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始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始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始s more honest, on my soul, than one of the Turk始s wenches watched by a hundred eunuchs.
So she had need, for the Turks make them whores.
He始s a Turk that makes any woman a whore; he始s no true Christian, I始m sure. I commit your Grace.
Here, sir.
[The Duke and Infelice step aside.]
Signor Frescobaldo –
Frisking again? Pacheco!
Uds-so, Pacheco! We始ll have some sport with this warrant; 始tis to apprehend all suspected persons in the house. Besides, there始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始th始 neck. Come, come.
Do ye hear, gallants? Meet me anon at Mattheo始s.
Carolo, Astolfo, Beraldo, and Fontinell
Exeunt Lodovido and Orlando.
[Speaking aside to Infelice]
Th始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始er his lust,
To show she trampled his assaults in dust.
始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始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:
始Tis rare, as to see panthers change their spots.
And when she始s once a star fixed and shines bright,
2105Though 始twere impiety then to dim her light,
Because we see such tapers seldom burn,
Yet 始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始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始s a whoremonger.
Yet I warrant he始ll swear no man marks him.
始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始 been in your youth when you went a-maying; we all love to hear the cuckoo sing upon other men始s trees.
It始s well yet you confess.
[To Infelice] But, girl, thy bed
Shall not be parted with a courtesan. –
始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始s lost.
You see he looks wild, does he not?
I ha始 noted
New moons in始s face, my lord, all full of change.
He始s no more like unto Hippolito
Than dead men are to living – never sleeps,
Or if he do, it始s dreams; and in those dreams
2140His arms work, and then cries ‘Sweet –始 What始s her name?
[To Astolfo] What始s the drab始s name?
In troth, my lord, I know not;
I know no drabs, not I.
O, Bellafront!
2145And catching her fast cries ‘My Bellafront!始
A drench that始s able to kill a horse cannot kill this disease of smock-smelling, my lord, if it have once eaten deep.
I始ll try all physic, and this med始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始s your Grace始s reach in this?
This, Carolo: if she whom my son dotes on
Be in that muster-book enrolled, he始ll shame
Ever t始approach one of such noted name.
But say she be not?
Yet on harlots始 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始th始 city and clap 始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始th始 net, ourself will sit,
And with eye most severe dispose of it. –
Come, girl.
[Exeunt Duke and Infelice.]
Arraign the poor whore!
I始ll not miss that sessions.
Nor I.
Nor I, though I hold up my hand there myself.