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William Shakespeare (1564–1616). The Oxford Shakespeare. 1914.

Act IV. Scene VI.

Pericles, Prince of Tyre

The Same.A Room in the Brothel.

Enter Pandar, Bawd, and BOULT.

Pand.Well, I had rather than twice the worth of her she had ne’er come here.

Bawd.Fie, fie upon her! she is able to freeze the god Priapus, and undo a whole generation; we must either get her ravished, or be rid of her. When she should do for clients her fitment, and do me the kindness of our profession, she has me her quirks, her reasons, her master-reasons, her prayers, her knees; that she would make a puritan of the devil if he should cheapen a kiss of her.

Boult.Faith, I must ravish her, or she’ll disfurnish us of all our cavaliers, and make all our swearers priests.

Pand.Now, the pox upon her green-sickness for me!

Bawd.Faith, there’s no way to be rid on ’t but by the way to the pox. Here comes the Lord Lysimachus, disguised.

Boult.We should have both lord and lown if the peevish baggage would but give way to customers.


Lys.How now! How a dozen of virginities?

Bawd.Now, the gods to-bless your honour!

Boult.I am glad to see your honour in good health.

Lys.You may so; ’tis the better for you that your resorters stand upon sound legs. How now! wholesome iniquity, have you that a man may deal withal, and defy the surgeon?

Bawd.We have here one, sir, if she would—but there never came her like in Mitylene.

Lys.If she’d do the deed of darkness, thou wouldst say.

Bawd.Your honour knows what ’tis to say well enough.

Lys.Well; call forth, call forth.

Boult.For flesh and blood, sir, white and red, you shall see a rose; and she were a rose indeed if she had but—

Lys.What, prithee?

Boult.O! sir, I can be modest.

Lys.That dignifies the renown of a bawd no less than it gives a good report to a number to be chaste.[Exit BOULT.

Bawd.Here comes that which grows to the stalk; never plucked yet, I can assure you.—

Re-enter BOULT with MARINA.

Is she not a fair creature?

Lys.Faith, she would serve after a long voyage at sea. Well, there’s for you; leave us.

Bawd.I beseech your honour, give me leave; a word, and I’ll have done presently.

Lys.I beseech you do.

Bawd.[To MARINA.]First, I would have you note, this is an honourable man.

Mar.I desire to find him so, that I may worthily note him.

Bawd.Next, he’s the governor of this country, and a man whom I am bound to.

Mar.If he govern the country, you are bound to him indeed; but how honourable he is in that I know not.

Bawd.Pray you, without any more virginal fencing, will you use him kindly? He will line your apron with gold.

Mar.What he will do graciously, I will thankfully receive.

Lys.Ha’ you done?

Bawd.My lord, she’s not paced yet; you must take some pains to work her to your manage. Come, we will leave his honour and her together.

Lys.Go thy ways.[Exeunt Bawd, Pandar, and BOULT.]Now, pretty one, how long have you been at this trade?

Mar.What trade, sir?

Lys.Why, I cannot name ’t but I shall offend.

Mar.I cannot be offended with my trade. Please you to name it.

Lys.How long have you been of this profession?

Mar.E’er since I can remember.

Lys.Did you go to ’t so young? Were you a gamester at five or at seven?

Mar.Earlier too, sir, if now I be one.

Lys.Why, the house you dwell in proclaims you to be a creature of sale.

Mar.Do you know this house to be a place of such resort, and will come into ’t? I hear say you are of honourable parts, and are the governor of this place.

Lys.Why, hath your principal made known unto you who I am?

Mar.Who is my principal?

Lys.Why, your herb-woman; she that sets seeds and roots of shame and iniquity. O! you have heard something of my power, and so stand aloof for more serious wooing. But I protest to thee, pretty one, my authority shall not see thee, or else look friendly upon thee. Come, bring me to some private place; come, come.

Mar.If you were born to honour, show it now;

If put upon you, make the judgment good

That thought you worthy of it.

Lys.How’s this? how’s this? Some more; be sage.

Mar.For me,

That am a maid, though most ungentle fortune

Hath plac’d me in this sty, where, since I came,

Diseases have been sold dearer than physic,

O! that the gods

Would set me free from this unhallow’d place,

Though they did change me to the meanest bird

That flies i’ the purer air!

Lys.I did not think

Thou couldst have spoke so well; ne’er dream’d thou couldst.

Had I brought hither a corrupted mind,

Thy speech had alter’d it. Hold, here’s gold for thee;

Persever in that clear way thou goest,

And the gods strengthen thee!

Mar.The good gods preserve you!

Lys.For me, be you thoughten

That I came with no ill intent, for to me

The very doors and windows savour vilely.

Farewell. Thou art a piece of virtue, and

I doubt not but thy training hath been noble.

Hold, here’s more gold for thee.

A curse upon him, die he like a thief,

That robs thee of thy goodness! If thou dost

Hear from me, it shall be for thy good.

Re-enter BOULT.

Boult.I beseech your honour, one piece for me.

Lys.Avaunt! thou damned door-keeper. Your house,

But for this virgin that doth prop it, would

Sink and overwhelm you. Away![Exit.

Boult.How’s this? We must take another course with you. If your peevish chastity, which is not worth a breakfast in the cheapest country under the cope, shall undo a whole household, let me be gelded like a spaniel. Come your ways.

Mar.Whither would you have me?

Boult.I must have your maidenhead taken off, or the common hangman shall execute it. Come your ways. We’ll have no more gentlemen driven away. Come your ways, I say.

Re-enter Bawd.

Bawd.How now! what’s the matter?

Boult.Worse and worse, mistress; she has here spoken holy words to the Lord Lysimachus.

Bawd.O! abominale.

Boult.She makes our profession as it were to stink afore the face of the gods.

Bawd.Marry, hang her up for ever!

Boult.The nobleman would have dealt with her like a nobleman, and she sent him away as cold as a snowball; saying his prayers too.

Bawd.Boult, take her away; use her at thy pleasure; crack the glass of her virginity, and make the rest malleable.

Boult.An if she were a thornier piece of ground than she is, she shall be ploughed.

Mar.Hark, hark, you gods!

Bawd.She conjures; away with her! Would she had never come within my doors! Marry, hang you! She’s born to undo us. Will you not go the way of women-kind? Marry, come up, my dish of chastity with rosemary and bays![Exit.

Boult.Come, mistress; come your ways with me.

Mar.Whither wilt thou have me?

Boult.To take from you the jewel you hold so dear.

Mar.Prithee, tell me one thing first.

Boult.Come now, your one thing.

Mar.What canst thou wish thine enemy to be?

Boult.Why, I could wish him to be my master, or rather, my mistress.

Mar.Neither of these are so bad as thou art,

Since they do better thee in their command.

Thou hold’st a place, for which the pained’st fiend

Of hell would not in reputation change;

Thou art the damned door-keeper to every

Coystril that comes inquiring for his Tib,

To the choleric fisting of every rogue

Thy ear is liable, thy food is such

As hath been belch’d on by infected lungs.

Boult.What would you have me do? go to the wars, would you? where a man may serve seven years for the loss of a leg, and have not money enough in the end to buy him a wooden one?

Mar.Do any thing but this thou doest. Empty

Old receptacles, or common sewers, of filth;

Serve by indenture to the common hangman:

Any of these ways are yet better than this;

For what thou professest, a baboon, could he speak,

Would own a name too dear. O! that the gods

Would safely deliver me from this place.

Here, here’s gold for thee.

If that thy master would gain by me,

Proclaim that I can sing, weave, sew, and dance,

With other virtues, which I’ll keep from boast;

And I will undertake all these to teach.

I doubt not but this populous city will

Yield many scholars.

Boult.But can you teach all this you speak of?

Mar.Prove that I cannot, take me home again,

And prostitute me to the basest groom

That doth frequent your house.

Boult.Well, I will see what I can do for thee; if I can place thee, I will.

Mar.But, amongst honest women.

Boult.Faith, my acquaintance lies little amongst them. But since my master and mistress have bought you, there’s no going but by their consent; therefore I will make them acquainted with your purpose, and I doubt not but I shall find them tractable enough. Come; I’ll do for thee what I can; come your ways.[Exeunt.