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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)

    Enter Mattheo, brave, and Bellafront.
    How am I suited, Front? Am I not gallant, ha?
    Yes, sir, you are suited well.
    Exceeding, passing well, and to the time.
    The tailor has played his part with you.
    And I have played a gentleman始s part with my tailor, for I owe him for the making of it.
    And why did you so, sir?
    To keep the fashion. It始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始s no reason then that the tailor should be paid before the mercer.
    Is this the suit the knight bestowed upon you?
    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始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始ll 1635make a wild Cathaian of forty such. Hang him, he始s an ass – he始s always sober.
    This is your fault, to wound your friends still.
    No, faith, Front; Lodovico is a noble Slavonian. It始s more rare to see him in a woman始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始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.
    Mattheo, 始tis my father!
    Ha? Father? It始s no matter; he finds no tattered prodigals here.
    [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始s blessing, not mine. [To Mattheo] O, cry your worship mercy, sir! Was somewhat bold to talk to this gentlewoman your wife here.
    [Baring his head] A poor gentlewoman, sir.
    Stand not, sir, bare to me. I ha始 read oft
    That serpents who creep low belch ranker poison
    Than wingèd dragons do that fly aloft.
    If it offend you, sir, 始tis for my pleasure.
    Your pleasure be始t, sir. [To both] Umh, is this your palace?
    Yes, and our kingdom, for 始tis our content.
    It始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.
    Bawdy-house? Zounds, sir –
    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.
    Pox on him! Kneel to a dog?
    She that始s a whore
    Lives gallant, fares well, is not, like me, poor.
    I ha始 now as small acquaintance with that sin
    As if I had never known it, that never been.
    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.
    Do you hear, sir? –
    So, sir, I do hear, sir, more of you than you dream I do.
    You fly a little too high, sir.
    Why, sir, too high?
    I ha始 suffered your tongue, like a barred cater-trey, to run all this while, and ha始 not stopped it.
    Well, sir, you talk like a gamester.
    If you come to bark at her because she始s a poor rogue, look you, here始s a fine path, sir, and there, there, the 1695door.
    Your blue-coats stay for you, sir. I love a good honest roaring boy, and so –
    That始s the devil.
    Sir, sir, I始ll ha始 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.
    I know she shall be maintained, but how? She始s like a 1705quean, thou like a knave. She like a whore, thou like a thief.
    Thief? Zounds! Thief?
    Good, dearest Mat! – Father!
    Pox on you both! I始ll not be braved. New satin 1710scorns to be put down with bare bawdy velvet. Thief!
    Ay, thief. Thou始rt a murderer, a cheater, a whoremonger, a pot-hunter, a borrower, a beggar –
    Dear father –
    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.
    O me!
    Varlet, for this I始ll hang thee.
    Ha, ha! Alas!
    Thou keepst a man of mine here, under my nose.
    Under thy beard.
    As arrant a smell-smock, for an old mutton-monger, as thyself.
    No, as yourself.
    As arrant a purse-taker as ever cried ‘Stand!始, yet a good fellow, I confess, and valiant. But he始ll bring thee to th始gallows; you both have robbed of late two poor country pedlars.
    How始s this? How始s this? Dost thou fly high? Rob 1730pedlars? – Bear witness, Front! – Rob pedlars? My man and I a thief?
    [To Orlando] O sir, no more!
    Ay, knave, two pedlars. Hue and cry is up, warrants are out, and I shall see thee climb a ladder.
    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始ll tell the people I married old Frescobaldo始s daughter. I始ll frisco you, and your old carcass.
    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 –
    [Aside to Bellafront] Kneel, and get money of him.
    A knave and a quean, a thief and a strumpet, a couple of beggars, a brace of baggages.
    [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!
    [To Orlando, hanging upon him]
    Is this your comfort, when so many years
    You ha始 left me frozen to death?
    Freeze still, starve still!
    Yes, so I shall. I must. I must and will.
    If, as you say, I始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始 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.
    Lowest ebb? What ebb?
    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.
    It始s not seen by your cheeks.
    [Aside] I think she has read an homily to tickle to the old
    Want bread? There始s satin; bake that.
    始Sblood, make pasties of my clothes?
    A fair new cloak, stew that; an excellent gilt rapier –
    Will you eat that, sir?
    I could feast ten good fellows with those hangers.
    The pox, you shall!
    [To Bellafront] I shall not, till thou begst, think thou art poor;
    And when thou begst I始ll feed thee at my door,
    As I feed dogs, with bones. Till then beg, borrow,
    Pawn, steal, and hang. Turn bawd, when thou始rt no whore.
    [Aside] My heart-strings sure 1780would crack, were they strained more.
    This is your father, your damned – confusion light upon all the generation of you! He can come bragging hither with four white herrings at始s tail in blue coats without roes in their bellies, but I may starve ere he 1785give me so much as a cob.
    What tell you me of this? Alas!
    Go, trot after your dad. Do you capitulate; I始ll pawn not for you, I始ll not steal to be hanged for such an hypocritical, close, common harlot. Away, you dog! 1790Brave, i始faith! Ud始s foot, give me some meat.
    Yes, sir.
    Goodman Slave, my man, too, is galloped to the devil o始the tother side. Pacheco, I始ll ‘checo始 you. – Is this your dad始s day? England, they say, is the only hell for horses, and 1795only paradise for women. Pray, get you to that paradise, because you始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].
    Will you sit down, I pray, sir?
    [Sits down on a stool and eats]
    I could tear, by th始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始s the savourest meat; I ha始 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.]
    Thou sweatst with very anger. Good sweet, vex not; 1810始Las, 始tis no fault of mine.
    Where didst buy this mutton? I never felt better ribs.
    A neighbour sent it me.
    Enter Orlando [as Pacheco].
    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.
    What will you do, sir?
    Beat out the brains of a beggarly –
    Beat out an ass始s head of your own. – Away, mistress!
    Exit Bellafront.
    Zounds, do but touch one hair of her, and I始ll so quilt your cap with old iron that your coxcomb shall ache the worse these seven years for始t. Does she look like a roasted rabbit, that you must have the head for the brains?
    Ha, ha! Go out of my doors, you rogue. Away, four marks; trudge.
    Four marks? No, sir! My twenty pound that you ha始 made fly high, and I am gone.
    Must I be fed with chippings? You始re best get a 1830clapdish, and say you始re proctor to some spital-house. – Where hast thou been, Pacheco? Come hither, my little turkey-cock.
    I cannot abide, sir, to see a woman wronged, not I.
    Sirrah, here was my father-in-law today.
    Pish, then you始re full of crowns.
    Hang him! He would ha始 thrust crowns upon me to have fallen in again, but I scorn cast clothes, or any man始s gold.
    [Aside] But mine. [Aloud] How did he brook that, sir?
    O, swore like a dozen of drunken tinkers. At last, growing foul in words, he and four of his men drew upon me, sir.
    In your house? Would I had been by.
    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.
    O noble master!
    Sirrah, he could tell me of the robbing the two pedlars, and that warrants are out for us both.
    Good sir, I like not those crackers.
    Crackhalter, wu始t set thy foot to mine?
    How, sir? At drinking?
    We始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.
    Pluck始t out of his throat, then. I始ll snarl for one, if this [Indicating his sword] can bite.
    Say no more, say no more, old cole. Meet me anon at 1860the sign of the Shipwreck.
    Yes, sir.
    And dost hear, man? The Shipwreck.
    Thou始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始s another vessel, better fraught,
    But as ill-manned. Her sinking will be wrought
    If rescue come not. Like a man-of-war
    1870I始ll therefore bravely out. Somewhat I始ll do,
    And either save them both or perish too.
    It is my fate to be bewitchèd by those eyes.
    Fate? Your folly.
    Why should my face thus mad you? 始Las, those colours
    1875Are wound up long ago which beauty spread;
    The flow始rs that once grew here are witherèd,
    You turned my black soul white, made it look new;
    And, should I sin, it ne始er should be with you.
    Your hand; I始ll offer you fair play. When first
    1880We met i始th始 lists together, you remember,
    You were a common rebel. With one parley
    I won you to come in.
    You did.
    I始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?
    If you can,
    I yield.
    The alarm始s struck up; I始m your man.
    A woman gives defiance.
    始Tis a brave battle to encounter sin.
    You men that are to fight in the same war
    To which I始m pressed, and plead at the same bar
    1900To win a woman, if you would have me speed,
    Send all your wishes.
    No doubt you始re heard. Proceed.
    To be a harlot, that you stand upon,
    The very name始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始s heart-strings in such love-knots tie
    That even the coyest was proud when she could hear
    1910Men say ‘Behold, another Harlot there始;
    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始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始s proud bird spreads the fairest tail,
    1920So does a strumpet hoist the loftiest sail.
    She始s no man始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始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始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始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.
    So should a husband be dishonourèd.
    Dishonoured? Not a whit. To fall to one,
    Besides your husband, is to fall to none,
    For one no number is.
    Faith, should you take
    One in your bed, would you that reckoning make?
    1940始Tis time you sound retreat.
    Say, have I won?
    Is the day ours?
    The battle始s but half done.
    None but yourself have yet sounded alarms;
    1945Let us strike too, else you dishonour arms.
    If you can win the day, the glory始s yours.
    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,
    始Tis said, she was not made for men, but man.
    Anon, t始increase earth始s brood, the law was varied:
    Men should take many wives; and though they married
    According to that act, yet 始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始s common,
    Common as spotted leopards, whom for sport
    Men hunt to get the flesh, but care not for始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始ll hire the devil to come with false dice in.
    O Sirens始 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始s all,
    1975And there始s lust始s rendezvous – an hospital.
    Who then would be a man始s slave, a man始s woman?
    She始s half starved the first day that feeds in common.
    You should not feed so, but with me alone.
    If I drink poison by stealth, is始t not all one?
    1980Is始t not rank poison still? With you alone!
    Nay, say you spied a courtesan whose soft side
    To touch you始d sell your birthright, for one kiss
    Be racked. She始s won, you始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始re stol始n away.
    Even then when you are drunk with all her sweets
    There始s no true pleasure in a strumpet始s sheets.
    1990Women whom lust so prostitutes to sale,
    Like dancers upon ropes, once seen, are stale.
    If all the threads of harlots始 lives are spun
    So coarse as you would make them, tell me why
    You so long loved the trade.
    If all the threads
    Of harlots始 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始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.始
    It is a common rule, and 始tis most true,
    Two of one trade never love; no more do you.
    Why are you sharp 始gainst that you once professed?
    Why dote you on that which you did once detest?
    2015I cannot, seeing she始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;
    始Gainst me swol始n rumour hoisted every sail.
    She, crowned with reverend praises, passed by them;
    I, though with face masked, could not 始scape the ‘hem始.
    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始s betrayed by some trick of her own.
    Were harlots therefore wise, they始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始ll therefore backward fall, who will launch forth
    In seas so foul, for ventures no more worth?
    2040Lust始s voyage hath, if not this course, this cross:
    Buy ne始er so cheap, your ware comes home with loss.
    What, shall I sound retreat? The battle始s done;
    Let the world judge which of us two have won.
    You? Nay, then, as cowards do in fight,
    What by blows cannot, shall be saved by flight.
    Fly to earth始s fixèd centre, to the caves
    Of everlasting horror, I始ll pursue thee,
    Though loaden with sins, even to hell始s brazen doors.
    2050Thus wisest men turn fools, doting on whores.