Swetnam the Woman Hater – Act Three, scene two

Return to the previous scene

Enter IAGO and LORENZO, disguised like an Amazon.

Has my poor sister then withstood a trial?

Ay, and behav’d herself
Most royal and discreetly, insomuch,
She put the judges to nonplus, sir.
Defending and excusing either’s cause,
Until Nicanor, with his kind advice,
Desir’d the king they might be tortured
To see if that would force confession.

Was he the only tyrant? Well, ere long
It may be in our power to quittance him.
I’m glad I know the serpent’s subtlety.
But how concluded they?

I was so vex’d,
I could not stay a full conclusion.
The prisoners were dismiss’d before I came;
But how they did determine afterwards,
I long to hear. But what intends your grace
In this disguise?

To visit the sick court,
And free my sister from captivity,
With that good Prince Lisandro.


A woman!
Why the more I think of their wickedness,
The more incomprehensible I find it;
For they are, cozening, cologuing, ungrateful, deceitful,
Wavering, waspish, light, toyish, proud, sullen,
Discourteous, cruel, unconstant, and what not?
Yet, they were created, and by nature formed,
And therefore of all men to be avoided.

[Aside.] Oh, impious conclusion! What is he?

I ne’er had conversation with him yet;
But, by report, I’ll tell you. He’s a man
Whose breeding has been like the Scarrabee,
Altogether upon the excrement of the time;
And being swol’n with poisonous vapours,
He breaks wind in public to blast the
Reputation of all women. His acquaintance
Has been altogether amongst whores and bawds,
And therefore speaks but in’s own element.
His own unworthy foul deformity,
Because no female can affect the same,
Begets in him despair, and despair, envy.
He cares not to defame their very souls
But that he’s of the Turk’s opinion: they have none.
He is the viper that not only gnaws
Upon his mother’s fame, but seeks to eat
Thorough all women’s reputations.

Is’t possible that Sicily should breed
Such a degenerate monster, shame of men?

Blame not your country. He’s an Englishman.

I will not see the glories of the sex
Bespawled by such a dogged humorist,
And past unpunish’d.

What intends your grace?

To undertake this just and honest quarrel,
In the defence of virtue, till I have
Severely punish’d his opprobrious word,
Committed against women, whose just fame
Merits an angel’s pen to register.

[To MISOGYNOS.] Sir, you have alter’d me, I thank you for’t.

Oh, there are all the very pits of sin,
Which men, for want of wisdom, fall into.

I see it, sir, and will proclaim as much.                                             [Exit.

Leave me, Iago.

I’m gone, sweet prince.                                                                           [Exit.

[To MISOGYNOS.] Tell me, thou jangling mastiff, with what fear
Dar’st thou behold that too much wronged sex,
Whose virtues thou hast basely slander’d?

Ha, ha, ha!

Laugh’st thou, in human wretch? By my best hope,
But that thy malice hath deserv’d revenge
More infamous, and public, than to fall
By me in private, I would hew thy flesh
Smaller than atoms.

What have we here? A woman rampant? Ha!
Tempt me not, siren, lest thou dost invoke
A fury worse than woman.

Hellish fiend!
How dar’st thou utter such blasphemous words
In the contempt of women, whose deserts
Thy dunghill baseness never could discern?
Assure thyself, thy malice shall be plagu’d
Severly, as injustice thou derserv’st.

I weigh not your threats this. [Snaps fingers.] Spit out your poisons
Till your galls do burst. I will oppose you all.
I cannot flatter, I; nor will I fawn
To gain a favour; praise the hand and foot,
And swear your face is angel-like, and lie
Most grossly. No, I will not do’t.
But when I come, it shall be in a storm
To terrify you all that you shall quake
To hear my name resounding in your ears;
And fortune, if thou be’st a deity,
Give me but opportunity, that I
May all the follies of your sex declare
That henceforth men of women may beware.

Enter a Herald with a proclamation, a Trumpet before him, a great rabble of Men following him.

Atticus, King of Sicilia, to all his loving subject sendeth greeting. Whereas there is a doubtful question to be decided in public disputation, which concerns the honour of all men in general, that is to say, whether the man or the woman in love stand guilty of the greatest offence. Know therefore, if that any man, of what estate or condition soever, will undertake to defend the equity of men against the false imputations of women, let ‘em repair to the court; they shall be honourably entertained, graciously admitted, and well rewarded. God save the king!

Heaven preserve his grace!

Fortune, I do adore thee for this news.
Why, here’s the thing I look’d for; ‘tis a prize
Will make me ever famous. Herald, stay,
I will maintain the challenge, and approve
That women are first tempters unto love.
I’ll blazon forth their colours in such sort
Shall make their painted cheeks look red, for um
To have them noted theirs, that all may know
That women only are the cause of woe.

A champion! A champion!

Enter LORETTA with a proclamation, and as many Women as may be, with a Trumpet afore them.

Aurelia, Queen, by the especial privilege of the Majesty of Sicilia, to all ladies, gentle and others, of the female sex, sends greeting. Whereas there is a question to be decided in public disputation before an honourable assembly of both parts; that is, whether the man or the woman in love commit the greatest offence, by giving the first and principle occasion of sinning; therefore know, that if any woman will undertake to defend the innocency of women, against the false imputations of detracting men, let her repair to the court; she shall be honourable entertained, graciously admitted, and well rewarded. God save the queen!

Heaven’s preserve her!

I do accept it; ‘tis a cause so just
In equity and virtue, in defence
Of wronged women, whose distressed fames
Lie buries in contempt; whose champion
I do profess myself, and do desire
No greater glory than to have that name.
What woman can endure to hear the wrongs,
Slanders, reproaches, and base forgeries,
That baser men vaunt forth, to dim the rays
Of our weak tender sex? But they shall know,
Themselves, not women, are the cause of woe.

A champion! A champion!                                                                           [Exeunt.

Proceed to the next scene


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