Digital Renaissance Editions

About this text

  • Title: The Honest Whore, Part 2 (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.
    Author: Thomas Dekker
    Editor: Joost Daalder
    Peer Reviewed

    The Honest Whore, Part 2 (Modern)

    Enter Lodovico, Carolo, Astolfo, [and] Beraldo.
    Godso, gentlemen, what do we forget?
    Other Gentlemen
    Are not we all enjoined as this day – Thursday, is’t not? – ay, as that day to be at the linen-draper’s house at dinner?
    Signor Candido, the patient man.
    Afore Jove, true; upon this day he’s married.
    I wonder that, being so stung with a wasp before, he dares venture again to come about the eaves amongst bees.
    O, ’tis rare sucking a sweet honey-comb. Pray heaven his old wife be buried deep enough that she rise 240not up to call for her dance. The poor fiddlers’ instruments would crack for it; she’d tickle them. At any hand, let’s try what mettle is in his new bride; if there be none, we’ll put in some. Troth, it’s a very noble citizen – I pity he should marry again. I’ll walk along, for it is a good old fellow.
    I warrant the wives of Milan would give any fellow twenty thousand ducats that could but have the face to beg of the Duke that all the citizens in Milan might be bound to the peace of patience, as the linen-draper is.
    O, fie upon’t! ’Twould undo all us that are courtiers; we should have no ho with the wenches, then.
    Enter Hippolito.
    Other Gentlemen
    My lord’s come.
    How now, what news?
    255Other Gentlemen
    Your lady is with the Duke her father.
    And we’ll to them both presently.
    Enter Orlando Frescobaldo.
    Who’s that?
    Other Gentlemen
    Signior Frescobaldo.
    Frescobaldo? O, pray call him, and leave me; we two have business.
    Ho, signor! Signor Frescobaldo! –
    The lord Hippolito.
    Exeunt [all but Hippolito and Orlando].
    My noble lord, my lord Hippolito! The Duke’s 265son! His brave daughter’s brave husband! How does your honoured lordship? Does your nobility remember so poor a gentleman as Signor Orlando Frescobaldo? Old, mad Orlando?
    O sir, our friends – they ought to be unto us as our 270jewels, as dearly valued being locked up and unseen as when we wear them in our hands. I see, Frescobaldo, age hath not command of your blood; for all Time’s sickle has gone over you, you are Orlando still.
    Why, my lord, are not the fields mown and cut 275down and stripped bare, and yet wear they not pied coats again? Though my head be like a leek, white, may not my heart be like the blade, green?
    Scarce can I read stories on your brow
    Which age hath writ there; you look youthful still.
    I eat snakes, my lord, I eat snakes. My heart shall never have a wrinkle in it so long as I can cry ‘hem’ with a clear voice.
    You are the happier man, sir.
    Happy man? I’ll give you, my lord, the true picture 285of a happy man. I was turning leaves over this morning, and found it. An excellent Italian painter drew it. If I have it in the right colours, I’ll bestow it on your lordship.
    I’ll stay for it.
    ‘He that makes gold his wife, but not his whore,
    290He that at noonday walks by a prison door,
    He that i’th’ sun is neither beam nor mote,
    He that’s not mad after a petticoat,
    He for whom poor men’s curses dig no grave,
    He that is neither lords’ nor lawyers’ slave,
    295He that makes this his sea and that his shore,
    He that in’s coffin is richer than before,
    He that counts youth his sword and age his staff,
    He whose right hand carves his own epitaph,
    He that upon his deathbed is a swan
    300And dead no crow, he is a happy man.’
    It’s very well. I thank you for this picture.
    After this picture, my lord, do I strive to have my face drawn. For I am not covetous, 305am not in debt, sit neither at the Duke’s side, nor lie at his feet. Wenching and I have done. No man I wrong; no man I fear; no man I fee. 310I take heed how far I walk, because I know yonder’s my home. I would not die like a rich man, to carry nothing away save a winding-sheet, but like a good man, to leave Orlando behind me. 315I sowed leaves in my youth, and I reap now books in my age. I fill this hand, and empty this; and when the bell shall toll for me, if I prove a swan and go singing to my nest, why, so. If a crow, throw me out for carrion and pick out mine eyes. 320May not old Frescobaldo, my lord, be merry now? Ha?
    You may. Would I were partner in your mirth.
    I have a little, have all things. I have nothing – I have no wife, I have no child, have no 325chick. And why should not I be in my jocundary?
    Is your wife, then, departed?
    She’s an old dweller in those high countries, yet not from me – [Pointing at his heart] here, she’s here – but before me; when a knave and a quean 330are married, they commonly walk like sergeants together, but a good couple are seldom parted.
    You had a daughter too, sir, had you not?
    O, my lord! This old tree had one branch, and but one branch, growing out of it. It was young, it was 335fair, it was straight. I pruned it daily, dressed it carefully, kept it from the wind, helped it to the sun. Yet, for all my skill in planting, it grew crooked; it bore crabs. I hewed it down. What’s become of it I neither know nor care.
    Then can I tell you what’s become of it:
    That branch is withered.
    So ’twas long ago.
    Her name, I think, was Bellafront. She’s dead.
    Ha? Dead?
    Yes. What of her was left, not worth the keeping,
    Even in my sight was thrown into a grave.
    Dead! My last and best peace go with her! I see Death’s a good trencher-man: he can eat coarse, homely meat as well as the daintiest.
    Why, Frescobaldo, was she homely?
    O, my lord! A strumpet is one of the devil’s vines; all the sins, like so many poles, are stuck upright out of hell to be her props, that she may spread upon them. And when she’s ripe, every slave has a pull at her; then must she 355be pressed. The young, beautiful grape sets the teeth of lust on edge; yet to taste that lickerish wine is to drink a man’s own damnation. Is she dead?
    She’s turned to earth.
    Would she were turned to heaven! Umnh, is she dead? 360I am glad the world has lost one of his idols; no whoremonger will at midnight beat at the doors. In her grave sleep all my shame and her own, and all my sorrows and all her sins.
    [He weeps.]
    I’m glad you are wax, not marble. You are made
    365Of man’s best temper. There are now good hopes
    That all those heaps of ice about your heart
    By which a father’s love was frozen up
    Are thawed in these sweet show’rs fetched from your eyes;
    370We are ne’er like angels till our passion dies.
    She is not dead, but lives under worse fate:
    I think she’s poor, and, more to clip her wings,
    Her husband at this hour lies in the jail
    For killing of a man. To save his blood,
    375Join all your force with mine. Mine shall be shown;
    The getting of his life preserves your own.
    In my daughter, you will say. Does she live, then? I am sorry I wasted tears upon a harlot. But the best is I have a handkercher to drink them up; soap can wash them 380all out again. Is she poor?
    Trust me, I think she is.
    Then she’s a right strumpet. I ne’er knew any of their trade rich two years together. Sieves can hold no 385water, nor harlots hoard up money. They have many vents, too many sluices to let it out; taverns, tailors, bawds, panders, fiddlers, swaggerers, fools, and knaves do all wait upon a common harlot’s trencher. She is the gallipot to which these drones fly – not for love to the pot, but 390for the sweet sucket within in, her money, her money.
    I almost dare pawn my word her bosom gives warmth to no such snakes. When did you see her?
    Not seventeen summers.
    Is your hate so old?
    Older. It has a white head and shall never die till she be buried; her wrongs shall be my bedfellow.
    Work yet his life, since in it lives her fame.
    No, let him hang, and half her infamy departs out 400of the world. I hate him for her; he taught her first to taste poison. I hate her for herself, because she refused my physic.
    Nay, but, Frescobaldo –
    I detest her, I defy both; she’s not mine, she’s –
    Hear her but speak.
    I love no mermaids; I’ll not be caught with a quail-pipe!
    You’re now beyond all reason.
    I am, then, a beast. Sir, I had rather be a beast and not 410dishonour my creation than be a doting father and, like Time, be the destruction of mine own brood.
    Is’t dotage to relieve your child being poor?
    Is’t fit for an old man to keep a whore?
    ’Tis charity too.
    ’Tis foolery. Relieve her!
    Were her cold limbs stretched out upon a bier
    I would not sell this dirt under my nails
    To buy her an hour’s breath, nor give this hair
    Unless it were to choke her.
    Fare you well, for I’ll trouble you no more.
    And fare you well, sir.
    Exit [Hippolito].
    Go thy ways; we have few lords of thy making, that love wenches for their honesty. – ’Las, my girl! Art thou poor? Poverty dwells next door to despair; there’s but a wall between them. Despair is 425one of hell’s catchpoles, and lest that devil arrest her I’ll to her. Yet she shall not know me. She shall drink of my wealth as beggars do of running water, freely, yet never know from what fountain’s head it flows. Shall a silly bird pick her own breast to nourish her young ones, and 430can a father see his child starve? That were hard. The pelican does it, and shall not I? Yes, I will victual the camp for her, but it shall be by some stratagem. That knave there, her husband, will be hanged, I fear. I’ll keep his neck out of the noose if I can; he shall not know how.
    435Enter two Servingmen.
    How now, knaves, whither wander you?
    1 Servingman
    To seek your worship.
    Stay, which of you has my purse? What money have you about you?
    4402 Servingman
    Some fifteen or sixteen pounds, sir.
    Give it me. I think I have some gold about me. Yes, it’s well. [Exchanging money] Leave my lodging at court, and get you home. [To 1 Servingman] Come, sir, though I never turned any man out of doors, yet I’ll be so bold as to pull your coat over your ears.
    [He pulls off 1 Servingman’s coat.]
    4451 Servingman
    What do you mean to do, sir?
    Hold thy tongue, knave; [Exchanging garments] take thou my cloak. I hope I play not the paltry merchant in this bartering. Bid the steward of my house sleep with open eyes in my absence, and to look to all things. Whatsoever I command by letters 450to be done by you, see it done. So, does it sit well?
    2 Servingman
    As if it were made for your worship.
    You proud varlets, you need not be ashamed to wear blue, when your master is one of your fellows. Away! Do not see me.
    This is excellent.
    Exeunt [Servingmen].
    I should put on a worse suit, too; perhaps I will. My vizard is on; now to this masque. [Touching his beard] Say I should shave off this honour of an old man, or tie it up shorter? Well, I will spoil a good face for once. My beard being off, how should 460I look? Even like
    A winter cuckoo, or unfeathered owl!
    Yet better lose this hair than lose her soul.