1 Honest Whore – Act One, Scene One

Return to Dramatis Personæ

Enter at one door a funeral, a coronet lying on the hearse, scutcheons and garlands hanging on the sides, attended by GASPARO TREBATZI, DUKE OF MILAN, CASTRUCHO, SINEZI, PIORATTO, FLUELLO Gasparo and Others. At another door, enter HIPPOLITO in discontented appearance, MATHEO, 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 turn’d wild;
Go on, in God’s name.

ALL
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.

HIPPOLITO
I pray thee, dear Matheo!

MATHEO
Come, y’are mad!

HIPPOLITO
I do arrest thee, murderer! Set down,
Villains, set down that sorrow, ’tis all mine.

DUKE
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.

ALL
Set on.

HIPPOLITO
Set down the body!

MATHEO
Oh, my lord!
Y’are 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 mock’st 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
Darken’d and dim forever, 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 asham’d 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 curs’d
Even to thy face by those that scarce can speak!

HIPPOLITO
My lord.

DUKE
What wouldst thou have?  Is she not dead?

HIPPOLITO
Oh, you ha’ kill’d her by your cruelty!

DUKE
Admit I had, thou kill’st her now again,
And art more savage than a barbarous moor.

HIPPOLITO
Let me but kiss her pale and bloodless lip.

DUKE
Oh, fie, fie, fie!

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

MATHEO
As you regard your honour—

HIPPOLITO
Honour?  Smoke!

MATHEO
Or if you lov’d her living, spare her now.

DUKE
Ay, well done, sir; you play the gentleman.
Steal hence.  ‘Tis nobly done.  Away. I’ll join
My force to yours to stop this violent torment.
Pass on.                   [Exeunt Courtiers and Attendants with funeral.

HIPPOLITO
Matheo, thou dost wound me more.

MATHEO
I give you physic, noble friend, not wounds.

DUKE
Oh, 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.  Forget her, gallant youth.

HIPPOLITO
Forget her?

DUKE
Nay, nay, be but patient.
For why? 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.

MATHEO
[Aside to 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 Duke.
[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.  [Aside.] My Lord Hippolito, is it in your stomach to go to dinner?

HIPPOLITO
Where is the body?

MATHEO
The body, as the duke spake very wisely, is gone to be worm’d.

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

MATHEO
How your love looks?  Worse than a scarecrow.  Wrastle not with me: the great fellow gives the fall, for a ducat!

HIPPOLITO
I shall forget myself!

MATHEO
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 two-penny 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 vex’d 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 Aligant, 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, Matheo?

MATHEO
Yea, marry, this is an easy question:  why, today is, let me see, Thursday.

HIPPOLITO
Oh, Thursday.

MATHEO
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.

MATHEO
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.

MATHEO
Oh, 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 a’ 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.

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

HIPPOLITO
Curs’d be that day forever that robb’d her
Of breath, and me of bliss:  henceforth let it stand
Within the wizards’ book, the calendar,
Mark’d 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 damn’d impieties,
On Monday let ’em be delivered!
I swear to thee, Matheo, 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 lock’d 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.

MATHEO
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 liv’d, so long that it might rot,
That should fall down, but she be ne’er forgot.

 MATHEO
If you have this strange monster, honesty, in your belly, why, so jig-makers and chroniclers shall pick something out of you:  but and 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.

Proceed to the next scene

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