Digital Renaissance Editions

Author: Thomas Dekker
Editor: Joost Daalder
Peer Reviewed

The Honest Whore, Part 2 (Modern)

Enter Duke, Carolo, Astolfo, Beraldo, Fontinell, three or four Masters of Bridewell, [and] Infelice.
[To the Masters] Your Bridewell? That the name? For beauty, strength,
Capacity, and form of ancient building,
Besides the river始s neighbourhood, few houses
Wherein we keep our court can better it.
1 Master
Hither from foreign courts have princes come,
2435And with our duke did acts of state commence.
Here that great cardinal had first audience,
The grave Campayne; that duke dead, his son,
That famous prince, gave free possession
Of this his palace to the citizens
2440To be the poor man始s warehouse, and endowed it
With lands to th始value of seven hundred mark,
With all the bedding and the furniture once proper,
As the lands then were, to an hospital
Belonging to a Duke of Savoy. Thus
2445Fortune can toss the world; a prince始s court
Is thus a prison now.
始Tis Fortune始s sport.
These changes common are; the wheel of fate
Turns kingdoms up till they fall desolate.
2450But how are these seven hundred marks by th始year
Employed in this your workhouse?
1 Master
War and peace
Feed both upon those lands. When the iron doors
Of wars burst open, from this house are sent
2455Men furnished in all martial complement.
The moon hath through her bow scarce drawn to th始head,
Like to twelve silver arrows, all the months,
Since sixteen hundred soldiers went aboard.
Here providence and charity play such parts
2460The house is like a very school of arts;
For when our soldiers, like ships driven from sea,
With ribs all broken and with tattered sides,
Cast anchor here again, their raggèd backs
How often do we cover, that like men
2465They may be sent to their own homes again?
All here are but one swarm of bees, and strive
To bring with wearied thighs honey to the hive.
The sturdy beggar and the lazy loon
Gets here hard hands or laced correction.
2470The vagabond grows staid and learns t始obey;
The drone is beaten well and sent away.
As other prisons are, some for the thief,
Some by which undone credit gets relief
From bridled debtors, others for the poor,
2475So this is for the bawd, the rogue, and whore.
An excellent team of horse!
1 Master
Nor is it seen
That the whip draws blood here to cool the spleen
2480Of any rugged bencher, nor does offence
Feel smart on spiteful or rash evidence,
But pregnant testimony forth must stand
Ere justice leave them in the beadle始s hand.
As iron on the anvil are they laid
2485Not to take blows alone, but to be made
And fashioned to some charitable use.
Thus wholsom始st laws spring from the worst abuse.
Enter Orlando [as Pacheco], before Bellafront.
Let mercy touch your heart-strings, gracious lord,
That it may sound like music in the ear
Of a man desperate, being i始th始 hands of law.
His name?
For a robbery?
Where is he?
In this house.
Fetch you him hither.
Exit Bellafront and one of the Masters of Bridewell.
[To Orlando] Is this the party?
This is the hen, my lord, that the cock with the 2500lordly comb, your son-in-law, would crow over and tread.
Are your two servants ready?
My two pedlars are packed together, my good lord.
始Tis well. This day in judgement shall be spent;
2505Vice, like a wound lanced, mends by punishment.
Let me be gone, my lord, or stand unseen;
始Tis rare when a judge strikes and that none die,
And 始tis unfit then women should be by.
1 Master
We始ll place you, lady, in some private room.
Pray do so.
Exit [with a Master].
[Aside] Thus nice dames swear it is unfit their eyes
Should view men carved up for anatomies;
Yet they始ll see all, so they may stand unseen.
Many women sure will sin behind a screen.
2515Enter Lodovico.
[To the Duke] Your son the lord Hippolito is entered.
Tell him we wish his presence. – A word, Sforza:
On what wings flew he hither?
These – I told him his lark whom he loved was 2520a Bridewell bird; he始s mad that this cage should hold her, and is come to let her out.
始Tis excellent. Away, go call him hither.
Exit Lodovico.
Enter one of the Masters of the house; Bellafront after him with Mattheo; after him the Constable. Enter at another 2525door Lodovico and Hippolito. Orlando steps forth and brings in two [Servants disguised as] Pedlars.
[To Hippolito] You are to us a stranger, worthy lord;
始Tis strange to see you here.
It is most fit
2530That where the sun goes atomies follow it.
Atomies neither shape nor honour bear;
Be you yourself, a sunbeam to shine clear.
[Indicating Mattheo] Is this the gentleman? Stand forth and hear
Your accusation.
I始ll hear none; I fly high in that. Rather than kites 2535shall seize upon me and pick out mine eyes to my face, I始ll strike my talons through mine own heart first, and spit my blood in theirs. I am here for shriving those two fools of their sinful pack. When those jackdaws have cawed over me, then must I cry guilty or not guilty. The law has 2540work enough already, and therefore I始ll put no work of mine into his hands. The hangman shall ha始t first. I did pluck those ganders, did rob them.
始Tis well done to confess.
Confess and be hanged, and then I fly high, is始t not 2545so? That for that! A gallows is the worst rub that a good bowler can meet with. I stumbled against such a post. Else this night I had played the part of a true son in these days, undone my father-in-law. With him would I ha始 run at leap-frog, and come over his gold, though I had broke his neck 2550for始t; but the poor salmon-trout is now in the net.
And now the law must teach you to fly high.
Right, my lord, and then may you fly low. No more words – a mouse; mum; you are stopped.
Be good to my poor husband, dear my lords.
Why shouldst thou pray them to be good to me,
When no man here is good to one another?
Did any hand work in this theft but yours?
O yes, my lord, yes. The hangman has never one son at a birth; his children always come by couples. 2560Though I cannot give the old dog my father a bone to gnaw, the daughter shall be sure of a choke-pear. Yes, my lord, there was one more that fiddled my fine pedlars, and that was my wife.
Alas! I?
[Aside] O everlasting, supernatural, superlative villain!
All Others
Your wife, Mattheo?
Sure it cannot be!
O sir, you love no quarters of mutton that hang up; you love none but whole mutton. She set the roberry, I 2570performed it. She spurred me on, I galloped away.
My lords –
My lords – fellow, give me speech – if my poor life
May ransom thine [To Mattheo], I yield it to the law.
Thou hurtst thy soul, yet wip始st off no offence,
2575By casting blots upon my innocence.
Let not these spare me, but tell truth – no, see
Who slips his neck out of the misery
Though not out of the mischief. Let thy servant,
That shared in this base act, accuse me here.
2580Why should my husband perish, he go clear?
[Aside] A good child! Hang thine own father!
[To Orlando] Old fellow, was thy hand in too?
My hand was in the pie, my lord, I confess it. My mistress, I see, will bring me to the gallows, and so leave me. 2585But I始ll not leave her so. I had rather hang in a woman始s company than in a man始s; because, if we should go to hell together, I should scarce be letten in, for all the devils are afraid to have any women come amongst them. As I am true thief, she neither consented to this felony nor knew of it.
[To Mattheo] What fury prompts thee on to kill thy wife?
It始s my humour, sir; 始tis a foolish bagpipe that I make myself merry with. Why should I eat hempseed at the hangman始s thirteenpence-halfpenny ordinary, and have this whore laugh at me as I swing, as I totter?
Is she a whore?
A sixpenny mutton pasty, for any to cut up.
[Aside] Ah, toad, toad, toad!
A barber始s cittern for every servingman to play upon. That lord your son knows it.
I, sir? Am I her bawd, then?
No, sir, but she始s your whore, then.
[Aside] Yea, spider, dost catch at great flies?
My whore?
I cannot talk, sir, and tell of your rems and your 2605rees and your whirligigs and devices. [To the Duke] But, my lord, I found 始em like sparrows in one nest, billing together and bulling of me. I took 始em in bed, was ready to kill him was up to stab her –
Close thy rank jaws!
[To the Duke] Pardon me, I am vexed.
2610[To Mattheo] Thou art a villain, a malicious devil;
Deep as the place where thou art lost thou li始st!
Since I am thus far got into this storm
I始ll through, and thou shalt see I始ll through untouched,
When thou shalt perish in it.
2615Enter Infelice.
始Tis my cue
To enter now. – Room! Let my prize be played.
I ha始 lurked in clouds, yet heard what all have said.
What jury more can prove she has wronged my bed
2620Than her own husband? She must be punishèd.
[To the Duke] I challenge law, my lord; letters and gold
And jewels from my lord that woman took!
Against that black-mouthed devil, against letters and gold,
2625And against a jealous wife I do uphold
Thus far her reputation: I could sooner
Shake the Apennine and crumble rocks to dust
Than, though Jove始s show始r rained down, tempt her to lust.
What shall I say?
2630[Orlando] discovers himself.
Say thou art not a whore, and that始s more than fifteen women amongst five hundred dare swear without lying. This shalt thou say – no, let me say始t for thee: thy husband始s a knave, this lord始s an honest man, thou art no 2635punk, this lady始s a right lady. Pacheco is a thief as his master is, but old Orlando is as true a man as thy father is. [To Mattheo] I ha始 seen you fly high, sir, and I ha始 seen you fly low, sir; and to keep you from the gallows, sir, a blue coat have I worn, and a thief did I turn. Mine own men are the pedlars. My 2640twenty pound did fly high, sir. Your wife始s gown did fly low, sir. Whither fly you now, sir? You ha始 scaped the gallows; to the devil you fly next, sir. – Am I right, my liege?
[To Mattheo] Your father has the true physician played.
And I am now his patient.
And be so still;
始Tis a good sign when our cheeks blush at ill.
The linen-draper, Signor Candido,
He whom the city terms the patient man,
Is likewise here for buying of those lawns
2650The pedlars lost.
Alas, good Candido!
Fetch him.
Exit Constable.
And when these payments up are cast,
Weigh out your light gold, but let始s have them last.
Enter Candido and Constable [who soon goes out].
In Bridewell, Candido?
Yes, my good lord.
What make you here?
My lord, what make you here?
I始m here to save right, and to drive wrong hence.
And I to bear wrong here with patience.
You ha始 bought stol始n goods.
So they do say, my lord;
Yet bought I them upon a gentleman始s word.
And I imagine now, as I thought then,
2665That there be thieves, but no thieves gentlemen.
Your credit始s cracked, being here.
No more than gold
Being cracked which does his estimation hold.
I was in Bedlam once, but was I mad?
2670They made me pledge whores始 healths, but am I bad
Because I始m with bad people?
Well, stand by;
If you take wrong, we始ll cure the injury.
Enter Constable; after him Bots; after them two Beadles, one 2675with hemp, the other with a beetle.
Stay, stay; [Indicating Bots] what始s he? A prisoner?
Yes, my lord.
He seems a soldier.
I am what I seem, sir, one of Fortune始s bastards, a 2680soldier and a gentleman; and am brought in here with Master Constable始s band of billmen because they face me down that I live, like those that keep bowling-alleys, by the sins of the people, in being a squire of the body.
O, an apple-squire!
Yes, sir, that degree of scurvy squires; and that I am maintained by the best part that is commonly in a woman, by the worst players of those parts. But I am known to all this company.
[To the Duke] My lord, 始tis true. We all know him; 始tis Lieutenant 2690Bots.
Bots? – And where ha始 you served, Bots?
In most of your hottest services in the Low Countries. At the Groyne I was wounded in this thigh, and halted upon始t, but 始tis now sound. In Cleveland I missed but little, 2695having the bridge of my nose broken down with two great stones as I was scaling a fort. I ha始 been tried, sir, too, in Gelderland, and scaped hardly there from being blown up at a breach: I was fired, and lay i始th始 surgeon始s hands for始t till the fall of the leaf following.
All this may be, and yet you no soldier.
No soldier, sir? I hope these are services that your proudest commanders do venture upon and never come off sometimes.
Well, sir, because you say you are a soldier,
2705I始ll use you like a gentleman.
[To the Gentlemen] Make room there;
Plant him amongst you. [To Bots] We shall have anon
Strange hawks fly here before us. If none light
On you, you shall with freedom take your flight;
But if you prove a bird of baser wing,
2710We始ll use you like such birds: here you shall sing.
I wish to be tried at no other weapon.
Why is he furnished with those implements?
1 Master
The pander is more dangerous to a state
Than is the common thief; and though our laws
2715Lie heavier on the thief, yet that the pander
May know the hangman始s ruff should fit him, too,
Therefore he始s set to beat hemp.
This does savour
Of justice: basest slaves to basest labour.
2720Now, pray, set open hell, and let us see
The she-devils that are here.
Methinks this place
Should make even Lais honest.
1 Master
Some it turns good,
2725But, as some men whose hands are once in blood
Do in a pride spill more, so some going hence
Are by being here lost in more impudence.
Let it not to them, when they come, appear
That anyone does as their judge sit here,
2730But that as gentlemen you come to see,
And then perhaps their tongues will walk more free.
Let them be marshalled in.
[Exeunt Masters, Constable, and Beadles.]
Be covered all,
Fellows, now, to make the scene more comical.
[The Gentlemen and Bots cover their faces.]
[Aside to Bots] Will not you be smelt out, Bots?
[Aside to Carolo] No, your bravest whores have the worst noses.
Enter two of the Masters; a Constable after them; then Dorothea Target, brave; after her two Beadles, th始one with a wheel, the other with a blue gown.
[To Dorothea] Are not you a bride, forsooth?
Say ye?
He would know if these be not your bridemen.
Uuh! Yes, sir! And look ye – do you see the bride-laces that I give at my wedding will serve to tie rosemary to both your coffins when you come from hanging, scab?
Fie, punk! Fie, fie, fie!
Out, you stale, stinking head of garlic! Faugh, at my heels!
[She beats him.]
My head始s cloven.
O, let the gentlewoman alone; she始s going to shrift.
Nay, to do penance.
Ay, ay, go, punk; go to the cross and be whipped.
Marry mew! Marry-muff! Marry hang you, Goodman Dog! Whipped? Do ye take me for a base spital whore? – In troth, gentlemen, you wear the clothes of gentlemen, but 2755you carry not the minds of gentlemen, to abuse a gentlewoman of my fashion.
Fashion? Pox o始your fashions! Art not a whore?
Goodman Slave!
[To the Gentlemen] O fie, abuse her not. Let us two talk.
2760[To Dorothea] What mought I call your name, pray?
I始m not ashamed of my name, sir. My name is Mistress Doll Target, a Western gentlewoman.
Her target against any pike in Milan.
Why is this wheel borne after her?
27651 Master
She must spin.
A coarse thread it shall be, as all threads are.
If you spin, then you始ll earn money here, too.
I had rather get half a crown abroad than ten crowns here.
Abroad? I think so.
Dost thou not weep now thou art here?
Say ye? Weep? Yes, forsooth, as you did when you lost your maidenhead. Do you not hear how I weep?
[She] sings.
Farewell, Doll.
Farewell, Dog.
Exit [with 2 Master and Beadles].
Past shame, past penitence.
[To 1 Master] Why is that blue gown?
1 Master
Being stripped out of her wanton loose attire,
That garment she puts on, base to the eye,
2780Only to clothe her in humility.
Are all the rest like this?
1 Master
No, my good lord.
You see, this drab swells with a wanton rein;
The next that enters has a different strain.
Variety is good; let始s see the rest.
Exit [1] Master [and the Constable].
You Grace sees I始m sound yet, and no bullets hit me.
Come off so, and 始tis well.
All Gentlemen
Here始s the second mess.
Enter the two Masters; after them the Constable; after him 2790Penelope Whorehound like a citizen始s wife; after her two Beadles, one with a blue gown, another with chalk and a mallet.
I ha始 worn many a costly gown, but I was never thus guarded with blue coats and beadles and constables 2795and –
[She weeps.]
Alas, fair mistress, spoil not thus your eyes.
O sweet sir, I fear the spoiling of other places about me that are dearer than my eyes. If you be gentlemen, if you be men, or ever came of a woman, pity my case! [To Orlando, clinging to him] Stand 2800to me, stick to me, good sir; you are an old man.
Hang not on me, I prithee; old trees bear no such fruit.
Will you bail me, gentlemen?
Bail thee? Art in for debt?
No; God is my judge, sir, I am in for no debts. I paid my tailor for this gown the last five shillings a week that was behind, yesterday.
What is your name, I pray?
Penelope Whorehound. I come of the Whorehounds. [To Bots] 2810How does Lieutenant Bots?
All Gentlemen
Aha, Bots!
A very honest woman, as I始m a soldier. [Aside to her] A pox bots ye!
I was never in this pickle before – and yet if I go amongst citizens始 wives they jeer at me; if I go among 2815the loose-bodied gowns, they cry a pox on me because I go civilly attired, and swear their trade was a good trade till such as I am took it out of their hands. Good Lieutenant Bots, speak to these captains to bail me.
1 Master
Begging for bail still? You are a trim gossip. [To Beadles] Go, 2820give her the blue gown, set her to her chare. – Work, huswife, for your bread. Away!
Out, you dog! – A pox on you all! – Women are born to curse thee! But I shall live to see twenty such flat-caps shaking dice for a pennyworth of pippins. Out, you blue-eyed 2825rogue!
Exit [with Beadles].
All Gentlemen
Ha, ha, ha!
Even now she wept and prayed; now does she curse?
1 Master
Seeing me. If still she had stayed, this had been worse.
Was she ever here before?
1 Master
Five times at least;
And thus, if men come to her, have her eyes
Wrung and wept out her bail.
All Gentlemen
Bots, you know her!
Is there any gentleman here that knows not a whore? And is he a hair the worse for that?
[To 1 Master] Is she a city dame, she始s so attired?
1 Master
No, my good lord, that始s only but the veil
To her loose body. I have seen her here
2840In gayer masking suits. As several sauces
Give one dish several tastes, so change of habits
In whores is a bewitching art. Today
She始s all in colours to besot gallants;
Then in modest black, to catch the citizen,
And this from their examination始s 2845drawn.
Now shall you see a monster both in shape
And nature quite from these, that sheds no tear,
Nor yet is nice. 始Tis a plain ramping bear;
Many such whales are cast upon this shore.
All Gentlemen
Let始s see her.
28501 Master
Then behold a swaggering whore.
Exit [with 2 Master and Constable].
Keep your ground, Bots.
I do but traverse to spy advantage how to arm myself.
Enter the two Masters first; after them the Constable; after them a 2855Beadle beating a basin; then Catherina Bountinall with Mistress Horseleech; after them another Beadle, with a blue head guarded with yellow.
[To the Constable] Sirrah, when I cry ‘Hold your hands!始, hold, you rogue-catcher, hold! – Bawd, are the French chilblains in your 2860heels, that you can come no faster? Are not you, bawd, a whore始s ancient, and must not I follow my colours?
O Mistress Catherine, you do me wrong to accuse me here as you do, before the right worshipful. I am known for a motherly, honest woman, and no bawd.
Marry, faugh! Honest? Burnt at fourteen, seven times whipped, six times carted, nine times ducked, searched by some hundred and fifty constables, and yet you are honest? ‘Honest始 Mistress Horseleech, is this world a world to keep bawds and whores honest? How many times hast thou 2870given gentlemen a quart of wine in a gallon pot? How many twelvepenny fees, nay two-shillings fees, nay, when any ambassadors ha始 been here, how many half-crown fees hast thou taken? How many carriers hast thou bribed for country wenches? How often have I rinsed your lungs 2875in aqua-vitae? And yet you are honest?
[To Catherina] And what were you the whilst?
Marry hang you, Master Slave! Who made you an examiner?
Well said! Belike this devil spares no man.
[To Bots] What art thou, prithee?
Nay, what art thou, prithee?
A whore. Art thou a thief?
A thief? No. I defy the calling; I am a soldier, have borne arms in the field, been in many a hot 2885skirmish, yet come off sound.
Sound with a pox to ye, ye abominable rogue! You a soldier? You in skirmishes? Where? Amongst pottle-pots in a bawdy house? [To Horseleech] Look, look here, you Madam Worm-eaten, do not you know him?
Lieutenant Bots! Where have ye been this many a day?
[Aside to Horseleech] Old bawd, do not discredit me, seem not to know me.
Not to know ye, Master Bots? As long as I have 2895breath, I cannot forget thy sweet face.
Why, do you know him? He says he is a soldier.
He a soldier? A pander, a dog that will lick up sixpence. Do ye hear, you Master Swine始s-snout, how long is始t 2900since you held the door for me, and cried ‘To始t again, nobody comes始, ye rogue, you?
All Gentlemen
Ha, ha, ha! You始re smelt out again, Bots.
Pox ruin her nose for始t! An I be not revenged for this – umm, ye bitch!
D始ye hear ye, madam? Why does your ladyship swagger thus? You始re very brave, methinks.
Not at your cost, Master Cod始s-head;
Is any man here blear-eyed to see me brave?
Yes, I am, 2910because good clothes upon a whore始s back is like fair painting upon a rotten wall.
Marry-muff, Master Whoremaster, you come upon me with sentences.
By this light, h始as small sense for始t.
O fie, fie, do not vex her. And yet methinks a creature of more scurvy conditions should not know what a good petticoat were.
Marry come out! You始re so busy about my petticoat you始ll creep up to my 2920placket, an ye could but attain the honour. But an the outsides offend your rogueships, look o始the lining – 始tis silk.
Is始t silk 始tis lined with, then?
Silk? Ay, silk, Master Slave. You would be glad to 2925wipe your nose with the skirt on始t. This 始tis to come among a company of cod始s-heads that know not how to use a gentlewoman.
[To 1 Master] Tell her the Duke is here.
1 Master
Be modest, Kate, the Duke is here.
If the devil were here, I care not. – Set forward, ye rogues, and give attendance according to your places. Let bawds and whores be sad, for I始ll sing an the devil were a-dying.
Exeunt [Catherina, Horseleech and Beadles, one of whom follows the women while the other goes before, beating his basin.]
[To 1 Master] Why before her does the basin ring?
29351 Master
It is an emblem of their revelling.
The whips we use lets forth their wanton blood,
Making them calm; and, more to calm their pride,
Instead of coaches they in carts do ride.
Will your Grace see more of this bad ware?
No, shut up shop. We始ll now break up the fair.
Yet ere we part – [To Bots] you, sir, that take upon ye
The name of soldier, that true name of worth,
Which action, not vain boasting, best sets forth,
To let you know how far a soldier始s name
2945Stands from your title, and to let you see
Soldiers must not be wronged where princes be,
This be your sentence: –
All Gentlemen
Defend yourself, Bots!
First, all the private sufferance that the house
2950Inflicts upon offenders, you, as the basest,
Shall undergo it double; after which
You shall be whipped, sir, round about the city,
Then banished from the land.
Beseech your Grace!
Away with him, see it done.
[Exit Bots with Constable.]
Panders and whores
Are city plagues, which being kept alive
Nothing that looks like goodness e始er can thrive. –
Now good Orlando, what say you to your bad son-in-law?
Marry, this, my lord: he is my son-in-law, and in 2960law will I be his father. For if law can pepper him, he shall be so parboiled that he shall stink no more i始th始 nose of the commonwealth.
Be yet more kind and merciful, good father.
Dost thou beg for him, thou precious man始s meat, 2965thou? Has he not beaten thee, kicked thee, trod on thee, and dost thou fawn on him like his spaniel? Has he not pawned thee to thy petticoat, sold thee to thy smock, made thee leap at a crust, yet wouldst have me save him?
O, yes, good sir. Women shall learn of me
2970To love their husbands in greatest misery.
Then show him pity, or you wreck myself.
Have ye eaten pigeons, that you始re so kindhearted to your mate? Nay, you始re a couple of wild bears; I始ll have ye both baited at one stake. – But as for this knave [Addressing Mattheo]: the 2975gallows is thy due, and the gallows thou shalt have. I始ll have justice of the Duke; the law shall have thy life. [To Bellafront] What, dost thou hold him? Let go his hand. If thou dost not forsake him, a father始s everlasting blessing fall upon both your heads! Away, go, kiss out of my sight! Play thou the 2980whore no more, nor thou the thief again.
My house shall be thine,
My meat shall be thine,
And so shall my wine,
But my money shall be mine;
And yet when I die,
So thou dost not fly high,
Take all. Yet, good Mattheo, mend.
Thus for joy weeps Orlando, and doth end.
Then hear, Mattheo. All your woes are stayed
By your good father-in-law; all your ills
Are clear purged from you by his working pills. –
Come, Signor Candido, these green young wits
We see by circumstance, this plot hath laid
2990Still to provoke thy patience, which they find
A wall of brass; no armour始s like the mind.
Thou hast taught the city patience; now our court
Shall be thy sphere, where from thy good report
Rumours this truth unto the world shall sing:
2995A patient man始s a pattern for a king.