2 Honest Whore – Act 4, scene 1

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Enter MATHEO, brave, and BELLAFRONT.

 MATHEO
How am I suited, Front?  Am I not gallant, ha?

BELLAFRONT
Yes, sir, you are suited well.

MATHEO
Exceeding passing well, and to the time.

BELLAFRONT
The tailor has play’d his part with you.

MATHEO
And I have play’d a gentleman’s part with my tailor, for I owe him for the making of it.

BELLAFRONT
And why did you so, sir?

MATHEO
To keep the fashion.  It’s your only fashion now of you best rank of gallants, to make their tailors wait for their money; neither were it wisdom indeed to pay them upon the first edition of a new suit, for commonly the suit is owing for, when the linings are worn out, and there’s no reason then that the tailor should be paid before the mercer.

BELLAFRONT
Is this the suit the knight bestowed upon you?

MATHEO
This is the suit, and I need not shame to wear it, for better men than I would be glad to have suits bestowed on them.  It’s a generous fellow, but, pox on him! we whose pericranions are very limbecks and stillitories of good wit, and fly him, must drive liquor or of stale gaping oysters.  Shallow knight, poorSquire Tinacheo, I’ll make a wild Cataian of forty such.  Hang him!  He’s an ass.  He’s always sober.

BELLAFRONT
This is your fault to would your friends still.

MATHEO
No faith, Front, Lodovico is a noble Slavonian.  It’s more rare to see him in a woman’s company, then for a Spaniard to go into England and to challenge the English fencers there. [Knocking within.] One knocks.  See.

[Exit BELLAFRONT.

La, fa, sol, la, fa, la, rustle in it makes both fly high.  Catzo.

 Enter BELLAFRONT, after her ORLANDO like himself, with Four Men after him.

   BELLAFRONT
Matheo?  ‘Tis my father.

MATHEO
Ha?  Father?  It’s no matter.  He finds no tattar’d prodigals here.

ORLANDO
Is not the door good enough to hold your blue coats?  Away, knaves!  Wear not your clothes thread-bare at knees for me.  Beg Heaven’s blessing, not mine.  Oh, cry your worship mercy, sir, was somewhat bold to talk to this gentlewoman, your wife, here.

MATHEO
A poor gentlewoman, sir.

ORLANDO
Stand not, sir, bare to me.  I ha’ read oft
That serpents who creep low belch ranker poison
Than winged dragons do that fly aloft.

MATHEO
If it offend you, sir, ‘tis for my pleasure.

ORLANDO
You pleasure be’t, sir.  Umh, is this your place?

BELLAFRONT
Yes, and our kingdom, for ‘tis our content.

ORLANDO
It’s a very poor kingdom then.  What, are all your subjects gone a sheep-shearing?  Not a maid?  Not a man?  Not so much as a cat?  You keep a good house belike, just like one of your profession, every room with bare walls, and a half-headed bed to vault upon, as all your bawdy-houses are.  Pray, who are your upholsterers?  Oh, the spiders, I see. They bestow hangings upon you.

MATHEO
Bawdy-house?  Zounds, sir—!

BELLAFRONT
Oh, sweet Matheo, peace.  Upon my knees
I do beseech you, sir, not to arraign me
For sins, which Heaven, I hope, long since hath pardoned.
The heat no more remains, then where ships went,
Or where birds cut the air, the print remains.

MATHEO
Pox on him!  Kneel to a dog?

BELLAFRONT
She that’s a whore
Lives gallant, fares well, is not, like me, poor.
I ha’ now as small acquaintance with that sin
As if I had never known it.  That, never been.

ORLANDO
No acquaintance with it?  What maintains thee then?  How dost live then?  Has thy husband any lands?  Any rents coming in? Any stock going?  Any ploughs jogging?  Any ships sailing?  Hast thou any wares to turn, so much as to get a single penny by?
Yes, thou hast wares to sell.
Knaves are thy chapmen, and thy shop is hell.

MATHEO
Do you hear, sir?

ORLANDO
So, sir, I do hear, sir, more of you then you dream I know.

MATHEO
You fly a little too high, sir.

ORLANDO
Why, sir, too high?

MATHEO
I ha’ suffered your tongue, like a bard cater-tray, to run all this while, and ha’ not stopp’d it.

ORLANDO
Well, sir, you talk like a gamester.

MATHEO
If you come to bark at her, because she’s a poor rogue, look you, here’s a fine path, sir, and there, there’s the door.

BELLAFRONT
Matheo?

MATHEO
Your blue coats stay for you, sir.
I love a good honest roaring boy, and so—

ORLANDO
That’s the devil!

MATHEO
Sir, sir, I’ll ha’ no Joves in my house to thunder avaunt.  She shall live and be maintained when you, like a keg of musty sturgeon, shall stink.  Where?  In your coffin.  How?  Be a musty fellow, and lousy.

ORLANDO
I know she shall be maintained, but how?  She like a quean, thou like a knave.  She like a whore, thou like a thief.

MATHEO
Thief!  Zounds, thief!

BELLAFRONT
Good dearest Mat!—Father!

MATHEO
Pox on you both!  I’ll not be braved.  New satin scorns to be put down with bare bawdy velvet.  Thief!

ORLANDO
Ay, thief!  Thou’rt a murderer, a cheater, a whoremonger, a pot-hunter, a borrower, a beggar.

BELLAFRONT
Dear father—

ORLANDO
An old ass, a dog, a churl, a chuff, an usurer, a villain, a moth, a mangy mule, with an old velvet foot-cloth on his back, sir.

BELLAFRONT
Oh me!

ORLANDO
Varlet, for this I’ll hang thee!

MATHEO
Ha, ha, alas!

ORLANDO
Thou keepst a man of mine here, under my nose.

MATHEO
Under thy beard.

ORLANDO
As arrant a smell-smock, for an old mutton-munger, as thy self.

MATHEO
No, as your self.

ORLANDO
As arrant a purse-taker as ever cried, stand, yet a good fellow, I confess, and valiant, but he’ll bring thee to th’ gallows.  You have robb’d of late too poor country peddlers.

MATHEO
How’s this?  How’s this?  Dost thou fly him?  Rob peddlers?  Bear witness, Front, rob peddlers?  My man and I a thief?

BELLAFRONT
Oh, sir, no more.

ORLANDO
Ay, knave, two peddlers, hue and cry is up.  Warrants are out, and I shall see thee climb a ladder.

MATHEO
And come down again as well as a bricklayer, or a tiler.  How the vengeance knows he this?  If I be hanged, I’ll tell the people I married old Friscobaldo’s daughter.  I’ll frisco you, and your old carcass.

ORLANDO
Tell what thou canst.  If I stay here longer, I shall be hang’d too for being in thy company.  Therefore, as I found you, I leave you.

MATHEO
Kneel, and get money of him.

ORLANDO
A knave and a quean, a thief and a strumpet, a couple of beggars, a brace of baggages.

MATHEO
Hang upon him. Ay, ay, sir, fare you well.  We are so.  Follow close—we are beggars—in satin—to him.

BELLAFRONT
Is this your comfort, when so many years
You ha’ left me frozen to death?

ORLANDO
Freeze still, starve still.

BELLAFRONT
Yes, so I shall.  I must.  I must and will.
If as you say I’m poor, relieve me then;
Let me not sell my body to base men.
You call me strumpet; Heaven knows I am none.
Your cruelty may drive me to be one;
Let not that sin be yours; let not the shame
Of common whore live longer than my name.
That cunning bawd, necessity, night and day,
Lest being at lowest ebb, as now I am,
I sink for ever.

ORLANDO
Lowest ebb?  What ebb?

BELLAFRONT
So poor that, though to tell it be my shame,
I am not worth a dish to hold my meat;
I am yet poorer, I want bread to eat.

ORLANDO
It’s not seen by your cheeks.

MATHEO
[Aside.] I think she has read an homely to tickle to the old rogue.

ORLANDO
Want bread?  There’s satin.  Bake that.

MATHEO
‘Sblood, make pasties of my clothes?

ORLANDO
A fair new cloak, stew that.  An excellent gilt rapier.

MATHEO
Will you eat that, sir?

ORLANDO
I could feast ten good fellows with those hangers.

MATHEO
The pox you shall!

ORLANDO
I shall not, till thou beggest, think thou art poor.
And when thou beggest, I’ll feed thee at my door,
As I feed dogs, with bones.  Till then, beg, borrow,
Pawn, steal, and hang, turn bawd. [Aside.] When th’art no whore,
My heart strings sure would crack, were they strained more.                     [Exit.

MATHEO
This is your father, your damn’d—Confusion light upon all the generation of you.  He can come bragging hither with four white herrings at’s tail in blue coats without roes in their bellies, but I may starve ere he give me so much as a cob.

BELLAFRONT
What tell you me of this?  Alas!

MATHEO
Go trot after your dad, do you capitulate, I’ll pawn not for you. I’ll not steal to be hanged for such an hypocritical close common harlot.  Away, you dog!  Brave i’faith!  Ud’s foot!  Give me some meat.

BELLAFRONT
Yes, sir.                                                                                                                      [Exit.

MATHEO
Goodman slave, my man too is gallop’d to the devil a’ th’other side.  Pacheco, I’ll checo you!  Is this your dad’s day?  England, they say, is the only hell for horses, and only paradise for women.  Pray, get you to that paradise, because y’are called an honest whore; there they live none but honest whores with a pox.  Marry, here in our city.  All your sex are but foot-cloth nags.  The master no sooner lights, but the man leaps into the saddle.

 Enter BELLAFRONT.

 BELLAFRONT
Will you sit down, I pray, sir?

MATHEO
I could tear, by th’lord, his flesh and eat his midriff in salt as I eat this.  Must  I choke?  My father Friscobaldo, I shall make a pitiful hog-louse of you, Orlando, if you fall once into my fingers.  Here’s the savourest meat.  I ha’ got a stomach with chafing.  What rogue should tell him of those two peddlers?  A plague choke him and gnaw him to the bare bones!  Come, fill.

BELLAFRONT
Thou sweatest with very anger, good sweet.  Vex not;
‘Las, ‘tis no fault of mine.

MATHEO
Where didst buy this mutton?  I never felt better ribs.

BELLAFRONT
A neighbour sent it me.

 Enter ORLANDO as a serving-man.

 MATHEO
Ha, neighbour?  Foh, my mouth stinks.  You whore, do you beg victuals for me?  Is this satin doublet to be bombasted with broken meat?    [Takes up the stool.

ORLANDO
What will you do, sir?

MATHEO
Beat the brains of a beggarly—

ORLANDO
Beat our an ass’s head of our own!  Away, mistress. [Exit BELLAFRONT.] Zounds, do but touch one hair of her, and I’ll so quilt your cap with old iron, that your coxcomb shall ache the worse these seven years for’t.  Does she look like a roasted rabbit, that you must have the head for the brains?

MATHEO
Ha, ha!  Go out of my doors, you rogue.  Away four marks, trudge!

ORLANDO
Four marks?  No, sir, my twenty pound that you ha’ made fly high, and I am gone.

MATHEO
Must I be fed with chippings?  Y’are best get a clap-dish and say y’are proctor to some spittle-house.  Where hast thou been, Pacheco?  Come hither, my little turkey-cock.

ORLANDO
I cannot abide, sir, to see a woman wrong’d, not I.

MATHEO
Sirrah, here was my father-in-law today.

ORLANDO
Pish, then y’are full of crowns.

MATHEO
Hang him!  He would ha’ thrust crowns upon me, to have fall’n in again, but I scorn cast clothes, or any man’s gold.

ORLANDO
[Aside.] But mine. [Aloud.] How did he brook that, sir?

MATHEO
Oh, swore like a dozen of drunkard tinkers; at last growing foul in words, he and four of his men drew upon me, sir.

ORLANDO
In you house?  Would I had been by.

MATHEO
I made no more ado, but fell to my old lock, and so thrashed my blue coats, and old crabtree-face, my father-in-law, and then walk’d like a lion in my grate.

ORLANDO
Oh, noble master!

MATHEO
Sir, he could tell me of the robbing of two peddlers, and that warrants are out for us both.

ORLANDO
Good sir, I like not those crackers.

MATHEO
Crackhalter, what set thy foot to mine?

ORLANDO
How, sir?  At drinking?

MATHEO
We’ll pull that old crow my father, rob thy master.  I know the house, thou the servants.  The purchase is rich, the plot to get it easy.  The dog will not part with a bone.

ORLANDO
Pluck’t out of his throat then.  I’ll snarl for one, if this can bite.

MATHEO
Say no more, say no more, old coal.  Meet me anon at the sign of the Shipwrack.

ORLANDO
Yes, sir.

MATHEO
And dost hear, man?  The Shipwrack.                                                                [Exit.

ORLANDO
Th’art at the shipwrack now, and like a swimmer,
Bold, but unexpert, with those waves dost play
Whose dalliance, whorelike, is to cast thee away.

 Enter HIPPOLITO and BELLAFRONT.

And here’s another vessel, better fraught,
But as ill mann’d.  Her sinking will be wrought,
If rescue come not.  Like a man of war,
I’ll therefore bravely out.  Somewhat I’ll do,
And either save them both, or perish too.                                                         [Exit.

HIPPOLITO
It is my fate to be bewitched by those eyes.

BELLAFRONT
Fate?  Your folly.
Why should my face thus mad you?  ‘Las, those colours
Are wound up long ago, which beauty spread,
The flowers that once grew here are withered.
You turn’d my black soul white, made it look new,
And should I sin, it ne’er should be with you.

HIPPOLITO
Your hand, I’ll offer you fair play.  When first
We met i’th’lists together, you remember
You were a common rebel.  With one parley
I won you to come in.

BELLAFRONT
You did.

HIPPOLITO
I’ll try
If now I can bear down this chastity
With the same ordnance.  Will you yield this fort,
If with the power of argument now, as then,
I get of you the conquest; as before
I turn’d you honest, now to turn you whore,
By force of strong persuasion?

BELLAFRONT
If you can,
I yield.

HIPPOLITO
The alarm’s struck up.  I’m your man.

BELLAFRONT
A woman gives defence.

HIPPOLITO
Sit.

BELLAFRONT
Begin.
‘Tis a brave battle to encounter sin.

HIPPOLITO
You men that are to fight in the same war
To which I’m priest, and plead at the same bar
To win a woman, if you would have me speed,
Send all your wishes.

BELLAFRONT
No doubt y’are heard.  Proceed.

HIPPOLITO
To be a harlot, that you stand upon,
The very name’s a charm to make you one.
Harlot was a dame of so divine
And ravishing touch, that she was concubine
To an English king.  Her sweet bewitching eye
Did the king’s heart-strings in such love-knots tie,
That even the coyest was proud when she could hear
Men say, ‘Behold, another harlot there!’
And after her all women that were fair
Were harlots called, as to this day some are.
Besides her dalliance, she so well does mix,
That she’s in Latin call’d the Meretrix.
Thus for the name; for the profession, this:
Who lives in bondage, live lac’d; the chief bliss
This world below can yield, is liberty.
And who, then whores, with looser wings dare fly?
As Juno’s proud bird spreads the fairest tail,
So does a strumpet hoist the loftiest sail.
She’s no man’s slave.  Men are her slaves.  Her eye
Moves not on wheels screw’d up with jealousy.
She, hoist of coach’d, does merry journeys make,
Free as the sun in his gilt zodiac.
As bravely does she shine, as fast she’d driven,
But stays not long in any house of heaven,
But shifts from sign to sign.  Her amorous prizes,
More rich being when she’s sown, then when she rises.
In brief, gentlemen haunt them, soldiers fight for them,
Few men but know them, few or none abhor them.
Thus, for sport sake, speak I, as to a woman
Whom, as the worst ground, I would turn to common,
But you I would enclose for mine own bed.

BELLAFRONT
So should a husband be dishonoured.

HIPPOLITO
Dishonoured?  Not a whit.  To fall to one,
Besides your husband, is to fall to none,
For one no number is.

BELLAFRONT
Faith, should you take
One in your bed, would you that reckoning make?
‘Tis time you sound retreat.

HIPPOLITO
Say, have I won,
Is the day ours?

BELLAFRONT
The battle’s but half done.
None but yourself have yet sounded alarms.
Let us strike too, else you dishonour arms.

HIPPOLITO
If you can win the day, the glory’s yours.

BELLAFRONT
To prove a woman should not be a whore,
When she was made, she had one man, and no more,
Yet she was tied to laws then, for, even then,
‘Tis said, she was not made for men, but man.
Anon, t’increase earth’s brood, the law was varied,
Men should take many wives, and though they married
According to that act, yet ‘tis not known
But that those wives were only tied to one.
New parliaments were since, for now one woman
Is shared between three hundred, nay, she’s common.
Common?  As spotted leopards, whom for sport
Men hunt to get the flesh, but care not for’t.
So spread they nets of gold and tune their calls
To enchant silly women to take falls,
Swearing they are angels, which that they may win,
They’ll hire the devil t come with false dice in.
Oh Sirens subtle tunes!  Your selves you flatter,
And our weak sex betray, so men love water,
It serves to wash their hands, but, being once foul,
The water down is poured, cast out of doors,
And even of such base use do men make whores.
A harlot, like a hen, more sweetness reaps
To pick men one by one up, then in heaps,
Yet all feeds but confounding.  Say you should taste me,
I serve but for the time, and when the day
Of war is done, am cashier’d out of pay.
If like lame soldiers I could beg, that’s all,
And there’s lust’s rendezvous, an hospital.
Who then would be a man’s slave, a man’s woman?
She’s half starv’d the first day that feeds in common.

HIPPOLITO
You should not feed so, but with me alone.

BELLAFRONT
If I drink poison by stealth, is’t not all one?
Is’t not rank poison still?  With you alone!
Nay, say you spied a courtesan whose soft side
To touch, you’d sell your birth-right, for one kiss
Be rack’d, she’s won, y’are sated.  What follows this?
Oh, then you curse that bawd that tolled you in
The night, you curse your lust, you loath the sin,
You loath her very sight, and ere the day
Arise, you rise glad when y’are stol’n away.
Even then when you are drunk with all her sweets,
There’s no true pleasure in a strumpet’s sheets.
Women, whom lust so prostitutes to sale,
Like dancers upon ropes, one seen, are stale.

HIPPOLITO
If all the threads of harlots lives are spun,
So coarse as you would make them, tell me why
You so long loved the trade?

BELLAFRONT
If all the threads
Of harlots lives be fine as you would make them,
Why do not you persuade your wife turn whore
And all dames else to fall before that sin?
Like an ill husband, though I knew the same
To be my undoing, followed I that game.
Oh, when the work of lust had earn’d my bread,
To taste it, how I trembled, lest each bit,
Ere it went down, should choke me, chewing it!
My bed seem’d like a cabin hung in hell,
The bawd, hell’s porter, and the liquorish wine
The pander fetch’d, was like an easy fine,
For which, methought, I leased away my soul,
And oftentimes, even in my quaffing bowl,
Thus said I to my self, I am a whore,
And have drunk down thus much confusion more.

HIPPOLITO
It is a common rule, and ‘tis most true,
Two of one trade never love, no more do you.
Why are you sharp ‘gainst that you once profess’d?

BELLAFRONT
Why dote you on that, which you did once detest?
I cannot, seeing she’s woven of such bad stuff,
Set colours on a harlot base enough.
Nothing did make me, when I lov’d them best
To loath them more then this.  When in the street
A fair young modest damsel did meet.
She seem’d to all a dove, when I pass’d by,
And I, to all, a raven.  Every eye
That followed her, when with a bashful glance.
At me, each bold and jeering countenance
Darted forth scorn.  To her, as if she had been
Some tower unvanquished, would they vail,
‘Gainst me swol’n rumour hoisted every sail.
She, crown’d with reverend phrases, passed by them,
I, though with face mask’d, could not scape the hem,
For, as if Heaven had set strange marks on whores,
Because they should be pointing stocks to men,
Dress up in civilest shape a courtesan,
Let her walk saint-like, noteless, and unknown,
Yet, she’s betray’d by some trick of her own.
Were harlots therefore wise, they’d be sold dear,
For men account them good but for one year,
And then like almanacs, whose dates are gone,
They are thrown by, and no more look’d upon.
Who’ll therefore backward fall, who will launch forth
In seas so foul, for ventures no more worth?
Lust’s voyage hath, if not this course, this cross
Buy ne’er so cheap, you ware comes home with loss.
What, shall I should retreat?  The battle’s done.
Let the world judge which of us two have won.

HIPPOLITO
I!

BELLAFRONT
You?  Nay then, as cowards do in fight,
What by blows cannot, shall be saved by flight.                                                 [Exit.

HIPPOLITO
Fly to earth’s fixed center, to the caves
Of everlasting horror, I’ll pursue thee,
Though laden with sins, even to hell’s brazen doors.
Thus wisest men turn fools, doting on whores.                                                    [Exit.

Proceed to the next scene

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