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 Bellafront with a lute; pen, ink and paper being placed before her [on a table by Servants. She sings:]
    The courtier始s flatt始ring jewels,
    Temptation始s only fuels;
    The lawyer始s ill-got moneys,
    That suck up poor bees始 honeys;
    1575The citizen始s son始s riot;
    The gallant始s costly diet;
    Silks and velvets, pearls and ambers,
    Shall not draw me to their chambers.
    Silks and velvets, etc.
    She writes [but soon stops].
    1580O, 始tis in vain to write! It will not please.
    Ink on this paper would ha始 but presented
    The foul black spots that stick upon my soul,
    And rather made me loathsomer than wrought
    My love始s impression in Hippolito始s thought.
    1585No, I must turn the chaste leaves of my breast,
    And pick out some sweet means to breed my rest.
    Hippolito, believe me, I will be
    As true unto thy heart as thy heart to thee,
    And hate all men, their gifts, and company.
    1590Enter Mattheo, Castruccio, Fluello, and Pioratto.
    You, Goody Punk, subaudi Cockatrice! O, you始re a sweet whore of your promise, are you not, think you? How well you came to supper to us last night! Mew, a whore and break her word! Nay, you may blush and hold down your 1595head at it well enough. 始Sfoot, ask these gallants if we stayed not till we were as hungry as sergeants.
    Ay, and their yeomen too.
    Nay, faith, acquaintance, let me tell you you forgot yourself too much. We had excellent cheer, rare vintage, 1600and were drunk after supper.
    And when we were in our woodcocks, sweet rogue, a brace of gulls dwelling here in the city came in and paid all the shot.
    Pox on her! Let her alone.
    O, I pray do, if you be gentlemen;
    1605I pray depart the house. Beshrew the door
    For being so easily entreated! Faith,
    I lent but little ear unto your talk;
    My mind was busied otherwise, in troth,
    And so your words did unregarded pass.
    1610Let this suffice: I am not as I was.
    ‘I am not what I was始! No, I始ll be sworn thou art not. For thou wert honest at five, and now thou始rt a punk at fifteen; thou wert yesterday a simple whore, and now thou始rt a cunning cony-catching baggage today.
    I始ll say I始m worse; I pray forsake me then.
    I do desire you leave me, gentlemen.
    And leave yourselves. O, be not what you are,
    Spendthrifts of soul and body!
    Let me persuade you to forsake all harlots,
    1620Worse than the deadliest poisons; they are worse,
    For o始er their souls hangs an eternal curse.
    In being slaves to slaves, their labours perish;
    They始re seldom blest with fruit, for ere it blossoms
    Many a worm confounds it.
    1625They have no issue but foul ugly ones
    That run along with them e始en to their graves;
    For 始stead of children they breed rank diseases,
    And all you gallants can bestow on them
    Is that French infant which ne始er acts but speaks.
    1630What shallow son and heir, then, foolish gallant,
    Would waste all his inheritance to purchase
    A filthy, loathed disease, and pawn his body
    To a dry evil? That usury始s worst of all
    When th始interest will eat out the principal.
    [Aside] 始Sfoot, she gulls 始em the best! This is always her fashion, when she would be rid of any company that she cares not for, to enjoy mine alone.
    What始s here? Instructions, admonitions, and caveats? Come out, you scabbard of vengeance.
    [He grabs his scabbard.]
    Fluello, spurn your hounds when they fist; you shall not spurn my punk. I can tell you my blood is vexed.
    Pox o始your blood! Make it a quarrel.
    You始re a slave. Will that serve turn?
    [He draws; they fight.]
    All [but Fluello and Mattheo]
    始Sblood, hold, hold!
    Mattheo, Fluello, for shame, put up!
    [They sheathe their swords.]
    Spurn my sweet varlet!
    O how many, thus
    Moved with a little folly, have let out
    Their souls in brothel-houses, fell down and died
    1650Just at their harlot始s foot, as 始twere in pride!
    Mattheo, we shall meet.
    Ay, ay, anywhere, saving at church; pray take heed we meet not there.
    [To Bellafront] Adieu, damnation!
    Cockatrice, farewell!
    There始s more deceit in women than in hell.
    Exeunt [Castruccio, Fluello, and Pioratto].
    Ha, ha, thou dost gull 始em so rarely, so naturally! If I did not think thou hadst been in earnest! Thou art a sweet rogue for始t, i始faith.
    Why are not you gone too, Signor Mattheo?
    I pray depart my house. You may believe me,
    In troth I have no part of harlot in me.
    How始s this?
    Indeed I love you not, but hate you worse
    1665Than any man, because you were the first
    Gave money for my soul. You brake the ice
    Which after turned a puddle; I was led
    By your temptation to be miserable.
    I pray seek out some other that will fall;
    1670Or rather, I pray, seek out none at all.
    Is始t possible to be impossible, an honest whore? I have heard many honest wenches turn strumpets with a wet finger; but for a harlot to turn honest is one of Hercules始 labours. It was more easy for him in one night to 1675make fifty queans than to make one of them honest again in fifty years. Come, I hope thou dost but jest.
    始Tis time to leave off jesting; I had almost
    Jested away salvation. I shall love you
    If you will soon forsake me.
    God b始wi始 thee.
    O, tempt no more women! Shun their weighty curse!
    Women at best are bad; make them not worse.
    You gladly seek our sex始s overthrow,
    But not to raise our states. For all your wrongs
    1685Will you vouchsafe me but due recompense,
    To marry with me?
    How, marry with a punk, a cockatrice, a harlot? Marry faugh, I始ll be burnt through the nose first.
    Why, la, these are your oaths! You love to undo us,
    1690To put heaven from us, whilst our best hours waste;
    You love to make us lewd, but never chaste.
    I始ll hear no more of this, this ground upon:
    Thou始rt damned for alt始ring thy religion.
    Thy lust and sin speak so much. Go thou, my ruin,
    1695The first fall my soul took. By my example
    I hope few maidens now will put their heads
    Under men始s girdles. Who least trusts is most wise;
    Men始s oaths do cast a mist before our eyes.
    My best of wit be ready! Now I go
    1700By some device to greet Hippolito.