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  • 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)

    1612.1[4.1]
    Enter Mattheo, brave, and Bellafront.
    Mattheo
    How am I suited, Front? Am I not gallant, ha?
    1615Bellafront
    Yes, sir, you are suited well.
    Mattheo
    Exceeding, passing well, and to the time.
    Bellafront
    The tailor has played his part with you.
    Mattheo
    And I have played a gentleman’s part with my tailor, for I owe him for the making of it.
    1620Bellafront
    And why did you so, sir?
    Mattheo
    To keep the fashion. It’s your only fashion now of your best rank of gallants to make their tailors wait for their money. Neither were it wisdom, indeed, to pay them upon the first edition of a new suit, for commonly 1625the suit is owing for when the linings are worn out, and there’s no reason then that the tailor should be paid before the mercer.
    Bellafront
    Is this the suit the knight bestowed upon you?
    Mattheo
    This is the suit, and I need not shame to wear it, 1630for better men than I would be glad to have suits bestowed on them. It’s a generous fellow, but – pox on him – we whose pericranions are the very limbecks and stillatories of good wit, and fly high, must drive liquor out of stale gaping oysters. Shallow knight, poor squire Tinacceo! I’ll 1635make a wild Cathaian of forty such. Hang him, he’s an ass – he’s always sober.
    Bellafront
    This is your fault, to wound your friends still.
    Mattheo
    No, faith, Front; Lodovico is a noble Slavonian. It’s more rare to see him in a woman’s company than for a 1640Spaniard to go into England and to challenge the English fencers there. [Knocking within.] One knocks – see.
    [Exit Bellafront.]
    [Sings.] La, fa, sol, la, fa, la.Rustle in silks and satins! There’s music in this, and a taffeta petticoat; it makes both fly high. Catso!
    Enter Bellafront; after her Orlando, like himself, with 1645four Men after him.
    Bellafront
    Mattheo, ’tis my father!
    Mattheo
    Ha? Father? It’s no matter; he finds no tattered prodigals here.
    Orlando
    [To the Men] Is not the door good enough to hold your blue 1650coats? Away, knaves!
    [Exeunt four Men.]
    Wear not your clothes threadbare at knees for me; beg heaven’s blessing, not mine. [To Mattheo] O, cry your worship mercy, sir! Was somewhat bold to talk to this gentlewoman your wife here.
    Mattheo
    [Baring his head] A poor gentlewoman, sir.
    1655Orlando
    Stand not, sir, bare to me. I ha’ read oft
    That serpents who creep low belch ranker poison
    Than wingèd dragons do that fly aloft.
    Mattheo
    If it offend you, sir, ’tis for my pleasure.
    Orlando
    Your pleasure be’t, sir. [To both] Umh, is this your palace?
    1660Bellafront
    Yes, and our kingdom, for ’tis our content.
    Orlando
    It’s a very poor kingdom, then. What, are all your subjects gone a-sheepshearing? Not a maid? Not a man? Not so much as a cat? You keep a good house, belike, just like one of your profession: every room with bare walls, 1665and a half-headed bed to vault upon, as all your bawdy-houses are. Pray, who are your upholsters? O, the spiders, I see; they bestow hangings upon you.
    Mattheo
    Bawdy-house? Zounds, sir –
    Bellafront
    O sweet Mattheo, peace.
    [To Orlando, kneeling]
    Upon my knees
    1670I do beseech you, sir, not to arraign me
    For sins which heaven, I hope, long since hath pardoned.
    Those flames, like lightning flashes, are so spent
    The heat no more remains than, where ships went
    Or where birds cut the air, the print remains.
    1675Mattheo
    Pox on him! Kneel to a dog?
    Bellafront
    She that’s a whore
    Lives gallant, fares well, is not, like me, poor.
    I ha’ now as small acquaintance with that sin
    As if I had never known it, that never been.
    1680Orlando
    No acquaintance with it? What maintains thee, then? How dost live, then? Has thy husband any lands, any rents coming in, any stock going, any ploughs jogging, any ships sailing? Hast thou any wares to turn, so much as to get a single penny by?
    Yes, thou hast ware to sell;
    1685Knaves are thy chapmen, and thy shop is hell.
    Mattheo
    Do you hear, sir? –
    Orlando
    So, sir, I do hear, sir, more of you than you dream I do.
    Mattheo
    You fly a little too high, sir.
    Orlando
    Why, sir, too high?
    1690Mattheo
    I ha’ suffered your tongue, like a barred cater-trey, to run all this while, and ha’ not stopped it.
    Orlando
    Well, sir, you talk like a gamester.
    Mattheo
    If you come to bark at her because she’s a poor rogue, look you, here’s a fine path, sir, and there, there, the 1695door.
    Bellafront
    Mattheo!
    Mattheo
    Your blue-coats stay for you, sir. I love a good honest roaring boy, and so –
    Orlando
    That’s the devil.
    1700Mattheo
    Sir, sir, I’ll ha’ no Joves in my house to thunder avaunt. She shall live and be maintained when you, like a keg of musty sturgeon, shall stink. Where? In your coffin. How? Be a musty fellow, and lousy.
    Orlando
    I know she shall be maintained, but how? She’s like a 1705quean, thou like a knave. She like a whore, thou like a thief.
    Mattheo
    Thief? Zounds! Thief?
    Bellafront
    Good, dearest Mat! – Father!
    Mattheo
    Pox on you both! I’ll not be braved. New satin 1710scorns to be put down with bare bawdy velvet. Thief!
    Orlando
    Ay, thief. Thou’rt a murderer, a cheater, a whoremonger, a pot-hunter, a borrower, a beggar –
    Bellafront
    Dear father –
    Mattheo
    An old ass, a dog, a churl, a chuff, an usurer, a 1715villain, a moth, a mangy mule with an old velvet foot-cloth on his back, sir.
    Bellafront
    O me!
    Orlando
    Varlet, for this I’ll hang thee.
    Mattheo
    Ha, ha! Alas!
    1720Orlando
    Thou keepst a man of mine here, under my nose.
    Mattheo
    Under thy beard.
    Orlando
    As arrant a smell-smock, for an old mutton-monger, as thyself.
    Mattheo
    No, as yourself.
    1725Orlando
    As arrant a purse-taker as ever cried ‘Stand!’, yet a good fellow, I confess, and valiant. But he’ll bring thee to th’gallows; you both have robbed of late two poor country pedlars.
    Mattheo
    How’s this? How’s this? Dost thou fly high? Rob 1730pedlars? – Bear witness, Front! – Rob pedlars? My man and I a thief?
    Bellafront
    [To Orlando] O sir, no more!
    Orlando
    Ay, knave, two pedlars. Hue and cry is up, warrants are out, and I shall see thee climb a ladder.
    1735Mattheo
    And come down again as well as a bricklayer or a tiler. [Aside] How the vengeance knows he this? [Aloud] If I be hanged, I’ll tell the people I married old Frescobaldo’s daughter. I’ll frisco you, and your old carcass.
    Orlando
    Tell what thou canst. If I stay here longer I shall be 1740hanged too, for being in thy company. [To both] Therefore, as I found you I leave you –
    Mattheo
    [Aside to Bellafront] Kneel, and get money of him.
    Orlando
    A knave and a quean, a thief and a strumpet, a couple of beggars, a brace of baggages.
    1745Mattheo
    [Aside to Bellafront] Hang upon him. [Aloud] Ay, ay, sir, fare you well. We are so. [Aside to Bellafront] Follow close. [Aloud] We are beggars – [Aside] in satin. [Aside to Bellafront] To him!
    Bellafront
    [To Orlando, hanging upon him]
    Is this your comfort, when so many years
    You ha’ left me frozen to death?
    Orlando
    Freeze still, starve still!
    1750Bellafront
    Yes, so I shall. I must. I must and will.
    If, as you say, I’m poor, relieve me then;
    Let me not sell my body to base men.
    You call me strumpet. Heaven knows I am none;
    Your cruelty may drive me to be one.
    1755Let not that sin be yours, let not the shame
    Of ‘common whore’ live longer than my name.
    That cunning bawd, Necessity, night and day
    Plots to undo me; drive that hag away,
    Lest being at lowest ebb, as now I am,
    1760I sink for ever.
    Orlando
    Lowest ebb? What ebb?
    Bellafront
    So poor that, though to tell it be my shame,
    I am not worth a dish to hold my meat.
    I am yet poorer: I want bread to eat.
    1765Orlando
    It’s not seen by your cheeks.
    Mattheo
    [Aside] I think she has read an homily to tickle to the old
    rogue.
    Orlando
    Want bread? There’s satin; bake that.
    Mattheo
    ’Sblood, make pasties of my clothes?
    1770Orlando
    A fair new cloak, stew that; an excellent gilt rapier –
    Mattheo
    Will you eat that, sir?
    Orlando
    I could feast ten good fellows with those hangers.
    Mattheo
    The pox, you shall!
    1775Orlando
    [To Bellafront] I shall not, till thou begst, think thou art poor;
    And when thou begst I’ll feed thee at my door,
    As I feed dogs, with bones. Till then beg, borrow,
    Pawn, steal, and hang. Turn bawd, when thou’rt no whore.
    [Aside] My heart-strings sure 1780would crack, were they strained more.
    Exit.
    Mattheo
    This is your father, your damned – confusion light upon all the generation of you! He can come bragging hither with four white herrings at’s tail in blue coats without roes in their bellies, but I may starve ere he 1785give me so much as a cob.
    Bellafront
    What tell you me of this? Alas!
    Mattheo
    Go, trot after your dad. Do you capitulate; I’ll pawn not for you, I’ll not steal to be hanged for such an hypocritical, close, common harlot. Away, you dog! 1790Brave, i’faith! Ud’s foot, give me some meat.
    Bellafront
    Yes, sir.
    Exit.
    Mattheo
    Goodman Slave, my man, too, is galloped to the devil o’the tother side. Pacheco, I’ll ‘checo’ you. – Is this your dad’s day? England, they say, is the only hell for horses, and 1795only paradise for women. Pray, get you to that paradise, because you’re called an Honest Whore. There, they live none but honest whores – with a pox. Marry, here in our city, all your sex are but foot-cloth nags; the master no sooner lights but the man leaps into the saddle.
    1800Enter Bellafront [with meat and wine].
    Bellafront
    Will you sit down, I pray, sir?
    Mattheo
    [Sits down on a stool and eats]
    I could tear, by th’Lord, his flesh, and eat his midriff in salt, as I eat this. [To her] Must I choke? – My father Frescobaldo! I shall make a pitiful hog-louse of you, 1805Orlando, if you fall once into my fingers. – Here’s the savourest meat; I ha’ got a stomach with chafing. What rogue should tell him of those two pedlars? A plague choke him, and gnaw him to the bare bones! Come, fill.
    [She fills up his glass.]
    Bellafront
    Thou sweatst with very anger. Good sweet, vex not; 1810’Las, ’tis no fault of mine.
    Mattheo
    Where didst buy this mutton? I never felt better ribs.
    Bellafront
    A neighbour sent it me.
    Enter Orlando [as Pacheco].
    1815Mattheo
    Ha, neighbour? Faugh! My mouth stinks. You whore, do you beg victuals for me? Is this satin doublet to be bombasted with broken meat?
    [He] takes up the stool.
    Orlando
    What will you do, sir?
    Mattheo
    Beat out the brains of a beggarly –
    1820Orlando
    Beat out an ass’s head of your own. – Away, mistress!
    Exit Bellafront.
    Zounds, do but touch one hair of her, and I’ll so quilt your cap with old iron that your coxcomb shall ache the worse these seven years for’t. Does she look like a roasted rabbit, that you must have the head for the brains?
    1825Mattheo
    Ha, ha! Go out of my doors, you rogue. Away, four marks; trudge.
    Orlando
    Four marks? No, sir! My twenty pound that you ha’ made fly high, and I am gone.
    Mattheo
    Must I be fed with chippings? You’re best get a 1830clapdish, and say you’re proctor to some spital-house. – Where hast thou been, Pacheco? Come hither, my little turkey-cock.
    Orlando
    I cannot abide, sir, to see a woman wronged, not I.
    Mattheo
    Sirrah, here was my father-in-law today.
    1835Orlando
    Pish, then you’re full of crowns.
    Mattheo
    Hang him! He would ha’ thrust crowns upon me to have fallen in again, but I scorn cast clothes, or any man’s gold.
    Orlando
    [Aside] But mine. [Aloud] How did he brook that, sir?
    1840Mattheo
    O, swore like a dozen of drunken tinkers. At last, growing foul in words, he and four of his men drew upon me, sir.
    Orlando
    In your house? Would I had been by.
    Mattheo
    I made no more ado, but fell to my old lock, and 1845so thrashed my blue-coats, and old crab-tree-face my father-in-law; and then walked like a lion in my grate.
    Orlando
    O noble master!
    Mattheo
    Sirrah, he could tell me of the robbing the two pedlars, and that warrants are out for us both.
    1850Orlando
    Good sir, I like not those crackers.
    Mattheo
    Crackhalter, wu’t set thy foot to mine?
    Orlando
    How, sir? At drinking?
    Mattheo
    We’ll pull that old crow my father, rob thy master. I know the house, thou the servants. The purchase is 1855rich; the plot to get it easy; the dog will not part from a bone.
    Orlando
    Pluck’t out of his throat, then. I’ll snarl for one, if this [Indicating his sword] can bite.
    Mattheo
    Say no more, say no more, old cole. Meet me anon at 1860the sign of the Shipwreck.
    Orlando
    Yes, sir.
    Mattheo
    And dost hear, man? The Shipwreck.
    Exit.
    Orlando
    Thou’rt at the shipwreck now, and like a swimmer
    Bold but unexpert with those waves dost play
    1865Whose dalliance, whorelike, is to cast thee away.
    Enter Hippolito and Bellafront.
    [Aside] And here’s another vessel, better fraught,
    But as ill-manned. Her sinking will be wrought
    If rescue come not. Like a man-of-war
    1870I’ll therefore bravely out. Somewhat I’ll do,
    And either save them both or perish too.
    Exit.
    Hippolito
    It is my fate to be bewitchèd by those eyes.
    Bellafront
    Fate? Your folly.
    Why should my face thus mad you? ’Las, those colours
    1875Are wound up long ago which beauty spread;
    The flow’rs that once grew here are witherèd,
    You turned my black soul white, made it look new;
    And, should I sin, it ne’er should be with you.
    Hippolito
    Your hand; I’ll offer you fair play. When first
    1880We met i’th’ lists together, you remember,
    You were a common rebel. With one parley
    I won you to come in.
    Bellafront
    You did.
    Hippolito
    I’ll try
    1885If now I can beat down this chastity
    With the same ordnance. Will you yield this fort
    If with the power of argument now, as then,
    I get of you the conquest? As before
    I turned you honest, now to turn you whore,
    1890By force of strong persuasion?
    Bellafront
    If you can,
    I yield.
    Hippolito
    The alarm’s struck up; I’m your man.
    Bellafront
    A woman gives defiance.
    1895Hippolito
    Sit.
    Bellafront
    Begin.
    ’Tis a brave battle to encounter sin.
    Hippolito
    You men that are to fight in the same war
    To which I’m pressed, and plead at the same bar
    1900To win a woman, if you would have me speed,
    Send all your wishes.
    Bellafront
    No doubt you’re heard. Proceed.
    Hippolito
    To be a harlot, that you stand upon,
    The very name’s a charm to make you one.
    1905Harlot was a dame of so divine
    And ravishing touch that she was concubine
    To an English king. Her sweet bewitching eye
    Did the king’s heart-strings in such love-knots tie
    That even the coyest was proud when she could hear
    1910Men say ‘Behold, another Harlot there’;
    And after her all women that were fair
    Were Harlots called, as to this day some are.
    Besides, her dalliance she so well does mix
    That she’s in Latin called the meretrix.
    1915Thus for the name. For the profession, this:
    Who lives in bondage, lives laced. The chief bliss
    This world below can yield is liberty,
    And who than whores with looser wings dare fly?
    As Juno’s proud bird spreads the fairest tail,
    1920So does a strumpet hoist the loftiest sail.
    She’s no man’s slave; men are her slaves. Her eye
    Moves not on wheels screwed up with jealousy.
    She, horsed or coached, does merry journeys make,
    Free as the sun in his gilt zodiac;
    1925As bravely does she shine, as fast she’s driven,
    But stays not long in any house of heaven,
    But shifts from sign to sign, her amorous prizes
    More rich being when she’s down than when she rises.
    In brief, gentlemen haunt them, soldiers fight for them;
    1930Few men but know them, few or none abhor them.
    Thus for sport’s sake speak I as to a woman
    Whom, as the worst ground, I would turn to common;
    But you I would enclose for mine own bed.
    Bellafront
    So should a husband be dishonourèd.
    1935Hippolito
    Dishonoured? Not a whit. To fall to one,
    Besides your husband, is to fall to none,
    For one no number is.
    Bellafront
    Faith, should you take
    One in your bed, would you that reckoning make?
    1940’Tis time you sound retreat.
    Hippolito
    Say, have I won?
    Is the day ours?
    Bellafront
    The battle’s but half done.
    None but yourself have yet sounded alarms;
    1945Let us strike too, else you dishonour arms.
    Hippolito
    If you can win the day, the glory’s yours.
    Bellafront
    To prove a woman should not be a whore,
    When she was made she had one man and no more.
    1950Yet she was tied to laws then, for even then,
    ’Tis said, she was not made for men, but man.
    Anon, t’increase earth’s brood, the law was varied:
    Men should take many wives; and though they married
    According to that act, yet ’tis not known
    1955But that those wives were only tied to one.
    New parliaments were since; for now one woman
    Is shared between three hundred. Nay, she’s common,
    Common as spotted leopards, whom for sport
    Men hunt to get the flesh, but care not for’t.
    1960So spread they nets of gold, and tune their calls,
    To enchant silly women to take falls,
    Swearing they are angels, which that they may win
    They’ll hire the devil to come with false dice in.
    O Sirens’ subtle tunes! Yourselves you flatter
    1965And our weak sex betray. So men love water;
    It serves to wash their hands, but being once foul
    The water down is poured, cast out of doors.
    And even of such base use do men make whores.
    A harlot, like a hen, more sweetness reaps
    1970To pick men one by one up than in heaps;
    Yet all feeds but confounding. Say you should taste me:
    I serve but for the time, and when the day
    Of war is done, am cashiered out of pay.
    If like lame soldiers I could beg, that’s all,
    1975And there’s lust’s rendezvous – an hospital.
    Who then would be a man’s slave, a man’s woman?
    She’s half starved the first day that feeds in common.
    Hippolito
    You should not feed so, but with me alone.
    Bellafront
    If I drink poison by stealth, is’t not all one?
    1980Is’t not rank poison still? With you alone!
    Nay, say you spied a courtesan whose soft side
    To touch you’d sell your birthright, for one kiss
    Be racked. She’s won, you’re sated. What follows this?
    O, then you curse that bawd that tolled you in,
    1985The night; you curse your lust, you loathe the sin,
    You loathe her very sight; and ere the day
    Arise you rise, glad when you’re stol’n away.
    Even then when you are drunk with all her sweets
    There’s no true pleasure in a strumpet’s sheets.
    1990Women whom lust so prostitutes to sale,
    Like dancers upon ropes, once seen, are stale.
    Hippolito
    If all the threads of harlots’ lives are spun
    So coarse as you would make them, tell me why
    You so long loved the trade.
    1995Bellafront
    If all the threads
    Of harlots’ lives be fine as you would make them,
    Why do not you persuade your wife turn whore,
    And all dames else to fall before that sin?
    Like an ill husband, though I knew the same
    2000To be my undoing, followed I that game.
    O, when the work of lust had earned my bread,
    To taste it how I trembled, lest each bit
    Ere it went down should choke me chewing it!
    My bed seemed like a cabin hung in hell,
    2005The bawd hell’s porter, and the lickerish wine
    The pander fetched was like an easy fine,
    For which, methought, I leased away my soul;
    And oftentimes, even in my quaffing bowl,
    Thus said I to myself: ‘I am a whore,
    2010And have drunk down thus much confusion more.’
    Hippolito
    It is a common rule, and ’tis most true,
    Two of one trade never love; no more do you.
    Why are you sharp ’gainst that you once professed?
    Bellafront
    Why dote you on that which you did once detest?
    2015I cannot, seeing she’s woven of such bad stuff,
    Set colours on a harlot base enough.
    Nothing did make me, when I loved them best,
    To loathe them more than this: when in the street
    A fair young modest damsel I did meet,
    2020She seemed to all a dove when I passed by,
    And I to all a raven. Every eye
    That followed her went with a bashful glance;
    At me each bold and jeering countenance
    Darted forth scorn. To her as if she had been
    2025Some tower unvanquished would they vail;
    ’Gainst me swol’n rumour hoisted every sail.
    She, crowned with reverend praises, passed by them;
    I, though with face masked, could not ’scape the ‘hem’.
    For – as if heaven had set strange marks on whores
    2030Because they should be pointing-stocks to men –
    Dress up in civilest shape a courtesan,
    Let her walk saint-like, noteless, and unknown,
    Yet she’s betrayed by some trick of her own.
    Were harlots therefore wise, they’d be sold dear,
    2035For men account them good but for one year,
    And then like almanacs whose dates are gone
    They are thrown by and no more looked upon.
    Who’ll therefore backward fall, who will launch forth
    In seas so foul, for ventures no more worth?
    2040Lust’s voyage hath, if not this course, this cross:
    Buy ne’er so cheap, your ware comes home with loss.
    What, shall I sound retreat? The battle’s done;
    Let the world judge which of us two have won.
    Hippolito
    I!
    2045Bellafront
    You? Nay, then, as cowards do in fight,
    What by blows cannot, shall be saved by flight.
    Exit.
    Hippolito
    Fly to earth’s fixèd centre, to the caves
    Of everlasting horror, I’ll pursue thee,
    Though loaden with sins, even to hell’s brazen doors.
    2050Thus wisest men turn fools, doting on whores.
    Exit.