Digital Renaissance Editions

Authors: Thomas Dekker, Thomas Middleton
Editor: Joost Daalder
Peer Reviewed

The Honest Whore, Part 1 (Modern)

Enter a Servant setting out a table, on which he places a skull, a picture [of Infelice], a book, and a taper.
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始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始s turned, will be naught together.
Enter Hippolito.
Are all the windows shut?
Close, sir, as the fist of a courtier that hath stood in three reigns.
Thou art a faithful servant, and observ始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始s voice pierce through that door.
If they do, my lord, I始ll pierce some of them. What will your lordship have to breakfast?
What to dinner?
The one of them, my lord, will fill you too full of wind, the other wet you too much. What to supper?
That which now thou canst not get me, the constancy of a woman.
Indeed, that始s harder to come by than ever was Ostend.
Prithee, away.
I始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.
[Taking the picture] My Infelice始s face: her brow, her eye,
The dimple on her cheek; and such sweet skill
Hath from the cunning workman始s pencil flown,
1740These lips look fresh and lively as her own,
Seeming to move and speak. 始Las, now I see
The reason why fond women love to buy
Adulterate complexion. Here 始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始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始s best pictured in a true-love始s heart.
Here art thou drawn, sweet maid, till this be dead,
So that thou liv始st twice, twice art burièd.
Thou, figure of my friend, lie there.
[Taking the skull] What始s here?
Perhaps this shrewd pate was mine enemy始s.
1760始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始er so mischievous), his Italian pills,
His quarrels, and that common fence, his law –
1765See, see, they始re all eaten out; here始s not left one.
How clean they始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始 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始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始s a fellow; that which he lays on
1785Till doomsday alters not complexion.
Death始s the best painter, then. They that draw shapes
And live by wicked faces are but God始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.
Here始s a person would speak with you, sir.
A parson, sir, would speak with you.
Vicar? No, sir, h始as too good a face to be a vicar yet; a youth, a very youth.
What youth? Of man or woman? Lock the doors.
If it be a woman, marrowbones and potato-pies keep 1800me fro始 meddling with her, for the thing has got the breeches. 始Tis a male varlet, sure, my lord, for a woman始s tailor ne始er measured him.
Let him give thee his message and be gone.
He says he始s Signor Mattheo始s man, but I know he 1805lies.
How dost thou know it?
始Cause h始as ne始er a beard. 始Tis his boy, I think, sir, whosoe始er paid for his nursing.
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始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?
Yes, my lord.
Art sick?
Not all in health, my lord.
Keep off.
I do.
[Aside] Hard fate, when women are compelled to woo.
This paper does speak nothing.
Yes, my lord,
1825Matter of life it speaks, and therefore writ
In hidden character. To me instruction
My master gives, and – 始less you please to stay
Till you both meet – I can the text display.
Do so; read out.
[Revealing herself] I am already out;
Look on my face, and read the strangest story.
[Calling out] What, villain, ho!
Enter his Servant.
Call you, my lord?
Thou slave, thou hast let in the devil.
Lord bless us, where? He始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!
Thou hast let in a woman, in man始s shape;
And thou art damned for始t.
Not damned, I hope, for putting in a woman to a lord.
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.
Alas, my lord, I shall never be able to thrust her hence 1845without help. – Come, mermaid, you must to sea again.
Hear me but speak; my words shall be all music.
Hear me but speak!
[Knocking within.]
[To the Servant] Another beats the door.
T始other she-devil! Look!
Why, then hell始s broke loose.
Hence, guard the chamber. Let no more come on;
One woman serves for man始s damnation.
Exit [Servant].
[To Bellafront] Beshrew thee, thou dost make me violate
The chastest and most sanctimonious vow
1855That e始er was entered in the court of heaven.
I was on meditation始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.
If woman were thy mother, if thy heart
Be not all marble (or if始t marble be
Let my tears soften it, to pity me),
I do beseech thee, do not thus with scorn
1865Destroy a woman.
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始s bound in heavy penalties.
She始s dead, you told me. She始ll let fall her suit.
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始 set thee in the path; is始t not a sign
1880I love thee, when with one so most, most dear
I始ll have thee fellows? All are fellows there.
Be greater than a king; save not a body,
But from eternal shipwreck keep a soul.
If not, and that again sin始s path I tread,
1885The grief be mine, the guilt fall on thy head!
Stay, and take physic for it. Read this book.
Ask counsel of this head what始s to be done;
He始ll strike it dead that 始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始s fair bride, and maidens始 souls are such;
The soul that, leaving chastity始s white shore,
1895Swims in hot sensual streams, is the devil始s whore.
Enter his Servant [with a letter].
[To him] How now? Who comes?
No more knaves, my lord, that wear smocks. Here始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] 始Slid, you are a sweet youth, to wear a codpiece and have no pins to stick upon始t.
[To the Servant] I始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].
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始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.