Digital Renaissance Editions

Author: Thomas Dekker
Editor: Joost Daalder
Peer Reviewed

The Honest Whore, Part 2 (Modern)

Enter the Duke, Lodovico, and Orlando [as Pacheco]; after them Infelice, Carolo, Astolfo, Beraldo, [and] Fontinell.
I beseech your Grace, though your eye be so piercing as under a poor blue coat to cull out an honest father from 2055an old servingman, yet, good my lord, discover not the plot to any but only this gentleman that is now to be an actor in our ensuing comedy.
Thou hast thy wish, Orlando. Pass unknown;
Sforza shall only go along with thee,
2060To see that warrant served upon thy son.
To attach him upon felony for two pedlars, is’t not so?
Right, my noble knight. Those pedlars were two knaves of mine; he fleeced the men before, and now he purposes to flay the master. He will rob me; his teeth water to 2065be nibbling at my gold. But this shall hang him by th’gills, till I pull him on shore.
Away; ply you the business.
Thanks to your Grace. But, my good lord, for my daughter –
You know what I have said.
And remember what I have sworn. She’s more honest, on my soul, than one of the Turk’s wenches watched by a hundred eunuchs.
So she had need, for the Turks make them whores.
He’s a Turk that makes any woman a whore; he’s no true Christian, I’m sure. I commit your Grace.
Here, sir.
[The Duke and Infelice step aside.]
Signor Frescobaldo –
Frisking again? Pacheco!
Uds-so, Pacheco! We’ll have some sport with this warrant; ’tis to apprehend all suspected persons in the house. Besides, there’s one Bots, a pander, and one Madam Horseleech, a bawd, that have abused my friend; those two 2085conies will we ferret into the purse-net.
Let me alone for dabbing them o’th’ neck. Come, come.
Do ye hear, gallants? Meet me anon at Mattheo’s.
Carolo, Astolfo, Beraldo, and Fontinell
Exeunt Lodovido and Orlando.
[Speaking aside to Infelice]
Th’old fellow sings that note thou didst before,
Only his tunes are that she is no whore,
But that she sent his letters and his gifts
Out of a noble triumph o’er his lust,
To show she trampled his assaults in dust.
’Tis a good, honest servant, that old man.
I doubt no less.
And it may be my husband,
Because when once this woman was unmasked
He levelled all her thoughts and made them fit,
2100Now he’d mar all again to try his wit.
It may be so, too, for to turn a harlot
Honest it must be by strong antidotes:
’Tis rare, as to see panthers change their spots.
And when she’s once a star fixed and shines bright,
2105Though ’twere impiety then to dim her light,
Because we see such tapers seldom burn,
Yet ’tis the pride and glory of some men
To change her to a blazing star again;
And it may be Hippolito does no more.
2110[Aloud to the Gentlemen] It cannot be but you’re acquainted all
With that same madness of our son-in-law,
That dotes so on a courtesan.
Carolo, Astolfo, Beraldo, and Fontinell
Yes, my lord.
All the city thinks he’s a whoremonger.
Yet I warrant he’ll swear no man marks him.
’Tis like so, for when a man goes a-wenching is as if he had a strong stinking breath; everyone smells him out, yet he feels it not, though it be ranker than the sweat of sixteen bearwarders.
I doubt, then, you have all those stinking breaths;
You might be all smelt out.
Troth, my lord, I think we are all as you ha’ been in your youth when you went a-maying; we all love to hear the cuckoo sing upon other men’s trees.
It’s well yet you confess.
[To Infelice] But, girl, thy bed
Shall not be parted with a courtesan. –
’Tis strange!
No frown of mine, no frown of the poor lady –
My abused child, his wife – no care of fame,
Of honour, heaven or hell, no not that name
2130Of common strumpet, can affright or woo
Him to abandon her. The harlot does undo him;
She has bewitched him, robbed him of his shape,
Turned him into a beast. His reason’s lost.
You see he looks wild, does he not?
I ha’ noted
New moons in’s face, my lord, all full of change.
He’s no more like unto Hippolito
Than dead men are to living – never sleeps,
Or if he do, it’s dreams; and in those dreams
2140His arms work, and then cries ‘Sweet –’ What’s her name?
[To Astolfo] What’s the drab’s name?
In troth, my lord, I know not;
I know no drabs, not I.
O, Bellafront!
2145And catching her fast cries ‘My Bellafront!’
A drench that’s able to kill a horse cannot kill this disease of smock-smelling, my lord, if it have once eaten deep.
I’ll try all physic, and this med’cine first:
2150I have directed warrants strong and peremptory –
To purge our city Milan, and to cure
The outward parts, the suburbs – for the attaching
Of all those women who, like gold, want weight.
Cities, like ships, should have no idle freight.
No, my lord, and light wenches are no idle freight. But what’s your Grace’s reach in this?
This, Carolo: if she whom my son dotes on
Be in that muster-book enrolled, he’ll shame
Ever t’approach one of such noted name.
But say she be not?
Yet on harlots’ heads
New laws shall fall so heavy, and such blows
Shall give to those that haunt them, that Hippolito,
If not for fear of law, for love to her,
2165If he love truly, shall her bed forbear.
Attach all the light heels i’th’ city and clap ’em up? Why, my lord, you dive into a well unsearchable. All the whores within the walls, and without the walls? I would not be he should meddle with them for ten such dukedoms; 2170the army that you speak on is able to fill all the prisons within this city, and to leave not a drinking-room in any tavern besides.
They only shall be caught that are of note;
Harlots in each street flow.
2175The fish being thus i’th’ net, ourself will sit,
And with eye most severe dispose of it. –
Come, girl.
[Exeunt Duke and Infelice.]
Arraign the poor whore!
I’ll not miss that sessions.
Nor I.
Nor I, though I hold up my hand there myself.