2 Honest Whore – Act 1, Scene 2

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 Enter LODIVICO, CAROLO, ASTOLFO,  and BERALDO.

 LODOVICO
Gods so, gentlemen, what do we forget?

OMNES
What?

LODOVICO
Are not we all enjoined as this day?  Thursday, is’t not?  Ay, as that day to be at the linen-drapers house at dinner?

CAROLO
Signior Candido, the patient man.

ASTOLFO
Afore Jove, true.  Upon this day he’s married.

BERALDO
I wonder, that being so stung with a wasp before, he dares venture again to come about the eaves amongst bees.

LODOVICO
Oh, ’tis rare sucking a sweet honey-comb.  Pray heaven his old wife be buried deep enough, that she rise not up to call for her dance; the poor fiddler’s instrument would crack for it, she’d tickle them.  At any hand, let’s try what mettle is in his new bride.  If there be none, we’ll put in some.  Troth, it’s a very noble citizen.  I pity he should marry again.  I’ll walk along, for it is a good old fellow.

CAROLO
I warrant the wives of Milan would give any fellow twenty thousand ducats, that could but have the face to beg of the duke, that all the citizens in Milan might be bound to the peace of patience, as the linen-draper is.

LODOVICO
Oh, fie upon’t!  ‘Twould undo all us that are courtiers.  We should have no whore with the wenches then.

 Enter HIPPOLITO.

 OMNES
My lord’s come.

HIPPOLITO
How now, what news?

OMNES
None.

LODOVICO
Your lady is with the Duke her father.

HIPPOLITO
And we’ll to them both presently.  Who’s that?

 Enter ORLANDO FRISCOBALDO.

 OMNES
Signior Friscobaldo.

HIPPOLITO
Friscobaldo, oh!  Pray call him and leave me.  We two have business.

CAROLO
Ho Signior!  Signior Friscobaldo!
The lord Hippolito.     [Exeunt LODOVICO, CAROLO, ASTOLFO, and BEROLDO.

ORLANDO
My noble lord, my lord Hippolito!   The Duke’s son!  His brave daughter’s brave husband!  How does your honour’d lordship? Does your nobility remember so poor a gentleman as Signior Orlando Friscobaldo?  Old mad Orlando?

HIPPOLITO
Oh sir, our friends; they ought to be unto us as our jewels, as dearly valued, being locked up and unseen as when we wear them in our hands.  I see, Friscobaldo, age hath not command of your blood, for all times sickle has gone over you.  You are Orlando still.

ORLANDO
Why, my lord, are not the fields mowed and cut down, and strip’t bare, and yet wear they not pied coats again?  Though my head be like a leek, white, may not my heart be like the blade, green?

HIPPOLITO
Scarce can I read the stories on your brow
Which age hath writ there.  You look youthful still.

ORLANDO
I eat snakes, my lord, I eat snakes.  My heart shall never have a wrinkle in it, so long as I can cry “hem” with a clear voice.

HIPPOLITO
You are the happier man, sir.

ORLANDO
Happy man!  I’ll give you, my lord, the true picture of a happy man.  I was turning leaves over this morning, and found it.  In excellent Italian painter drew it.  If I have it in the right colours, I’ll bestow it on your lordship.

HIPPOLITO
I stay for it.

ORLANDO
He that makes gold his wife, but not his whore,
He that at noon-day walks by a prison door,
He that i’th’ sun is neither beam nor moat,
He that’s not mad after a petticoat,
He for whom poor men’s curses dig no grave,
He that is neither lord’s nor lawyer’s slave,
He that makes this his sea, and that his shore,
He that in’s coffin is richer than before,
He that counts youth his sword, and age his staff
He whose right hand carves his own epitaph,
He that upon his death-bed is a swan,
And dead, no crow, he is a happy man.

HIPPOLITO
It’s very well.  I thank you for this picture.

ORLANDO
After this picture, my lord, do I strive to have my face drawn.  For I am not covetous, am not in debt, sit neither at the duke’s side, not lie at his feet.  Wenching and I have done, no man I wrong, no man I fear, no man I fee.  I take heed how far I walk because I know yonder’s my home.  I would not die like a rich man, to carry nothing away save a winding sheet, but like a good man, to leave Orlando behind me.  I sowed leaves in my youth, and I reap now books in my age.  I fill this hand and empty this, and when the bells shall toll for me, if I prove a swan and go singing to my nest, why so?  If a crow! throw me out for carrion, and pick out mine eyes.  May not old Friscobaldo, my lord, be merry now! ha?

HIPPOLITO
You may.  Would I were partner in your mirth.

ORLANDO
I have a little, have all things.  I have nothing.  I have no wife.  I have no child, have no chick.  And why should I not be in my jocund are?

HIPPOLITO
Is your wife, then, departed?

ORLANDO
She’s an old dweller in those high countries, yet not from me.  Here, she’s there, but before me.  When a knave and a quean are married, they commonly walk like sergeants together, but a good couple are seldom parted.

HIPPOLITO
You had a daughter too, sir, had you not?

ORLANDO
Oh my lord!  This old tree had one branch, and but one branch growing out of it.  It was young, it was fair, it was straight.  I pruned I daily, dress’d it carefully, kept it from the wind, help’d it to the sun; yet for all my skill in planting, it grew crooked, it bore crabs.  I hewed it down.  What’s become of it, I neither know, nor care.

HIPPOLITO
Then can I tell you what’s become of it.
That branch is wither’d.

ORLANDO
So ‘twas long ago.

HIPPOLITO
Her name, I think, was Bellafront.  She’s dead.

ORLANDO
Ha?  Dead?

HIPPOLITO
Yes, what of her was left, not worth the keeping.
Even in my sight was thrown into a grave.

ORLANDO
Dead!  My last and best peace go with her.  I see death’s a good trencherman.  He can eat coarse homely meat, as well as the daintiest.

HIPPOLITO
Why, Friscobaldo, was she homely?

ORLANDO
O my lord!  A strumpet is one of the devil’s vines.  All the sins like so many poles are struck upright out of hell, to be her props, that she may spread upon them.  And when she’s ripe, every slave has a pull at her, then must she be press’d.  The young beautiful grape sets the teeth of lust on edge, yet to taste that liquorish wine is to drink a man’s own damnation.  Is she dead?

HIPPOLITO
She’s turned to earth.

ORLANDO
Would she were turn’d to heaven.  Umh, is she dead?  I am glad the world has lost one of his idols.  No whoremonger will at midnight beat at the doors.  In her grave sleep all my shame and her own.  And all my sorrows, and all her sins.

HIPPOLITO
I’m glad you are wax, not marble.  You are made
Of man’s best temper.  There are now good hopes
That all those heaps of ice about your heart,
By which a gather’s love was frozen up,
Are thawed in these sweet fetch’d from your eyes,
We are ne’er like angels till our passion dies.
She is not dead, but lives under worse fate.
I think she’s poor, and more to clip her wings
Her husband at this hour lies in the jail
For killing of a man.  To save his blood,
Join all your forces with mine.  Mine shall be shown.
The getting of his life preserves your own.

ORLANDO
In my daughter you will say!  Does she live then?
I am sorry I wasted tears upon a harlot, but the best is I have a handkerchief to drink them up.  Soap can wash them all out again.  Is she poor?

HIPPOLITO
Trust me, I think she is.

ORLANDO

Then she’s a right strumpet.  I ne’er knew any of their trade rich two years together.  Sieves can hold no water, nor harlots hoard up money.  They have many vents, too many sluices to let it out; taverns, tailors, bawds, panders, fiddlers, swaggerers, fools, and knaves do all wait upon a common harlot’s trencher.  She is the galley-pot to which these drones fly, not for love to the pot, but for the sweet sucket within it, her money, her money.

HIPPOLITO
I almost dare pawn my word, her bosom
Gives warmth to no such snakes.  When did you see her?

ORLANDO
Not seventeen summers.

HIPPOLITO
Is you hate so old?

ORLANDO
Older.  It has a white head, and shall never die.  Till she be buried, her wrongs shall be my bedfellow.

HIPPOLITO
Work yet his life, since in it lives her fame.

ORLANDO
No, let him hand and half her infamy departs out of the world. I hate him for her; he taught her first to taste poison.  I hate her for her self because she refused my physic.

HIPPOLITO
Nay, but Friscobaldo –

ORLANDO
I detest her.  I defy both.  She’s not mine, she’s —

HIPPOLITO
Hear her but speak.

ORLANDO
I love no mermaids.  I’ll not be caught with a quail pipe.

HIPPOLITO
Y’are now beyond all reason.

ORLANDO
I am then a beast.  Sir, I had rather be a beast, and not dishonour my creation, then be a doting father, and like Time, be the destruction of mine own brood.

HIPPOLITO
Is’t dotage to relieve your child being poor?

ORLANDO

Is’t fit for an old man to keep a whore?

HIPPOLITO
‘Tis charity too.

ORLANDO
‘Tis foolery.  Relieve her!  Were her cold limbs stretch’d out upon a bier, I would not sell this dirt under my nails to buy her an hour’s breath, nor give this hair, unless it were to choke her.

HIPPOLITO
Fare you well, for I’ll trouble you no more.                                             [Exit.

ORLANDO
And fare you well sir; go thy ways.  We have few lords of thy making that love wenches for their honour.  ‘Las, my girl!  Art thou poor?  Poverty dwells next door to despair; there’s but a wall between them.  Despair is on of hell’s catch-pools, and lest that devil arrest her, I’ll to her.  Yet she shall not know me.  She shall drink of my wealth, as beggars do of running water, freely, yet never know from what fountain’s head it flows.  Shall a silly bird pick her own breast to nourish her young ones, and can a father see his child starve?  That were hard.  The pelican does it, and shall not I.  Yes, I will victual the camp for her, but it shall be by some silly stratagem.  That knave there, her husband will be hanged I fear.  I’ll keep his neck out of the noose if I can.  He shall not know her.

 Enter two Serving-men.

How now knaves?  Whiter wander you?

FIRST SERVANT
To seek your worship.

ORLANDO
Stay, which of you has my purse?  What money have you about you?

SECOND SERVANT
Some fifteen or sixteen pounds, sir.

ORLANDO
Give it me.  I think I have some gold about me.  Yes, it’s well.  Leave my lodging at court and get you home.  Come, sir, though I never turned any man out of doors, yet I’ll be so bold as to pull your coat over your ears.

FIRST SERVANT
What do you mean to do, sir?

ORLANDO
Hold thy tongue, knave.  Take thou my cloak.  I hope I play not the paltry merchant in this bart’ring.  Bid the steward of my house sleep with open eyes in my absence, and to look to all things.  Whatsoever I command by letters to be done by you, see it done.  So, does it sit well?

SECOND SERVANT
As if it were made for your worship.

ORLANDO
You proud varlets, you need not be ashamed to wear blue when you master is one of your fellows.  Away.  Do not see me.

BOTH
This is excellent.                                            [Exeunt Servants.

ORLANDO
I should put on a worse suit too.  Perhaps I will.  My vizard is on.  Now to this masque.  Say I should shave off this honour of an old man, or tie it up shorter.  Well, I will spoil a good face for once.  My beard being off, how should I look?  Even like a winter cuckoo, or unfeather’d owl. Yet better lose this hair, then lose her soul.               [Exit.

Proceed to the next scene

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