The Honest Whore, Part One (Thomas Dekker)

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The Honest Whore  (1604) 
Thomas Dekker and Thomas Middleton
Part One

                                                                   The Honest Whore, Part One
                                                             A play written by Thomas Dekker and Thomas Middleton

[Dramatis Personae (in order of appearance)]

Gasparo Trebatzi, DUKE of Milan

Count HIPPOLITO, in love with Infelice Trebatzi

MATTHEO, his friend in love with Belleafront

FUSTIGO, brother to Viola


VIOLA, the first wife to Candido

DOCTOR Benedict

Two SERVANTS to the Duke

INFELICE, daughter to the Duke, in love with HIPPOLITO


FLUELLO } the Duke's courtiers


GEORGE, the apprentice to Candido

Two other PRENTICES to Candido

CANDIDO, a linen-draper

ROGER, a pander

BELLAFRONT FRESCOBALDO, a wealthy honest courtisan


Madame Fingerlock, a BAWD

A SERVANT to Hippolito

Corporal CRAMBO, a bravo

Lieutenant POH, abravo


BENEDICT, a doctor

ANSELMO, a friar

A SWEEPER at the Bethlehem Monastery

SINEZI, a courtier



[[[The scene: Milan, Italy]center|]]

                                                                     ACT ONEcenter

                                                                                [[[Scene One]|]]

Enter at one door a funeral (a coronet lying on the hearse, scutcheons and garlands hanging on the sides) attended by Gasparo Trebazzi, the Duke of Milan, Castruccio, Sinezi, Pioratto, Fluello, and the others, [including the Attendants]. At another door, enter HIPPOLITO in discontented appearance, [and] MATTHEO, a gentleman, his friend, labouring to hold him back.

DUKE: Behold, yon comet shows his head again!
Twice hath he thus at cross-turns thrown on us
Prodigious looks; twice hath he troubled
The waters of our eyes. See, he’s turned wild. –
Go on, in God’s name.

GENTLEMEN: [Turning to the Attendants.] On afore there, ho!

DUKE: Kinsmen and friends, take from your manly sides
Your weapons to keep back the desp’rate boy
From doing violence to the innocent dead.

[The Gentlemen draw; Mattheo continues to struggle with HIPPOLITO.]

HIPPOLITO: prithee, dear Mattheo –

MATTHEO: Come, you’re mad.

HIPPOLITO: [To the Duke.] I do arrest thee, murderer.
[Turning to the Attendants.] Set down,
Villains, set down that sorrow; ’tis all mine.

DUKE: [To the Gentlemen.] I do beseech you all, for my blood’s sake
Send hence your milder spirits, and let wrath
Join in confederacy with your weapons’ points;
If he proceed to vex us, let your swords
Seek out his bowels. Funeral grief loathes words.

GENTLEMEN: [Turning to face the Attendants.] Set on.

HIPPOLITO: [To the Attendants.] Set down the body.

MATTHEO: O my lord,
You’re wrong! I’th’ open street? You see she’s dead.

HIPPOLITO: I know she is not dead.

DUKE: Frantic young man,
Wilt thou believe these gentlemen? Pray speak.
Thou dost abuse my child, and mockst the tears
That here are shed for her. If to behold
Those roses withered that set out her cheeks,
That pair of stars that gave her body light
Darkened and dim for ever, all those rivers
That fed her veins with warm and crimson streams
Frozen and dried up – if these be signs of death,
Then is she dead. Thou unreligious youth,
Art not ashamed to empty all these eyes
Of funeral tears, a debt due to the dead
As mirth is to the living? Sham’st thou not
To have them stare on thee? Hark, thou art curst
Even to thy face by those that scarce can speak.

HIPPOLITO: My lord –

DUKE: What wouldst thou have? Is she not dead?

HIPPOLITO: O, you ha’ killed her by your cruelty!

DUKE: Admit I had, thou killst her now again,
And art more savage than a barbarous Moor.

HIPPOLITO: Let me but kiss her pale and bloodless lip.

DUKE: O fie, fie, fie!

HIPPOLITO: Or if not touch her, let me look on her.

MATTHEO: As you regard your honour –

HIPPOLITO: Honour? Smoke!

MATTHEO: Or if you loved her living, spare her now.

DUKE: Ay, well done, sir; you play the gentleman.
[Aside to the Attendants.] Steal hence. ’Tis nobly done. Away.
[Then turning to Mattheo.] I’ll join
My force to yours, to stop this violent torrent.
[To the Attendants.] Pass on.

Exeunt with the funeral [all but the Duke, Hippolito, and Mattheo].

HIPPOLITO: Mattheo, thou dost wound me more.

MATTHEO: I give you physic, noble friend, not wounds.

DUKE: O, well said, well done; a true gentleman!
Alack, I know the sea of lovers’ rage
Comes rushing with so strong a tide it beats
And bears down all respects of life, of honour,
Of friends, of foes. [Turning back to Hippolito.] Forget her, gallant youth.

HIPPOLITO: Forget her?

DUKE: Nay, nay, be but patient,
Forwhy death’s hand hath sued a strict divorce
’Twixt her and thee. What’s beauty but a corse?
What but fair sand-dust are earth’s purest forms?
Queens’ bodies are but trunks to put in worms.

MATTHEO: [Aside to the Duke.] Speak no more sentences, my good lord, but slip hence. You see they are but fits; I’ll rule him, I warrant ye. Ay, so, tread gingerly; your Grace is here somewhat too long already.

[Exit the Duke.]

MATTHEO: [Aside.] ’Sblood, the jest were now, if having ta’en some knocks o’th’ pate already, he should get loose again, and, like a mad ox, toss my new black cloaks into the kennel. I must humour his lordship. [To Hippolito.] My lord Hippolito, is it in your stomach to go to dinner?

HIPPOLITO: Where is the body?

MATTHEO: The body, as the Duke spake very wisely, is gone to be wormed.

HIPPOLITO: I cannot rest. I’ll meet it at next turn.
I’ll see how my love looks.
Mattheo holds him in’s arms.

MATTHEO: How your love looks? Worse than a scarecrow. Wrestle not with me; the great fellow gives the fall for a ducat.

HIPPOLITO: I shall forget myself!

MATTHEO: Pray do so; leave yourself behind yourself, and go whither you will. ’Sfoot, do you long to have base rogues, that maintain a Saint Anthony’s fire in their noses by nothing but twopenny ale, make ballads of you? If the Duke had but so much mettle in him as is in a cobbler’s awl, he would ha’ been a vexed thing; he and his train had blown you up but that their powder has taken the wet of cowards. You’ll bleed three pottles of Alicant, by this light, if you follow ’em, and then we shall have a hole made in a wrong place, to have surgeons roll thee up like a baby in swaddling clouts.

HIPPOLITO: What day is today, Mattheo?

MATTHEO: Yea, marry, this is an easy question. Why, today is – let me see – Thursday.

HIPPOLITO: O, Thursday.

MATTHEO: Here’s a coil for a dead commodity! ’Sfoot, women when they are alive are but dead commodities, for you shall have one woman lie upon many men’s hands.

HIPPOLITO: She died on Monday, then.

MATTHEO: And that’s the most villainous day of all the week to die in; and she was well, and ate a mess of water-gruel on Monday morning.

HIPPOLITO: Ay, it cannot be
Such a bright taper should burn out so soon.

MATTHEO: O yes, my lord, so soon. Why, I ha’ known them that at dinner have been as well, and had so much health, that they were glad to pledge it, yet before three o’clock have been found dead drunk.

HIPPOLITO: On Thursday buried, and on Monday died!
Quick haste, by’r Lady; sure her winding sheet
Was laid out ’fore her body, and the worms
That now must feast with her were even bespoke,
And solemnly invited like strange guests.

MATTHEO: Strange feeders they are indeed, my lord, and, like your jester or young courtier, will enter upon any man’s trencher without bidding.

HIPPOLITO: Curst be that day for ever that robbed her
Of breath, and me of bliss! Henceforth let it stand
Within the wizard’s book, the calendar,
Marked with a marginal finger, to be chosen
By thieves, by villains, and black murderers
As the best day for them to labour in.
If henceforth this adulterous, bawdy world
Be got with child with treason, sacrilege,
Atheism, rapes, treacherous friendship, perjury,
Slander (the beggar’s sin), lies (sin of fools),
Or any other damned impieties,
On Monday let ’em be deliverèd!
I swear to thee, Mattheo, by my soul,
Hereafter weekly on that day I’ll glue
Mine eyelids down, because they shall not gaze
On any female cheek. And being locked up
In my close chamber, there I’ll meditate
On nothing but my Infelice’s end,
Or on a dead man’s skull draw out mine own.

MATTHEO: You’ll do all these good works now every Monday, because it is so bad; but I hope upon Tuesday morning I shall take you with a wench.

HIPPOLITO: If ever, whilst frail blood through my veins run,
On woman’s beams I throw affection
Save her that’s dead, or that I loosely fly
To th’shore of any other wafting eye,
Let me not prosper, heaven! I will be true,
Even to her dust and ashes. Could her tomb
Stand, whilst I lived, so long that it might rot,
That should fall down, but she be ne’er forgot.

MATTHEO: If you have this strange monster, Honesty, in your belly, why, so: jig-makers and chroniclers shall pick something out of you. But, an I smell not you and a bawdy-house out within these ten days, let my nose be as big as an English bag-pudding. I’ll follow your lordship, though it be to the place aforenamed.

[Exeunt Hippolito and Mattheo.]

                                                                            Scene Two

Enter Fustigo in some fantastic sea-suit at one door; a Porter meets him at another.

FUSTIGO: How now, porter, will she come?

PORTER: If I may trust a woman, sir, she will come.

FUSTIGO: [Giving him some money.] There’s for thy pains. God-a-mercy, if I ever stand in need of a wench that will come with a wet finger, thou shalt earn my money before any clarissimo in Milan. Yet, so God sa’ me, she’s mine own sister, body and soul, as I am a Christian gentleman. Farewell. I’ll ponder till she come. Thou hast been no bawd in fetching this woman, I assure thee.

PORTER: No matter if I had, sir; better men than porters are bawds.

FUSTIGO: O God, sir, many that have borne offices. But, porter, art sure thou wentst into a true house?

PORTER: I think so, for I met with no thieves.

FUSTIGO: Nay, but art sure it was my sister Viola?

PORTER: I am sure by all superscriptions it was the party you ciphered.

FUSTIGO: Not very tall.

PORTER: Not very low; a middling woman.

FUSTIGO: ’Twas she, faith, ’twas she. A pretty plump cheek like mine?

PORTER: At a blush, a little; very much like you.

FUSTIGO: Godso, I would not for a ducat she had kicked up her heels, for I ha’ spent an abomination this voyage; marry, I did it amongst sailors and gentlemen. [Giving more money] There’s a little modicum more, porter, for making thee stay. Farewell, honest porter.

PORTER: I am in your debt, sir. God preserve you.

FUSTIGO: Not so neither, good porter.

[Exit the Porter].

[Enter Viola, Candido’s First Wife.]

FUSTIGO: God’s lid, yonder she comes. – Sister Viola, I am glad to see you stirring. It’s news to have me here, is’t not, sister?

VIOLA: Yes, trust me. I wondered who should be so bold to send for me. You are welcome to Milan, Brother.

FUSTIGO: Troth, Sister, I heard you were married to a very rich chuff, and I was very sorry for it that I had no better clothes, and that made me send; for you know we Millaners love to strut upon Spanish leather. Ant how does all our friends?

VIOLA: Very well. You ha’ travelled enough now, I trow, to sow your wild oats.

FUSTIGO: A pox on ’em! Wild oats? I ha’ not an oat to throw at a horse. Troth, sister, I ha’ sowed my oats, and reaped two hundred ducats if I had ’em here. Marry, I must entreat you to lend me some thirty or forty till the ship come. By this hand, I’ll discharge at my day, by this hand.

VIOLA: These are your old oaths.

FUSTIGO: Why, Sister, do you think I’ll forswear my hand?

VIOLA: Well, well, you shall have them. Put yourself into better fashion, because I must employ you in a serious matter.

FUSTIGO: I’ll sweat like a horse if I like the matter.

VIOLA: You ha’ cast off all your old swaggering humours?

FUSTIGO: I had not sailed a league in that great fishpond, the sea, but I cast up my very gall.

VIOLA: I am the more sorry, for I must employ a true swaggerer.

FUSTIGO: Nay, by this iron [Indicating his sword.], sister, they shall find I am powder and touch-box, if they put fire once into me.

VIOLA: Then lend me your ears.

FUSTIGO: Mine ears are yours, dear sister.

VIOLA: I am married to a man that has wealth enough, and wit enough.

FUSTIGO: A linen-draper, I was told, Sister.

VIOLA: Very true, a grave citizen. I want nothing that a wife can wish from a husband. But here’s the spite: he has not all things belonging to a man.

FUSTIGO: God’s my life, he’s a very mandrake, or else, God bless us, one o’these whiblins, and that’s worse, and then all the children that he gets lawfully of your body, sister, are bastards by a statute.

VIOLA: O, you run over me too fast, brother! I have heard it often said that he who cannot be angry is no man. I am sure my husband is a man in print for all things else save only in this: no tempest can move him.

FUSTIGO: ’Slid, would he had been at sea with us. He should ha’ been moved and moved again, for I’ll be sworn, la, our drunken ship reeled like a Dutchman.

VIOLA: No loss of goods can increase him a wrinkle, no crabbed language make his countenance sour, the stubbornness of no servant shake him. He has no more gall in him than a dove, no more sting than an ant. Musician will he never be, yet I find much music in him; but he loves no frets, and is so free from anger that many times I am ready to bite off my tongue, because it wants that virtue which all women’s tongues have, to anger their husbands. Brother, mine can by no thunder turn him into a sharpness.

FUSTIGO: Belike his blood, sister, is well brewed, then.

VIOLA: I protest to thee, Fustigo, I love him most affectionately, but I know not – I ha’ such a tickling within me, such a strange longing; nay, verily, I do long.

FUSTIGO: Then you’re with child, Sister, by all signs and tokens; nay, I am partly a physician, and partly something else. I ha’ read Albertus Magnus, and Aristotle’s Emblems.

VIOLA: You’re wide o’th’ bow-hand still, brother. My longings are not wanton, but wayward: I long to have my patient husband eat up a whole porcupine to the intent the bristling quills may stick about his lips like a Flemish mustachio and be shot at me. I shall be leaner than the new moon unless I can make him horn-mad.

FUSTIGO: ’Sfoot, half a quarter of an hour does that: make him a cuckold.

VIOLA: Pooh! He would count such a cut no unkindness.

FUSTIGO: The honester citizen he. Then make him drunk, and cut off his beard.

VIOLA: Fie, fie, idle, idle! He’s no Frenchman, to fret at the loss of a little scald hair. No, brother, thus it shall be – you must be secret.

FUSTIGO: As your midwife, I protest, sister, or a barber-surgeon.

VIOLA: Repair to the Tortoise here in Saint Christopher’s Street. I will send you money; turn yourself into a brave man. Instead of the arms of your mistress, let your sword and your military scarf hang about your neck.

FUSTIGO: I must have a great horseman’s French feather too, sister.

VIOLA: O, by any means, to show your light head; else your hat will sit like a coxcomb. To be brief, you must be in all points a most terrible, wide-mouthed swaggerer.

FUSTIGO: Nay, for swaggering points let me alone.

VIOLA: Resort then to our shop, and, in my husband’s presence, kiss me, snatch rings, jewels, or anything, so you give it back again, brother, in secret.

FUSTIGO: By this hand, Sister.

VIOLA: Swear as if you came but new from knighting.

FUSTIGO: Nay, I’ll swear after four hundred a year.

VIOLA: Swagger worse than a lieutenant among fresh-water soldiers; call me your love, your single, your cousin, or so – but ‘Sister’ at no hand.

FUSTIGO: No, no, it shall be ‘Cousin’, or rather ‘Coz’ – that’s the gulling word between the citizens’ wives and their madcaps that man ’em to the garden. To call you one o’my naunts, Sister, were as good as call you arrant whore. No, no, let me alone to ‘Cousin’ you rarely.

VIOLA: H’as heard I have a brother, but never saw him; therefore put on a good face.

FUSTIGO: The best in Milan, I warrant.

VIOLA: Take up wares, but pay nothing. Rifle my bosom, my pocket, my purse, the boxes for money to dice withal. But, brother, you must give all back again, in secret.

FUSTIGO: By this welkin that here roars, I will, or else let me never know what a secret is. Why, sister, do you think I’ll cony-catch you, when you are my cousin? God’s my life, then I were a stark ass. If I fret not his guts, beg me for a fool.

VIOLA: Be circumspect and do so, then. Farewell.

FUSTIGO: The Tortoise, Sister? I’ll stay there. – Forty ducats.

VIOLA: Thither I’ll send.

[Exit Fustigo.]
 This law can none deny:
Women must have their longings, or they die.


Scene Three:

[Enter Gasparo Trebatzi the Duke, Doctor Benedict, and the two Servants.]

DUKE: [Turning to see the two Servants, who proceed to act as instructed.]
Give charge that none do enter; lock the doors.
And, fellows, what your eyes and ears receive,
Upon your lives trust not the gadding air
To carry the least part of it. [Turning to face the Doctor Benedict.] The glass,
The hour-glass.

DOCTOR BENEDICT: Here, my lord. [He produces an hour-glass.]

DUKE: Ah, ’tis near spent!
But, Doctor Benedict, does your art speak truth?
Art sure the soporiferous stream will ebb,
And leave the crystal banks of her white body
Pure as they were at first, just at the hour?

DOCTOR BENEDICT: Just at the hour, my lord.

DUKE: [To the two Servants.] Uncurtain her.
[The two Servants draw the curtains. Infelice discovered on a bed.]
Softly! – See, doctor, what a coldish heat
Spreads over all her body.

DOCTOR BENEDICT: Now it works:
The vital spirits that by a sleepy charm
Were bound up fast, and threw an icy crust
On her exterior parts, now ’gin to break.
Trouble her not, my lord.

DUKE: [To the Servants.] Some stools.
[The Servants set the stools.]
You called
For music, did you not? [Music plays.] Oho, it speaks,
It speaks! [To the Servants.] Watch, sirs, her waking: note those sands. –
Doctor, sit down.
[The Doctor and the Duke sit.]
 A dukedom that should weigh
Mine own down twice, being put into one scale,
And that fond desperate boy Hippolito
Making the weight up, should not at my hands
Buy her i’th’ tother, were her state more light
Than hers who makes a dowry up with alms.
Doctor, I’ll starve her on the Apennine
Ere he shall marry her. I must confess
Hippolito is nobly born – a man,
Did not mine enemies’ blood boil in his veins,
Whom I would court to be my son-in-law;
But princes, whose high spleens for empery swell,
Are not with easy art made parallel.

THE TWO SERVANTS: She wakes, my lord.

DUKE: Look, Doctor Benedict!
[To the two Servants.] I charge you on your lives, maintain for truth
Whate’er the doctor or myself aver,
For you shall bear her hence to Bergamo.

INFELICE: [Wakening.] O God, what fearful dreams!



DUKE: Girl!
Why, Infelice, how is’t now, ha? Speak.

INFELICE: I’m well. – What makes this doctor here? – I’m well.

DUKE: Thou wert not so even now. Sickness’ pale hand
Laid hold on thee even in the midst of feasting,
And when a cup crowned with thy lover’s health
Had touched thy lips, a sensible cold dew
Stood on thy cheeks, as if that death had wept
To see such beauty alter.

INFELICE: I remember
I sat at banquet, but felt no such change.

DUKE: Thou hast forgot, then, how a messenger
Came wildly in, with this unsavoury news,
That he was dead?

INFELICE: What messenger? Who’s dead?

DUKE: Hippolito. Alack, wring not thy hands.

INFELICE: I saw no messenger, heard no such news.

DOCTOR BENEDICT: Trust me, you did, sweet lady.

DUKE: La you now!

THE TWO SERVANTS: Yes indeed, madam.

DUKE: La you now.
[Aside to the two Servants.]
 ’Tis well, good knaves.

INFELICE: You ha’ slain him, and now you’ll murder me.

DUKE: Good Infelice, vex not thus thyself.
Of this bad the report before did strike
So coldly to thy heart that the swift currents
Of life were all frozen up –

INFELICE: It is untrue.
’Tis most untrue, O most unnatural father!

DUKE: And we had much to do by art’s best cunning
To fetch life back again.

DOCTOR BENEDICT: Most certain, lady.

DUKE: Why, la you now, you’ll not believe me! [To the two Servants.] Friends,
Sweat we not all? Had we not much to do?

THE TWO SERVANTS: Yes indeed, my lord, much.

DUKE: Death drew such fearful pictures in thy face
That, were Hippolito alive again,
I’d kneel and woo the noble gentleman
To be thy husband. Now I sore repent
My sharpness to him and his family.
Nay, do not weep for him; we all must die. –
Doctor, this place where she so oft hath seen
His lively presence hurts her, does it not?

DOCTOR BENEDICT: Doubtless, my lord, it does.

DUKE: It does, it does.
Therefore, sweet girl, thou shalt to Bergamo.

INFELICE: Even where you will. In any place there’s woe.

DUKE: A coach is ready. Bergamo doth stand
In a most wholesome air: sweet walks; there’s deer.
Ay, thou shalt hunt and send us venison,
Which like some goddess in the Cyprian groves
Thine own fair hand shall strike. – Sirs, you shall teach her
To stand, and how to shoot; ay, she shall hunt. –
Cast off this sorrow. In, girl, and prepare
This night to ride away to Bergamo.

INFELICE: O most unhappy maid!

Exit Infelice.

DUKE: [To the Servants.] Follow her close.
No words that she was buried, on your lives,
Or that her ghost walks now after she’s dead;
I’ll hang you if you name a funeral.

FIRST SERVANT: I’ll speak Greek, my lord, ere I speak that deadly word.

SECOND SERVANT: And I’ll speak Welsh, which is harder than Greek.

DUKE: Away, look to her.

[Exeunt the two Servants.]

Doctor Benedict,
Did you observe how her complexion altered
Upon his name and death? O, would ’twere true!

DOCTOR BENEDICT: It may, my lord.

DUKE: May? How? I wish his death.

DOCTOR BENEDICT: And you may have your wish. Say but the word,
And ’tis a strong spell to rip up his grave.
I have good knowledge with Hippolito;
He calls me friend. I’ll creep into his bosom,
And sting him there to death. Poison can do’t.

DUKE: Perform it; I’ll create thee half mine heir.

DOCTOR BENEDICT: It shall be done, although the fact be foul.

DUKE: Greatness hides sin. The guilt upon my soul!

[Exeunt the Duke and the Doctor Benedict.]

Scene Four:

[Enter Castruccio, Pioratto, and Fluello.]

CASTRUCCIO: Signor Pioratto, Signor Fluello, shall’s be merry? Shall’s play the wagsnow?

FLUELLO: Ay, anything that may beget the child of laughter.

CASTRUCCIO: Truth, I have a pretty sportive conceit new crept into my brain will moveexcellent mirth.

PIORATTO: Let’s ha’t, let’s ha’t; and where shall the scene of mirth lie?

CASTRUCCIO: At Signor Candido’s house, the patient man – nay, the monstrous patient man. They say his blood is immovable, that he has taken all patience from a man, and all constancy from a woman.

FLUELLO: That makes so many whores nowadays.

CASTRUCCIO: Ay, and so many knaves too.

PIORATTO: Well, sir.

CASTRUCCIO: To conclude, the report goes he’s so mild, so affable, so suffering, that nothing indeed can move him. Now, do but think what sport it will be to make this fellow, the mirror of patience, as angry, as vexed, and as mad as an English cuckold.

FLUELLO: O, ’twere admirable mirth, that! But how will’t be done, Signor?

CASTRUCCIO: Let me alone; I have a trick, a conceit, a thing, a device will sting him, i’faith, if he have but a thimbleful of blood in’s belly, or a spleen not so big as a tavern-token.

PIORATTO: Thou stir him? Thou move him? Thou anger him? Alas, I know his approved temper. Thou vex him? Why, he has a patience above man’s injuries. Thou mayst sooner raise a spleen in an angel than rough humour in him. Why, I’ll give you instance for it. This wonderfully tempered Signor Candido upon a time invited home to his house certain Neapolitan lords of curious taste and no mean palates, conjuring his wife, of all loves, to prepare cheer fitting for such honourable trencher-men. She – just of a woman’s nature, covetous to try the uttermost of vexation, and thinking at last to get the start of his humour – willingly neglected the preparation, and became unfurnished not only of dainty but of ordinary dishes. He, according to the mildness of his breast, entertained the lords and with courtly discourse beguiled the time, as much as a citizen might do. To conclude, they were hungry lords, for there came no meat in; their stomachs were plainly gulledand their teeth deluded, and, if anger could have seized a man, there was matter enough, i’faith, to vex any citizen in the world, if he were not too much made a fool by his wife.

FLUELLO: Ay, I’ll swear for’t. ’Sfoot, had it been my case, I should ha’ played mad tricks with my wife and family. First, I would ha’ spitted the men, stewed the maids, and baked the mistress, and so served them in.

PIORATTO: [Turning to face Castruccio.] Why, ’twould ha’ tempted any blood but his;
And thou to vex him? Thou to anger him
With some poor shallow jest?

CASTRUCCIO: ’Sblood, Signor Pioratto, you that disparage my conceit, I’ll wage a hundred ducats upon the head on’t that it moves him, frets him, and galls him.

PIORATTO: Done, ’tis a lay. Join golls on’t. – Witness, Signor Fluello.

CASTRUCCIO: Witness; ’tis done. [They shake their hands on it.]
Come, follow me. The house is not far off.
I’ll thrust him from his humour, vex his breast,
And win a hundred ducats by one jest.

[Exeunt Castruccio, Pioratto, and Fluello.]

Scene Five:

[Enter Viola, Candido’s First Wife, George, and the two Prentices, in the Linen shop.]

VIOLA: Come, you put up your wares in good order here, do you not, think you? One piece cast this way, another that way! You had need have a patient master, indeed.

GEORGE: [Aside.] Ay, I’ll be sworn, for we have a curst mistress.

VIOLA: You mumble? Do you mumble? I would your master or I could be a notemore angry, for two patient folks in a house spoil all the servants that ever shall come under them.

FIRST PRENTICE: [Aside.] You patient! Ay, so is the devil when he is horn-mad.

[Enter Castruccio, Fluello, and Pioratto.]

GEORGE AND THE TWO PRENTICES: Gentlemen, what do you lack? What is’t you buy? See, fine hollands, fine cambrics, and fine lawns.

GEORGE: What is’t you lack?

SECOND PRENTICE: What is’t you buy?

CASTRUCCIO: Where’s Signor Candido, thy master?

GEORGE: Faith, signor, he’s a little negotiated. He’ll appear presently.

CASTRUCCIO: [To George] Fellow, let’s see a lawn, a choice one, Sirrah.

GEORGE: The best in all Milan, gentlemen, and [Showing it.] this is the piece. I can fit you gentlemen with fine calicoes too, for doublets, the only sweet fashion now, most delicate and courtly, a meek, gentle calico, cut upon two double affable taffetas – ah, most neat, feat, and unmatchable!

FLUELLO: [Aside to Pioratto.] A notable, voluble-tongued villain.

PIORATTO: [Aside to Fluello.] I warrant this fellow was never begot without much prating.

CASTRUCCIO: [Turning to see George with his piece of lawn.] What, and is this she, sayst thou?
[He handles the cloth.]

GEORGE: Ay, and the purest she that ever you fingered since you were a gentleman. Look how even she is, look how clean she is – ha, as even as the brow of Cynthia, and as clean as your sons and heirs when they ha’ spent all.

CASTRUCCIO: Pooh, thou talkst – pox on’t, ’tis rough.

GEORGE: How? Is she rough? But if you bid pox on’t sir, ’twill take away the roughness presently.

FLUELLO: [To Castruccio.] Ha, signor! Has he fitted your French curse?

GEORGE: [To Castruccio.] Look you, gentleman, here’s another. [He displays another cloth.] Compare them, I pray: compara Virgilium cum Homero, compare virgins with harlots.

CASTRUCCIO: Pooh, I ha’ seen better, and, as you term them, evener and cleaner.

GEORGE: You may see further for your mind, but trust me, you shall not find better for your body.

[Enter Candido.]

CASTRUCCIO: [Aside to his companions.] O, here he comes. Let’s make as though we pass.
[Aloud.] Come, come, we’ll try in some other shop.
[The Gentlemen start to leave.]

CANDIDO: How now? What’s the matter?

GEORGE: The gentlemen find fault with this lawn, fall out with it, and without a cause too.

CANDIDO: Without a cause?
And that makes you to let ’em pass away? –
Ah, may I crave a word with you gentlemen?

FLUELLO: [Aside to his companions.] He calls us.

CASTRUCCIO: [Aside to Fluello.] Makes the better for the jest.

CANDIDO: I pray come near. You’re very welcome, gallants.
Pray pardon my man’s rudeness, for I fear me
H’as talked above a prentice with you. [To a Prentice.] Lawns!
[Showing the lawns.] Look you, kind gentlemen. – This? No. – Ay, this;
Take this, upon my honest-dealing faith,
To be a true weave, not too hard, nor slack,
But e’en as far from falsehood as from black.

CASTRUCCIO: Well, how do you rate it?

CANDIDO: Very conscionable, eighteen shillings a yard.

CASTRUCCIO: That’s too dear. How many yards does the whole piece contain, think you?

CANDIDO: Why, some seventeen yards I think, or thereabouts. How much would serve your turn, I pray?

CASTRUCCIO: Why, let me see. [He examines the cloth.] Would it were better, too.

CANDIDO: Truth, ’tis the best in Milan, at few words.

CASTRUCCIO: Well, let me have, then – a whole pennyworth.

CANDIDO: Ha, ha! You’re a merry gentleman.

CASTRUCCIO: A penn’orth, I say.

CANDIDO: Of lawn?

CASTRUCCIO: Of lawn? Ay, of lawn, a penn’orth. ’Sblood, dost not hear? A whole penn’orth. Are you deaf?

CANDIDO: Deaf? No, sir, but I must tell you
Our wares do seldom meet such customers.

CASTRUCCIO: Nay, an you and your lawns be so squeamish, fare you well.
[He makes as if to go.]

CANDIDO: Pray stay, a word. Pray, signor,
For what purpose is it, I beseech you?

CASTRUCCIO: ’Sblood, what’s that to you? I’ll have a pennyworth.

CANDIDO: A pennyworth? Why, you shall. I’ll serve you presently.

SECOND PRENTICE: [Aside to Viola.] ’Sfoot, a pennyworth, mistress!

VIOLA: [To Candido.] A pennyworth! Call you these gentlemen?

CASTRUCCIO: [To Candido, as he starts to cut the cloth.] No, no, not there.

CANDIDO: What then, kind gentleman? What, at this corner here?

CASTRUCCIO: No, nor there neither.
I’ll have it just in the middle, or else not.

CANDIDO: Just in the middle. Ha, you shall, too. What,
Have you a single penny?

CASTRUCCIO: [Producing a coin.] Yes, here’s one.

CANDIDO: Lend it me, I pray.

FLUELLO: [Aside.] An excellent-followed jest!

VIOLA: What, will he spoil the lawn now?

CANDIDO: Patience, good wife.

VIOLA: Ay, that patience makes a fool of you. – Gentlemen, you might ha’ found some other citizen to have made a kind gull on besides my husband.

CANDIDO: [As he proceeds to cut the cloth.] Pray, gentlemen, take her to be a woman;
Do not regard her language. [To Viola.] O kind soul,
Such words will drive away my customers.

VIOLA: ‘Customers’ with a murrain! Call you these customers?

CANDIDO: Patience, good wife.

VIOLA: Pax o’your patience!

GEORGE: ’Sfoot, mistress, I warrant these are some cheating companions.

CANDIDO: Look you, gentleman, there’s your ware. I thank you; I have your money. [Handing over the piece of cloth.] Here. Pray know my shop, Let me have your custom.

VIOLA: ‘Custom’, quoth’a!

CANDIDO: Let me take more of your money.

VIOLA: You had need so.

PIORATTO: [Aside to Castruccio.] Hark in thine ear: th’ast lost a hundred ducats.

CASTRUCCIO: [Aside in reply] Well, well, I know’t. Is’t possible that homo
Should be nor man nor woman? Not once moved,
No, not at such an injury, not at all!
Sure he’s a pigeon, for he has no gall.

FLUELLO: [To Candido.] Come, come, you’re angry, though you smother it;
You’re vexed, i’faith – confess.

CANDIDO: Why, gentlemen,
Should you conceit me to be vexed or moved?
He has my ware, I have his money for’t;
And that’s no argument I am angry. No,
The best logician cannot prove me so.

FLUELLO: O, but the hateful name of a pennyworth of lawn,
And then cut out i’th’ middle of the piece!
Pah, I guess it by myself. ’Twould move a lamb,
Were he a linen-draper; ’twould, i’faith.

CANDIDO: Well, give me leave to answer you for that.
We are set here to please all customers,
Their humours and their fancies, offend none;
We get by many if we leese by one.
Maybe his mind stood to no more than that.
A penn’orth serves him; and ’mongst trades ’tis found,
‘Deny a penn’worth, it may cross a pound.’
O, he that means to thrive with patient eye
Must please the devil if he come to buy.

FLUELLO: O wondrous man, patient ’bove wrong or woe!
How blest were men if women could be so.

CANDIDO: And to express how well my breast is pleased
And satisfied in all, George, fill a beaker.

Exit George.

I’ll drink unto that gentleman who lately
Bestowed his money with me.

VIOLA: God’s my life,
We shall have all our gains drunk out in beakers
To make amends for pennyworths of lawn!

Enter George with a filled beaker.

CANDIDO: [Passing the beaker to Viola.] Here, wife, begin you to the gentleman.

VIOLA: I begin to him? [She deliberately spills the drink.]

CANDIDO: George, fill’t up again. – Twas my fault; my hand shook.

Exit George with the beaker.

PIORATTO: [Aside to his friends.] How strangely this doth show:
A patient man linked with a waspish shrew!

FLUELLO: [Aside.] A silver-and-gilt beaker! I have a trick to work upon that beaker. Sure ’twill fret him; It cannot choose but vex him. [Aside to Castruccio.] Signor Castruccio, in pity to thee I have a conceit will save thy hundred ducats yet; ’twill do’t, and work him to impatience.

CASTRUCCIO: [Aside to Fluello.] Sweet Fluello,
I should be bountiful to that conceit.

FLUELLO: Well, ’tis enough.

Enter George with a filled beaker and a jug.

CANDIDO: [To Castruccio, holding the beaker.] Here, gentleman, to you. I wish your custom; you’re exceeding welcome. [He takes a sip and passes the beaker to Castruccio.]

CASTRUCCIO: I pledge you, Signor Candido. [He drinks to Candido.]
Here, to you, that must receive a hundred ducats.
[He drinks to Pioratto, and passes the beaker to him.]

PIORATTO: I’ll pledge them deep, i’faith, Castruccio. [He drinks.] Signor Fluello. [He drinks to Fluello.]

FLUELLO: [To Pioratto.] Come, play’t off – to me; I am your last man.

[Pioratto empties out the beaker, as urged by Fluello, who is to drink next.]

CANDIDO: George, supply the cup. [George fills the beaker and passes it to Fluello.]

FLUELLO: So, so, good honest George. Here, Signor Candido; [He drinks a little to Candido.] All this to you. [He passes the beaker to him.]

CANDIDO: O, you must pardon me. I use it not.

FLUELLO: Will you not pledge me, then?

CANDIDO: Yes, but not that; Great love is shown in little.

FLUELLO: Blurt on your sentences! ’Sfoot, you shall pledge me all.

CANDIDO: Indeed I shall not.

FLUELLO: Not pledge me? ’Sblood, I’ll carry away the beaker then.

CANDIDO: The beaker? O, that at your pleasure, sir.

FLUELLO: Now, by this drink, I will.

CASTRUCCIO: [To Candido] Pledge him; he’ll do’t else. [Candido does not move. Fluello drinks the contents of the beaker. He pours out the last drop on his thumbnail.]

FLUELLO: So. I ha’ done you right, on my thumbnail. What, will you pledge me now?

CANDIDO: You know me, sir, I am not of that sin.

FLUELLO: Why then, farewell. I’ll bear away the beaker, by this light.

CANDIDO: That’s as you please; ’tis very good.

FLUELLO: Nay, it doth please me, and as you say ’tis a very good one. Farewell, Signor Candido.

Farewell, Candido.

CANDIDO: You’re welcome, gentlemen.

CASTRUCCIO: [Aside.] Heart, not moved yet? [Aside to Fluello.] I think his patience is above your wit.

Exeunt Castruccio, Pioratto, and Fluello with the beaker.

GEORGE: I told you before, mistress, they were all cheaters.

VIOLA: Why, fool; why, husband; why, madman! I hope you will not let ’em sneak away so, with a silver-and-gilt beaker, the best in the house, too. – Go, fellows, make hue and cry after them.

CANDIDO: Pray let your tongue lie still; all will be well. – Come hither, George. Hie to the constable, and in calm order wish him to attach them. Make no great stir, because they’re gentlemen; And a thing partly done in merriment,
’Tis but a size above a jest, thou knowst. Therefore pursue it mildly. Go, begone. The constable’s hard by, bring him along. Make haste again.

Exit George.

VIOLA: O, you’re a goodly patient woodcock, are you not now? See what your patience comes to: everyone saddles you and rides you, you’ll be shortly the common stone-horse of Milan. A woman’s well holped up with such a meacock; I had rather have a husband that would swaddle me thrice a day than such a one, that will be gulled twice in half an hour. O, I could burn all the wares in my shop for anger!

CANDIDO: Pray wear a peaceful temper, be my wife –
That is, be patient; for a wife and husband
Share but one soul between them. This being known,
Why should not one soul then agree in one?

VIOLA: Hang your agreements! But if my beaker be gone –

Exit Viola.

Enter Castruccio, Fluello, Pioratto, and George.

CANDIDO: O, here they come.

GEORGE: The constable, sir, let ’em come along with me, because there should be no wondering. He stays at door.

CASTRUCCIO: Constable, Goodman Abram?

FLUELLO: Now, Signor Candido, ’sblood, why do you attach us?

CASTRUCCIO: ’Sheart! Attach us!

CANDIDO: Nay, swear not, gallants.
Your oaths may move your souls, but not move me;
You have a silver beaker of my wife’s.

FLUELLO: You say not true, ’tis gilt.

CANDIDO: Then you say true.
And being gilt, the guilt lies more on you.

CASTRUCCIO: I hope you’re not angry, sir.

CANDIDO: Then you hope right,
For I am not angry.

PIORATTO: No, but a little moved.

CANDIDO: I moved? ’Twas you were moved; you were brought hither.

CASTRUCCIO: But you, out of your anger and impatience,
Caused us to be attached.

CANDIDO: Nay, you misplace it.
Out of my quiet sufferance I did that,
And not of any wrath. Had I shown anger,
I should have then pursued you with the law,
And hunted you to shame, as many worldlings
Do build their anger upon feebler grounds –
The more’s the pity. Many lose their lives
For scarce so much coin as will hide their palm,
Which is most cruel. Those have vexèd spirits
That pursue lives. In this opinion rest:
The loss of millions could not move my breast.

FLUELLO: Thou art a blest man, and with peace dost deal;
Such a meek spirit can bless a commonweal.

CANDIDO: Gentlemen, now ’tis upon eating-time,
Pray part not hence, but dine with me today.

CASTRUCCIO: I never heard a courtier yet say nay
To such a motion. I’ll not be the first.



CANDIDO: The constable shall bear you company.
George, call him in. Let the world say what it can,
Nothing can drive me from a patient man.

Exeunt all.

ACT TWOcenter

Scene Two:

Enter ROGER with a stool, cushion, looking-glass, and chafing-dish. Those being set down, he pulls out of his pocket a vial with white colour in it, and two boxes, one with white, another red painting. He places all things in order, and a candle by them, singing with the ends of old ballads as he does it. At last BELLAFRONT, as he rubs his cheek with the colours, whistles within.

ROGER: Anon, forsooth.

BELLAFRONT: [Within] What are you playing the rogue about?

roger About you, forsooth; Iʼm drawing up a hole in your white silk stocking.

bellafront Is my glass there? And my boxes of complexion?

Yes, forsooth. Your boxes of complexion are here, I think. Yes, ʼtis here; hereʼs your two complexions. [Aside] An if I had all the four complexions, I should neʼer set a good face uponʼt. Some men, I see, are born under hard-favoured planets as well as women. Zounds, I look worse now than I did before; and it makes her face glister most damnably. Thereʼs knavery in daubing, I hold my life; or else this is only female pomatum.

Enter Bellafront not full ready, without a gown. She sits down, with her bodkin curls her hair, colours her lips [etc.].

Whereʼs my ruff and poker, you blockhead?

Your ruff and your poker are engendering together upon the cupboard of the court, or the court-cupboard.

Fetch ʼem! Is the pox in your hams, you can go no faster?
[She throws something at him.]

Would the pox were in your fingers, unless you could leave flinging. Catch!
[He throws back the object.]

Iʼll catch you, you dog, by and by. Do you grumble?

Exit [Roger].

She sings:
Cupid is a god
As naked as my nail;
Iʼll whip him with a rod
If he my true love fail.

[Enter Roger with ruff and poker.]

Thereʼs your ruff. Shall I poke it?

Yes, honest Roger – no, stay. Prithee, good boy, hold here.
[Roger holds the looking-glass and candle for her. She sings:]
Down, down, down, down; I fall down, and arise I never shall.

Troth, mistress, then leave the trade, if you shall never rise.

What trade, Goodman Abram?

Why, that of down and arise, or the falling trade.

Iʼll fall with you, by and by.

If you do, I know who shall smart forʼt. Troth, mistress, what do I look like now?
Like as you are: a panderly sixpenny rascal.
I may thank you for that. No, faith, I look like an old proverb, ‘Hold the candle before the devil.ʼ
Udʼs life, Iʼll stick my knife in your guts an you prate to me so! – What?
She sings:
Well met, pug, the pearl of beauty, umm, umm.
How now, Sir Knave, you forget your duty, umm, umm.
Marry-muff, sir, are you grown so dainty? Fa, la, la, leera, la.
Is it you, sir? The worst of twenty, fa, la, la, leera, la.
Pox on you, how dost thou hold my glass?
Why, as I hold your door: with my fingers.
Nay, prithee, sweet honey Roger, hold up handsomely. (Sings ‘Pretty wantons, warbleʼ, etc.) We shall haʼ guests today, I lay my little maidenhead, my nose itches so.
I said so too, last night, when our fleas twinged me.
[Completing her make-up] So. Poke my ruff now. My gown, my gown! Have I my fall? Whereʼs my fall, Roger?
Your fall, forsooth, is behind.
One knocks.
Godʼs my pitikins! Some fool or other knocks.
Shall I open to the fool, mistress?
And all these baubles lying thus? Away with it quickly!
[They tidy up. More knocking.]
– Ay, ay, knock and be damned, whosoever you be. – So. Give the fresh salmon line now; let him come ashore. He shall serve for my breakfast, though he go against my stomach.
Roger fetches in Fluello, Castruccio, and Pioratto.
[He brings in some stools.]
[To Bellafront] Morrow, coz.
How does my sweet acquaintance?
Save thee, little marmoset. How dost thou, good pretty rogue?
Well, God-a-mercy, good pretty rascal.
[Producing tobacco] Roger, some light, I prithee.
You shall, signor; for we that live here in this vale of misery are as dark as hell.
Exit for a candle.
Good tobacco, Fluello?
It may be tickling gear, for it plays with my nose already.
Enter Roger [with candle].
[To Fluello] Hereʼs another light angel, signor.
[Fluello lights a pipe, which afterwards he passes to Castruccio.]
What, you pied curtal? Whatʼs that you are neighing?
I say, ‘God send us the light of heaven, or some more angelsʼ.
Go fetch some wine; [Aside, to him]and drink half of it.
I must fetch some wine, gentlemen, [Aside to her] and drink half of it.
[Offering him money] Here, Roger.
No, let me send, prithee.
[To Roger] Hold, you cankerworm.
You shall send both, if you please, signors. [Castruccio gives him money.]
Stay, whatʼs best to drink a-mornings?
Hippocras, sir, for my mistress, if I fetch it, is most dear to her.
Hippocras? [Giving Roger more money] There, then; hereʼs a teston for you, you snake.
Right, sir; hereʼs three shillings sixpence for a pottle and a manchet.
[Smoking] Hereʼs most Herculean tobacco. [Offering the pipe to Bellafront] Haʼ some, acquaintance?
Faugh, not I – makes your breath stink like the piss of a fox. Acquaintance, where supped you last night?
At a place, sweet acquaintance, where your health danced the canaries, iʼfaith; you should haʼ been there.
I there, among your punks? Marry faugh, hang ʼem! Scornʼt. Will you never leave sucking of eggs in other folksʼ hensʼ nests?
Why, in good troth, if youʼll trust me, acquaintance, there was not one hen at the board. Ask Fluello.
No, faith, coz, none but cocks. Signor Malavolta drunk to thee.
O, a pure beagle! That horseleech there?
And the knight, Sir Oliver Lollio, swore he would bestow a taffeta petticoat on thee, but to break his fast with thee.
With me? Iʼll choke him then. Hang him, mole-catcher! Itʼs the dreamingest snotty-nose.
Well, many took that Lollio for a fool; but heʼs a subtle fool.
Ay, and he has fellows; of all filthy, dry-fisted knights, I cannot abide that he should touch me.
Why, wench, is he scabbed?
Hang him! Heʼll not live to be so honest, nor to the credit to have scabs about him; his betters have ʼem. But I hate to wear out any of his coarse knighthood, because heʼs made like an aldermanʼs nightgown, faced all with cony before, and within nothing but fox. This sweet Oliver will eat mutton till he be ready to burst, but the lean-jawed slave will not pay for the scraping of his trencher.
Plague him; set him beneath the salt, and let him not touch a bit till everyone has had his full cut.
Sordello, the gentleman-usher, came in to us too. Marry, ʼtwas in our cheese, for he had been to borrow money for his lord, of a citizen.
What an ass is that lord, to borrow money of a citizen!
Nay, Godʼs my pity, what an ass is that citizen to lend money to a lord!
Enter Mattheo and Hippolito, who, saluting the company as a stranger, walks off. Roger comes in sadly behind them, with a pottle pot, and stands aloof off.
Save you, gallants. Signor Fluello, exceedingly well met, as I may say.
Signor Mattheo, exceedingly well met too, as I may say.
And how fares my little pretty mistress?
Eʼen as my little pretty servant; sees three court dishes before her, and not one good bit in them. [To Roger] How now? Why the devil standst thou so? Art in a trance?
Yes, forsooth.
Why dost not fill out their wine?
Forsooth, ʼtis filled out already: all the wine that the signors has bestowed upon you is cast away. A porter ran a tilt at me, and so faced me down that I had not a drop.
Iʼm accurst to let such a withered artichoke-faced rascal grow under my nose! Now you look like an old he-cat, going to the gallows. Iʼll be hanged if he haʼ not put up the money to cony-catch us all.
No, truly, forsooth, ʼtis not put up [Aside to her] yet.
How many gentlemen hast thou served thus?
None [Aside] but five hundred, besides prentices and servingmen.
Dost think Iʼll pocket it up at thy hands?
Yes, forsooth, [Aside to her] I fear you will pocket it up.
[To Mattheo] Fie, fie, cut my lace, good servant; I shall haʼ the mother presently, Iʼm so vexed at this horse-plum!
Plague, not for a scald pottle of wine!
Nay, sweet Bellafront, for a little pigʼs wash!
Here, Roger, fetch more. [He gives him more money.] – A mischance, iʼfaith, acquaintance.
[To Roger] Out of my sight, thou ungodly puritanical creature!
For the tother pottle? Yes, forsooth.
[Aside to him] Spill that too!
Exit [Roger].
[Observing Hippolito] What gentleman is that, servant? Your friend?
Godso! A stool, a stool! If you love me, mistress, entertain this gentleman respectively, and bid him welcome.
Heʼs very welcome. [To Hippolito] Pray, sir, sit.
Thanks, lady.
[Moving towards him] Count Hippolito, isʼt not? Cry you mercy, signor; you walk here all this while, and we not heed you? Let me bestow a stool upon you, beseech you. You are a stranger here; we know the fashions oʼthʼ house.
[He offers Hippolito a stool.]
Please you be here, my lord. [He offers Hippolito] tobacco.
[Declining the offer] No, good Castruccio.
You have abandoned the court, I see, my lord, since the death of your mistress. Well, she was a delicate piece – [Aside to Bellafront] Beseech you, sweet, come, let us serve under the colours of your acquaintance still, for all that. [Aloud to Hippolito] Please you to meet here at the lodging of my coz; I shall bestow a banquet upon you.
[Bellafront and Mattheo speak privately without hearing the others, who converse aloud with one another.]
[To Fluello] I never can deserve this kindness, sir.
What may this lady be, whom you call coz?
Faith, sir, a poor gentlewoman, of passing good carriage; one that has some suits in law, and lies here in an attorneyʼs house.
Is she married?
Ha, as all your punks are, a captainʼs wife or so. Never saw her before, my lord?
Never, trust me. A goodly creature.
By gad, when you know her as we do, youʼll swear she is the prettiest, kindest, sweetest, most bewitching honest ape under the pole. A skin – your satin is not more soft, nor lawn whiter.
Belike, then, sheʼs some sale courtesan.
Troth, as all your best faces are; a good wench.
Great pity that sheʼs a good wench. [They whisper.]
[Aloud to Bellafront] Thou shalt have it iʼfaith, mistress. – How now, signors? What? Whispering? [Talking apart to Hippolito] Did not I lay a wager I should take you within seven days in a house of vanity?
You did, and, I beshrew your heart, you have won.
How do you like my mistress?
Well, for such a mistress. Better, if your mistress be not your master. [Aloud] I must break manners, gentlemen; fare you well.
ʼSfoot, you shall not leave us.
The gentleman likes not the taste of our company.
all gentlemen
Beseech you, stay.
Trust me, my affairs beckon for me. Pardon me.
Will you call for me half an hour hence here?
Perhaps I shall.
Perhaps? Faugh! I know you can; swear to me you will.
Since you will press me, on my word I will.
What sullen picture is this, servant?
Itʼs Count Hippolito, the brave count.
As gallant a spirit as any in Milan, you sweet Jew.
O, heʼs a most essential gentleman, coz.
Did you never hear of Count Hippolito, acquaintance?
Marry-muff oʼyour counts, an be no more life in ʼem.
Heʼs so malcontent! Sirrah Bellafront – [To the others] An you be honest gallants, letʼs sup together, and have the count dine with us. [To her] Thou shalt sit at the upper end, punk.
‘Punkʼ, you soused gurnet?
Kingʼs truce! Come, Iʼll bestow the supper to have him but laugh.
He betrays his youth too grossly to that tyrant, melancholy.
All this is for a woman.
A woman? Some whore! What sweet jewel isʼt?
Would she heard you.
Troth, so would I.
And I, by heaven.
Nay, good servant, what woman?
Prithee, tell me; a buss, and tell me! I warrant heʼs an honest fellow, if he take on thus for a wench. Good rogue, who?
By thʼLord, I will not, must not, faith, mistress. – Isʼt a match, sirs? This night, at thʼAntelope; for thereʼs best wine, and good boys.
all gentlemen
Itʼs done; at thʼAntelope.
I cannot be there tonight.
‘Cannotʼ? By thʼLord, you shall.
By the Lady, I will not. ‘Shallʼ!
Why then, put it off till Friday. Wuʼt come then, coz?
Well –
Enter Roger.
Youʼre the waspishest ape. – Roger, put your mistress in mind, your scurvy mistress here, to sup with us on Friday next. [To her] Youʼre best come like a madwoman, without a band, in your waistcoat, and the linings of your kirtle outward, like every common hackney that steals out at the back gate of her sweet knightʼs lodging.
Go, go, hang yourself!
Itʼs dinner-time, Mattheo; shallʼs hence?
all gentlemen
Yes, yes. – Farewell, wench.
Farewell, boys.
Exeunt [Fluello, Castruccio, Pioratto, and Mattheo].
Roger, what wine sent they for?
Bastard wine; for if it had been truly begotten, it would not haʼ been ashamed to come in. Hereʼs six shillings, to pay for nursing the bastard.
A company of rooks! O good sweet Roger, run to the poulterʼs and buy me some fine larks.
No woodcocks?
Yes, faith, a couple, if they be not dear.
Iʼll buy but one: thereʼs one already here.
Enter Hippolito.
Is the gentleman my friend departed, mistress?
His back is but new turned, sir.
 [Going] Fare you well.
I can direct you to him.
 Can you, pray?
If you please, stay; heʼll not be absent long.
I care not much.
 Pray sit, forsooth.
 [Putting down his rapier] Iʼm hot;
If I may use your room, Iʼll rather walk.
At your best pleasure. Whew!
 [Offering towels] Some rubbers, there.
Indeed, Iʼll none – indeed, I will not. Thanks.
Pretty fine lodging. I perceive my friend
Is old in your acquaintance.
 Troth, sir, he comes
As other gentlemen, to spend spare hours.
If yourself like our roof, such as it is,
Your own acquaintance may be as old as his.
Say I did like, what welcome should I find?
Such as my present fortunes can afford.
But would you let me play Mattheoʼs part?
What part?
 Why, embrace you, dally with you, kiss.
Faith, tell me: will you leave him, and love me?
I am in bonds to no man, sir.
 Why then,
Youʼre free for any man; if any, me.
But I must tell you, lady, were you mine,
You should be all mine. I could brook no sharers;
I should be covetous, and sweep up all.
I should be pleasureʼs usurer; faith, I should.
O fate!
 Why sigh you, lady? May I know?
ʼT has never been my fortune yet to single
Out that one man whose love could fellow mine,
As I have ever wished it. O my stars!
Had I but met with one kind gentleman
That would have purchased sin alone, to himself,
For his own private use, although scarce proper
(Indifferent handsome, meetly legged and thighed),
And my allowance reasonable (iʼfaith,
According to my body), by my troth
I would have been as true unto his pleasures
Yea, and as loyal to his afternoons,
As ever a poor gentlewoman could be.
This were well now to one but newly fledged
And scarce a day old in this subtle world;
ʼTwere pretty art, good bird-lime, cunning net.
But come, come, faith, confess: how many men
Have drunk this self-same protestation
From that red ʼticing lip?
 Indeed, not any.
‘Indeedʼ? And blush not?
 No, in truth, not any.
‘Indeedʼ! ‘In truthʼ! How warily you swear!
ʼTis well, if ill it be not. Yet had I
The ruffian in me, and were drawn before you
But in light colours, I do know indeed
You would not swear ‘indeedʼ, but thunder oaths
That should shake heaven, drown the harmonious spheres,
And pierce a soul that loved her makerʼs honour
With horror and amazement.
 Shall I swear?
Will you believe me then?
 Worst then of all;
Our sins by custom seem at last but small.
Were I but oʼer your threshold, a next man,
And after him a next, and then a fourth,
Should have this golden hook and lascivious bait
Thrown out to the full length. Why, let me tell you
I haʼ seen letters, sent from that white hand,
Tuning such music to Mattheoʼs ear.
Mattheo! Thatʼs true. But if youʼll believe
My honest tongue, my eyes no sooner met you
But they conceived and led you to my heart.
O, you cannot feign with me! Why, I know, lady,
This is the common fashion of you all,
To hook in a kind gentleman, and then
Abuse his coin, conveying it to your lover;
And in the end you show him a French trick,
And so you leave him that a coach may run
Between his legs for breadth.
 O, by my soul,
Not I! Therein Iʼll prove an honest whore –
In being true to one and to no more.
If any be disposed to trust your oath,
Let him; Iʼll not be he. I know you feign
All that you speak, I; for a mingled harlot
Is true in nothing but in being false.
What, shall I teach you how to loathe yourself?
And mildly too, not without sense or reason?
I am content; I would fain loathe myself
If you not love me.
 Then if your gracious blood
Be not all wasted, I shall assay to doʼt.
Lend me your silence and attention.
You have no soul; that makes you weigh so light.
Heavenʼs treasure bought it,
And half a crown hath sold it. For your body,
Itʼs like the common shore, that still receives
All the townʼs filth. The sin of many men
Is within you; and thus much I suppose,
That, if all your committers stood in rank,
Theyʼd make a lane, in which your shame might dwell,
And with their spaces reach from hence to hell.
Nay, shall I urge it more? There has been known
As many by one harlot maimed and dismembered
As would haʼ stuffed an hospital. This I might
Apply to you, and perhaps do you right.
O, youʼre as base as any beast that bears;
Your body is eʼen hired, and so are theirs.
For gold and sparkling jewels, if he can,
Youʼll let a Jew get you with Christian.
Be he a Moor, a Tartar, though his face
Look uglier than a dead manʼs skull,
Could the devil put on a human shape,
If his purse shake out crowns, up then he gets;
Whores will be rid to hell with golden bits.
So that youʼre crueller than Turks, for they
Sell Christians only; you sell yourselves away.
Why, those that love you, hate you, and will term you
Lickerish damnation, wish themselves half sunk
After the sin is laid out, and eʼen curse
Their fruitless riot. For what one begets,
Another poisons. Lust and murder hit;
A tree being often shook, what fruit can knit?
O me unhappy!
 I can vex you more.
A harlot is like Dunkirk, true to none;
Swallows both English, Spanish, fulsome Dutch,
Back-doored Italian, last of all the French.
And he sticks to you, faith; gives you your diet,
Brings you acquainted, first with Monsieur Doctor,
And then you know what follows.
Rank, stinking, and most loathsome misery.
Methinks a toad is happier than a whore:
That with one poison swells, with thousands more
The other stocks her veins. Harlot? Fie, fie!
You are the miserablest creatures breathing.
The very slaves of nature. Mark me else:
You put on rich attires, othersʼ eyes wear them;
You eat but to supply your blood with sin.
And this strange curse eʼen haunts you to your graves:
From fools you get, and spend it upon slaves.
Like bears and apes, youʼre baited and show tricks
For money, but your bawd the sweetness licks.
Indeed, you are their journey-women, and do
All base and damned works they list set you to,
So that you neʼer are rich. For do but show me,
In present memory or in ages past,
The fairest and most famous courtesan –
Whose flesh was dearʼst, that raised the price of sin,
And held it up; to whose intemperate bosom
Princes, earls, lords (the worst has been a knight,
The meanʼst a gentleman) have offered up
Whole hecatombs of sighs, and rained in showʼrs
Handfuls of gold – yet, for all this, at last
Diseases sucked her marrow; then grew so poor
That she has begged, eʼen at a beggarʼs door.
And – wherein heavʼn has a finger – when this idol
From coast to coast has lept on foreign shores,
And had more worship than thʼoutlandish whores;
When several nations have gone over her;
When for each several city she has seen
Her maidenhead has been new, and been sold dear;
Did live well there, and might have died unknown
And undefamed – back comes she to her own,
And there both miserably lives and dies,
Scorned even of those that once adored her eyes,
As if her fatal-circled life thus ran
Her pride should end there where it first began.
[She weeps.]
What, do you weep to hear your story read?
Nay, if you spoil your cheeks, Iʼll read no more.
[Weeping] O yes, I pray, proceed.
Indeed, ʼtwill do me good to weep, indeed.
To give those tears a relish, this I add:
Youʼre like the Jews, scattered, in no place certain.
Your days are tedious, your hours burdensome;
And wereʼt not for full suppers, midnight revels,
Dancing, wine, riotous meetings, which do drown
And bury quite in you all virtuous thoughts,
And on your eyelids hang so heavily
They have no power to look so high as heaven,
Youʼd sit and muse on nothing but despair,
Curse that devil Lust, that so burns up your blood,
And in ten thousand shivers break your glass
For his temptation. Say you taste delight
To have a golden gull from rise to set,
To mete you in his hot luxurious arms,
Yet your nights pay for all: I know you dream
Of warrants, whips, and beadles, and then start
At a doorʼs windy creak, think every weasel
To be a constable and every rat
A long-tailed officer. Are you now not slaves?
O, you have damnation without pleasure for it!
Such is the state of harlots. To conclude,
When you are old and can well paint no more,
You turn bawd, and are then worse than before.
Make use of this. Farewell.
[He starts to go.]
O, I pray, stay!
I see Mattheo comes not. Time hath barred me.
Would all the harlots in the town had heard me.
[Calling after him] Stay yet a little longer! No? Quite gone!
Curst be that minute – for it was no more,
So soon a maid is changed into a whore –
Wherein I first fell; be it for ever black!
Yet why should sweet Hippolito shun mine eyes,
For whose true love I would become pure-honest,
Hate the worldʼs mixtures and the smiles of gold?
Am I not fair? Why should he fly me, then?
Fair creatures are desired, not scorned of men.
How many gallants have drunk healths to me
Out of their daggered arms, and thought them blest
Enjoying but mine eyes at prodigal feasts?
And does Hippolito detest my love?
O, sure their heedless lusts but flattered me;
I am not pleasing, beautiful, nor young.
Hippolito has spied some ugly blemish,
Eclipsing all my beauties. I am foul.
Harlot! Ay, thatʼs the spot that taints thy soul.
[Finding Hippolitoʼs rapier] His weapon left here? O, fit instrument
To let forth all the poison of my flesh!
Thy master hates me ʼcause my blood hath ranged;
But when ʼtis forth, then heʼll believe Iʼm changed.
[As she is about to stab herself], enter Hippolito.
Mad woman, what art doing?
 Either love me,
Or cleave my bosom on thy rapierʼs point.
Yet do not neither, for thou then destroyst
That which I love thee for – thy virtues. Here, here!
[She gives him his sword.]
Thouʼrt crueller, and killst me with disdain;
To die so sheds no blood, yet ʼtis worse pain.

Exit Hippolito.

Not speak to me! Not look! Not bid farewell!
Hated! This must not be; some means Iʼll try.
Would all whores were as honest now as I.


This work was published before January 1, 1927, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.