1 Honest Whore – Act Three, Scene Three

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Enter BELLAFRONT with a lute; pen, ink and paper being plac’d before her.   Song.

BELLAFRONT
The courtier’s flatt’ring jewels, 
Temptation’ only fools;
The lawyer’s ill-got moneys,
That suck up poor bees’ honeys;
The citizen’s son’s riot,
The gallant’s costly diet,
Silks and velvets, pearls and ambers
Shall not draw me to their chambers.
Silks and velvets, &c.                                                                        [She writes

Oh, ’tis in vain to write! It will not please:
Ink on this paper would ha’ but presented
The foul black spots that stick upon my soul,
And rather make me loathsomer than wrought
My love’s impression in Hippolito’s thought.
No, I must turn the chaste leaves of my breast,
And pick out some sweet means to breed my rest.
Hippolito, believe me I will be
As true unto thy heart as thy heart to thee,
And hate all men, their gifts and company.

Enter MATHEO, CASTRUCHIO, FLUELLO, and PIORATTO.

MATHEO
You, goody punk, subaudi cockatrice!  Oh, y’are a sweet whore of your promise, are you not, think you?  How well you came to supper to us last night:  mew, a whore and break her word!  Nay, you may blush and hold down your head at it well enough.  ‘Sfoot, ask these gallants if we stay’d not till we were as hungry as sergeants!

FLUELLO
Ay, and their yeoman too.

CASTRUCHIO
Nay, faith, acquaintance, let me tell you, you forgot yourself too much:  we had excellent cheer, rare vintage, and were drunk after supper.

PIORATTO
And when we were in our woodcocks, sweet rogue, a brace of gulls, dwelling here in the city, came in and paid all the shot.

MATHEO
Pox on her, let her alone.

BELLAFRONT
Oh, I pray do, if you be gentlemen!
I pray depart the house; beshrew the door
For being so easily entreated:  faith,
I lent but little ear unto your talk;
My mind was busied otherwise in troth,
And so your words did unregarded pass.
Let this suffice, I am not as I was.

FLUELLO
I am not what I was!  No, I’ll be sworn thou art not, for thou wert honest at five, and now th’art a punk at fifteen; thou wert yesterday a simple whore, and now th’art a cunning coney-catching baggage today.

BELLAFRONT
I’ll say I’m worse.  I pray forsake me then;
I do desire you leave me, gentlemen,
And leave yourselves.  Oh, be not what you are,
Spendthrifts of soul and body!
Let me persuade you to forsake all harlots,
Worse than the deadliest poisons; they are worse,
For o’er their souls hangs an eternal curse:
In being slaves to slaves, their labours perish;
They’re seldom bless’d with fruit, for ere it blossoms,
Many a worm confounds it.
They have no issue but foul, ugly ones
That run along with them, e’en to their graves,
For stead of children, they breed rank diseases,
And all you gallants can bestow on them
Is that French infant, which ne’er acts but speaks.
What shallow son and heir then, foolish gallant,
Would waste all his inheritance to purchase
A filthy, loath’d disease, and pawn his body
To a dry evil?  That usury’s worst of all,
When th’interest will eat out the principal.

MATHEO
[Aside.] ‘Sfoot, she gulls ’em the best!  This is always her fashion when she would be rid of any company that she cares not for, to enjoy mine alone.

FLUELLO
What’s here?  Instructions, admonitions, and caveats?  Come out, you scabbard of vengeance!

MATHEO
Fluello, spurn your hounds when they fist, you shall not spurn my punk; I can tell you my blood is vex’d.

FLUELLO
Pox a’ your blood!  Make it a quarrel.

MATHEO
Y’are a slave.  Will that serve turn?                     [MATHEO and FLUELLO draw.

CASTRUCHIO & PIORATTO
‘Sblood, hold, hold!

CASTRUCHIO
Matheo, Fluello, for shame, put up!

MATHEO
Spurn my sweet varlet!

BELLAFRONT
Oh, how many thus
Mov’d with a little folly have let out
Their souls in brothel houses, fell down and died
Just at their harlot’s foot, as ’twere in pride?

FLUELLO
Matheo, we shall meet!

MATHEO
Ay, ay, anywhere, saving at church:  pray take heed we meet not there.

FLUELLO
Adieu, damnation.

CASTRUCHIO
Cockatrice, farewell.

PIORATTO
There’s more deceit in women than in hell.

[Exeunt CASTRUCHIO, FLUELLO, and  PIORATTO.

MATHEO
Ha, ha, thou dost gull ’em so rarely, so naturally.  If I did not think thou hadst been in earnest.  Thou art a sweet rogue for’t, i’faith.

BELLAFRONT
Why are not you gone too, Signior Matheo?
I pray depart my house:  you may believe me;
In troth I have no part of harlot in me.

MATHEO
How’s this?

BELLAFRONT
Indeed, I love you not, but hate you worse
Than any man, because you were the first
Gave money for my soul; you brake the ice,
Which after turn’d a puddle:  I was led
By your temptation to be miserable.
I pray seek out some other that will fall,
Or rather I pray seek out none at all.

MATHEO
Is’t possible to be impossible, an honest whore!  I have heard many honest wenches turn strumpets with a wet finger, but for a harlot to turn honest is one of Hercules’ labours.  It was more easy for him in one night to make fifty queans than to make one of them honest again in fifty years.  Come, I hope thou dost but jest.

BELLAFRONT
‘Tis time to leave off jesting; I had almost
Jested away salvation:  I shall love you,
If you will soon forsake me.

MATHEO
God buy thee.

BELLAFRONT
Oh, tempt no more women; shun their weighty curse!
Women at best are bad; make them not worse.
You gladly seek our sex’s overthrow,
But not to raise our states for all your wrongs.
Will you vouchsafe me but due recompense
To marry with me?

MATHEO
How!  Marry with a punk, a cockatrice, a harlot?  Marry foh, I’ll be burnt thorough the nose first!

BELLAFRONT
Why la, these are your oaths; you love to undo us,
To put heaven from us, whilst our best hours waste:
You love to make us lewd, but never chaste.

MATHEO
I’ll hear no more of this:  this ground upon
Th’art damn’d for alt’ring thy religion.                                                         [Exit.

BELLAFRONT
Thy lust and sin speak so much.  Go thou my ruin,
The first fall my soul took; by my example
I hope few maidens now will put their heads
Under men’s girdles:  who least trusts, is most wise;
Men’s oaths do cast a mist before our eyes.
My best of wit be ready:  now I go,
By some device to greet Hippolito.                                                                [Exit.

Proceed to the next scene

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