear me but speak!
    [Knocking within.]
    Hippolito
    [To the Servant] Another beats the door.
    T’other she-devil! Look!
    1850Servant
    Why, then hell’s broke loose.
    Hippolito
    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.
    Bellafront
    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.
    Hippolito
    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.
    Bellafront
    She’s dead, you told me. She’ll let fall her suit.
    Hippolito
    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.
    Bellafront
    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!
    Hippolito
    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?
    Servant
    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.
    Hippolito
    [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].
    Bellafront
    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.
    Exit.