The Roaring Girl

or Moll Cutpurse

"My case is alter'd, I must work for my living."

Dramatis Personae
SIR ALEXANDER Wengrave, and NEATFOOT his man
SIR ADAM Appleton
Young [SEBASTIAN] Wengrave
JACK Dapper, [son to Sir Davy,] and GULL his page
TILTYARD [a feather-seller]
OPENWORK [a sempster]
[Hippocrates] GALLIPOT [an apothecary]
MOLL, the Roaring Girl
SIR GUY Fitzallard
MARY Fitzallard, his daughter
CURTILAX, a sergeant, and
HANGER, his yeoman
Acts and Scenes:
I.i. Sebastian's chambers in Sir Alexander's house
I.ii. The parlour of Sir Alexander's house
II.i. The three shops open in a rank
II.ii. A street
III.i. Gray's Inn Fields
III.ii. Gallipot's house
III.iii. Holborn Street
IV.i. Sir Alexander's chamber
IV.ii. Openwork's house
V.i. A street
V.ii. Sir Alexander's house

To the Comic Play-Readers, Venery and Laughter

The fashion of play-making I can properly compare to nothing so naturally as the alteration in apparel: for in the time of the great crop-doublet, your huge bombasted plays, quilted with mighty words to lean purposes, was only then in fashion. And as the doublet fell, neater inventions began to set up. Now in the time of spruceness, our plays follow the niceness of our garments: single plots, quaint conceits, lecherous jests, dressed up in hanging sleeves, and those are fit for the times and the termers. Such a kind of light-colour summer stuff, mingled with diverse colours, you shall find this published comedy, good to keep you in an afternoon from dice, at home in your chambers; and for venery you shall find enough for sixpence, but well couched and you mark it, for Venus being a woman passes through the play in doublet in breeches, a brave disguise and a safe one if the statute untie not her codpiece point. The book I make no question but is fit for many of your companies, as well as the person itself, and may be allowed both galley room at the playhouse, and chamber room at your lodging. Worse things I must needs confess the world has taxed her for than has been written of her; but 'tis the excellency of a writer to leave things better than he finds 'em; though some obscene fellow (that cares not what he writes against others, yet keeps a mystical bawdy-house himself, and entertains drunkards to make use of their pockets and vent his private bottle-ale at midnight), though such a one would have ripped up the most nasty vice that ever hell belched forth and presented it to a modest assembly, yet we rather wish in such discoveries, where reputation lies bleeding, a slackness of truth than a fullness of slander.

Thomas Middleton


A play expected long makes the audience look
For wonders, that each scene should be a book,
Compos'd to all perfection; each one comes
And brings a play in's head with him: up he sums
What he would of a roaring girl have writ;
If that he finds not here, he mews at it.
Only we entreat you think our scene
Cannot speak high, the subject being but mean:
A roaring girl whose notes till now never were
Shall fill with laughter our vast theatre;
That's all which I dare promise: tragic passion,
And such grave stuff, is this day out of fashion.
I see attention sets wide ope her gates
Of hearing, and with covetous list'ning waits,
To know what girl this roaring girl should be,
For of that tribe are many. One is she
That roars at midnight in deep tavern bowls,
That beats the watch, and constables controls;
Another roars i' th' daytime, swears, stabs, gives braves,
Yet sells her soul to the lust of fools and slaves.
Both these are suburb roarers. Then there's beside
A civil city roaring girl, whose pride,
Feasting, and riding, shakes her husband's state,
And leaves him roaring through an iron grate.
None of these roaring girls is ours: she flies
With wings more lofty. Thus her character lies;
Yet what need characters, when to give a guess
Is better than the person to express?
But would you know who 'tis? Would you hear her name?
She is call'd mad Moll; her life, our acts proclaim.

I.i. [Sebastian's chambers in Sir Alexander's house]

Enter Mary Fitzallard disguised like a sempster with a case for bands, and Neatfoot a serving-man with her, with a napkin on his shoulder and a trencher in his hand as from table.

The young gentleman our young master, Sir Alexander's son, is it into his ears, sweet damsel emblem of fragility, you desire to have a message transported, or to be transcendent?

A private word or two, sir, nothing else.

You shall fructify in that which you come for: your pleasure shall be satisfied to your full contentation. I will, fairest tree of generation, watch when our young master is erected, that is to say, up, and deliver him to this your most white hand.

Thanks, sir.

And withal certify him that I have culled out for him, now his belly is replenished, a daintier bit or modicum than any lay upon his trencher at dinner. Hath he notion of your name, I beseech your chastity?

One, sir, of whom he bespake falling bands.

Falling bands: it shall so be given him. If you please to venture your modesty in the hall amongst a curl-pated company of rude serving-men, and take such as they can set before you, you shall be most seriously and ingeniously welcome.

I have [dined] indeed already, sir.

Or will you vouchsafe to kiss the lip of a cup of rich Orleans in the buttery amongst our waiting-women?

Not now in truth, sir.

Our young master shall then have a feeling of your being here; presently it shall so be given him.

I humbly thank you, sir.

Exit Neatfoot.

But that my bosom
Is full of bitter sorrows, I could smile
To see this formal ape play antic tricks:
But in my breast a poisoned arrow sticks,
And smiles cannot become me. Love woven slightly,
Such as thy false heart makes, wears out as lightly,
But love being truly bred i' th' the soul like mine
Bleeds even to death at the least wound it takes:
The more we quench this [fire], the less it slakes.
Oh, me!

Enter Sebastian Wengrave with Neatfoot.

A sempster speak with me, sayst thou?

Yes, sir, she's there, viva voce, to deliver her auricular confession.

With me, sweet heart? What is't?

I have brought home your bands, sir.

Bands? Neatfoot.


Prithee look in, for all the gentlemen are upon rising.

Yes, sir, a most methodical attendance shall be given.

And dost hear? If my father call for me, say I am busy with a sempster.

Yes, sir, he shall know it that you are busied with a needlewoman.

In's ear, good Neatfoot.

It shall be so given him.

Exit Neatfoot.

Bands? Y'are mistaken, sweet heart, I bespake none. When, where? I prithee, what bands? Let me see them.

Yes, sir, a bond fast sealed with solemn oaths,
Subscribed unto as I thought with your soul,
Delivered as your deed in sight of heaven.
Is this bond cancell'd? Have you forgot me?
[She removes her disguise.]

Ha! Life of my life: Sir Guy Fitzallard's daughter!
What has transform'd my love to this strange shape?
Stay, make all sure. So, now speak and be brief,
Because the wolf's at door that lies in wait
To prey upon us both. Albeit mine eyes
Are bless'd by thine, yet this so strange disguise
Holds me with fear and wonder.

Mine's a loathed sight.
Why from it are you banish'd else so long?

I must cut short my speech. In broken language,
Thus much: sweet Moll, I must thy company shun;
I court another Moll. My thoughts must run
As a horse runs that's blind round in a mill,
Out every step yet keeping one path still.

Umh! Must you shun my company? In one knot
Have both our hands by th' hands of heaven been tied,
Now to be broke? I thought me once your bride:
Our fathers did agree on the time when,
And must another bedfellow fill my room?

Sweet maid, let's lose no time. 'Tis in heaven's book
Set down that I must have thee. An oath we took
To keep our vows, but when the knight your father
Was from mine parted, storms began to sit
Upon my covetous father's brow, which fell
From them on me. He reckon'd up what gold
This marriage would draw from him, at which he swore
To lose so much blood could not grieve him more.
He then dissuades me from thee, call'd thee not fair,
And ask'd what is she but a beggar's heir?
He scorn'd thy dowry of five thousand marks.
If such a sum of money could be found,
And I would match with that, he'd not undo it,
Provided his bags might add nothing to it,
But vow'd, if I took thee, nay, more, did swear it,
Save birth from him I nothing should inherit.

What follows then, my shipwreck?

Dear'st, no:
Tho' wildly in a labyrinth I go,
My end is to meet thee; with a side wind
Must I now sail, else I no haven can find
But both must sink forever. There's a wench
Call'd Moll, mad Moll or merry Moll, a creature
So strange in quality a whole city takes
Note of her name and person. All that affection
I owe to thee on her in counterfeit passion
I spend to mad my father: he believes
I dote upon this roaring girl, and grieves
As it becomes a father for a son
That could be so bewitch'd. Yet I'll go on
This crooked way, sigh still for her, feign dreams
In which I'll talk only of her: these streams
Shall, I hope, force my father to consent
That here I anchor rather than be rent
Upon a rock so dangerous. Art thou pleas'd,
Because thou seest we are waylaid, that I take
A path that's safe, tho' it be far about?

My prayers with heaven guide thee.

Then I will on.
My father is at hand: kiss and be gone.
Hours shall be watch'd for meetings; I must now,
As men for fear, to a strange idol bow.


I'll guide thee forth; when next we meet
A story of Moll shall make our mirth more sweet.


[I.ii. The parlour of Sir Alexander's house]

Enter Sir Alexander Wengrave, Sir Davy Dapper, Sir Adam Appleton, Goshawk, Laxton, and gentlemen.

Thanks, good Sir Alexander, for our bounteous cheer.

Fie, fie, in giving thanks you pay too dear.

When bounty spreads the table, faith, 'twere sin,
At going off, if thanks should not step in.

No more of thanks, no more. Ay, marry, sir,
Th' inner room was too close. How do you like
This parlour, gentlemen?

Oh, passing well!

What a sweet breath the air casts here, so cool!

I like the prospect best.

See how 'tis furnish'd.

A very fair, sweet room.

Sir Davy Dapper,
The furniture that doth adorn this room
Cost many a fair grey groat ere it came here,
But good things are most cheap when th' are most dear.
Nay, when you look into my galleries,
How bravely they are trimm'd up, you all shall swear
Y'are highly pleas'd to see what's set down there:
Stories of men and women mix'd together,
Fair ones with foul, like sunshine in wet weather;
Within one square a thousand heads are laid
So close that all of heads the room seems made.
As many faces there fill'd with blithe looks
Show like the promising titles of new books
Writ merrily, the readers being their own eyes,
Which seem to move and to give plaudities.
And here and there, whilst with obsequious ears
Throng'd heaps do listen, a cutpurse thrusts and leers
With hawk's eyes for his prey; I need not show him:
By a hanging villainous look yourselves may know him,
The face is drawn so rarely. Then, sir, below,
The very flower as 'twere waves to and fro,
And like a floating island seems to move
Upon a sea bound in with shores above.

Enter Sebastian and M[aster] Greenwit.

These sights are excellent.

I'll show you all.
Since we are met, make our parting comical.

This gentleman, my friend, will take his leave, sir.

Ha, take his leave, Sebastian? Who?

This gentleman.

Your love, sir, has already given me some time,
And if you please to trust my age with more,
It shall pay double interest. Good sir, stay.

I have been too bold.

Not so, sir. A merry day
'Mongst friends being spent is better than gold sav'd.
Some wine, some wine. Where be these knaves I keep?

Enter three or four serving-men, and Neatfoot.

At your worshipful elbow, sir.

You are kissing my maids, drinking, or fast asleep.

Your worship has given it us right.

You varlets, stir:
Chairs, stools and cushions! Prithee, Sir Davy Dapper,
Make that chair thine.

'Tis but an easy gift,
And yet I thank you for it, sir; I'll take it.

A chair for old Sir Adam Appleton.

A back friend to your worship.

Marry, good Neatfoot,
I thank thee for it: back friends sometimes are good.

Pray make that stool your perch, good M[aster] Goshawk.

I stoop to your lure, sir.

Son Sebastian,
Take Master Greenwit to you.

Sit, dear friend.

Nay, Master Laxton. Furnish Master Laxton
With what he wants, a stone: a stool I would say,
A stool.

I had rather stand, sir.

Exeunt servants.

I know you had, good Master Laxton. So, so.
Now here's a mess of friends, and, gentlemen,
Because time's glass shall not be running long,
I'll quicken it with a pretty tale.

Good tales do well
In these bad days, where vice does so excel.

Begin, Sir Alexander.

Last day I met
An aged man upon whose head was scor'd
A debt of just so many years as these
Which I owe to my grave: the man you all know.

His name I pray you, sir.

Nay, you shall pardon me;
But when he saw me, with a sigh that brake,
Or seem'd to break, his heartstrings, thus he spake:
"Oh, my good knight," says he, and then his eyes
Were richer even by that which made them poor,
They had spent so many tears they had no more.
"Oh, sir," says he, "you know it, for you ha' seen
Blessings to rain upon mine house and me:
Fortune, who slaves men, was my slave; her wheel
Hath spun me golden threads, for, I thank heaven,
I ne'er had but one cause to curse my stars."
I ask'd him then what that one cause might be.

So, sir?

He paus'd, and as we often see
A sea so much becalm'd there can be found
No wrinkle on his brow, his waves being drown'd
In their own rage, but when th' imperious wind[s]
Use strange invisible tyranny to shake
Both heaven's and earth's foundation at their noise,
The seas, swelling with wrath to part that fray,
Rise up and are more wild, more mad, than they:
Even so this good old man was by my question
Stirr'd up to roughness, you might see his gall
Flow even in's eyes. Then grew he fantastical.

Fantastical? Ha, ha!

Yes, and talk['d] oddly.

Pray, sir, proceed:
How did this old man end?

Marry, sir, thus:
He left his wild fit to read o'er his cards,
Yet then, though age cast snow on all his hairs,
He joy'd because, says he, "The god of gold
Has been to me no niggard: that disease
Of which all old men sicken, avarice,
Never infected me."

[Aside] He means not himself, I'm sure.

"For, like a lamp
Fed with continual oil, I spend and throw
My light to all that need it, yet have still
Enough to serve myself. Oh, but," quoth he,
"Tho' heaven's dew fall thus on this aged tree,
I have a son that like a wedge doth cleave
My very heart-root."

Had he such a son?

[Aside] Now I do smell a fox strongly.

Let's see: no, Master Greenwit is not yet
So mellow in years as he; but as like Sebastian,
Just like my son Sebastian, such another.

[Aside] How finely like a fencer my father fetches his by-blows to hit me, but if I beat you not at your own weapon of subtlety--

"This son," saith he, "that should be
The column and main arch unto my house,
The crutch unto my age, becomes a whirlwind
Shaking the firm foundation."

'Tis some prodigal.

[Aside] Well shot, old Adam Bell!

"No city monster neither, no prodigal,
But sparing, wary, civil, and, tho' wifeless,
An excellent husband, and such a traveller,
He has more tongues in his head than some have teeth."

I have but two in mine.

So sparing and so wary?
What then could vex his father so?

Oh, a woman!

A flesh-fly, that can vex any man.

A scurvy woman,
On whom the passionate old man swore he doted;
A creature, saith he, nature hath brought forth
To mock the sex of woman. It is a thing
One knows not how to name; her birth began
Ere she was all made. 'Tis woman more than man,
Man more than woman
, and, which to none can hap,
The sun gives her two shadows to one shape;
Nay, more, let this strange thing walk, stand or sit,
No blazing star draws more eyes after it.

A monster, 'tis some monster.

She's a varlet.

[Aside] Now is my cue to bristle.

A naughty pack.

'Tis false.

Ha, boy?

'Tis false.

What's false? I say she's naught.

I say that tongue
That dares speak so but yours sticks in the throat
Of a rank villain; set yourself aside--

So, sir, what then?

Any here else had lied.
(Aside) I think I shall fit you!



Doth this concern him?

[Aside] Ah, sirrah boy!
Is your blood heated? Boils it? Are you stung?
I'll pierce you deeper yet.--Oh, my dear friends,
I am that wretched father, this that son
That sees his ruin yet headlong on doth run!

Will you love such a poison?

Fie, fie!

Y'are all mad!

Th' art sick at heart, yet feel'st it not. Of all these,
What gentleman but thou, knowing his disease
Mortal, would shun the cure? Oh, Master Greenwit,
Would you to such an idol bow?

Not I, sir.

Here's Master Laxton: has he mind to a woman
As thou hast?

No, not I, sir.

Sir, I know it.

Their good parts are so rare, their bad so common,
I will have nought to do with any woman.

'Tis well done, Master Laxton.

Oh, thou cruel boy,
Thou wouldst with lust an old man's life destroy;
Because thou seest I'm half-way in my grave,
Thou shovel'st dust upon me: would thou mightest have
Thy wish, most wicked, most unnatural!

Why, sir, 'tis thought Sir Guy Fitzallard's daughter
Shall wed your son Sebastian.

Sir Davy Dapper,
I have upon my knees woo'd this fond boy
To take that virtuous maiden.

Hark you, a word, sir.
You on your knees have curs'd that virtuous maiden
And me for loving her, yet do you now
Thus baffle me to my face? [Wear] not your knees
In such entreats; give me Fitzallard's daughter.

I'll give thee rats-bane rather!

Well, then you know
What dish I mean to feed upon.

Hark, gentlemen, he swears
To have this cutpurse drab to spite my gall.

Master Sebastian!

I am deaf to you all.
I'm so bewitch'd, so bound to my desires,
Tears, prayers, threats, nothing can quench out those fires
That burn within me.

Exit Sebastian.

[Aside] Her blood shall quench it then.--
Lose him not, oh, dissuade him, gentlemen!

He shall be wean'd, I warrant you.

Before his eyes
Lay down his shame, my grief, his miseries.

No more, no more, away!

Exeunt all but Sir Alexander.

I wash a negro,
Losing both pains and cost; but take thy flight:
I'll be most near thee when I'm least in sight.
Wild buck, I'll hunt thee breathless; thou shalt run on,
But I will turn thee when I'm not thought upon.

Enter Ralph Trapdoor.

Now, sirrah, what are you? Leave your ape's tricks and speak!

A letter from my captain to your worship.

Oh, oh, now I remember: 'tis to prefer thee into my service.

To be a shifter under your worship's nose of a clean trencher when there's a good bit upon't.

Troth, honest fellow. [Aside] Humh, ha, let me see.
This knave shall be the axe to hew that down
At which I stumble; h'as a face that promiseth
Much of a villain. I will grind his wit,
And if the edge prove fine make use of it.--
Come hither, sirrah. Canst thou be secret, ha?

As two crafty attorneys plotting the undoing of their clients.

Didst never, as thou hast walk'd about this town,
Hear of a wench call'd Moll, mad, merry Moll?

Moll Cutpurse, sir?

The same. Dost thou know her then?

As well as I know 'twill rain upon Simon and Jude's day next. I will sift all the taverns i' th' city and drink half-pots with all the watermen a' th' Bankside, but if you will, sir, I'll find her out.

That task is easy; do 't then. Hold thy hand up.
What's this? Is't burnt?

No, sir, no, a little sing'd with making fireworks.

[Giving him money] There's money, spend it; that being spent, fetch more.

Oh, sir, that all the poor soldiers in England had such a leader! For fetching, no water-spaniel is like me.

This wench we speak of strays so from her kind
Nature repents she made her. 'Tis a mermaid
Has toll'd my son to shipwreck.

I'll cut her comb for you.

I'll tell out gold for thee then; hunt her forth,
Cast out a line hung full of silver hooks
To catch her to thy company: deep spendings
May draw her that's most chaste to a man's bosom.

The jingling of golden bells and a good fool with a hobbyhorse will draw all the whores i' th' town to dance in a morris.

Or rather--for that's best, they say sometimes
She goes in breeches--follow her as her man.

And when her breeches are off, she shall follow me.

Beat all thy brains to serve her.

Zounds, sir, as country wenches beat cream till butter comes.

Play thou the subtle spider, weave fine nets
To ensnare her very life.

Her life?

Yes, suck
Her heart-blood if thou canst; twist thou but cords
To catch her, I'll find law to hang her up.

Spoke like a worshipful bencher.

Trace all her steps; at this she-fox's den
Watch what lambs enter: let me play the shepherd
To save their throats from bleeding and cut hers.

This is the goll shall do't.

Be firm and gain me
Ever thine own. This done, I entertain thee:
How is thy name?

My name sir is Ralph Trapdoor, honest Ralph.

Trapdoor, be like thy name, a dangerous step
For her to venture on, but unto me--

As fast as your sole to your boot or shoe, sir.

Hence then, be little seen here as thou canst.
I'll still be at thine elbow.

The trapdoor's set.
Moll, if you budge y'are gone; this me shall crown:
A roaring boy the Roaring Girl puts down.

God-a-mercy, lose no time.


[II.i.] The three shops open in a rank

The first a pothecary's shop, the next a feather shop, the third a sempster's shop: Mistress Gallipot in the first, Mistress Tiltyard in the next, Master Openwork and his wife in the third. To them enters Laxton, Goshawk and Greenwit.

Gentlemen, what is't you lack? What is't you buy? See fine bands and ruffs, fine lawns, fine cambrics! What is't you lack, gentlemen, what is't you buy?

Yonder's the shop.

Is that she?


She that minces tobacco.

Ay, she's a gentlewoman born, I can tell you, tho' it be her hard fortune now to shred Indian pot-herbs.

Oh, sir, 'tis many a good woman's fortune, when her husband turns bankrout, to begin with pipes and set up again.

And indeed the raising of the woman is the lifting up of the man's head at all times: if one flourish, t'other will bud as fast, I warrant ye.

Come, th' art familiarly acquainted there, I grope that.

And you grope no better i' th' dark, you may chance lie i' th' ditch when y'are drunk.

Go, th' art a mystical lecher.

I will not deny but my credit may take up an ounce of pure smoke.

May take up an ell of pure smock. Away, go! [Aside] 'Tis the closest striker. Life, I think he commits venery foot deep; no man's aware on't. I like a palpable smockster go to work so openly with the tricks of art that I'm as apparently seen as a naked boy in a vial, and were it not for a gift of treachery that I have in me to betray my friend when he puts most trust in me--mass, yonder he is too--and by his injury to make good my access to her, I should appear as defective in courting as a farmer's son the first day of his feather that doth nothing at court but woo the hangings and glass windows for a month together, and some broken waiting-woman forever after. I find those imperfections in my venery that were 't not for flattery and falsehood, I should want discourse and impudence, and he that wants impudence among women is worthy to be kick'd out at beds' feet. He shall not see me yet.

Troth, this is finely shred.

Oh, women are the best mincers.

'T had been a good phrase for a cook's wife, sir.

But 'twill serve generally, like the front of a new almanac, as thus: calculated for the meridian of cooks' wives, but generally for all Englishwomen.

Nay, you shall ha't, sir, I have fill'd it for you.

She puts it to the fire.

The pipe's in a good hand, and I wish mine always so.

But not to be us'd a' that fashion.

Oh, pardon me, sir, I understand no French.

[Greenwit doffs his hat and bows.]

I pray be cover'd. [Handing Goshawk a pipe] Jack, a pipe of rich smoke.

Rich smoke? That's sixpence a pipe, is't?

To me, sweet lady.

[Aside to Laxton] Be not forgetful: respect my credit, seem strange. Art and wit makes a fool of suspicion; pray be wary.

[Aside to Mistress Gallipot] Push, I warrant you!--Come, how is't, gallants?

Pure and excellent.

I thought 'twas good, you were grown so silent; you are like those that love not to talk at victuals, tho' they make a worse noise i' the nose than a common fiddler's prentice and discourse a whole supper with snuffling. [Aside to Mistress Gallipot] I must speak a word with you anon.

[Aside to Laxton] Make your way wisely then.

Oh, what else, sir? He's perfection itself, full of manners, but not an acre of ground belonging to ['im].

Ay, and full of form: h'as ne'er a good stool in's chamber.

But above all religious: he preyeth daily upon elder brothers.

And valiant above measure; h'as run three streets from a sergeant.

Puh, puh!

He blows tobacco in their faces.

Oh, puh, ho, ho!

[They move away.]

So, so.

What's the matter now, sir?

I protest I'm in extreme want of money: if you can supply me now with any means, you do me the greatest pleasure, next to the bounty of your love, as ever poor gentleman tasted.

What's the sum would pleasure ye, sir? Tho' you deserve nothing less at my hands.

Why, 'tis but for want of opportunity, thou know'st. [Aside] I put her off with opportunity still. By this light, I hate her but for means to keep me in fashion with gallants, for what I take from her I spend upon other wenches. Bear her in hand still; she has wit enough to rob her husband, and I ways enough to consume the money.--[Approaching Goshawk from behind and slapping him on the back] Why, how now? What, the chincough?

Thou hast the cowardliest trick to come before a man's face and strangle him ere he be aware! I could find in my heart to make a quarrel in earnest.

Pox and thou dost--thou know'st I never use to fight with my friends--thou'll but lose thy labour in't.

Enter J[ack] Dapper and his man Gull.

Jack Dapper!

Monsieur Dapper, I dive down to your ankles.

Save ye gentlemen, all three in a peculiar salute.

[Aside to Laxton] He were ill to make a lawyer: he dispatches three at once.

So, well said.

[Mistress Gallipot secretly gives him money.]

But is this of the same tobacco, Mistress Gallipot?

The same you had at first, sir.

I wish it no better: this will serve to drink at my chamber.

Shall we taste a pipe on't?

Not of this, by my troth, gentlemen; I have sworn before you.

What, not Jack Dapper?

Pardon me, sweet Jack, I'm sorry I made such a rash oath, but foolish oaths must stand. Where art going, Jack?

Faith, to buy one feather.

[Aside] One feather? The fool's peculiar still.



Here's three halfpence for your ordinary, boy; meet me an hour hence in Paul's.

How! Three single halfpence! Life, this will scarce serve a man in sauce, a hal'p'orth of mustard, a hal'p'orth of oil, and a hal'p'orth of vinegar. What's left then for the pickle herring? This shows like small beer i' th' morning after a great surfeit of wine o'ernight. He could spend his three pound last night in a supper amongst girls and brave bawdy-house boys; I thought his pockets cackl'd not for nothing. These are the eggs of three pound; I'll go sup 'em up presently.

Exit Gull.

[Aside, counting his money] Eight, nine, ten angels. Good wench, i'faith, and one that loves darkness well: she puts out a candle with the best tricks of any drugster's wife in England; but that which mads her, I rail upon opportunity still and take no notice on't. The other night she would needs lead me into a room with a candle in her hand to show me a naked picture, where no sooner entered but the candle was sent of an arrant; now I not intending to understand her, but, like a puny at the inns of venery, call'd for another light innocently: thus reward I all her cunning with simple mistaking. I know she cozens her husband to keep me, and I'll keep her honest as long as I can to make the poor man some part of amends: an honest mind of a whoremaster!--How think you amongst you? What, a fresh pipe? Draw in a third man.

No, you're a hoarder; you engross by th' ounces.

At the feather shop now

Puh, I like it not.

What feather is't you'ld have, sir?
These are most worn and most in fashion
Amongst the beaver gallants, the stone riders,
The private stage's audience, the twelvepenny-stool gentlemen:
I can inform you 'tis the general feather.

And therefore I mislike it; tell me of general!
Now a continual Simon and Jude's rain
Beat all your feathers as flat down as pancakes.
Show me a spangled feather.

Oh, to go
A-feasting with? You'd have it for a [hench]-boy;
You shall.

At the sempster's shop now

Mass, I had quite forgot
His honour's footman was here last night, wife.
Ha' you done with my lord's shirt?

What's that to you, sir?
I was this morning at his honour's lodging
Ere such a [snail] as you crept out of your shell.

Oh, 'twas well done, good wife!

I hold it better, sir, than if you had done 't yourself.

Nay, so say I. But is the countess's smock almost done, mouse?

Here, yes, the cambric, sir, but wants, I fear me.

I'll resolve you of that presently.

[Hoyda]! Oh, audacious groom,
Dare you presume to noblewomen's linen?
Keep you your yard to measure shepherd's holland!
I must confine you, I see that.

At the tobacco shop now.

What say you to this gear?

I dare the arrant's[t] critic in tobacco
To lay one fault upon't.

Enter Moll in a frieze jerkin and a black safeguard.

Life, yonder's Moll!

Moll? Which Moll?

Honest Moll.

Prithee, let's call her. Moll!

Moll, Moll, pist, Moll!

How now, what's the matter?

A pipe of good tobacco, Moll?

I cannot stay.

Nay, Moll, puh! Prithee hark, but one word, i'faith.

Well, what is't?

Prithee come hither, sirrah.

[Aside] Heart, I would give but too much money to be nibbling with that wench! Life, sh'as the spirit of four great parishes, and a voice that will drown all the city; methinks a brave captain might get all his soldiers upon her and ne'er be beholding to a company of Mile End milksops, if he could come on and come off quick enough. Such a Moll were a marrow-bone before an Italian; he would cry bona roba till his ribs were nothing but bone. I'll lay hard siege to her; money is that aqua fortis that eats into many a maidenhead: where the walls are flesh and blood, I'll ever pierce through with a golden auger.

Now thy judgment, Moll: is't not good?

Yes, faith, 'tis very good tobacco. How do you sell an ounce? Farewell. God b'i'you, Mistress Gallipot.

Why, Moll, Moll!

I cannot stay now, i'faith. I am going to buy a shag ruff; the shop will be shut in presently.

'Tis the maddest, fantastical'st girl: I never knew so much flesh and so much nimbleness put together.

She slips from one company to another, like a fat eel between a Dutchman's fingers. [Aside] I'll watch my time for her.

Some will not stick to say she's a man
And some both man and woman.

That were excellent: she might first cuckold the husband and then make him do as much for the wife.

The feather shop again.

Save you. How does Mistress Tiltyard?


Jack Dapper.

How dost, Moll?

I'll tell thee by and by; I go but to th' next shop.

Thou shalt find me here this hour about a feather.

Nay, and a feather hold you in play a whole hour, a goose will last you all the days of your life.

The sempster shop

Let me see a good shag ruff.

Mistress Mary, that shalt thou i'faith, and the best in the shop.

How now! Greetings? Love-terms with a pox between you! Have I found out one of your haunts? I send you for hollands, and you're i' th' low countries with a mischief. I'm serv'd with good ware by th' shift, that makes it lie dead so long upon my hands: I were as good shut up shop, for when I open it I take nothing.

Nay, and you fall a-ringing once the devil cannot stop you. I'll out of the belfry as fast as I can. Moll.

Get you from my shop.

I come to buy.

I'll sell ye nothing; I warn ye my house and shop.

You goody Openwork, you that prick out a poor living
And sews many a bawdy skin-coat together,
Thou private pandress between shirt and smock,
I wish thee for a minute but a man:
Thou shouldst never use more shapes. But as th' art
I pity my revenge: now my spleen's up,
I would not mock it willingly.

Enter a Fellow with a long rapier by his side.

Ha! Be thankful.
Now I forgive thee.

Marry, hang thee;
I never ask'd forgiveness in my life.

You, goodman swine's-face!

What, will you murder me?

You remember, slave, how you abus'd me t'other night in a tavern?

Not I, by this light.

No, but by candlelight you did. You have tricks to save your oaths, reservations have you, and I have reserved somewhat for you. [Strikes him.] As you like that, call for more; you know the sign again.

Pox on't, had I brought any company along with me to have borne witness on't; 'twould ne'er have griev'd me; but to be struck and nobody by, 'tis my ill fortune still. Why, tread upon a worm, they say 'twill turn tail, but indeed a gentleman should have more manners.

Exit Fellow.

Gallantly performed, i'faith, Moll, and manfully! I love thee forever for't! Base rogue! Had he offer'd but the least counterbuff, by this hand I was prepared for him.

You prepared for him! Why should you be prepared for him? Was he any more than a man?

No, nor so much by a yard and a handful London measure.

Why do you speak this then? Do you think I cannot ride a stone horse unless one lead him by th' snaffle?

Yes, and sit him bravely; I know thou canst, Moll. 'Twas but an honest mistake through love, and I'll make amends for't any way. Prithee, sweet, plump Moll, when shall thou and I go out a' town together?

Whither? To Tyburn prithee?

Mass, that's out a' town indeed; thou hang'st so many jests upon thy friends still. I mean honestly to Brainford, Staines or Ware.

What to do there?

Nothing but be merry and lie together; I'll hire a coach with four horses.

I thought 'twould be a beastly journey. You may leave out one well: three horses will serve if I play the jade myself.

Nay, push, th' art such another kicking wench! Prithee be kind and let's meet.

'Tis hard but we shall meet, sir.

Nay, but appoint the place then. [Giving her money] There's ten angels in fair gold, Moll; you see I do not trifle with you. Do but say thou wilt meet me, and I'll have a coach ready for thee.

Why, here's my hand I'll meet you, sir.

[Aside] Oh, good gold!--The place, sweet Moll?

It shall be your appointment.

Somewhat near Holborn, Moll.

In Gray's Inn Fields then.

A match.

I'll meet you there.

The hour?


That will be time enough to sup at Brainford.

Fall from them to the other.

I am of such a nature, sir, I cannot endure the house when she scolds. Sh' has a tongue will be [heard] further in a still morning than Saint Antling's bell. She rails upon me for foreign wenching, that I being a freeman must needs keep a whore i' th' suburbs, and seek to impoverish the liberties. When we fall out, I trouble you still to make all whole with my wife.

No trouble at all; 'tis a pleasure to me to join things together.

Go thy ways. [Aside] I do this but to try thy honesty, Goshawk.

The feather shop

How lik'st thou this, Moll?

Oh, singularly! You're fitted now for a bunch. [Aside] He looks for all the world with those spangled feathers like a nobleman's bedpost! The purity of your wench would I fain try; she seems like Kent, unconquered, and I believe as many wiles are in her. Oh, the gallants of these times are shallow lechers; they put not their courtship home enough to a wench. 'Tis impossible to know what woman is thoroughly honest, because she's ne'er thoroughly tried; I am of that certain belief there are more queans in this town of their own making than of any man's provoking. Where lies the slackness then? Many a poor soul would down, and there's nobody will push 'em:
Women are courted but ne'er soundly tried,
As many walk in spurs that never ride.

The sempster's shop.

Oh, abominable!

Nay, more: I tell you in private, he keeps a whore i' th' suburbs.

Oh, spital dealing! I came to him a gentlewoman born. I'll show you mine arms when you please, sir.

[Aside] I had rather see your legs and begin that way.

'Tis well known he took me from a lady's service, where I was well beloved of the steward; I had my Latin tongue and a spice of the French before I came to him, and now doth he keep a suburbian whore under my nostrils.

There's ways enough to cry quit with him; hark in thine ear.

There's a friend worth a million.

[Aside] I'll try one spear against your chastity, Mistress Tiltyard, though it prove too short by the [burr].

Enter Ralph Trapdoor.

[Aside] Mass, here she is! I'm bound already to serve her, tho' it be but a sluttish trick.--Bless my hopeful young mistress with long life and great limbs! Send her the upper hand of all bailiffs and their hungry adherents!

How now! What art thou?

A poor, ebbing gentleman that would gladly wait for the young flood of your service.

My service! What should move you to offer your service to me, sir?

The love I bear to your heroic spirit and masculine womanhood.

So, sir, put case we should retain you to us, what parts are there in you for a gentlewoman's service?

Of two kinds, right worshipful, movable and immovable: movable to run of arrants, and immovable to stand when you have occasion to use me.

What strength have you?

Strength, Mistress Moll? I have gone up into a steeple and stayed the great bell as 't has been ringing, stopp'd a windmill going.

And never struck down yourself?

Stood as upright as I do at this present.

Molls trips up his heels; he falls.

Come, I pardon you for this; it shall be no disgrace to you: I have struck up the heels of the high German's size ere now. What, not stand?

I am of that nature where I love, I'll be at my mistress' foot to do her service.

Why, well said. But say your mistress should receive injury: have you the spirit of fighting in you? Durst you second her?

Life, I have kept a bridge myself and drove seven at a time before me.


But they were all Lincolnshire bullocks, by my troth.

Well, meet me in Gray's Inn Fields between three and four this afternoon, and upon better consideration we'll retain you.

I humbly thank your good mistress-ship.
[Aside] I'll crack your neck for this kindness.

Exit Trapdoor. Moll meets Laxton.

Remember: three.

Nay, if I fail you, hang me.

Good wench, i'faith.

Then Openwork

Who's this?

'Tis I, Moll.

Prithee tend thy shop and prevent bastards.

We'll have a pint of the same wine, i'faith, Moll.

[Exeunt Moll and Openwork.] The bell rings.

Hark the bell rings; come, gentlemen.
Jack Dapper, where shall's all munch?

I am for Parker's ordinary.

He's a good guest to 'm; he deserves his board:
He draws all the gentlemen in a term-time thither.
We'll be your followers, Jack, lead the way.
Look you, by my faith, the fool has feather'd his nest well.

Exeunt gallants [Laxton, Goshawk, Greenwit, Jack Dapper]. Enter Master Gallipot, Master Tiltyard, and servants with water-spaniels and a duck.

Come, shut up your shops. Where's Master Openwork?

Nay, ask not me, Master Tiltyard.

Where's his water-dog? Puh-pist-her-her-pist!

Come, wenches, come, we're going all to Hogsden.

To Hogsden, husband?

Ay, to Hogsden, pigsney.

I'm not ready, husband.

Faith, that's well. Hum-pist-pist!

Spits in the dog's mouth.

Come, Mistress Openwork, you are so long.

I have no joy of my life, Master Gallipot.

Push, let your boy lead his water-spaniel along and we'll show you the bravest sport at Parlous Pond. Hey Trug, hey Trug, hey Trug! Here's the best duck in England, except my wife.
Hey, hey, hey, fetch, fetch, fetch, come let's away;
Of all the year this is the sportfull'st day.

[II.ii. A street]

Enter Sebastian solus.

If a man have a free will, where should the use
More perfect shine than in his will to love?
All creatures have their liberty in that,

Enter Sir Alexander and listens to him.

Tho' else kept under servile yoke and fear;
The very bondslave has his freedom there.
Amongst a world of creatures voic'd and silent
Must my desires wear fetters? [Aside] Yea, are you
So near? Then I must break with my heart's truth,
Meet grief at a back way; well.--Why, suppose
The two-leav'd tongues of slander or of truth
Pronounce Moll loathsome: if before my love
She appear fair, what injury have I?
I have the thing I like. In all things else
Mine own eye guides me, and I find 'em prosper.
Life, what should ail it now? I know that man
Ne'er truly loves, if he gainsay 't he lies,
That winks and marries with his father's eyes.
I'll keep mine own wide open.

Enter Moll and a Porter with a viol on his back.

[Aside] Here's brave willfulness,
A made match. Here she comes; they met a' purpose.

Must I carry this great fiddle to your chamber, Mistress Mary?

Fiddle, goodman hog-rubber? Some of these porters bear so much for others they have no time to carry wit for themselves.

To your own chamber, Mistress Mary?

Who'll hear an ass speak? Whither else, goodman pageant-bearer? They're people of the worst memories.

Exit Porter.

Why, 'twere too great a burthen, love, to have them carry things in their minds and a' their backs together.

Pardon me, sir, I thought not you so near.

[Aside] So, so, so.

I would be nearer to thee, and in that fashion
That makes the best part of all creatures honest.
No otherwise I wish it.

Sir, I am so poor to requite you, you must look for nothing but thanks of me. I have no humour to marry: I love to lie a' both sides a' th' bed myself; and again a' th' other side, a wife, you know, ought to be obedient, but I fear me I am too headstrong to obey, therefore I'll ne'er go about it. I love you so well, sir, for your good will I'd be loath you should repent your bargain after, and therefore we'll ne'er come together at first. I have the head now of myself and am man enough for a woman; marriage is but a chopping and changing, where a maiden loses one head and has a worse i' th' place.

[Aside] The most comfortablest answer from a roaring girl
That ever mine ears drunk in.

This were enough
Now to affright a fool forever from thee,
When 'tis the music that I love thee for.

[Aside] There's a boy spoils all again.

Believe it, sir, I am not of that disdainful temper, but I could love you faithfully.

[Aside] A pox on you for that word! I like you not now:
Y'are a cunning roarer; I see that already.

But sleep upon this once more, sir, you may chance shift a mind tomorrow. Be not too hasty to wrong yourself; never while you live, sir, take a wife running: many have run out at heels that have done 't. You see, sir, I speak against myself, and if every woman would deal with their suitor so honestly, poor younger brothers would not be so often gull'd with old cozening widows that turn o'er all their wealth in trust to some kinsman and make the poor gentleman work hard for a pension. Fare you well, sir.

Nay, prithee, one word more.

[Aside] How do I wrong this girl: she puts him off still!

Think upon this in cold blood, sir: you make as much haste as if you were a-going upon a sturgeon voyage. Take deliberation, sir; never choose a wife as if you were going to Virginia.

And so we parted, my too-cursed fate.

[Aside] She is but cunning, gives him longer time in't.

Enter a Tailor.

Mistress Moll, Mistress Moll: so ho ho so ho!

There boy, there boy! What, dost thou go a-hawking after me with a red clout on thy finger?

I forgot to take measure on you for your new breeches.

[Aside] Hoyda! Breeches! What, will he marry a monster with two trinkets? What age is this? If the wife go in breeches, the man must wear long coats like a fool.

What fiddling's here? Would not the old pattern have serv'd your turn?

You change the fashion; you say you'll have the great Dutch slop, Mistress Mary.

Why, sir, I say so still.

Your breeches then will take up a yard more.

Well, pray look it be put in then.

It shall stand round and full, I warrant you,

Pray make 'em easy enough.

I know my fault now: t'other was somewhat stiff between the legs; I'll make these open enough, I warrant you.

[Aside] Here's good gear towards! I have brought up my son to marry a Dutch slop and a French doublet, a codpiece-daughter!

So, I have gone as far as I can go.

Why then, farewell.

If you go presently to your chamber, Mistress Mary, pray send me the measure of your thigh by some honest body.

Well, sir, I'll send it by a porter presently.

Exit Moll.

So you had need: it is a lusty one; both of them would make any porter's back ache in England.

Exit Tailor.

I have examined the best part of man,
Reason and judgment, and in love they tell me
They leave me uncontroll'd: he that is sway'd
By an unfeeling blood past heat of love,
His springtime must needs err; his watch ne'er goes right
That sets his dial by a rusty clock

[Coming forward] So, and which is that rusty clock, sir? You?

The clock at Ludgate, sir; it ne'er goes true.

But thou goest falser: not thy father's cares
Can keep thee right. When that insensible work
Obeys the workman's art, lets off the hour
And stops again when time is satisfied
But thou runn'st on, and judgment, thy main wheel,
Beats by all stops, as if the work would break
Begun with long pains for a minute's ruin,
Much like a suffering man brought up with care
At last bequeath'd to shame and a short prayer.

I taste you bitterer than I can deserve, sir.

Who has bewitch['d] thee, son? What devil or drug
Hath wrought upon the weakness of thy blood
And betray'd all her hopes to ruinous folly?
Oh, wake from drowsy and enchanted shame,
Wherein thy soul sits with a golden dream,
Flatter'd and poisoned! I am old, my son;
Oh, let me prevail quickly,
For I have weightier business of mine own
Than to chide thee: I must not to my grave
As a drunkard to his bed, whereon he lies
Only to sleep and never cares to rise.
Let me dispatch in time; come no more near her.

Not honestly? Not in the way of marriage?

What, sayst thou marriage? In what place, the sessions-house? And who shall give the bride, prithee, an indictment?

Sir, now ye take part with the world to wrong her.

Why, wouldst thou fain marry to be pointed at?
Alas, the number's great; do not o'erburden 't.
Why, as good marry a beacon on a hill,
Which all the country fix their eyes upon
As her thy folly dotes on. If thou long'st
To have the story of thy infamous fortunes,
Serve for discourse in ordinaries and taverns,
Th' art in the way; or to confound thy name,
Keep on, thou canst not miss it; or to strike
Thy wretched father to untimely coldness,
Keep the left hand still, it will bring thee to't.
Yet if no tears wrung from thy father's eyes,
Nor sighs that fly in sparkles from his sorrows,
Had power to alter what is willful in thee,
Methinks her very name should fright thee from her
And never trouble me.

Why is the name of Moll so fatal, sir?

[Marry], one, sir, where suspect is ent'red,
For seek all London from one end to t'other
More whores of that name than of any ten other.

What's that to her? Let those blush for themselves.
Can any guilt in others condemn her?
I've vow'd to love her: let all storms oppose me
That ever beat against the breast of man,
Nothing but death's black tempest shall divide us.

Oh, folly that can dote on nought but shame!

Put case a wanton itch runs through one name
More than another: is that name the worse
Where honesty sits possess'd in't? It should rather
Appear more excellent and deserve more praise
When through foul mists a brightness it can raise.
Why, there are of the devil's honest gentlemen,
And well descended, keep an open house,
And some a' th' good man's that are arrant knaves.
He hates unworthily that by rote contemns,
For the name neither saves nor yet condemns.
And for her honesty, I have made such proof an't
In several forms, so nearly watch'd her ways,
I will maintain that strict against an army,
Excepting you my father. Here's her worst:
Sh' has a bold spirit that mingles with mankind,
But nothing else comes near it, and oftentimes
Through her apparel somewhat shames her birth,
But she is loose in nothing but in mirth.
Would all Molls were no worse.

[Aside] This way I toil in vain and give but aim
To infamy and ruin. He will fall;
My blessing cannot stay him: all my joys
Stand at the brink of a devouring flood
And will be willfully swallowed, willfully,
But why so vain? Let all these tears be lost:
I'll pursue her to shame, and so all's cross'd.

Exit Sir Alexander.

He is gone with some strange purpose, whose effect
Will hurt me little if he shoot so wide,
To think I love so blindly. I but feed
His heart to this match to draw on th' other,
Wherein my joy sits with a full wish crown'd,
Only his mood excepted, which must change
By opposite policies, courses indirect:
Plain dealing in this world takes no effect.
This mad girl I'll acquaint with my intent,
Get her assistance, make my fortunes known:
'Twixt lovers' hearts, she's a fit instrument
And has the art to help them to their own
By her advice, for in that craft she's wise:
My love and I may meet, spite of all spies.

Exit Sebastian.

[III.i. Gray's Inn Fields]

Enter Laxton in Gray's Inn Fields with the Coachman.


Here sir.

[Giving him money] There's a tester more. Prithee drive thy coach to the hither end of Marybone Park, a fit place for Moll to get in.

Marybone Park, sir?

Ay, it's in our way, thou know'st.

It shall be done, sir.


Anon, sir.

Are we fitted with good [frampold] jades?

The best in Smithfield, I warrant you, sir.

May we safely take the upper hand of any [couch'd] velvet cap or tufftaffety jacket? For they keep a vild swaggering in coaches nowadays; the highways are stopp'd with them.

My life for yours and baffle 'em too, sir. Why, they are the same jades, believe it, sir, that have drawn all your famous whores to Ware.

Nay then, they know their business; they need no more instructions.

They're so us'd to such journeys, sir, I never use whip to 'em, for if they catch but the scent of a wench once, they run like devils.

Exit Coachman with his whip.

Fine Cerberus: that rogue will have the start of a thousand ones, for whilst others trot afoot, he'll ride prancing to hell upon a coach-horse. Stay, 'tis now about the hour of her appointment, but yet I see her not.

The clock strikes three.

Hark, what's this? One, two, three, three by the clock at Savoy: this is the hour, and Gray's Inn Fields the place. She swore she'd meet me. Ha, yonder's two Inns a' Court men with one wench, but that's not she; they walk toward Islington out of my way. I see none yet dress'd like her: I must look for a shag ruff, a frieze jerkin, a short sword, and safeguard, or I get none. Why, Moll, prithee make haste or the coachman will curse us anon.

Enter Moll like a man.

[Aside] Oh, here's my gentleman: if they would keep their days as well with their mercers as their hours with their harlots, no bankrout would give seven score pound for a sergeant's place, for would you know a catchpole rightly deriv'd, the corruption of a citizen is the generation of a sergeant! How his eye hawks for venery!--Come, are you ready, sir?

Ready for what, sir?

Do you ask that now, sir? Why was this meeting 'pointed?

I thought you mistook me, sir.
You seem to be some young barrister.
I have no suit in law; all my land's sold:
I praise heaven for't; 't has rid me of much trouble.

Then I must wake you, sir. Where stands the coach?

Who's this? Moll? Honest Moll?

So young and purblind? You're an old wanton in your eyes, I see that.

Th' art admirably suited for the Three Pigeons at Brainford; I'll swear I knew thee not.

I'll swear you did not, but you shall know me now.

No, not here, we shall be spied, i'faith; the coach is better, come.


What, wilt thou untruss a point, Moll?

She puts off her cloak and draws.

Yes, here's the point that I untruss: 't has but one tag; 'twill serve tho' to tie up a rogue's tongue.


There's the gold with which you hir'd your hackney.
[Attacking him] Here's her pace;
She racks hard, and perhaps your bones will feel it!
Ten angels of mine own I've put to thine;
Win 'em and wear 'em!

Hold, Moll, Mistress Mary!

Draw or I'll serve an execution on thee
Shall lay thee up till doomsday!

Draw upon a woman? Why, what dost mean, Moll?

To teach thy base thoughts manners: th' art one of those
That thinks each woman thy fond, flexible whore
If she but cast a liberal eye upon thee;
Turn back her head, she's thine, or amongst company,
By chance drink first to thee. Then she's quite gone;
There's no means to help her, nay, for a need,
Wilt swear unto thy credulous fellow lechers
That th' art more in favour with a lady
At first sight than her monkey all her lifetime.
How many of our sex by such as thou
Have their good thoughts paid with a blasted name
That never deserved loosely, or did trip
In path of whoredom beyond cup and lip?
But for the stain of conscience and of soul,
Better had women fall into the hands
Of an act silent than a bragging nothing.
There's no mercy in't. What durst move you, sir,
To think me whorish, a name which I'd tear out
From the high German's throat if it lay ledger there
To dispatch privy slanders against me?
In thee I defy all men, their worst hates
And their best flatteries, all their golden witchcrafts
With which they entangle the poor spirits of fools,
Distressed needlewomen, and trade-fall'n wives.
Fish that must needs bite or themselves be bitten,
Such hungry things as these may soon be took
With a worm fast'ned on a golden hook:
Those are the lecher's food, his prey; he watches
For quarrelling wedlocks, and poor shifting sisters:
'Tis the best fish he takes. But why, good fisherman,
Am I thought meat for you, that never yet
Had angling rod cast towards me? 'Cause, you'll say,
I'm given to sport, I'm often merry, jest.
Had mirth no kindred in the world but lust?
Oh, shame take all her friends then! But howe'er
Thou and the baser world censure my life,
I'll send 'em word by thee, and write so much
Upon thy breast, 'cause thou shalt bear 't in mind:
Tell them 'twere base to yield where I have conquer'd.
I scorn to prostitute myself to a man,
I that can prostitute a man to me:
And so I greet thee.

Hear me!

Would the spirits
Of all my [slanderers] were clasp'd in thine
That I might vex an army at one time!

They fight.

I do repent me! Hold!

You'll die the better Christian then.

I do confess I have wrong'd thee, Moll.

Confession is but poor amends for wrong,
Unless a rope would follow.

I ask thee pardon.

I'm your hir'd whore, sir.

I yield both purse and body!

Both are mine and now at my disposing.

Spare my life!

I scorn to strike thee basely.

Spoke like a noble girl, i'faith! [Aside] Heart, I think I fight with a familiar or the ghost of a fencer! Sh' has wounded me gallantly. Call you this a lecherous [voyage]? Here's blood would have serv'd me this seven year in broken heads and cut fingers, and it now runs all out together. Pox a' the Three Pigeons! I would the coach were here now to carry me to the chirurgeon's.

Exit Laxton.

If I could meet my enemies one by one thus,
I might make pretty shift with 'em in time
And make 'em know she that has wit and spirit
May scorn to live beholding to her body for meat
Or for apparel like your common dame
That makes shame get her clothes to cover shame.
Base is that mind that kneels unto her body,
As if a husband stood in awe on's wife:
My spirit shall be mistress of this house
As long as I have time in't.

Enter Trapdoor.

[Aside] Oh,
Here comes my man that would be: 'tis his hour.
Faith, a good well-set fellow, if his spirit
Be answerable to his umbles. He walks stiff,
But whether he will stand to't stiffly, there's the point;
H'as a good calf for't, and ye shall have many a woman
Choose him she means to [make] her head by his calf.
I do not know their tricks in't. Faith, he seems
A man without; I'll try what he is within.

[Aside] She told me Gray's Inn Fields 'twixt three and four.
I'll fit her mistress-ship with a piece of service!
I'm hir'd to rid the town of one mad girl.

She justles him.

What a pox ails you, sir?

[Aside] He begins like a gentleman.

Heart, is the field so narrow, or your eyesight?

She comes towards him.

Life, he comes back again!

Was this spoke to me, sir?

I cannot tell, sir.

Go, y'are a coxcomb!


Y'are a slave!

I hope there's law for you, sir.

[Yea], do you see, sir?

Turn his hat.

Heart, this is no good dealing!
Pray let me know what house you're of.

One of the Temple, sir.

Fillips him.

Mass, so methinks!

And yet sometime I lie
About Chick Lane.

I like you the worse
Because you shift your lodging so often.
I'll not meddle with you for that trick, sir.

A good shift, but it shall not serve your turn.

You'll give me leave to pass about my business, sir?

Your business?
I'll make you wait on me before I ha' done,
And glad to serve me too.

How, sir! Serve you?
Not if there were no more men in England!

But if there were no more women in England,
I hope you'd wait upon your mistress then.


Oh, you're a tried spirit at a push, sir!

What would your worship have me do?

You a fighter?

No, I praise heaven; I had better grace and more manners.

As how I pray, sir?

Life, 't had been a beastly part of me to have drawn my weapons upon my mistress! All the world would 'a' cried shame of me for that.

Why, but you knew me not.

Do not say so, mistress; I knew you by your wide straddle, as well as if I had been in your belly.

Well, we shall try you further; i' th' mean time we give you entertainment.

Thank your good mistress-ship.

How many suits have you?

No more suits than backs, mistress.

Well, if you deserve, I cast off this next week,
And you may creep into't.

Thank your good worship.

Come, follow me to St. Thomas Apostle's;
I'll put a livery cloak upon your back
The first thing I do.

I follow, my dear mistress.

Exeunt omnes.

[III.ii. Gallipot's house]

Enter Mistress Gallipot as from supper, her husband after her.

What, Pru! Nay, sweet Prudence!

What a pruing keep you; I think the baby would have a teat, it kyes so. Pray be not so fond of me: leave your city humours; I'm vex'd at you to see how like a calf you come bleating after me.

Nay, honey Pru. How does your rising up before all the table show? And flinging from my friends so uncivilly? Fie, Pru, fie, come!

Then up and ride, i'faith.

Up and ride? Nay, my pretty Pru, that's far from my thought, duck. Why, mouse, thy mind is nibbling at something. What is't? What lies upon thy stomach?

Such an ass as you. Hoyda, y'are best turn midwife or physician! Y'are a pothecary already, but I'm none of your drugs.

Thou art a sweet drug, sweet'st Pru, and the more thou art pounded, the more precious.

Must you be prying into a woman's secrets, say ye?

Woman's secrets?

What, I cannot have a qualm come upon me but your teeth waters till your nose hang over it.

It is my love, dear wife.

Your love? Your love is all words; give me deeds: I cannot abide a man that's too fond over me, so cookish; thou dost not know how to handle a woman in her kind.

No, Pru? Why, I hope I have handled--

Handle a fool's head of your own, fie, fie!

Ha, ha, 'tis such a wasp! It does me good now to have her [sting] me, little rogue.

Now fie, how you vex me! I cannot abide these [apron] husbands, such cotqueans: you overdo your things; they become you scurvily.

[Aside] Upon my life, she breeds! Heaven knows how I have strain'd myself to please her, night and day. I wonder why we citizens should get children so fretful and untoward in the breeding, their fathers being for the most part as gentle as milch-kine.--Shall I leave thee, my Pru?

Fie, fie, fie.

Thou shalt not be vex'd no more, pretty kind rogue: take no cold, sweet Pru.

Exit Gallipot.

As your wit has done. [Taking out a letter] Now, Master Laxton, show your head. What news from you? Would any husband suspect that a woman crying, "Buy any scurvygrass" should bring love letters amongst her herbs to his wife? Pretty trick, fine conveyance! Had jealousy a thousand eyes, a silly woman with scurvygrass blinds them all.
Laxton, with bays
Crown I thy wit for this: it deserves praise.
This makes me affect thee more; this proves thee wise.
'Lack what poor shift is love forc'd to devise?
To th' point:

She reads the letter.

"Oh, sweet creature,"--a sweet beginning--"pardon my long absence, for thou shalt shortly be possessed with my presence. Though Demophon was false to Phyllis, I will be to thee as Pan-da-rus was to Cres-sida; tho' Aeneas made an ass of Dido, I will die to thee ere I do so. Oh, sweet'st creature, make much of me, for no man beneath the silver moon shall make more of a woman than I do of thee. Furnish me therefore with thirty pounds; you must do it of necessity for me: I languish till I see some comfort come from thee, protesting not to die in thy debt, but rather to live so, as hitherto I have and will.

Thy true Laxton ever."

Alas, poor gentleman! Troth, I pity him.
How shall I raise this money? Thirty pound?
'Tis thirty sure, a 3 before an O;
I know his threes too well. My childbed linen?
Shall I pawn that for him? Then if my mark
Be known, I am undone; it may be thought
My husband's bankrout. Which way shall I turn?
Laxton, what with my own fears and thy wants,
I'm as a needle 'twixt two adamants.

Enter Master Gallipot hastily.

Nay, nay, wife, the women are all up! [Aside] Ha! How, reading a' letters? I smell a goose, a couple of capons, and a gammon of bacon from her mother out of the country, I hold my life.--Steal, steal!

Oh, beshrew your heart!

What letter's that?
I'll see't.

She tears the letter.

Oh, would thou hadst no eyes to see
The downfall of me and thyself: I'm forever,
Forever I'm undone!

What ails my Pru?
What paper's that thou tear'st?

Would I could tear
My very heart in pieces, for my soul
Lies on the rack of shame that tortures me
Beyond a woman's suffering.

What means this?

Had you no other vengeance to throw down
But even in height of all my joys--

Dear woman!

When the full sea of pleasure and content
Seem'd to flow over me--

As thou desirest to keep
Me out of bedlam, tell what troubles thee?
Is not thy child at nurse fall'n sick, or dead?

Oh, no!

Heavens bless me! Are my barns and houses
Yonder at Hockley Hole consum'd with fire?
I can build more, sweet Pru.

'Tis worse, 'tis worse.

My factor broke, or is the Jonas sunk?

Would all we had were swallowed in the waves,
Rather than both should be the scorn of slaves.

I'm at my wits' end!

Oh, my dear husband,
Where once I thought myself a fixed star
Plac'd only in the heaven of thine arms,
I fear now I shall prove a wanderer.
Oh, Laxton, Laxton, is it then my fate
To be by thee o'erthrown?

Defend me, wisdom,
From falling into frenzy! On my knees,
Sweet Pru, speak: what's that Laxton who so heavy
Lies on thy bosom?

I shall sure run mad!

I shall run mad for company then. Speak to me:
I'm Gallipot thy husband. Pru, why, Pru!
Art sick in conscience for some villainous deed
Thou wert about to act? Didst mean to rob me?
Tush, I forgive thee! Hast thou on my bed
Thrust my soft pillow under another's head?
I'll wink at all faults, Pru; 'las, that's no more
Than what some neighbours near thee have done before.
Sweet honey Pru, what's that Laxton?


Out with him!

Oh, he's born to be my undoer!
This hand which thou call'st thine to him was given;
To him was I made sure i' th' sight of heaven.

I never heard this thunder.

Yes, yes, before
I was to thee contracted, to him I swore,
Since last I saw him twelve months three times told
The moon hath drawn through her light silver bow
For o'er the seas he went, and it was said,
But rumour lies, that he in France was dead.
But he's alive, oh, he's alive! He sent
That letter to me, which in rage I rent,
Swearing with oaths most damnably to have me,
Or tear me from this bosom. Oh, heavens save me!

My heart will break! Sham'd and undone forever!

So black a day poor wretch went o'er thee never.

If thou shouldst wrastle with him at the law,
Th' art sure to fall: no odd sleight, no prevention.
I'll tell him th' art with child.


Or give out
One of my men was ta'en a-bed with thee.

Umh, umh.

Before I lose thee, my dear Pru,
I'll drive it to that push.

Worse, and worse still:
You embrace a mischief to prevent an ill.

I'll buy thee of him, stop his mouth with gold.
Think'st thou twill do?

Oh me, heavens grant it would!
Yet now my senses are set more in tune,
He writ, as I remember in his letter,
That he in riding up and down had spent
Ere he could find me thirty pounds: send that;
Stand not on thirty with him.

Forty, Pru;
Say thou the word 'tis done. We venture lives
For wealth, but must do more to keep our wives.
Thirty or forty, Pru?

Thirty, good sweet;
Of an ill bargain let's save what we can.
I'll pay it him with my tears: he was a man
When first I knew him of a meek spirit;
All goodness is not yet dried up, I hope.

He shall have thirty pound; let that stop all:
Love's sweets taste best when we have drunk down gall.

Enter Master Tiltyard and his wife, Master Goshawk, and Mistress Openwork.

God-so, our friends! Come, come, smooth your cheek;
After a storm the face of heaven looks sleek.

Did I not tell you these turtles were together?

How dost thou, sirrah? Why, sister Gallipot!

Lord, how she's chang'd!

Is your wife ill, sir?

Yes, indeed la, sir, very ill, very ill, never worse!

How her head burns! Feel how her pulses work.

Sister, lie down a little; that always does me good.

In good sadness, I find best ease in that too.
Has she laid some hot thing to her stomach?

No, but I will lay something anon.

Come, come, fools, you trouble her. Shall's go, Master Goshawk?

Yes, sweet Master Tiltyard. [Taking Mistress Openwork aside] Sirrah Rosamond, I hold my life Gallipot hath vex'd his wife.

She has a horrible high colour indeed.

We shall have your face painted with the same red soon at night when your husband comes from his rubbers in a false alley; thou wilt not believe me that his bowls run with a wrong bias.

It cannot sink into me that he feeds upon stale mutton abroad, having better and fresher at home.

What if I bring thee where thou shalt see him stand at rack and manger?

I'll saddle him in's kind and spur him till he kick again.

Shall thou and I ride our journey then?

Here's my hand.

No more.--Come, Master Tiltyard, shall we leap into the stirrups with our women and amble home?

Yes, yes; come, wife.

In troth, sister, I hope you will do well for all this.

I hope I shall. Farewell, good sister, sweet Master Goshawk.

Welcome, brother, most kindly welcome, sir.

Thanks, sir, for our good cheer.

Exeunt all but Gallipot and his wife.

It shall be so, because a crafty knave
Shall not outreach me nor walk by my door
With my wife arm in arm, as 'twere his whore,
I'll give him a golden coxcomb, thirty pound.
Tush, Pru, what's thirty pound? Sweet duck, look cheerly.

Thou art worthy of my heart: thou buy'st it dearly.

Enter Laxton muffled.

'Ud's light, the tide's against me! A pox of your pothecaryship! Oh, for some glister to set him going! 'Tis one of Hercules' labours to tread one of these city hens because their cocks are still crowing over them; there's no turning tail here, I must on.

Oh, husband, see, he comes!

Let me deal with him.

Bless you, sir.

Be you bless'd too, sir, if you come in peace.

Have you any good pudding tobacco, sir?

Oh, pick no quarrels, gentle sir! My husband
Is not a man of weapon as you are;
He knows all: I have op'ned all before him
Concerning you.

Zounds, has she shown my letters!

Suppose my case were yours, what would you do
At such a pinch, such batteries, such assaults
Of father, mother, kindred, to dissolve
The knot you tied, and to be bound to him?
How could you shift this storm off?

If I know, hang me.

Besides a story of your death was read
Each minute to me.

[Aside] What a pox means this riddling?

Be wise, sir; let not you and I be toss'd
On lawyers' pens: they have sharp nibs and draw
Men's very heart-blood from them. What need you, sir,
To beat the drum of my wife's infamy,
And call your friends together, sir, to prove
Your [precontract] when sh' has confess'd it?

Umh, sir,
Has she confess'd it?

Sh' has, faith, to me, sir,
Upon your letter sending.

I have, I have.

[Aside] If I let this iron cool, call me slave.--
Do you hear, you dame Prudence? Think'st thou, vile woman,
I'll take these blows and wink?

Upon my knees--

Out, impudence!

Good sir--

You goatish slaves,
No wild fowl to cut up but mine?

Alas, sir,
You make her flesh to tremble; fright her not.
She shall do reason and what's fit.

I'll have thee,
Wert thou more common than an hospital
And more diseased.

But one word, good sir.

So, sir?

I married her, have [lain] with her, and got
Two children on her body; think but on that.
Have you so beggarly an appetite,
When I upon a dainty dish have fed,
To dine upon my scraps, my leavings? Ha, sir?
Do I come near you [now], sir?

Be-Lady, you touch me.

Would not you scorn to wear my clothes, sir?

Right, sir.

Then pray, sir, wear not her, for she's a garment
So fitting for my body, I'm loath
Another should put it on; you will undo both.
Your letter, as she said, complain'd you had spent
In quest of her some thirty pound: I'll pay it.
Shall that, sir, stop this gap up 'twixt you two?

Well, if I swallow this wrong, let her thank you;
The money being paid, sir, I am gone.
Farewell, oh women! Happy's he trusts none.

Dispatch him hence, sweet husband.

Yes, dear wife.
Pray, sir, come in. Ere Master Laxton part
Thou shalt in wine drink to him.

With all my heart.
[Aside to Laxton] How dost thou like my wit?

[Aside to Mistress Gallipot] Rarely!

Exit Master Gallipot and his wife.

That wile
By which the serpent did the first woman beguile
Did ever since all women's bosoms fill;
Y'are apple-eaters all, deceivers still.

Exit Laxton.

[III.iii. Holborn Street]

Enter Sir Alexander Wengrave, Sir Davy Dapper, Sir Adam Appleton at one door, and Trapdoor at another door.

Out with your tale, Sir Davy, to Sir Adam;
A knave is in mine eye deep in my debt.

Nay, if he be a knave, sir, hold him fast.

[Sir Alexander takes Trapdoor aside.]

Speak softly. What egg is there hatching now?

A duck's egg, sir, a duck that has eaten a frog; I have crack'd the shell and some villainy or other will peep out presently. The duck that sits is the bouncing ramp, that roaring girl my mistress, the drake that must tread is your son Sebastian.

Be quick.

As the tongue of an oyster-wench.

And see thy news be true.

As a barber's every Saturday night. Mad Moll--


Must be let in without knocking at your back gate.


Your chamber will be made bawdy.


She comes in a shirt of mail.

How shirt of mail?

Yes, sir, or a male shirt, that's to say in man's apparel.

To my son?

Close to your son: your son and her moon will be in conjunction, if all almanacs lie not. Her black safeguard is turn'd into a deep slop, the holes of her upper body to button holes, her waistcoat to a doublet, her placket to the ancient seat of a codpiece, and you shall take 'em both with standing collars.

Art sure of this?

As every throng is sure of a pickpocket, as sure as a whore is of the clients all Michaelmas Term, and of the pox after the term.

The time of their tilting?


The day?


Away, ply it, watch her.

As the devil doth for the death of a bawd, I'll watch her; do you catch her.

She's fast: here weave thou the nets. Hark--

They are made.

I told them thou didst owe me money; hold it up, maintain 't.

Stiffly, as a puritan does contention. [Loudly] [Pox], I owe thee not the value of a halfpenny halter!

Thou shalt be hang'd in't ere thou scape so! Varlet, I'll make thee look through a grate.

I'll do't presently, through a tavern grate. Drawer! Pish!

Exit Trapdoor.

Has the knave vex'd you, sir?

Ask'd him my money;
He swears my son receiv'd it. Oh, that boy
Will ne'er leave heaping sorrows on my heart
Till he has broke it quite.

Is he still wild?

As is a Russian bear.

But he has left
His old haunt with that baggage?

Worse still and worse:
He lays on me his shame, I on him my curse.

My son Jack Dapper then shall run with him,
All in one pasture.

Proves your son bad too, sir?

As villainy can make him. Your Sebastian
Dotes but on one drab, mine on a thousand,
A noise of fiddlers, tobacco, wine and a whore,
A mercer that will let him take up more,
Dice, and a water-spaniel with a duck: oh,
Bring him a-bed with these! When his purse jingles,
Roaring boys follow at's tale, fencers and ningles,
Beasts Adam ne'er gave name to: these horse-leeches suck
My son; he being drawn dry, they all live on smoke.


Right, but I have in my brain
A windmill going that shall grind to dust
The follies of my son, and make him wise
Or a stark fool; pray lend me your advise.

That shall you, good Sir Davy.

Here's the springe
I ha' set to catch this woodcock in: an action
In a false name, unknown to him, is ent'red
I' th' counter to arrest Jack Dapper.

Ha, ha, he!

Think you the counter cannot break him?

Break him?
Yes, and break's heart too if he lie there long.

I'll make him sing a countertenor sure.

No way to tame him like it; there he shall learn
What money is indeed, and how to spend it.

He's bridled there.

Ay, yet knows not how to mend it.
Bedlam cures not more madmen in a year
Than one of the counters does; men pay more dear
There for their wit than anywhere; a counter:
Why, 'tis an university
! Who not sees?
As scholars there, so here men take degrees
And follow the same studies all alike.
Scholars learn first logic and rhetoric.
So does a prisoner: with fine honey'd speech
At's first coming in he doth persuade, beseech,
He may be lodg'd with one that is not itchy,
To lie in a clean chamber, in sheets not lousy;
But when he has no money, then does he try
By subtle logic and quaint sophistry
To make the keepers trust him.

Say they do?

Then he's a graduate.

Say they trust him not?

Then is he held a freshman and a sot,
And never shall commence, but being still barr'd
Be expuls'd from the master's side to th' twopenny ward,
Or else i' th' hole be plac'd.

When then I pray
Proceeds a prisoner?

When money being the aim
He can dispute with his hard creditors' hearts
And get out clear, he's then a Master of Arts.
Sir Davy, send your son to Wood Street College:
A gentleman can nowhere get more knowledge.

There gallants study hard.

True, to get money.

Lies by th' heels, i'faith; thanks, thanks. I ha' sent
For a couple of bears shall paw him.

Enter Sergeant Curtilax and Yeoman Hanger.

Who comes yonder?

They look like puttocks; these should be they.

I know 'em;
They are officers, sir. We'll leave you.

My good knights.
Leave me; you see I'm haunted now with spirits.

Fare you well, sir.

Exeunt [Sir] Alexander and [Sir] Adam.

[Aside to Hanger] This old muzzle-chops should be he by the fellow's description.--Save you, sir.

Come hither, you mad varlets. Did not my man tell you I watch'd here for you?

One in a blue coat, sir, told us that in this place an old gentleman would watch for us, a thing contrary to our oath, for we are to watch for every wicked member in a city.

You'll watch then for ten thousand. What's thy name, honesty?

Sergeant Curtilax I, sir.

An excellent name for a sergeant, Curtilax.
Sergeants indeed are weapons of the law
When prodigal ruffians far in debt are grown:
Should not you cut them, citizens were o'erthrown.
Thou dwell'st hereby in Holborn, Curtilax?

That's my circuit, sir; I conjure most in that circle.

And what young toward whelp is this?

Of the same litter: his yeoman, sir; my name's Hanger.

Yeoman Hanger.
One pair of shears sure cut out both your coats:
You have two names most dangerous to men's throats;
You two are villainous loads on gentlemen's backs.
Dear ware, this Hanger and this Curtilax.

We are as other men are, sir. I cannot see but he who makes a show of honesty and religion, if his claws can fasten to his liking, he draws blood. All that live in the world are but great fish and little fish, and feed upon one another: some eat up whole men; a sergeant cares but for the shoulder of a man. They call us knaves and curs, but many times he that sets us on worries more lambs one year than we do in seven.

Spoke like a noble Cerberus. Is the action ent'red?

His name is ent'red in the book of unbelievers.

What book's that?

The book where all prisoners' names stand, and not one amongst forty when he comes in believes to come out in haste.

Be as dogged to him as your office allows you to be.

Oh, sir!

You know the unthrift Jack Dapper?

Ay, ay, sir. That gull? As well as I know my yeoman.

And you know his father too, Sir Davy Dapper?

As damn'd a usurer as ever was among Jews; if he were sure his father's skin would yield him any money, he would when he dies [flay] it off, and sell it to cover drums for children at Bartholomew Fair.

[Aside] What toads are these to spit poison on a man to his face!--Do you see, my honest rascals? Yonder greyhound is the dog he hunts with: out of that tavern Jack Dapper will sally. Sa, sa; give the counter, on, set upon him.

We'll charge him upo' th' back, sir.

Take no bail, put mace enough into his caudle, double your files, traverse your ground.

Brave, sir.

Cry arm, arm, arm.

Thus, sir.

There boy, there boy, away: look to your prey, my true English wolves, and so I vanish.

Exit Sir Davy.

Some warden of the sergeants begat this old fellow, upon my life! Stand close.

Shall the ambuscado lie in one place?

No, [nook] thou yonder.

Enter Moll and Trapdoor.


What says my brave captain male and female?

This Holborn is such a wrangling street.

That's because lawyers walks to and fro in't.

Here's such justling, as if everyone we met were drunk and reel'd.

Stand, mistress: do you not smell carrion?

Carrion? No, yet I spy ravens.

Some poor wind-shaken gallant will anon fall into sore labour, and these men-midwives must bring him to bed i' the counter: there all those that are great with child with debts lie in.

Stand up.

Like your new maypole.

Whist, whew.

Hump, no.

Peeping? It shall go hard, huntsmen, but I'll spoil your game. They look for all the world like two infected maltmen coming muffled up in their cloaks in a frosty morning to London.

A course, captain; a bear comes to the stake.

Enter Jack Dapper and Gull.

It should be so, for the dogs struggle to be let loose.



Hark, Trapdoor, follow your leader.



Didst ever see such an ass as I am, boy?

No, by my troth, sir. To lose all your money, yet have false dice of your own! Why, 'tis as I saw a great fellow used t'other day: he had a fair sword and buckler, and yet a butcher dry-beat him with a cudgel.

Honest sergeant--

Fly, fly, Master Dapper: you'll be arrested else!

Run, Gull, and draw!

Run, master, Gull follows you!

[Exeunt Jack] Dapper and Gull.

I know you well enough: you're but a whore to hang upon any man.

Whores then are like sergeants, so now hang you! [To Trapdoor] Draw, rogue, but strike not: for a broken pate they'll keep their beds and recover twenty marks damages.

You shall pay for this rescue! [To Hanger] Run down Shoe Lane and meet him.

[Exeunt Curtilax and Hanger.]

Shoo! Is this a rescue, gentlemen, or no?

Rescue? A pox on 'em! Trapdoor, let's away;
I'm glad I have done perfect one good work today.
If any gentleman be in scriveners' bands,
Send but for Moll, she'll bail him by these hands.


[IV.i. Sir Alexander's chamber]

Enter Sir Alexander Wengrave solus.

Unhappy in the follies of a son,
Led against judgment, sense, obedience,
And all the powers of nobleness and wit:
Oh, wretched father!

Enter Trapdoor.

Now, Trapdoor, will she come?

In man's apparel, sir; I am in her heart now
And share in all her secrets.

Peace, peace, peace.
Here, take my German watch; hang 't up in sight
That I may see her hang in English for't.

I warrant you for that now; next sessions rids her, sir: this watch will bring her in better than a hundred constables.

Good Trapdoor, sayst thou so? Thou cheer'st my heart
After a storm of sorrow. My gold chain too:
Here, take a hundred marks in yellow links.

That will do well to bring the watch to light, sir,
And worth a thousand of your headboroughs' lanthorns.

Place that a' the court cupboard, let it lie
Full in the view of her thief-whorish eye.

She cannot miss it, sir; I see't so plain
That I could steal 't myself.

Perhaps thou shalt too,
That or something as weighty; what she leaves,
Thou shalt come closely in and filch away,
And all the weight upon her back I'll lay.

You cannot assure that, sir.

No, what lets it?

Being a stout girl, perhaps she'll desire pressing,
Then all the weight must lie upon her belly.

Belly or back I care not so I've one.

You're of my mind for that, sir.

Hang up my ruff band with the diamond at it;
It may be she'll like that best.

[Aside] It's well for her that she must have her choice; he thinks nothing too good for her.--If you hold on this mind a little longer, it shall be the first work I do to turn thief myself; would do a man good to be hang'd when he is so well provided for.

So, well said; all hangs well, would she hung so too:
The sight would please me more than all their [glisterings].
Oh, that my mysteries to such straits should run
That I must rob myself to bless my son!

Exeunt. Enter Sebastian, with Mary Fitzallard like a page, and Moll [in man's clothing].

Thou hast done me a kind office, without touch
Either of sin or shame; our loves are honest.

I'd scorn to make such shift to bring you together else.

Now have I time and opportunity
Without all fear to bid thee welcome, love.


Never with more desire and harder venture.

How strange this shows, one man to kiss another.

I'd kiss such men to choose, Moll;
Methinks a woman's lip tastes well in a doublet.

Many an old madam has the better fortune then,
Whose breaths grew stale before the fashion came;
If that will help 'em, as you think 'twill do,
They'll learn in time to pluck on the hose too.

The older they wax, Moll--troth, I speak seriously--
As some have a conceit their drink tastes better
In an outlandish cup than in our own,
So methinks every kiss she gives me now
In this strange form is worth a pair of two.
Here we are safe and furthest from the eye
Of all suspicion: this is my [father's] chamber,
Upon which floor he never steps till night;
Here he mistrusts me not, nor I his coming.
At mine own chamber he still pries unto me;
My freedom is not there at mine own finding,
Still check'd and curb'd: here he shall miss his purpose.

And what's your business now you have your mind, sir?
At your great suit I promis'd you to come;
I pitied her for name's sake, that a Moll
Should be so cross'd in love when there's so many
That owes nine lays apiece, and not so little.
My tailor fitted her. How like you his work?

So well no art can mend it for this purpose,
But to thy wit and help we're chief in debt
And must live still beholding.

Any honest pity
I'm willing to bestow upon poor ring-doves.

I'll offer no worse play.

Nay, and you should, sir;
I should draw first and prove the quicker man.

Hold, there shall need no weapon at this meeting;
But 'cause thou shalt not loose thy fury idle,
Here take this viol, run upon the guts,
And end thy quarrel singing.

Like a swan above bridge,
For look you here's the bridge, and here am I.

Hold on, sweet Moll.

I've heard her much commended, sir, for one that was ne'er taught.

I'm much beholding to 'em. Well, since you'll needs put us together, sir, I'll play my part as well as I can; it shall ne'er be said I came into a gentleman's chamber and let his instrument hang by the walls.

Why, well said, Moll! I'faith, it had been a shame for that gentleman then that would have let it hung still and ne'er off'red thee it.

There it should have been still then for Moll, for though the world judge impudently of me, I ne'er came into that chamber yet where I took down the instrument myself.

Pish, let 'em prate abroad; th' art here where thou art known and lov'd. There be a thousand close dames that will call the viol an unmannerly instrument for a woman and therefore talk broadly of thee, when you shall have them sit wider to a worse quality.

Push, I ever fall asleep and think not of 'em, sir, and thus I dream.

Prithee let's hear thy dream, Moll.

The song.

MOLL. I dream there is a mistress,
And she lays out the money;
She goes unto her sisters,
She never comes at any.

Enter Sir Alexander behind them.

She says she went to th' Burse for patterns;
You shall find her at Saint Kathern's,
And comes home with never a penny.

That's a free mistress, faith.

[Aside] Ay, ay, ay, like her that sings it, one of thine own choosing.

But shall I dream again?

Here comes a wench will brave ye,
Her courage was so great:
She lay with one o' the navy,
Her husband lying i' the Fleet,
Yet oft with him she cavill'd.
I wonder what she ails.
Her husband's ship lay gravell'd,
When hers could hoise up sails;
Yet she began like all my foes
To call whore first, for so do those:
A pox of all false tails!

Marry, amen say I.

[Aside] So say I too.

Hang up the viol now, sir: all this while I was in a dream; one shall lie rudely then, but being awake, I keep my legs together. A watch: what's a' clock here?

[Aside] Now, now, she's trapp'd.

Between one and two; nay, then I care not. A watch and a musician are cousin-germans in one thing: they must both keep time well, or there's no goodness in 'em; the one else deserves to be dash'd against a wall, and t'other to have his brains knock'd out with a fiddle case. What? A loose chain and a dangling diamond.
Here were a brave booty for an evening-thief now;
There's many a younger brother would be glad
To look twice in at a window for't,
And wriggle in and out
, like an eel in a sandbag.
Oh, if men's secret youthful faults should judge 'em,
'Twould be the general'st execution
That e'er was seen in England;
There would be but few left to sing the ballets.
There would be so much work: most of our brokers
Would be chosen for hangmen
, a good day for them;
They might renew their wardropes of free cost then.

This is the roaring wench must do us good.

No poison, sir, but serves us for some use,
Which is confirm'd in her.

Peace, peace!
Foot, I did hear him sure, where'er he be!

Who did you hear?

My father.
'Twas like a sight of his; I must be wary.

[Aside] No, wilt not be. Am I alone so wretched
That nothing takes? I'll put him to his plunge for't.

Life, here he comes! [To Moll, giving her money] Sir, I beseech you take it;
Your way of teaching does so much content me,
I'll make it four pound. Here's forty shillings, sir.
I think I name it right. [Aside to her] Help me, good Moll.--
Forty in hand.

Sir, you shall pardon me;
I have more of the mean'st scholar I can teach.
This pays me more than you have off'red yet.

At the next quarter
When I receive the means my father 'lows me,
You shall have t'other forty.

[Aside] This were well now,
Were 't to a man whose sorrows had blind eyes,
But mine behold his follies and untruths
With two clear glasses.--How now?


What's he there?

You're come in good time, sir: I've a suit to you;
I'd crave your present kindness.

What is he there?

A gentleman, a musician, sir, one of excellent fing'ring.

[Aside] Ay, I think so; I wonder how they scap'd her.

H'as the most delicate stroke, sir.

[Aside] A stroke indeed: I feel it at my heart.

Puts down all your famous musicians.

[Aside] Ay, a whore may put down a hundred of 'em.

Forty shillings is the agreement, sir, between us.
Now, sir, my present means mounts but to half on't.

And he stands upon the whole.

Ay, indeed does he, sir.

[Aside] And will do still; he'll ne'er be in other tale.

Therefore I'd stop his mouth, sir, and I could.

Hum, true, there is no other way indeed.
[Aside] His folly hardens; shame must needs succeed.--
Now, sir, I understand you profess music.

I am a poor servant to that liberal science, sir.

Where is it you teach?

Right against Clifford's Inn.

Hum, that's a fit place for it. You have many scholars?

And some of worth whom I may call my masters.

[Aside] Ay, true, a company of whoremasters.--
You teach to sing too?

Marry, do I, sir.

I think you'll find an apt scholar of my son,
Especially for prick-song.

I have much hope of him.

[Aside] I am sorry for't; I have the less for that.--
You can play any lesson?

At first sight, sir.

There's a thing called "The Witch." Can you play that?

I would be sorry anyone should mend me in't.

[Aside] Ay, I believe thee: thou hast so bewitch'd my son,
No care will mend the work that thou hast done.
I have bethought myself, since my art fails,
I'll make her policy the art to trap her.
Here are four angels mark'd with holes in them,
Fit for his crack'd companions; gold he will give her:
These will I make induction to her ruin
And rid shame from my house, grief from my heart.--
Here, son, in what you take content and pleasure,
Want shall not curb you. [Giving him money] Pay the gentleman
His latter half in gold.

I thank you, sir.

[Aside] Oh, may the operation an't end three:
In her, life, shame in him, and grief in me.

Exit [Sir] Alexander.

Faith, thou shalt have 'em: 'tis my father's gift.
Never was man beguil'd with better shift.

He that can take me for a male musician,
I cannot choose but make him my instrument
And play upon him.

Exeunt omnes.

[IV.ii. Openwork's house]

Enter Mistress Gallipot and Mistress Openwork.

Is then that bird of yours, Master Goshawk, so wild?

A goshawk, a puttock: all for prey; he angles for fish, but he loves flesh better.

Is't possible his smooth face should have wrinkles in't and we not see them?

Possible! Why, have not many handsome legs in silk stockings villainous splay feet for all their great roses?

Troth, sirrah, thou sayst true.

Didst never see an archer as thou 'ast walk'd by Bunhill look a-squint when he drew his bow?

Yes, when his arrows have fline toward Islington, his eyes have shot clean contrary towards Pimlico.

For all the world so does Master Goshawk double with me.

Oh, fie upon him! If he double once, he's not for me.

Because Goshawk goes in a shag-ruff band, with a face sticking up in't which shows like an agate set in a cramp-ring, he thinks I'm in love with him.

'Las, I think he takes his mark amiss in thee.

He has by often beating into me made me believe that my husband kept a whore.

Very good.

Swore to me that my husband this very morning went in a boat with a tilt over it to the Three Pigeons at Brainford, and his punk with him under his tilt.

That were wholesome.

I believ'd it, fell a-swearing at him, cursing of harlots, made me ready to hoise up sail, and be there as soon as he.

So, so.

And for that voyage Goshawk comes hither incontinently. But, sirrah, this water-spaniel dives after no duck but me; his hope is having me at Brainford to make me cry quack.

Art sure of it?

Sure of it! My poor innocent Openwork came in as I was poking my ruff; presently hit I him i' the teeth with the Three Pigeons: he forswore all, I up and opened all, and now stands he in a shop hard by like a musket on a rest, to hit Goshawk i' the eye when he comes to fetch me to the boat.

Such another lame gelding offered to carry me through thick and thin--Laxton, sirrah--but I am rid of him now.

Happy is the woman can be rid of 'em all. 'Las, what are your whisking gallants to our husbands, weigh 'em rightly man for man?

Troth, mere shallow things.

Idle simple things, running heads, and yet let 'em run over us never so fast, we shopkeepers, when all's done, are sure to have 'em in our purse-nets at length, and when they are in, Lord, what simple animals they are!



Then they hang the head.

Then they droop.

Then they write letters.

Then they cog.

Then they deal underhand with us, and we must ingle with our husbands a-bed, and we must swear they are our cousins, and able to do us a pleasure at court.

And yet when we have done our best, all's but put into a riven dish: we are but frump'd at and libell'd upon.

Oh, if it were the good Lord's will, there were a law made no citizen should trust any of 'em at all!

Enter Goshawk.

[Aside to Mistress Openwork] Hush, sirrah, Goshawk flutters.

How now, are you ready?

Nay, are you ready? A little thing, you see, makes us ready.

Us? Why, must she make one i' the voyage?

Oh, by any means. Do I know how my husband will handle me?

[Aside] Foot, how shall I find water to keep these two mills going?--Well, since you'll needs be clapp'd under hatches, if I sail not with you both till all split, hang me up at the mainyard and duck me. [Aside] It's but liquoring them both soundly, and then you shall see their cork heels fly up high, like two swans when their tails are above water and their long necks under water, diving to catch gudgeons.--Come, come, oars stand ready, the tide's with us: on with those false faces. Blow winds and thou shalt take thy husband casting out his net to catch fresh salmon at Brainford.

I believe you'll eat of a cod's head of your own dressing before you reach half way thither.

[The women don masks.]

So, so, follow close; pin as you go.

Enter Laxton muffled.

Do you hear?

Yes, I thank my ears.

I must have a bout with your pothecaryship.

At what weapon?

I must speak with you.


No? You shall.

Shall? Away, sous'd sturgeon, half fish, half flesh!

Faith, gib, are you spitting? I'll cut your tail, pusscat, for this.

'Las, poor Laxton, I think thy tail's cut already. Your worst!

If I do not--

Exit Laxton.

Come, ha' you done?

Enter Master Openwork.

[Aside to her] 'Sfoot, Rosamond, your husband!

How now? Sweet Master Goshawk, none more welcome;
I have wanted your embracements: when friends meet,
The music of the spheres sounds not more sweet
Than does their conference. Who is this? Rosamond?
Wife? How now, sister?

[Aside to Mistress Openwork] Silence if you love me.

Why mask'd?

Does a mask grieve you, sir?

It does.

Then y'are best get you a-mumming.

[Aside to her] 'Sfoot, you'll spoil all!

May not we cover our bare faces with masks
As well as you cover your bald heads with hats?

No masks. Why, th' are thieves to beauty, that rob eyes
Of admiration in which true love lies.
Why are masks worn? Why good, or why desired,
Unless by their gay covers wits are fired
To read the vild'st looks? Many bad faces,
Because rich gems are treasured up in cases,
Pass by their privilege current, but as caves
Dam misers' gold, so masks are beauty's graves.
Men ne'er meet women with such muffled eyes
But they curse her that first did masks devise,
And swear it was some beldam. Come, off with 't.

I will not.

Good faces mask'd are jewels kept by [sprites].
Hide none but bad ones, for they poison men's sights:
Show [them] as shopkeepers do their broid'red stuff,
By owl-light; fine wares cannot be open enough.
Prithee, sweet Rose, come strike this sail.


Yes, wife, strike sail, for storms are in thine eyes.

Th' are here, sir, in my brows if any rise.

Ha, brows? What says she, friend? Pray tell me why
Your two flags were advanc'd. The comedy,
Come, what's the comedy?

Westward Ho!


'Tis Westward Ho she says.

Are you both mad?

Is't market day at Brainford, and your ware
Not sent up yet?

What market day? What ware?

A pie with three pigeons in't; 'tis drawn and stays
Your cutting up.

[Aside to her] As you regard my credit--

Art mad?

Yes, lecherous goat, baboon!

Baboon? Then toss
Me in a blanket.

Do I it well?


Belike, sir, she's not well; best leave her.

I'll stand the storm now how fierce so e'er it blow.

Did I for this lose all my friends? Refuse
Rich hopes and golden fortunes to be made
A stale to a common whore?

This does amaze me!

Oh God, oh God, feed at reversion now?
A strumpet's leaving?


[Aside] I sweat!
Would I lay in Cold Harbour!

Thou hast struck ten thousand daggers through my heart!

Not I, by heaven, sweet wife.

Go, devil, go;
That which thou swear'st by damns thee.

[Aside to her] 'Sheart, will you undo me?

Why stay you here? The star by which you sail
Shines yonder above Chelsea; you lose your shore
If this moon light you: seek out your light whore.


Push! Your western [pug]--

[Aside] Zounds, now hell roars!

With whom you tilted in a pair of oars
This very morning.


At Brainford, sir.

Rack not my patience. Master Goshawk,
Some slave has buzzed this into her, has he not?
I run atilt in Brainford with a woman?
'Tis a lie!
What old bawd tells thee this? 'Sdeath, 'tis a lie!

'Tis one to thy face shall justify all that I speak.

'Ud's soul, do but name that rascal!

No, sir, I will not.

[Aside] Keep thee there girl, then!

Sister, know you this varlet?


Swear true:
Is there a rogue so low damn'd? A second Judas?
A common hangman? Cutting a man's throat?
Does it to his face? Bite me behind my back?
A cur dog? Swear if you know this hell-hound!

In truth I do.

His name?

Not for the world,
To have you to stab him.

[Aside] Oh, brave girls: worth gold!

A word, honest Master Goshawk.

Draw out his sword.

What do you mean, sir?

Keep off, and if the devil can give a name
To this new fury, holla it through my ear,
Or wrap it up in some hid character.
I'll ride to Oxford and watch out mine eyes,
But I'll hear the brazen head speak
; or else
Show me but one hair of his head or beard,
That I may sample it. If the fiend I meet
In mine own house, I'll kill him, [in] the street,
Or at the church door: there, 'cause he seeks to untie
The knot God fastens, he deserves to die.

My husband titles him.

Master Goshawk, pray, sir,
Swear to me that you know him or know him not.
Who makes me at Brainford to take up a petticoat
Beside my wife's?

By heaven that man I know not!

Come, come, you lie.

[Aside to her] Will you not have all out?
By heaven I know no man beneath the moon
Should do you wrong, but if I had his name,
I'd print it in text letters.

Print thine own then:
Didst not thou swear to me he kept his whore?

And that in sinful Brainford they would commit
That which our lips did water at, sir, ha?

Thou spider, that hast woven thy cunning web
In mine own house t' ensnare me! Hast not thou
Suck'd nourishment even underneath this roof
And turn'd it all to poison? Spitting it
On thy friend's face, my husband, he as 'twere sleeping?
Only to leave him ugly to mine eyes
That they might glance on thee?

Speak: are these lies?

Mine own shame me confounds.

No more; he's stung.
Who'd think that in one body there could dwell
Deformity and beauty, heaven and hell?
Goodness I see is but outside: we all set
In rings of gold stones that be [counterfeit].
I thought you none.

Pardon me.

Truth, I do.
This blemish grows in nature not in you,
For man's creation stick[s] even moles in scorn
On fairest cheeks. Wife, nothing is perfect born.

I thought you had been born perfect.

What's this whole world but a gilt, rotten pill?
For at the heart lies the old chore still.
I'll tell you, Master Goshawk, in your eye
I have seen wanton fire, and then to try
The soundness of my judgment, I told you
I kept a whore, made you believe 'twas true,
Only to feel how your pulse beat, but find
The world can hardly yield a perfect friend.
Come, come, a trick of youth, and 'tis forgiven;
This rub put by, our love shall run more even.

You'll deal upon men's wives no more?

No, you teach me
A trick for that.

Troth, do not, they'll o'erreach thee.

Make my house yours, sir, still.


I say you shall:
Seeing thus besieg'd it holds out, 'twill never fall.

Enter Master Gallipot, and Greenwit like a sumner, Laxton muffled aloof off.

How now?

With me, sir?

You, sir. I have gone snaffling up and down by your door this hour to watch for you.

What's the matter, husband?

I have caught a cold in my head, sir, by sitting up late in the Rose Tavern, but I hope you understand my speech.

So, sir.

I cite you by the name of Hippocrates Gallipot, and you by the name of Prudence Gallipot, to appear upon Crastino, do you see, Crastino sancti Dunstani this Easter Term in Bow Church.

Where sir? What says he?

Bow, Bow Church, to answer to a libel of precontract on the part and behalf of the said Prudence and another. Y'are best, sir, take a copy of the citation; 'tis but twelvepence.

A citation?

You pocky-nosed rascal, what slave fees you to this?

Slave? I ha' nothing to do with you, do you hear, sir?

Laxton, is't not? What fagary is this?

Trust me, I thought, sir, this storm long ago
Had been full laid when, if you be rememb'red,
I paid you the last fifteen pound, besides
The thirty you had first, for then you swore.

Tush, tush, sir, oaths!
Truth, yet I'm loath to vex you, tell you what:
Make up the money I had an hundred pound
And take your belly full of her.

An hundred pound?

What, a hundred pound? He gets none: what, a hundred pound!

Sweet Pru, be calm, the gentleman offers thus,
If I will make the moneys that are past
A hundred pound, he will discharge all courts
And give his bond never to vex us more.

A hundred pound! 'Las! Take, sir, but threescore.
Do you seek my undoing?

I'll not bate one sixpence.
I'll maul you, puss, for spitting.

Do thy worst!
Will fourscore stop thy mouth?


Y'are a slave!
Thou cheat, I'll now tear money from thy throat!
Husband, lay hold on yonder tawny-coat.

Nay, gentlemen, seeing your women are so hot,
I must lose my hair in their company, I see.

[Removes his wig.]

His hair sheds off, and yet he speaks not so much in the nose as he did before.

He has had the better chirurgeon. Master Greenwit, is your wit so raw as to play no better a part than a sumner's?

I pray who plays a knack to know an honest man in this company?

Dear husband, pardon me, I did dissemble,
Told thee I was his precontracted wife,
When letters came from him for thirty pound;
I had no shift but that.

A very clean shift,
But able to make me lousy
. On.

Husband, I pluck'd,
When he had tempted me to think well of him,
[Gelt] feathers from thy wings to make him fly
More lofty.

A' the top of you, wife. On.

He, having wasted them, comes now for more,
Using me as a ruffian doth his whore,
Whose sin keeps him in breath. By heaven I vow
Thy bed he never wrong'd, more than he does now.

My bed? Ha, ha, like enough: a shop-board will serve
To have a cuckold's coat cut out upon.
Of that we'll talk hereafter. Y'are a villain.

Hear me but speak, sir, you shall find me none.

Pray, sir, be patient and hear him.

I am muzzled
For biting, sir; use me how you will.

The first hour that your wife was in my eye,
Myself with other gentlemen sitting by
In your shop tasting smoke, and speech being used,
That men who have fairest wives are most abused
And hardly scap'd the horn, your wife maintain'd
That only such spots in city dames were stain'd,
Justly, but by men's slanders: for her own part,
She vow'd that you had so much of her heart;
No man by all his wit, by any wile
Never so fine spun, should yourself beguile
Of what in her was yours.

Yet Pru, 'tis well.
Play out your game at Irish, sir. Who wins?

The trial is when she comes to bearing.

I scorn'd one woman thus should brave all men
And, which more vex'd me, a she-citizen.
Therefore I laid siege to her; out she held,
Gave many a brave repulse, and me compell'd
With shame to sound retreat to my hot lust.
Then seeing all base desires rak'd up in dust,
And that to tempt her modest ears, I swore
Ne'er to presume again. She said her eye
Would ever give me welcome honestly,
And since I was a gentleman, if it run low,
She would my state relieve, not to o'erthrow
Your own and hers; did so. Then seeing I wrought
Upon her meekness, me she set at nought,
And yet to try if I could turn that tide,
You see what stream I strove with. But, sir, I swear
By heaven, and by those hopes men lay up there,
I neither have nor had a base intent
To wrong your bed; what's done is merriment.
Your gold I pay back with this interest:
When I had most power to do't, I wrong'd you least.

If this no gullery be, sir--

No, no, on my life!

Then, sir, I am beholden not to you, wife,
But, Master Laxton, to your want of doing ill,
Which it seems you have not. Gentlemen,
Tarry and dine here all.

Brother, we have a jest
As good as yours to furnish out a feast.

We'll crown our table with it. Wife, brag no more
Of holding out: who most brags is most whore.

Exeunt omnes.

[V.i. A street]

Enter Jack Dapper, Moll, Sir Beauteous Ganymede, and Sir Thomas Long.

But prithee, Master Captain Jack, be plain and perspicuous with me: was it your Meg of Westminster's courage that rescued me from the Poultry puttocks indeed?

The valour of my wit, I ensure you, sir, fetch'd you off bravely when you were i' the forlorn hope among those desperates. Sir Beauteous Ganymede here and Sir Thomas Long heard that cuckoo, my man Trapdoor, sing the note of your ransom from captivity.

'Uds so, Moll, where's that Trapdoor?

Hang'd I think by this time: a justice in this town that speaks nothing but "make a mittimus, away with him to Newgate" used that rogue like a firework to run upon a line betwixt him and me.

How, how?

Marry, to lay trains of villainy to blow up my life; I smelt the powder, spied what linstock gave fire to shoot against the poor captain of the galley-foist, and away slid I my man, like a shovel-board shilling. He struts up and down the suburbs, I think, and eats up whores, feeds upon a bawd's garbage.

Sirrah Jack Dapper.

What sayst Tom Long?

Thou hadst a sweet-fac'd boy, hail-fellow with thee to your little Gull. How is he spent?

Troth, I whistled the poor little buzzard off a' my fist, because when he waited upon me at the ordinaries, the gallants hit me i' the teeth still, and said I look'd like a painted alderman's tomb, and the boy at my elbow like a death's head. Sirrah Jack, Moll.

What says my little Dapper?

Come, come, walk and talk, walk and talk.

Moll and I'll be i' the midst.

These knights shall have squires' places, belike then. Well, Dapper, what say you?

Sirrah Captain Mad Mary, the gull my own father, Dapper Sir Davy, laid these London boot-halers, the catchpoles, in ambush to set upon me.

Your father? Away, Jack!

By the tassels of this handkercher, 'tis true. And what was his warlike stratagem, think you? He thought because a wicker cage tames a nightingale, a lousy prison could make an ass of me.

A nasty plot.

Ay, as though a counter, which is a park in which all the wild beasts of the city run head by head, could tame me.

Enter the Lord Noland.

Yonder comes my Lord Noland.

Save you, my lord.

Well met gentlemen all, good Sir Beauteous Ganymede, Sir Thomas Long. And how does Master Dapper?

Thanks, my lord.

No tobacco, my lord?

No, faith, Jack.

My Lord Noland, will you go to Pimlico with us? We are making a boon voyage to that nappy land of spice-cakes.

Here's such a merry ging, I could find in my heart to sail to the world's end with such company. Come, gentlemen, let's on.

Here's most amorous weather, my lord.

Amorous weather?

They walk.

Is not amorous a good word?

Enter Trapdoor like a poor soldier with a patch o'er one eye, and Tearcat with him, all tatters.

Shall we set upon the infantry, these troops of foot? Zounds, yonder comes Moll, my whorish master and mistress! Would I had her kidneys between my teeth.

I had rather have a cow-heel.

Zounds, I am so patch'd up, she cannot discover me; we'll on.

Alla corago then.

Good your honours and worships, enlarge the ears of commiseration and let the sound of a hoarse military organ-pipe, penetrate your pitiful bowels to extract out of them so many small drops of silver, as may give a hard straw-bed lodging to a couple of maim'd soldiers.

Where are you maim'd?

In both our nether limbs.

Come, come, Dapper, let's give 'em something. 'Las, poor men, what money have you? By my troth, I love a soldier with my soul.

Stay, stay, where have you serv'd?

In any part of the Low Countries?

Not in the Low Countries, if it please your manhood, but in Hungary against the Turk at the siege of Belgrade.

Who serv'd there with you, sirrah?

Many Hungarians, Moldavians, Walachians, and Transylvanians, with some Sclavonians, and retiring home, sir, the Venetian galleys took us prisoners, yet freed us and suffered us to beg up and down the country.

You have ambled all over Italy then?

Oh, sir, from Venice to Roma, Vecchio, Bononia, Romania, Bolonia, Modena, Piacenza, and Tuscana with all her cities, as Pistoia, Valteria, Mountepulchena, Arezzo with the Siennois, and diverse others.

Mere rogues: put spurs to 'em once more.

Thou look'st like a strange creature, a fat butter-box, yet speak'st English. What are thou?

Ick, mine here? Ick bin den ruffling Tearcat, den brave soldado; ick bin dorick all Dutchlant gueresen: der shellum das meere ine beasa ine woert gaeb. Ick slaag um stroakes on tom cop: dastick den hundred touzun divell halle frollick, mine here.

Here, here, let's be rid of their jobbering.

Not a cross, Sir Beauteous. You base rogues, I have taken measure of you better than a tailor can, and I'll fit you as you, monster with one eye, have fitted me.

Your worship will not abuse a soldier?

Soldier? Thou deserv'st to be hang'd up by that tongue which dishonours so noble a profession. Soldier, you skeldering varlet? Hold, stand, there should be a trapdoor hereabouts.

Pull off his patch.

The balls of these glaziers of mine, mine eyes, shall be shot up and down in any hot piece of service for my invincible mistress.

I did not think there had been such knavery in black patches, as now I see.

Oh, sir, he hath been brought up in the Isle of Dogs, and can both fawn like a spaniel and bite like a mastiff as he finds occasion.

What are you, sirrah? A bird of this feather too?

A man beat'n from the wars, sir.

I think so, for you never stood to fight.

What's thy name, fellow soldier?

I am call'd by those that have seen my valour, Tearcat.


A mere whip-jack, and that is, in the commonwealth of rogues, a slave that can talk of sea-fight, name all your chief pirates, discover more countries to you than either the Dutch, Spanish, French, or English ever found out, yet indeed all his service is by land, and that is to rob a fair or some such venturous exploit. Tearcat! Foot, sirrah, I have your name now! I remember me in my book of horners horns for the thumb, you know how.

No indeed, Captain Moll, for I know you by sight: I am no such nipping Christian, but a maunderer upon on the pad, I confess, and meeting with honest Trapdoor here, whom you had cashier'd from bearing arms, out at elbows under your colours, I instructed him in the rudiments of roguery, and by my map made him sail over any country you can name, so that now he can maunder better then myself.

So then, Trapdoor, thou art turn'd soldier now.

Alas, sir, now there's no wars, 'tis the safest course of life I could take.

I hope then you can cant, for by your cudgels, you, sirrah, are an upright man.

As any walks the highway, I assure you.

And Tearcat, what are you? A wild rogue, an angler, or a ruffler?

Brother to this upright man, flesh and blood, ruffling Tearcat is my name, and a ruffler is my style, my title, my profession.

Sirrah, where's your doxy? Halt not with me.

Doxy, Moll? What's that?

His wench.

My doxy? I have, by the salomon, a doxy that carries a kinchin mort in her slate at her back, besides my dell and my dainty wild dell, with all whom I'll tumble this next darkmans in the strommel, and drink ben [booze], and eat a fat gruntling cheat, a cackling cheat, and a quacking cheat.

Here's old cheating.

My doxy stays for me in a boozing ken, brave captain.

He says his wench stays for him in an alehouse. You are no pure rogues.

Pure rogues? No, we scorn to be pure rogues, but if you come to our lib ken, or our stalling ken, you shall find neither him nor me a queer cuffin.

So, sir, no churl of you.

No, but a ben cove, a brave cove, a gentry cuffin.

Call you this canting?

Zounds, I'll give a schoolmaster half a crown a week, and teach me this pedlar's French.

Do but stroll, sir, half a harvest with us, sir, and you shall gabble your bellyful.

Come, you rogue, cant with me.

Well said, Moll. Cant with her, sirrah, and you shall have money, else not a penny.

I'll have a bout if she please.

Come on, sirrah.

Ben mort, shall you and I heave a booth, mill a ken, or nip a bung? And then we'll couch a hogshead under the ruffmans, and there you shall wap with me, and I'll niggle with you.

[Slapping and kicking him] Out, you damn'd, impudent rascal!

Cut benar whids, and hold your fambles and your stamps.

Nay, nay, Moll, why art thou angry? What was his gibberish?

Marry, this, my lord, says he: ben mort, good wench, shall you and I heave a booth, mill a ken, or nip a bung? Shall you and I rob a house or cut a purse?

Very good.

And then we'll couch a hogshead under the ruffmans: and then we'll lie under a hedge.

That was my desire, captain, as 'tis fit a soldier should lie.

And there you shall wap with me and I'll niggle with you, and that's all!

Nay, nay, Moll, what's that wap?

Nay, teach me what niggling is; I'd fain be niggling.

Wapping and niggling is all one, the rogue my man can tell you.

'Tis fadoodling, if it please you.

This is excellent. One fit more, good Moll.

Come, you rogue, sing with me.

The song.

A gage of ben rom-booze
In a boozing ken of Romville
TEARCAT. Is benar than a caster,
Peck, pannam, [lap] or popler,
Which we mill in deuse a [vill].
[MOLL, TEARCAT]. Oh, I would lib all the lightmans,
Oh, I would lib all the darkmans,
By the salomon, under the ruffmans,
By the salomon, in the hartmans!
TEARCAT. And scour the queer cramp-ring,
And couch till a palliard docked my dell,
So my boozy nab might skew rom-booze well.
[MOLL, TEARCAT]. Avast to the pad, let us bing,
Avast to the pad, let us bing.

Fine knaves, i'faith!

The grating of ten new cartwheels and the gruntling of five hundred hogs coming from Romford market cannot make a worse noise than this canting language does in my ears. Pray, my Lord Noland, let's give these soldiers their pay.

Agreed, and let them march.

[Giving her money] Here, Moll.

Now I see that you are stall'd to the rogue and are not ashamed of your professions. [Giving Tearcat and Trapdoor the money] Look you, my Lord Noland here and these gentlemen bestows upon you two two boards and a half, that's two shillings sixpence.

Thanks to your lordship.

Thanks, heroical captain.


We shall cut ben whids of your masters and mistress-ship wheresoever we come.

You'll maintain, sirrah, the old justice's plot to his face?

Else trine me on the cheats, hang me.

Be sure you meet me there.

Without any more maundering I'll do't. Follow, brave Tearcat.

I prae, sequor, let us go mouse.

Exeunt they two, manet the rest.

Moll, what was in that canting song?

Troth, my lord, only a praise of good drink, the only milk which these wild beasts love to suck, and thus it was:
A rich cup of wine,
Oh, it is juice divine,
More wholesome for the head
Than meat, drink, or bread
To fill my drunken pate!
With that, I'd sit up late;
By the heels would I lie,
Under a lousy hedge die.
Let a slave have a pull
At my whore, so I be full
Of that precious liquor--
And a parcel of such stuff, my lord, not worth the opening.

Enter a Cutpurse very gallant, with four or five men after him, one with a wand.

What gallant comes yonder?

Mass, I think I know him: 'tis one of Cumberland.

Shall we venture to shuffle in amongst yon heap of gallants and strike?

'Tis a question whether there be any silver shells amongst them for all their satin outsides.

Let's try.

Pox on him! A gallant? Shadow me, I know him: 'tis one that cumbers the land indeed; if he swim near to the shore of any of your pockets, look to your purses.

Is't possible?

This brave fellow is no better than a foist.

Foist? What's that?

A diver with two fingers, a pickpocket: all his train study the figging law, that's to say, cutting of purses and foisting. One of them is a nip; I took him once i' the twopenny gallery at the Fortune. Then there's a cloyer, or snap, that dogs any new brother in that trade, and snaps will have half in any booty. He with the wand is both a stale, whose office is to face a man i' the streets whilst shells are drawn by another, and then with his black conjuring rod in his hand, he, by the nimbleness of his eye and juggling-stick, will in cheaping a piece of plate at a goldsmith's stall, make four or five rings mount from the top of his caduceus, and, as if it were at leap-frog, they skip into his hand presently.

Zounds, we are smok'd!


We are boil'd. Pox on her! See, Moll, the roaring drab.

All the diseases of sixteen hospitals boil her! Away!

Bless you, sir.

And you, good sir.

Dost not ken me, man?

No, [trust] me, sir.

Heart, there's a knight to whom I'm bound for many favours lost his purse at the last new play i' the Swan, seven angels in't. Make it good; you're best. Do you see? No more.

A synagogue shall be call'd, Mistress Mary; disgrace me not. Pacus palabros, I will conjure for you. Farewell.

[Exeunt Cutpurses.]

Did not I tell you, my lord?

I wonder how thou cam'st to the knowledge of these nasty villains.

And why do the foul mouths of the world call thee Moll Cutpurse? A name, methinks, damn'd and odious.

Dare any step forth to my face and say,
"I have ta'en thee doing so, Moll," I must confess,
In younger days, when I was apt to stray,
I have sat amongst such adders, seen their stings
As any here might, and in full playhouses
Watch'd their quick-diving hands to bring to shame
Such rogues, and in that stream met an ill name.
When next, my lord, you spy any one of those,
So he be in his art a scholar, question him,
Tempt him with gold to open the large book
Of his close villainies, and you yourself shall cant
Better than poor Moll can, and know more laws
Of cheaters, lifters, nips, foists, puggards, curbers,
With all the devil's black guard, than it is fit
Should be discovered to a noble wit.
I know they have their orders, offices,
Circuits and circles unto which they are bound
To raise their own damnation in.

How dost thou know it?

As you do: I show it you, they to me show it.
Suppose, my lord, you were in Venice.


If some Italian pander there would tell
All the close tricks of courtesans, would not you
Hearken to such a fellow?


And here,
Being come from Venice, to a friend most dear
That were to travel thither, you would proclaim
Your knowledge in those villainies to save
Your friend from their quick danger. Must you have
A black, ill name because ill things you know?
Good troth, my lord, I am made Moll Cutpurse so.
How many are whores in small ruffs and still looks!
How many chaste whose names fill slander's books!
Were all men cuckolds, whom gallants in their scorns
Call so, we should not walk for goring horns.
Perhaps for my mad going some reprove me:
I please myself and care not else who loves me.

A brave mind, Moll, i'faith.

Come, my lord, shall's to the ordinary?

Ay, 'tis noon sure.

Good my lord, let not my name condemn me to you or to the world. A fencer I hope may be call'd a coward: is he so for that? If all that have ill names in London were to be whipp'd and to pay but twelvepence apiece to the beadle, I would rather have his office than a constable's.

So would I, Captain Moll: 'twere a sweet, tickling office, i'faith.


[V.ii. Sir Alexander's house]

Enter Sir Alexander Wengrave, Goshawk and Greenwit, and others.

My son marry a thief, that impudent girl,
Whom all the world stick their worst eyes upon?

How will your care prevent it?

'Tis impossible.
They marry close; they're gone, but none knows whither.

Oh, gentlemen, when has a father's heart-strings
Held out so long from breaking?

Enter a Servant.

Now what news, sir?

They were met upo' th' water an hour since, sir,
Putting in towards the Sluice.

[Exit Servant.]

The Sluice? Come, gentlemen,
'Tis Lambeth works against us.

And that Lambeth
Joins more mad matches than your six wet towns
'Twixt that and Windsor Bridge, where fares lie soaking.

Delay no time, sweet gentlemen: to Blackfriars!
We'll take a pair of oars and make after 'em.

Enter Trapdoor.

Your son and that bold masculine ramp,
My mistress, are landed now at Tower.

Hoyda, at Tower?

I heard it now reported.

[Exit Trapdoor.]

Which way gentlemen shall I bestow my care?
I'm drawn in pieces betwixt deceit and shame.

Enter Sir [Guy] Fitzallard.

Sir Alexander,
You're well met and most rightly served:
My daughter was a scorn to you.

Say not so, sir.

A very abject she, poor gentlewoman;
Your house [has] been dishonoured. Give you joy, sir,
Of your son's gaskin-bride; you'll be a grandfather shortly
To a fine crew of roaring sons and daughters:
'Twill help to stock the suburbs passing well, sir.

Oh, play not with the miseries of my heart!
Wounds should be dress'd and heal'd, not vex'd or left
Wide open to the anguish of the patient,
And scornful air let in: rather let pity
And advice charitably help to refresh 'em.

Who'd place his charity so unworthily
Like one that gives alms to a cursing beggar?
Had I but found one spark of goodness in you
Toward my deserving child, which then grew fond
Of your son's virtues, I had eased you now;
But I perceive both fire of youth and goodness
Are rak'd up in the ashes of your age,
Else no such shame should have come near your house,
Nor such ignoble sorrow touch your heart.

If not for worth, for pity's sake, assist me.

You urge a thing past sense. How can he help you?
All his assistance is as frail as ours,
Full as uncertain. Where's the place that holds 'em?
One brings us water-news; then comes another
With a full-charg'd mouth, like a culverin's voice,
And he reports the Tower. Whose sounds are truest?

In vain you flatter him, Sir Alexander.

I flatter him! Gentlemen, you wrong me grossly.

He does it well, i'faith.

Both news are false
Of Tower or water: they took no such way yet.

Oh, strange! Hear you this, gentlemen: yet more plunges?

Th' are nearer than you think for, yet more close
Than if they were further off.

How am I lost
In these distractions!

For your speeches, gentlemen,
In taxing me for rashness
, 'fore you all
I will engage my state to half his wealth,
Nay, to his son's revenues, which are less,
And yet nothing at all till they come from him,
That I could, if my will stuck to my power,
Prevent this marriage yet, nay, banish her
Forever from his thoughts, much more his arms.

Slack not this goodness, though you heap upon me
Mountains of malice and revenge hereafter:
I'd willingly resign up half my state to him,
So he would marry the mean'st drudge I hire.

He talks impossibilities, and you believe 'em.

I talk no more than I know how to finish;
My fortunes else are his that dares stake with me.
The poor young gentleman I love and pity,
And to keep shame from him, because the spring
Of his affection was my daughter's first
Till his frown blasted all, do but estate him
In those possessions which your love and care
Once pointed out for him, that he may have room
To entertain fortunes of noble birth,
Where now his desperate wants casts him upon her;
And if I do not for his own sake chiefly
Rid him of this disease that now grows on him,
I'll forfeit my whole state before these gentlemen.

Troth, but you shall not undertake such matches;
We'll persuade so much with you.

Here's my ring;
He will believe this token. 'Fore these gentlemen
I will confirm it fully: all those lands
My first love 'lotted him he shall straight possess
In that refusal.

If I change it not,
Change me into a beggar.

Are you mad, sir?

'Tis done.

Will you undo yourself by doing,
And show a prodigal trick in your old days?

'Tis a match, gentlemen.

Ay, ay, sir, ay.
I ask no favour, trust to you for none;
My hope rests in the goodness of your son.

Exit [Sir Guy] Fitzallard.

He holds it up well yet.

Of an old knight, i'faith.

Curs'd be the time I laid his first love barren,
Willfully barren, that before this hour
Had sprung forth fruits of comfort and of honour!
He lov'd a virtuous gentlewoman.

Enter Moll [in man's clothes].

Here's Moll!


How dost thou, Jack?

How dost thou, gallant?

Impudence, where's my son?

Weakness, go look him.

Is this your wedding gown?

The man talks monthly:
Hot broth and a dark chamber for the knight;
I see he'll be stark mad at our next meeting.

Exit Moll.

Why, sir, take comfort now, there's no such matter:
No priest will marry her, sir, for a woman
Whiles that shape's on, and it was never known
Two men were married and conjoin'd in one.
Your son hath made some shift to love another.

Whate'er she be, she has my blessing with her.
May they be rich and fruitful, and receive
Like comfort to their issue as I take
In them; h'as pleas'd me now, marrying not this:
Through a whole world he could not choose amiss.

Glad y'are so penitent for your former sin, sir.

Say he should take a wench with her smock-dowry,
No portion with her but her lips and arms?

Why, who thrive better, sir? They have most blessing,
Though other have more wealth, and least repent:
Many that want most know the most content.

Say he should marry a kind, youthful sinner?

Age will quench that: any offence but theft
And drunkenness, nothing but death can wipe away;
Their sins are green even when their heads are grey.
Nay, I despair not now; my heart's cheer'd, gentlemen:
No face can come unfortunately to me.

Enter a Servant.

Now, sir, your news?

Your son with his fair bride
Is near at hand.

Fair may their fortunes be!

Now you're resolv'd, sir, it was never she?

I find it in the music of my heart.

Enter Moll mask'd, in Sebastian's hand, and [Sir Guy] Fitzallard.

See where they come.

A proper lusty presence, sir.

Now has he pleas'd me right: I always counsell'd him
To choose a goodly, personable creature;
Just of her pitch was my first wife his mother.

Before I dare discover my offence,
I kneel for pardon.

My heart gave it thee
Before thy tongue could ask it.
Rise; thou hast rais'd my joy to greater height
Than to that seat where grief dejected it.
Both welcome to my love and care forever,
Hide not my happiness too long, all's pardoned.
Here are our friends. Salute her, gentlemen.

They unmask her.

Heart! Who['s] this? Moll?

Oh, my reviving shame! Is't I must live
To be struck blind? Be it the work of sorrow,
Before age take 't in hand.

Darkness and death!
Have you deceiv'd me thus? Did I engage
My whole estate for this?

You ask'd no favour,
And you shall find as little; since my comforts
Play false with me, I'll be as cruel to thee
As grief to fathers' hearts.

Why, what's the matter with you,
'Less too much joy should make your age forgetful?
Are you too well, too happy?

With a vengeance.

Methinks you should be proud of such a daughter,
As good a man as your son.

Oh, monstrous impudence!

You had no note before, an unmark'd knight:
Now all the town will take regard on you,
And all your enemies fear you for my sake.
You may pass where you list through crowds most thick,
And come off bravely with your purse unpick'd;
You do not know the benefits I bring with me:
No cheat dares work upon you with thumb or knife
While y'ave a roaring girl to your son's wife.

A devil rampant!

Have you so much charity
Yet to release me of my last rash bargain,
And I'll give in your pledge.

No sir, I stand to't, I'll work upon advantage,
As all mischiefs do upon me.

Content, bear witness all then
His are the lands, and so contention ends.
Here comes your son's bride, 'twixt two noble friends.

Enter the Lord Noland and Sir Beauteous Ganymede with Mary Fitzallard between them, the citizens and their wives with them.

Now are you gull'd as you would be, thank me for't:
I'd a forefinger in't.

Forgive me, father;
Though there before your eyes my sorrow feigned,
This still was she for whom true love complain'd.

Blessings eternal and the joys of angels
Begin your peace here to be sign'd in heaven.
How short my sleep of sorrow seems now to me
To this eternity of boundless comforts
That finds no want but utterance and expression!
My lord, your office here appears so honourably,
So full of ancient goodness, grace, and worthiness:
I never took more joy in sight of man
Than in your comfortable presence now.

Nor I more delight in doing grace to virtue
Than in this worthy gentlewoman, your son's bride,
Noble Fitzallard's daughter, to whose honour
And modest fame I am a servant vow'd;
So is this knight.

Your loves make my joys proud.
Bring forth those deeds of land my care laid ready,
And which, old knight, thy nobleness may challenge,
Join'd with thy daughter's virtues, whom I prize now
As dearly as that flesh I call mine own.
Forgive me, worthy gentlewoman, 'twas my blindness
When I rejected thee; I saw thee not:
Sorrow and willful rashness grew like films
Over the eyes of judgment, now so clear
I see the brightness of thy worth appear.

Duty and love may I deserve in those,
And all my wishes have a perfect close,

That tongue can never err, the sound's so sweet.
Here, honest son, receive into thy hands
The keys of wealth, possession of those lands
Which my first care provided: they're thine own;
Heaven give thee a blessing with 'em. The best joys
That can in worldly shapes to man betide
Are fertile lands and a fair fruitful bride,
Of which I hope thou'rt sped.

I hope so too, sir.

Father and son, I ha' done you simple service here.

For which thou shalt not part, Moll, unrequited.

Thou art a mad girl, and yet I cannot now
Condemn thee.

Condemn me? Troth, and you should, sir.
I'd make you seek out one to hang in my room;
I'd give you the slip at gallows and cozen the people.
Heard you this jest, my lord?

What is it, Jack?

He was in fear his son would marry me,
But never dreamt that I would ne'er agree.

Why? Thou hadst a suitor once, Jack. When wilt marry?

Who, I, my lord? I'll tell you when, i'faith.
When you shall hear
Gallants void from sergeants' fear,
Honesty and truth unsland'red,
Woman mann'd but never pand'red,
[Cheaters] booted but not coach'd,
Vessels older ere they're broach'd:
If my mind be then not varied,
Next day following I'll be married.

This sounds like doomsday,

Then were marriage best,
For if I should repent, I were soon at rest.

In troth, th' art a good wench. I'm sorry now
The opinion was so hard I conceiv'd of thee;
Some wrongs I've done thee.

Enter Trapdoor.

Is the wind there now?
'Tis time for me to kneel and confess first,
For fear it come too late and my brains feel it:
Upon my paws, I ask you pardon, mistress.

Pardon? For what, sir? What has your rogueship done now?

I have been from time to time hir'd to confound you
By this old gentleman.


Pray forgive him,
But may I counsel you, you should never do't.
Many a snare to entrap your worship's life
Have I laid privily, chains, watches, jewels,
And when he saw nothing could mount you up,
Four hollow-hearted angels he then gave you
By which he meant to trap you, I to save you.

To all which shame and grief in me cry guilty.
Forgive me; now I cast the world's eyes from me
And look upon thee freely with mine own:
I see the most of many wrongs before [thee],
Cast from the jaws of envy and her people,
And nothing foul but that. I'll never more
Condemn by common voice, for that's the whore
That deceives man's opinion, mocks his trust,
Cozens his love, and makes his heart unjust.

Here be the angels, gentlemen; they were given me
As a musician. I pursue no pity;
Follow the law: and you can cuck me, spare not;
Hang up my viol by me, and I care not.

So far I'm sorry I'll thrice double 'em
To make thy wrongs amends.
Come, worthy friends, my honourable lord,
Sir Beauteous Ganymede, and noble Fitzallard,
And you kind [gentlewomen], whose sparkling presence
Are glories set in marriage, beams of society,
For all your loves give lustre to my joys.
The happiness of this day shall be rememb'red
At the return of every smiling spring;
In my time now 'tis born, and may no sadness
Sit on the brows of men upon that day,
But as I am, so all go pleas'd away.

[Exeunt all but Moll.]


A painter, having drawn with curious art
The picture of a woman, every part
Limn'd to the life, hung out the piece to sell.
People who pass'd along, viewing it well,
Gave several verdicts on it: some dispraised
The hair; some said the brows too high were raised;
Some hit her o'er the lips, mislik'd their colour;
Some wish'd her nose were shorter; some, the eyes fuller;
Others said roses on her cheeks should grow,
Swearing they look'd too pale; others cried no.
The workman still as fault was found did mend it
In hope to please all, but this work being ended
And hung open at stall, it was so vile,
So monstrous and so ugly, all men did smile
At the poor painter's folly. Such we doubt
Is this our comedy. Some perhaps do flout
The plot, saying, "'Tis too thin, too weak, too mean;"
Some for the person will revile the scene,
And wonder that a creature of her being
Should be the subject of a poet, seeing
In the world's eye none weighs so light; others look
For all those base tricks publish'd in a book,
Foul as his brains they flow'd from, of cutpurse[s],
Of nips and foists, nasty, obscene discourses,
As full of lies, as empty of worth or wit,
For any honest ear or eye unfit. And thus,
If we to every brain that's humourous
Should fashion scenes, we with the painter shall
In striving to please all please none at all.
Yet for such faults as either the writers' wit
Or negligence of the actors do commit,
Both crave your pardons; if what both have done
Cannot full pay your expectation,
The Roaring Girl herself some few days hence
Shall on this stage give larger recompense
Which mirth that you may share in herself does woo you,
And craves this sign: your hands to beckon her to you.




The Roaring Girl, the final dramatic collaboration between Middleton and Thomas Dekker, first appeared in quarto in 1611. David Lake's textual analyses of both authors' works has confirmed the date of composition as later rather than earlier in the first decade of 1600, and he conjectures the date to be 1608. However, P. A. Mulholland ["The Date of The Roaring Girl," RES 28 (1977)], citing allusions to contemporary events, which I include in the glossary below, maintains a later date of the spring of 1611, which I believe is more likely. Lake and others divide the shares as Dekker having written I, III.ii-iii, IV.ii, V.i, and Middleton II, III.i, IV.i, V.ii, a roughly even division, although some scenes are probably not solely from one author's pen. Dekker is undoubtedly the author of the canting scene: the usages closely parallel his contemporary Bellman of London and Lanthorn and Candlelight tracts. Editions of The Roaring Girl include Dyce's of 1840, Bullen's of 1885, Andor Gomme's for the New Mermaids Series (1976), and Fredson Bowers's in The Dramatic Works of Thomas Dekker (1953-61), with Introductions, Notes and Commentaries by Cyrus Hoy (1980).

The title of the play derives from the riotous gallants of London, known as "roaring boys," whose penchant for machismo quarreling was parodied by Middleton and Rowley in A Fair Quarrel, and by Jonson in The Alchemist. The title character is based upon Mary Frith, the real Moll Cutpurse, whose notorious exploits tested the patience of proper society and often brought her before the court. Accounts of these exploits were variously recorded, and they include wearing men's clothes, appearing on the stage, drinking, swearing, making "immodest and lascivious speeches," prostitution, pick-pocketing, forgery, and highway robbery. A full rap sheet indeed but as the prologue, epilogue, and epistle to the reader clearly demonstrate, Dekker and Middleton were sympathetic to her, and through Moll offer, if not an apologia, at least some well-needed positive public relations. T. S. Eliot observed that the character of Moll is the one exquisite jewel in the crown of a rather mediocre play; without a doubt, she is thoroughly engaging. The loose and episodic structure of the play, in fact, allows Dekker and Middleton to showcase her various talents: she sings, she fights, she rescues Jack Dapper from the clutches of the law; she is just as comfortable with lords and gentlemen as with the thieves whose cant she speaks and over whom she has some authority. Moll's character is also amazingly well-rounded in the Forsterian sense: Dekker and Middleton take her beyond a presentation of the mere spectacle and her iconic status in the contemporary culture. We not only learn the "facts" of her past, but we also hear her heart and mind in many candid reactions to social prejudice and condemnation. It is certainly the best comic female role in the Middleton canon, and few comic female roles of the time are its equal.

Illustration: A portrait of Moll Frith from the prose tract The Life and Death of Mrs. Mary Frith, Commonly Called Moll Cutpurse, Exactly Collected and Now Published for the Delight and Recreation of All Merry-Disposed Persons (1662). Bullen gives a precise synopsis.
"My case is alter'd, I must work for my living.": According to the Consistory of London Correction Book, Mary Frith appeared before the court on 27 January 1612 for misdemeanors and was subsequently incarcerated, a fact which Hoy believes informs this quotation that appears beside her picture on the quarto title-page: "At the time of the publication of the play, Mary Frith apparently was beating hemp in Bridewell, in the manner of the loose women Dekker had shown undergoing correction in that place some half-a-dozen years before, in the final scene of The Honest Whore, Part Two." As Gomme notes, the first half of the quotation is proverbial, and gave title to Jonson's comedy of 1597.

Dramatis Personae

Wengrave: Wentgraue (Q), here and elsewhere in the d.p.

NEATFOOT: Neats-foot (Q); neat's foot is the foot of an ox, used as an article of food.

Ganymede: in classical mythology, Jove's page

GREENWIT: green = youthful, but also an emblem of lust; cf. The Revenger's Tragedy II.iii.

LAXTON: As Sir Alexander's pun in I.ii makes clear, his name = "lacks stone," or testicle. Cf. "Singlestone" in A Mad World, My Masters

TILTYARD: A tilt-yard is an enclosed space for tilts and tournaments; cf. Your Five Gallants II.i. The connection with his profession lies in the use of feathers for an archer's arrows.

OPENWORK: A piece of cloth with a pattern of holes, like lace or crochet, that shows the material beneath.

sempster: the masculine form of "seamstress," although then used for both genders (cf. Mary's disguise in I.i)

[Hippocrates]: Greek physician (c. 460-357 BC)

GALLIPOT: a small earthen glazed pot, especially one used by apothecaries for ointments and medicines, or, by extension, an apothecary

TEARCAT: to tear a cat = to rant and bluster, to play a roistering hero; cf. A Midsummer Night's Dream I.ii.

CURTILAX: A curtal-ax is a short, broad-cutting sword, or a cutlass.

HANGER: a loop or strap, fastened to the girdle, in which the rapier was suspended; cf. Your Five Gallants I.i.

MINISTRI: servants

FELLOW: a thief; cf. A Trick to Catch the Old One II.i, The Revenger's Tragedy III.v.

To the Comic Play-Reader

Venery: good hunting or, more frequently, the pursuit of sexual pleasure; cf. The Witch I.i, The Second Maiden's Tragedy I.ii, The Family of Love IV.iv, A Trick to Catch the Old One I.ii, The Phoenix III.i, Northward Ho! III.i, Westward Ho! III.iv.

crop-doublet: A richly padded, short doublet, which went out of fashion about thirty years earlier.

bombasted: Bombast was cotton wool stuffing used to pad out clothes and make the wearer look muscular, but also took on this figurative and more familiar usage; cf. Your Five Gallants III.iii, Day's The Isle of Gulls Ind., Satiromastix V.ii.

doublet fell: "Few garments underwent so many changes as did the doublet. From the straight-bodied, full, long-skirted doublet of the reign of Henry VIII evolved the 'Peas-cod' or Dutch 'doublets with great belly and small skirt', so familiar from the seventies...The peas-cod front...disappeared by 1610, and the doublet became form-fitting--but was worn over a stiff lining--with a small waist decorated by points" (Linthicum, Costume in the Drama of Shakespeare and His Contemporaries, as cited by Hoy).

single plots: not characteristic of contemporary plays; as Gomme suggests, Middleton is probably being ironic.

quaint: ingenious

conceits: witty devices

termers: dissolute persons who frequented London during term-time (cf. introductory notes for Michaelmas Term, The Family of Love Pref., The Witch I.i). The law courts were in session during four terms: Hilary Term, Easter Term, Trinity Term, and Michaelmas Term. For various remarks about term-time, cf. The Family of Love I.ii, A Trick to Catch the Old One I.iv & II.i, Anything for a Quiet Life I.i, A Chaste Maid in Cheapside I.i, The Puritan I.i, The Revenger's Tragedy IV.ii.

sixpence: the price of a printed play

well couched: richly embroidered, and therefore not immediately apparent

and: if (used frequently throughout the play)

statute: Although there was no specific statute that forbade women from wearing men's clothing, the issue seems to have been covered in a general sumptuary law, i.e., a law meant to curtail extravagance.

codpiece point: the lace which fastened the cod-piece, a bagged appendage to the front of the close-fitting hose or breeches; cf. The Puritan I.iii.

galley room: The tiring room at the Fortune Theater was an extension of the upper gallery; Middleton's remark indicates copies of plays were stored there.

mystical: secretive; cf. A Chaste Maid in Cheapside III.i, Your Five Gallants V.i, The Bloody Banquet IV.iii, The Family of Love IV.iv, The Second Maiden's Tragedy II.ii.

vent his private bottle-ale at midnight: Gomme explores the possible bawdy connotations: "'Bottle-ale' appears in 2 Henry IV, II.iv, 128, where the Arden editor suggests it means small beer; and this seems to be confirmed by a remark in Nashe's Fouleweather's Prognostications (Works, ed. Wilson, III, 392).... But it could also means simply windy rhetoric (see Marston, Histriomastix, III.i, 202); 'vent' can mean sniff out, uncover, or emit (urine, wind, etc.), and 'bottle' was one of innumerable words for the female pudenda (cf. Measure for Measure, III.ii, 174)."

ripped up: disclosed, brought out in the open


mews: jeers by mewing like a cat

vast theatre: The Fortune Theater on Golden Lane in Cripplegate (built 1600, burnt 1621, rebuilt 1623, finally destroyed 1662) was 53 feet square inside (80 outside), and had three tiers of galleries. To the right, the reconstruction, based on the surviving contract, is by W. H. Godfrey, and the engraving of the theater in its last days is by T. H. Shepherd (1811). It was occupied by the Lord Admiral's Men (which became Prince Henry's Men in 1603) under the management of Philip Henslowe and Edward Alleyn, his son-in-law and a leading acting of the Admiral's Men.

covetous: eager

gives braves: offers battle

suburb roarers: i.e., the licentious lower classes of London's suburbs: "These suburb sinners have no land to live upon but their legs" (Lanthorn and Candlelight ix).

beside: besides (Q)

state: estate, wealth

iron grate: the bars of a debtor's prison


bands: ruffs, collars; cf. A Chaste Maid in Cheapside II.ii, The Changeling V.iii, Your Five Gallants I.i, The Family of Love IV.i.

transcendent: Normally, the best possible definition would be "transcending or rising high above the ordinary rank of persons, i.e., given the privilege of meeting him privately even though she is ostensibly of the class of tradesmen." However, Gomme's inclination toward an obscure bawdy connotation is correct, because we ultimately learn that Neatfoot thinks she is Sebastian's whore. In his affected (and probably condescending and self-righteous) way, Neatfoot is saying she will rise, or become pregnant, a common Jacobean pun.

fructify: become fruitful, with the bawdy innuendo; cf. The Family of Love III.iii, IV.ii, Westward Ho! II.i, Love's Labours Lost IV.ii.

falling bands: ruffs falling flat around the neck, a new fashion at the time; cf. 1 The Honest Whore III.i.

curl-pated: Curling the hair was much affected at this time.

ingeniously: ingenuously

[dined]: dyed (Q)

Orleans: a favored wine from the Loire region

buttery: liquor storeroom; cf. No Wit, No Help like a Woman's IV.ii.

antic: grotesque; cf. I.ii "ape's tricks," The Revenger's Tragedy III.v, The Changeling IV.iii.

[fire]: omitted in Q

auricular confession: confession heard by a priest; "confession" has bawdy innuendo

needlewoman: slang for harlot

bond: a common pun; cf. Blurt, Master Constable II.i.

wolf's at door: "To keep the wolf from the door" was proverbial.

As a horse path still: i.e., like a horse turning a millstone that often stumbles but always keeps to the same path, Sebastian will often seem to be unfaithful but will remain constant; cf. Northward Ho! I.iii.

marks: A mark was worth 13s.4d.


grey groat: A groat was fourpence. "Not worth a grey groat" was proverbial.

galleries: "Sir Alexander's collection suggests a parody of the great collections which began to be made in Elizabeth's reign, and of which Lord Lunley's at Nonesuch Palace, Surrey, was an already famous example. Pictures were sometimes fixed to the wall so close together as to make a mosaic covering the wall entirely. The display hints at the kind of spectacular stage effects which were then becoming popular in masques and is a kind of visual diagram of the action of the play" (Gomme).

plaudities: applause; cf. The Revenger's Tragedy II.i, Dekker's The Noble Spanish Soldier V.iv.

obsequious: dutiful

floating island: "A trompe-l'oeil effect must be in mind here, intended to draw the audience more completely into the spectacle" (Gomme).

comical: cheerful

back friend: a backer or supporter

stoop: the swoop of a hawk (a term from falconry); cf. The Family of Love I.ii.

lure: a fake bird, usually made of pigeon's wings, with a hawk's foot attached

stand: Laxton counters Sir Alexander's cruel pun with the common bawdy Elizabethan pun.

mess: company eating together

heartstrings: The heart was supposedly braced with strings (tendons or nerves) that could be broken with emotional stress. The concept was often likened to the strings of a musical instrument, where there was a handy pun on "fret": 1) stress, worry, 2) a bar of gut, wood, or metal on the fingerboard used to regulate the fingering. Cf. A Chaste Maid in Cheapside I.ii, A Yorkshire Tragedy x, The Revenger's Tragedy I.i, Hamlet III.ii, Henry VIII III.ii, Chapman's Monsieur D'Olive.

Fortune: A detail from the title-page of Robert Record's The Caste of Knowledge, 1556 showing the Wheel of Fortune. Click on the image for the complete title-page (266 KB), which illustrates the various concepts associated with the goddess Fortune, in contrast to Urania, or Wisdom, on the left. Fortune stands unstably upon a ball, while Wisdom stands firmly on a block. She is blindfolded and turns her wheel, which can as easily bring someone wealth one day as take it all away the next day, for "she is turning, and inconstant, and mutability, and variation" (Henry V; by contrast, Wisdom holds a compass (representing rational knowledge) and the Sphere of Destiny. Fortune is illuminated by the moon, a symbol of irrationality and changefulness, and Wisdom is illuminated by the sun, a symbol of reason and stability: the inscription ends, "Though earth do honour Fortune's ball,/And battles blind her wheel advance,/The heavens to Fortune are not thrall:/These spheres surmount all Fortune's chance."

read o'er his cards: Bowers emends to "cares," but Gomme's gloss of "reckon up his position" is correct: he looks at the cards Fortune has dealt him and realizes his situation is not all bad.

that like: thats like (Q)

by-blows: side-blows or glancing blows

Adam Bell: the famous archer; cf. Romeo and Juliet II.i, Much Ado about Nothing I.i, Satiromastix IV.iii.

more tongues in his head than some have teeth: ostensibly alluding to Sebastian's knowledge of languages, but double-tongued = deceitful (cf. II.ii "two-leav'd tongues"), and cf. the proverb "the tongue walks where the teeth speed not," quoted in Dekker's The Gull's Horn-Book.

flesh-fly: blow-fly, which eats and lays eggs in dead flesh; cf. The Revenger's Tragedy V.i, Women Beware Women II.ii.

It is a thing...than woman: This passage was lifted by Nathan Field for his Amends for Ladies (1612), for a scene in which Moll unsuccessfully attempts to corrupt the virtuous heroine.

two shadows to one shape: i.e., a both a man's and woman's shadow, although Gomme suggests that "by witchcraft she has stolen a shadow and so would have power over another's soul. The devil was normally held to cast no shadow."

blazing star: According to medieval astrology, the stars that controlled men's fate were fixed and incorruptible; on the other hand, meteors, which are sublunary, were corruptible and subject to change, and heralded or were provoked by evil events on earth. Gomme seems to support Bald's conjecture that this is a reference to Halley's comet, which had reached its perihelion in late November 1607, but allusions to this cosmology were quite frequent: cf. Mistress Gallipot's "fixed star" of III.ii, as well as The Changeling V.iii, The Revenger's Tragedy V.i & V.iii, The Bloody Banquet V.ii, Julius Caesar I.iii & II.i.

naughty pack: a term of approach, used for both males and females, almost always occurring in this compound form; cf. Westward Ho! II.i, Northward Ho! II.ii.

naught: wicked, immoral; cf. The Revenger's Tragedy II.i, A Fair Quarrel V.i, 1 The Honest Whore IV.i.

Their: there (Q, here as well as later in the line and throughout the play)

baffle: publicly disgrace, originally a punishment on recreant knights, part of which was being hanged by the heels; cf. A Chaste Maid in Cheapside II.ii

[Wear]: cf. The Revenger's Tragedy II.i for the same emendation

drab: whore, mistress; cf. The Phoenix I.ii, A Trick to Catch the Old One I.iii, The Witch II.iii, Your Five Gallants III.ii, The Revenger's Tragedy II.ii.

quench out: Deleting "out" would improve the scansion.

I wash a negro: "To wash an Ethiop white" was proverbial, deriving from classical times and reflecting the Elizabethan/Jacobean prejudice toward fair-haired paleness; cf. 2 The Honest Whore IV.iii.

turn: deflect (a hunting term)

ape's tricks: extravagant bowing

To be a shifter...good bit upon't: A shifter is a cozener, or cheater, and Trapdoor promises that he can steal a full platter of food from under someone's nose.

As two crafty attorneys plotting the undoing of their clients: cf. Michaelmas Term III.i.

Simon and Jude's day: October 28th, the day before the Lord Mayor's Day on which the Liveries' pageants turned out; it was proverbially stormy. Cf. Anything for a Quiet Life I.ii, Westward Ho! II.i.

watermen a' th' Bankside: boatmen paid for transporting people up and down the Thames; they were said at this time to number "no fewer than forty thousand." Cf. A Chaste Maid in Cheapside IV.ii, The Witch II.i.

burnt: Sir Alexander fears that Trapdoor is a branded felon.

mermaid: whore; cf. A Chaste Maid in Cheapside IV.ii, A Fair Quarrel IV.iv, The Old Law IV.i, 2 The Honest Whore IV.iii.

cut her comb: lower her pride; cutting a cock's comb usually accompanied gelding. Cf. A Trick to Catch the Old One IV.i.

Cast out a line hung full of silver hooks: cf. A Fair Quarrel III.ii, Old Fortunatus I.ii.

hobbyhorse: 1) a pantomime horse that was part of a morris dance, 2) slang for harlot

morris: country dance, although sometimes used generally to refer to any wild dancing, such as here; cf. The Changeling IV.iii, Dekker's Patient Grissil II.i, All's Well that Ends Well II.ii, A Midsummer Night's Dream II.i, Henry V II.iv

Zounds: "God's wounds," an oath; cf. The Puritan IV.iii, No Wit, No Help like a Woman's V.i.

bencher: magistrate, judge

goll: hand; cf. A Chaste Maid in Cheapside II.ii, Blurt, Master Constable I.i, The Revenger's Tragedy V.i, Satiromastix I.ii.

entertain: employ, hire; cf. A Trick to Catch the Old One IV.iv, The Phoenix III.i, The Old Law II.i.


rank: row Like many market scenes of the time, this scene is highly visual and includes many sight gags; in an effort to bridge this gap, I've made explicit some implicit stage directions to give a sense of the action.

what is't you lack: the standard cry of shopkeepers; cf. Anything for a Quiet Life II.ii, The Shoemakers' Holiday III.iv.

lawns: fine linen or clothing made from it, so called because it was bleached on a lawn instead of the ordinary bleaching grounds; cf. A Chaste Maid in Cheapside I.i, Your Five Gallants II.iii, The Witch II.i, The Revenger's Tragedy II.iii.

cambrics: a kind of fine white linen, originally made at Cambray, France, or the clothing made from it; cf. A Chaste Maid in Cheapside I.i.

minces tobacco: Tobacco was sold in apothecaries' shops. Smoking was used widely for affection during James's reign; it was estimated that London had at least 7000 tobacco shops. Cf. The Witch II.i, The Phoenix I.ii, and Lazarillo in Blurt, Master Constable. There is an interesting article about the Elizabethans and tobacco at

Indian pot-herbs: "Pot-herbs are simply herbs boiled in a pot; perhaps a misunderstanding of how tobacco is prepared" (Gomme). The statement is not so much a misunderstanding in Laxton's knowledge of tobacco as an inconsistency in the background of the wives, for it is Mistress Openwork who later claims to have been a lady's serving-woman, a "gentlewoman born." On the other hand, it's entirely possible that neither of them came from a higher social class, and that both merely make such a claim as psychological leverage against their husbands (i.e., marrying below their station) and to impress the gallants Laxton and Goshawk.

bankrout: bankrupt

pipes: with the bawdy pun on penis, and much sexual innuendo following; cf. Romeo and Juliet IV.v.

May take up an ell of pure smock: An ell is a measure of length (in England, 45 inches), chiefly used in measuring cloth; cf. The Old Law IV.i, 2 Honest Whore II.ii, Anything for a Quiet Life II.ii. A smock was a woman's undergarment.

closest: most secretive

striker: fornicator

smockster: bawd; cf. Your Five Gallants V.ii.

naked boy in a vial: "Steeven's suggestion--'I suppose he means an abortion preserved in spirits'--seems irrelevant and incredible; the point is presumably the visibility of nakedness seen through clear glass. Naked boys is a popular name for the meadow saffron which flowers after its leaves have withered; but the phrase also occurs in The Alchemist (III.iv.80-1) in such a way as to suggest catamite [page]" (Gomme). In this context, the "naked boy" sounds like an allusion to Cupid, but this does not help to explain the relevance of "vial." "Viol," which has its own sexual innuendo (cf. IV.i), is also spelled "vial" in Q, but this doesn't make the image any clearer.

first day of his feather: newly fledged

woo the hangings and glass windows: i.e., is a wallflower

broken: i.e., already deflowered

almanac: For the background on almanacs, cf. my notes to No Wit, No Help like a Woman's; forecasts were provided for individual meridians as well as the nation in general.

not to be us'd a' that fashion...I understand no French: An extension of the pipe/penis pun: Greenwit comments that Laxton should not wish his pipe to be set on fire, i.e., suffer from venereal disease, which was commonly called "the French disease. Cf. A Fair Quarrel IV.iv, Blurt, Master Constable I.ii, A Chaste Maid in Cheapside V.i, Your Five Gallants III.i, Anything for a Quiet Life II.iv, A Midsummer Night's Dream I.ii, The Revenger's Tragedy I.i.

Jack: Not necessarily Goshawk's proper name, but a familiar form of address, i.e., chap or fellow. Later this is frequently used for Moll.

strange: unfamiliar to me; cf. The Witch III.ii.

Push: Middleton's favorite ejaculation (e.g., cf. The Changeling III.iv, A Trick to Catch the Old One II.i, Your Five Gallants II.i, The Revenger's Tragedy I.iii, The Old Law II.i), and one examined in contrast to Rowley's "Tush!" in one of the earliest attribution studies (1897).

manners: with the pun on manors

['im]: 'em (Q)

stool: with the scatological pun

preyeth: with the pun on prayeth

pleasure: with the sexual innuendo

Bear her in hand: delude her with false hopes; cf. Macbeth III.i, Cymbeline V.v, Much Ado about Nothing IV.i, 2 Henry IV I.ii.

chincough: whooping-cough

I dive down to your ankles: an example of the extravagant bowing of courtiers, emphasized by Greenwit's use of French

he dispatches three at once: Apparently Jack has not bowed to each gallant individually as he should have done.

drink: smoke; cf. The Shoemakers' Holiday III.ii.

ordinary: eating-house; a tavern was primarily for drinking. Cf. Anything for a Quiet Life I.i., The Witch V.i, The Phoenix IV.ii, A Trick to Catch the Old One I.i, Your Five Gallants II.i & III.ii, No Wit, No Help like a Woman's II.iii.

Paul's: St. Paul's. Men who had been turned out of service by their masters posted notices of their availability in St. Paul's nave; Gull eventually loses his position, as we learn in V.i.

hal'p'orth: halfpenny worth

small beer: weak or inferior beer; cf. The Witch I.i, The Old Law II.i. No Wit, No Help like a Woman's V.ii.

cackl'd: gave away secrets

angels: gold coins worth ten shillings each, with the figure of St. Michael defeating the dragon; for Middleton's frequent punning, cf. A Trick to Catch the Old One II.i, The Phoenix, Blurt, Master Constable II.i, A Yorkshire Tragedy ii, The Old Law IV.ii, No Wit, No Help like a Woman's I.ii, The Puritan III.iv, The Bloody Banquet II.i, The Revenger's Tragedy II.i.

puts out a candle: cf. the Jeweller's Wife in The Phoenix IV.ii.

arrant: errand

puny: novice; cf. 1 Henry VI IV.vii, The Revenger's Tragedy I.iii, Westward Ho! I.ii.

whoremaster: lecher; cf. Measure for Measure III.ii.

Draw in a third man: Gomme edits to "draw in a thread, man" and explains, "'Third' is occasionally found for 'thread', and 'thrid', for which 'third' could be a compositor's slip, quite commonly. But this is frankly a guess at a meaning which I cannot find in Q as it stands. I suggest that Laxton may be inviting Goshawk to draw in (= inhale) a thread of smoke; or 'thread' may be a measure of tobacco as of yarn. But 'draw in' can mean inveigle or take in, and also, it seems, to lay down a stake at dice (cf. Michaelmas Term II.i)." It seems clear to me that Laxton, returning after his aside, has found Goshawk and Greenwit sharing a bowl--I assume the gallants have been sampling Gallipot's various tobaccos--and asks to be a third; Goshawk refuses, claiming that Laxton himself never shares.

engross: monopolize or obtain exclusive possession of; cf. Anything for a Quiet Life III.i, Dekker's If This Be Not a Good Play, the Devil Is in It II.i.

beaver gallants: gallants who wear beavers, hats made of beaver fur; cf. Your Five Gallants I.i, Anything for a Quiet Life II.i, Westward Ho! V.iv.

stone riders: those who ride stone horses, or stallions; there is possibly the stone/testicles pun that Laxton makes later in this scene, hence stone riders might = womanizers, as Gomme suggests

private stage's audience: included in this list of the fashionable well-to-do because of the higher price of admission at the private theaters, which were established to circumvent the law that prohibited houses of public entertainment within the city

twelvepenny-stool: twice the normal price for the use of a stool

[hench]-boy: page; hinch (Q)

[snail]: snake (Q)

wants: i.e., wants finishing

[Hoyda]: Haida (Q), cf. "Hoyda!" in No Wit, No Help like a Woman's I.iii, "Heyday!" in A Chaste Maid in Cheapside IV.ii.

shepherd's holland: holland linen used for shepherds' smocks

gear: stuff. The word also refers specifically to tobacco in 1 The Honest Whore II.i and Satiromastix I.ii; Middleton frequently uses the word with bawdy innuendo elsewhere.

arrant's[t]: strictest

frieze: coarse woolen cloth

jerkin: a soldier's short coat; cf. Blurt, Master Constable I.i. The Puritan I.ii, No Wit, No Help like a Woman's II.i, Westward Ho! II.ii.

safeguard: the outer petticoat worn over other clothes to protect them from dirt, the usual riding dress for women; cf. The Witch II.iii.

[GOSHAWK, GREENWIT]: Both. (Q); I have preferred to be more specific here, and make a similar emendation in III.iii for lines shared between Sir Alexander and Sir Adam, and Curtilax and Hanger.

Mile End milksops: a favorite recreation spot for city-dwellers, where apparently cakes and cream were available; the trained bands that guarded the city exercised here. Cf. The Shoemakers' Holiday I.i.

marrow-bone: supposedly an aphrodisiac; cf. A Mad World, My Masters I.ii, Venus and Adonis, If This Be Not a Good Play, the Devil Is in It I.iii.

Italian: stereotyped as being extremely lecherous; cf. A Mad World, My Masters III.iii.

bona roba: wanton, courtesan; Blurt, Master Constable II.ii, 2 The Honest Whore I.i.

aqua fortis: nitric acid, a powerful solvent and corrosive

shag: cloth having a velvet nap on one side

fat eel between a Dutchman's fingers: The Dutch were supposedly fond of eels; cf. No Wit, No Help like a Woman's I.iii.

i' th' low: ith the low (Q)

I send you for hollands...I take nothing: Gomme's gloss is thorough: "A dazzling linguistic challenge. The first pun seems to derive in particular from the brilliant wordplay of 2 Henry IV II.ii, 21-2: 'the rest of thy low countries have made a shift to eat up thy holland': 'low countries' (the first half of the latter word was always suggestive: see Hamlet III.ii.120) meant both the lower parts of the body and the stews [brothels] (where Poins and supposedly Master Openwork beget bastards); hence, similarly, 'holland', as well as, literally, linen--which prompts 'shift' in the sense of chemise. And the seemingly innocent shopkeeping talk win the second sentence conceals a complex obscenity: 'ware' was in regular use for the privates of either sex, but especially of women (where it was commonly 'lady's ware') (cf. A Chaste Maid in Cheapside II.i) [also cf. The Family of Love II.i, No Wit, No Help Like a Woman's I.i & III.i, The Witch I.ii, Anything for a Quiet Life II.iv]. The burden, then, of Mistress Openwork's complaint is that by a trick (a shift) she is left to make what shift she can by handling her sexual parts (those next to her shift) herself: a barren ('dead') activity, but she may as well stop offering herself, for when she opens up her 'shop', nothing comes in."

ringing: scolding

warn: deny

goody: goodwife, used for married women of a humble station

skin-coat: a coat made of skins, with the explicit sexual pun

spleen: The spleen was often regarded as the seat of passions and/or impulsive behavior: in Renaissance psychology, an individual had four basic "humours," or temperaments, which were determined by the amount of their corresponding bodily fluids secreted in the spleen. The four humours are choleric (anger) derived from bile (as in The Revenger's Tragedy II.iii and here), phlegmatic (cold torpor) from phlegm, sanguine (geniality) from blood, and melancholy from black bile (as in The Revenger's Tragedy IV.i, The Witch I.i). The spleen was also held responsible for sexual desire (as in The Old Law III.ii, Anything for a Quiet Life III.ii).

tread upon a worm, they say 'twill turn tail: proverbial, meaning that even the lowliest of creatures will resent ill-treatment

yard: 1) three feet, the tailor's yardstick, 2) slang for penis; cf. The Old Law IV.i, Anything for a Quiet Life passim, The Revenger's Tragedy II.i, 1 The Honest Whore V.ii, Love's Labours Lost V.ii.

London measure: London drapers customarily gave a little more than the exact measure; cf. Anything for a Quiet Life III.ii.

snaffle: bridle-bit; cf. A Yorkshire Tragedy ii, The Witch of Edmonton II.i.

Tyburn: Tyburn was the place of public execution in London until 1783. Cf. Anything for a Quiet Life III.ii (illustration in notes section), No Wit, No Help like a Woman's I.ii, The Puritan IV.iii.

Brainford: Brentford, eight miles upstream of Cheapside, was a place of resort for the citizenry and had numerous prostitutes. It is also spelled Brainford in The Merry Wives of Windsor IV.ii and Westward Ho! II.iii, but Branford in A Chaste Maid in Cheapside II.ii.

Staines: on the north bank of the Thames in Middlesex seventeen miles west of London, also well-known as a place of assignation; cf. Massinger's The City Madam II.i.

Ware: twenty miles north of London, a trysting place for lovers; cf. A Chaste Maid in Cheapside III.iii, Northward Ho! I.i.

coach: Coaches were popular places for love-making; cf. The Phoenix II.iii, A Chaste Maid in Cheapside III.iii, Your Five Gallants II.i, No Wit, No Help like a Woman's V.i, The Puritan II.i, The Revenger's Tragedy II.i.

jade: 1) broken-down horse, 2) whore; cf. A Chaste Maid in Cheapside V.iv, Much Ado about Nothing I.i, The Old Law III.ii.

Holborn: The area to the north of the Strand and northwest of the old walled city, a place with an unsavory reputation, especially toward the west end; it takes its name from the Holbourne, a tributary of the Fleet. It was also the center of the legal profession, and contained the Inns of Court (Gray's Inn, Lincoln's Inn, the Middle Temple, and the Inner Temple), as well as the Inns of Chancery; because of their frequent reference in this play, I feel compelled to cite Weinreb and Hibbert's The London Encyclopedia: "By the middle of the 15th century the Inns [of Chancery] had largely been taken over by resident students and solicitors and attorneys and had become preparatory schools for students wishing to be called to the Bar by the Inns of Court which had managed to secure a degree of control over the Inns of Chancery. By 1530 Furnival's and Thavies Inns had become affiliated to Lincoln's Inn, while Staple Inn and Barnard's Inn looked to Gray's Inn, and Clement's, Clifford's, and Lyon's Inns were affiliated to the Inner Temple. After the destruction of the Strand Inn in 1549, the Middle Temple had only one Inn of Chancery, namely New Inn. Each Inn of Chancery normally comprised a Principal, Ancients (Benchers) [magistrates] and Juniors or Companions (barristers and students). Unlike the Inns of Court, the Inns of Chancery--also styled 'Honourable Societies'--had no power to call students to the Bar but in most other respects their constitutions were similar to those of the Inns of Court. By 1600 eight Inns of Chancery were in existence but, with the decline in the educational role of these Inns, students were tending increasingly to enroll directly in the Inns of Court. At the same time the attorney and solicitors, who were being gradually excluded from the Inns of Court, took over the Inns of Chancery." For references to various Inns, also cf. A Chaste Maid in Cheapside I.i, The Puritan I.iii, Your Five Gallants IV.ii, A Trick to Catch the Old One I.iv.

Gray's Inn Fields: open fields to the north of Gray's Inn, used as grounds for recreation but eventually frequented by petty thieves

[heard]: hard (Q)

Saint Antling's bell: St. Antlings was another name for the Puritan church of St. Antholin, on Watling Street on the north side of Budge Row. In 1599, the congregation of St. Antholin's began sermons at 5 a.m., heralded by the chapel bells, much to the frustration of the neighbors. Cf. the character Nicholas St. Tantlings in The Puritan (specifically II.i for the earliness of their sermons), Michaelmas Term V.i.

liberties: the liberties of the city of London

Kent, unconquered: It was a Kentish boast that it had never been conquered; there is a pun on Kent/cunt.

wiles: with the pun on wilds, referring to the formerly heavily forested nature of Kent; cf. Michaelmas Term II.iii, 1 Henry IV II.i.

queans: whores, strumpets; cf. No Wit, No Help like a Woman's I.ii, A Yorkshire Tragedy v, Your Five Gallants III.ii, The Witch III.ii, A Trick to Catch the Old One III.iv, The Family of Love IV.iii, A Chaste Maid in Cheapside II.ii.

spital dealing: Spitals were originally houses for lepers and victims of other diseases, but the term came a hospital specifically for venereal disease; frequently alluded to in Middleton, e.g., A Chaste Maid in Cheapside II.ii & V.i.

[burr]: a broad ring of iron behind the handle of a tilting lance; burgh (Q)

young flood: when the tide begins to flow up the river; cf. A Chaste Maid in Cheapside II.ii, No Wit, No Help like a Woman's II.ii.

put case: suppose (a legal term), with the sexual pun of case = vagina; cf. II.ii, A Chaste Maid in Cheapside II.i, Your Five Gallants III.ii, The Changeling II.ii, Women Beware Women IV.ii, Westward Ho! I.i.

service: with the bawdy double meaning; cf. Anything for a Quiet Life II.i, The Witch I.i, Blurt, Master Constable II.ii. Trapdoor continues to quibble on the bawdy.

high German's size: a reference to a famous German fencer of the time

same wine: Bastard was a sweet Spanish wine.

Parker's ordinary: not particularly identified

duck: i.e., a decoy; the use of spaniels in duck-hunting was quite popular, and alluded to frequently by Dekker. Cf. The Witch of Edmonton IV.i, Match Me in London III.ii, The Noble Spanish Soldier II.ii, Marston's Histriomastix II.

Hogsden: Hoxton, a northern suburb of London, a favorite place for afternoon jaunts by Londoners

pigsney: pig's eye, a common form of endearment

Spits in the dog's mouth: "The reason for this action is obscure. Mr. T. R. Henn suggests that it may have been a device to ensure that the dog memorized its master's scent; he also informs me that he has known groundskeepers to spit on a ferret after it has been muzzled to smooth down the fur ruffled by the muzzled. Possibly the dog was similarly muzzled" (Gomme). Hoy replies, "Perhaps so; but other evidence suggests that the action betokens some odd sign of affection bestowed on a pet. Cf. Jonson, Discoveries, lines 309-311: 'what hath he done more, then a troublesome base curre? bark'd, and made a noyse a farre off: had a foole, or two to spit in his mouth, and cherish him with a musty bone?'" I tend to agree with Hoy; cf. The Witch of Edmonton IV.ii.

Parlous Pond: Parlous, or Perilous, Pond, so called because of the numerous accidents there, was in Hoxton and visited by many Londoners for both duck-hunting and swimming.


two-leav'd: two leaud (Q); "the primary sense intended is the comparison of the tongue to the two hinged parts of a door or gate" (Bowers)

hog-rubber: a term of contempt, probably derived from "hog-grubber," a sneak; cf. Bartholomew Fair V.iv, The Devil's Law-Case IV.i.

pageant-bearer: Porters were employed to carry pageants, or portable stages, for plays and other spectacles in the streets.

at first: in the first place

a chopping and changing: an exchange

poor younger brothers...old cozening widows: i.e., one who has not benefited by inheritance and must therefore be more aggressive in marrying for money; cf. No Wit, No Help like a Woman's III.ii.

sturgeon voyage: fishing-voyage for sturgeon; "The point here, and in what follows, seems to be: don't chose [sic] a wife as if you were going to be away from home and would never have to live with her, or as if you were going to a barbaric country where any female would do" (Hoy).

as if you were going to Virginia: cf. Women Beware Women I.ii.

She is but cunning, gives him longer time in't: i.e., like a usurer who gives a debtor more time to repay, thus allowing the interest to mount

so ho ho so ho: the falconer's cry, encouraging the bird to stoop to the lure; cf. Old Fortunatus I.i.

There boy, there boy: a huntsman's cry to his dogs; cf. A Trick to Catch the Old One IV.iv, The Tempest IV.i.

clout: a pincushion strapped to the wrist or finger for use in tailoring

two trinkets: Apparently, small ornaments on the breeches, perhaps referring to the points (cf. gloss below), although Gomme's conjecture of "testicles" is certainly valid.

coats: petticoats

great Dutch slop: wide breeches, like those worn by Moll in the title-page illustration; cf. No Wit, No Help like a Woman's I.iii, Blurt, Master Constable II.i, The Alchemist III.iii.

lusty: full of healthy vigor (cf. the "Lusty Servant" in A Yorkshire Tragedy), as well as the sexual definition

he that is sway'd...rusty clock: "A sardonic comment on the old man's incapacity--once he is old and impotent he cannot hope for sexual success, his spring is no longer taut, his action is rusty, his rhythm erratic and weak--with a warning that the young (those in their springtime) be not ruled by the dicta of the elderly" (Gomme).

Ludgate: one of the eight gates in the Roman wall of ancient London, built during the reign of King Lud in 66 BC and rebuilt in 1586. It had a flat leaded roof but no clock; Gomme conjectures Sebastian means St. Martin's Church. Ludgate is also mentioned in The Puritan I.iii. Illustration: 1) Aldgate, 2) Bishopsgate, 3) Moorgate, 4) Cripplegate, 5) Aldersgate, 6) Newgate, 7) Ludgate, 8) Temple Bar; all but the last were demolished before the end of the 18th century.

lets off the hour...time is satisfied: i.e., tolls the hour, after which it stops

stops: stop = mechanism which prevents the striker

short prayer: i.e., before execution

sessions-house: courtroom

Keep the left hand: i.e., the sinister or perverse way; cf. The Spanish Tragedy I.i.

[Marry]: Many (Q)

suspect: suspicion, the accent on the last syllable

a' th' good man's: "God is a good man" was proverbial; cf. Much Ado about Nothing III.v.

give but aim: give aim = stand by the target and inform the shooter how close his arrow came to the bull's eye in order for him to perfect his shot; cf. Westward Ho! II.ii.


tester: sixpence, so called from the teston of Henry VIII and the image of his head (Old French teste) stamped on it; cf. A Chaste Maid in Cheapside I.i, The Merry Wives of Windsor I.iii, 2 Henry IV III.ii.

Marybone Park: "Until 1611 Marylebone Manor was crown property: the gardens (ultimately incorporated into Regent's Park) were said in A Fair Quarrel IV.iv to be suitable as a burial ground for whores and panders because it was near Tyburn. The point of Laxton's quip, however, is enriched by the linking of a pun on Marybone (= marrow-bone) and park in the sense of 'the female body as a domain where the lover may freely roam' (cf. Venus and Adonis 231ff.)" (Gomme).

[frampold]: phrampell (Q); fiery, mettlesome, spirited. Cf. Wit at Several Weapons III.i, The Merry Wives of Windsor II.ii.

Smithfield: a horse-market outside Aldersgate; the reputation of its dealers was not very high; cf. 2 Henry IV I.ii.

you: your (Q)

[couch'd]: coacht (Q); embroidered with gold

tufftaffety: Hoy cites Linthicum, p. 124: "Plain taffeta was not rich enough for Elizabethan taste. It must be 'tufted', i.e. woven with raised stripes of spots. These stripes, upon being cut, left a pile like velvet, and, since the tufted parts were always a different colour from the ground, beautiful colour combinations were possible.... Tuft-taffeta was used for hats for both men and women, and for men's hose, jerkins, cloaks, and jackets." Sir Godfrey has a "taffety" hat in The Puritan

vild: vile

highways are stopp'd with them: the nouveaux riches, who, by the sheer number of coaches and their incompetent driving, clogged up the highways

Cerberus: watchdog, from the three-headed dog that watched the gates of Hades; cf. Blurt, Master Constable III.i.

Savoy: the 13th-century palace reconstructed as a hospital for the poor in 1505; in the late 16th century there were complaints that criminals used it as a sanctuary from the law. Cf. The Shoemakers' Holiday IV.iv. The illustration is from an 18th-century engraving depicting the Savoy c. 1550.

Islington: one of the northern suburbs of London, another favorite place of recreation

mercers: Mercers dealt in costly fabrics. A Trick to Catch the Old One I.i, The Phoenix I.ii,

catchpole: sheriff's officer who acted as tax gatherer; cf. Blurt, Master Constable II.i, The Puritan III.v, Westward Ho! III.ii.

corruption: decomposition

if they would keep...generation of a sergeant: if gallants were as prompt paying the mercers' bills as they were meeting their harlots, not even bankrupts would want to become sergeants, because, would you know, that's why men become sheriff's officers, i.e., they buy their way into a post in which they were likely to be bribed or be able to keep some of the money for themselves

Three Pigeons: This inn in Brentford finally closed in 1916; I.ii of She Stoops to Conquer takes place here. Cf. The Alchemist V.iv.

untruss a point: Untied one of the points that joined the breeches to the doublet; Laxton believes she is beginning to undress.

There's the gold: the ten angels which Laxton gave Moll in II.i.

hackney: 1) horse kept for hire, 2) prostitute; cf. 1 The Honest Whore II.i.

pace: 1) speed of the horse, 2) training as a prostitute; cf. Pericles IV.v.

racks: moves with the gait called a rack, in which the horse raises both hooves on the same side at the same time

Win 'em and wear 'em!: a popular expression, a variation of which is "Win her and wear her," referring to a bride; cf. Much Ado about Nothing V.i, The Witch of Edmonton I.ii & II.ii.

serve an execution on thee: 1) formally deliver a legal writ, 2) inflict corporal punishment, 3) Gomme sees sexual innuendo: "draw meant also to expose the penis (as a sword from a scabbard), and an execution a performance of the sexual act (see Troilus and Cressida III.ii.81, and cf. below, l. 118). Her threat therefore is that she will geld him."

monkey: exotic pets such as monkeys (proverbially lascivious) were mentioned to indicate the decadence of court ladies; cf. Michaelmas Term I.i, The Puritan I.iii & IV.ii, The Bloody Banquet I.iv, Cynthia's Revels IV.i.

cup and lip: sharing a loving-cup and kissing

act: sexual act; cf. The Merchant of Venice I.iii. For a similar sentiment, cf. Shakespeare's Sonnet 121: "'Tis better to be vile than vile esteemed...."

lay ledger: lie, rest, reside

golden hook: "To angle with a golden hook" is proverbial; cf. A Fair Quarrel III.ii.

wedlocks: wives; cf. The Poetaster IV.iii.

shifting sisters: probably prostitutes, i.e., the "sisterhood" that shifts beds; cf. A Trick to Catch the Old One V.ii.

'cause: so that

[slanderers]: slanders (Q)

familiar: a spirit or demon appointed to serve a particular person; cf. The Witch I.ii.

[voyage]: viage (Q)

chirurgeon: surgeon (archaic)

umbles: physical constitution (literally, the edible innards of an animal, usually a deer)

stand to't stiffly: with the sexual innuendo

[make]: meke (Q)

their tricks in't: how they do it

[Yea]: Ye (Q)

Fillips: fillip = a stroke or tap given by bending the last joint of a finger against the thumb and suddenly releasing it; the pun, of course, is on "temple." Cf. Anything for a Quiet Life IV.ii.

Chick Lane: better known as Stinking Lane, just off Newgate Street to the east of Grayfriars Church (later Christchurch)

wide straddle: apparently a characteristic of the real Moll

entertainment: employment

cast off this: i.e., she will give Trapdoor the clothes she now wears as hand-me-downs; cf. Your Five Gallants IV.viii, Blurt, Master Constable II.ii, The Revenger's Tragedy V.i.

St. Thomas Apostle's: on Knightrider Street by Wringwren Lane, east of St. Paul's near College Hill


pruing: with the possible pun on "proo," to call an animal to stand (dial.)

kyes: cries

up and ride: a common phrase; cf. Blurt, Master Constable IV.i, The Family of Love I.ii.

What is't: whats ist (Q)

drugs: drudges

pounded: with the sexual innuendo

teeth waters: i.e., mouth waters; cf. 2 The Honest Whore IV.ii.

cookish: like a cook, i.e., hovering over, tending all the time

fool's head: with a pun on bauble, the ornament on the end of the wand carried by a jester, which often carried sexual innuendo, which certainly seems to be the case here

[sting]: sing (Q); cf. The Taming of the Shrew II.i.

[apron] husbands: aperne (Q); husbands who are tied to their wives' apron-strings

cotqueans: men who meddle with female affairs (Dyce)

milch-kine: milk-cows

scurvygrass: cruciferous plant which supposedly prevented scurvy; cf. No Wit, No Help like a Woman's I.ii.

Demophon was false to Phyllis: "Demophon, son of Theseus, en route back to Athens at the end of the Trojan War, met and married Phyllis, a Bisaltian princess. When he tired of her and announced his need to visit his mother in Athens, Phyllis knew he would not return though he swore by all the gods that he would be back within the year. On his departure, she gave him a casket containing a charm, with instructions to open it when he had abandoned all hope of returning to her. Instead of going to Athens, Demophon settled in Cyprus. At the end of a year, Phyllis committed suicide. In the same hour, Demophon was prompted to look in the casket. The contents (their nature undisclosed in the myth) maddened him. Galloping off insanely on his horse, he was thrown and impaled on his own sword" (Hoy, referencing Robert Graves, The Greek Myths). Gomme confuses this with another tale involving a Thracian princess named Phyllis at the time of the Trojan War.

Pan-da-rus was to Cres-sida: Dyce was first to observe that the hyphens probably indicate the difficulty with which Mistress Gallipot reads their names.

Aeneas made an ass of Dido: Returning from the Trojan War, Aeneas was shipwrecked in Carthage and with whom Dido, the queen, fell in love. He took advantage of her luxurious accommodations until Jupiter prompted him to leave in order to found Rome; at his departure, Dido killed herself.

die to thee: with the sexual innuendo

I know his threes too well: Mistress Gallipot may merely be making a comment on Laxton's handwriting, but this sounds like a laugh-line, probably bawdy; I haven't been able to discover any such significance, but it has been noted that Middleton, for one, had a penchant for things coming in threes.

adamants: magnets, lodestones

Hockley Hole: village that lay in the Fleet Valley northwest of Clerkenwell Green, not to be confused with Hockley-in-the Hole in Bedfordshire, mentioned in The Puritan IV.ii, Northward Ho! I.i.

made sure: contracted, betrothed

twelve months three times...silver bow: cf. 2 The Honest Whore V.ii, The Whore of Babylon I.i ("Five summers have scarce drawn their glimmering nights/Through the moon's silver bow...") & IV.ii.

sleight: contrivance; cf. Your Five Gallants II.iii, The Changeling IV.i.

God-so: an oath; cf. "catso," Blurt, Master Constable V.i.

turtles: turtle-doves, emblems of true love; cf. The Changeling III.iv.

sirrah: This form of address for servants was sometimes used for women.

sadness: seriousness

rubbers in a false alley: Rubbers, a singular form, was the third game after the players had each won one game in a match at bowls, a very popular sport often gambled upon. Aspects and terminology of the game were often used by playwrights, often with sexual overtones. Rubbing, a variation of rubbers, has obvious sexual overtones; cf. Love's Labours Lost IV.i. Alleys, or banks, were undulations in the open green which skilled bowlers used when rolling their bowls; here, the false alley is Openwork's supposed harlot. The bias was the impetus given to cause the bowl to run obliquely. For various allusions to bowls, cf. Blurt, Master Constable III.iii, If This Be Not a Good Play, the Devil Is in It II.i, Old Fortunatus IV.i, Troilus and Cressida III.ii, Satiromastix V.ii.

stale mutton: mutton was slang for strumpet, hence stale = overused, worn-out; cf. Your Five Gallants III.iii, A Chaste Maid in Cheapside I.i, II.i, IV.i, Blurt, Master Constable I.ii, No Wit, No Help Like a Woman's I.i, The Bloody Banquet II.i, 1 The Honest Whore II.i.

abroad: i.e., outside the house

rack and manger: i.e., his food; to live at rack and manger was to live in reckless abundance. Cf. Northward Ho! IV.iii.

saddle him in's kind: treat him as he should be treated, i.e., subdue him

ride our journey: with the innuendo of "enjoy our sexual pleasure"

amble: originally used only for horses; another in the series of sexual metaphors

'Ud's light: God's light, an oath; cf. IV.ii, "'Ud's soul"

glister: clyster, enema; cf. Dr. Glister in The Family of Love, A Trick to Catch the Old One V.ii, The Old Law III.ii, Anything for a Quiet Life IV.ii.

one of Hercules' labours: Hercules performed twelve nearly impossible tasks as penance for killing his wife and children in a fit of insanity.

pudding tobacco: tobacco compressed into rolls resembling pudding, or sausage, but Laxton's question seems to be a threat, probably implying that he is after Gallipot's pudding, or guts; cf. Satiromastix I.ii.

[precontract]: precontact (Q); a contract of marriage. Cf. A Trick to Catch the Old One IV.iv.

No wild fowl to cut up: Wild fowl is slang for whore; cf. Northward Ho! I.ii.

[lain]: lien (Q)

[now]: uow (Q)

Be-Lady: by our Lady, an oath (appears variously as berlady and byrlady; cf. A Trick to Catch the Old One IV.ii, The Puritan


bouncing ramp: bold, vulgar, ill-behaved woman or girl

oyster-wench: cf. Richard II I.iv.

As a barber's every Saturday night: alluding to barbers' reputation for gossip-mongering

in conjunction: in the same zodiacal sign (with the sexual innuendo); for more astrological metaphors, cf. No Wit, No Help like a Woman's

holes of her upper body: i.e., the eyelets of the bodice of her gown; cf. A Mad, World, My Masters III.iii.

placket: a short opening or vent at the top of a woman's petticoat or kirtle skirt, hence slang for vagina; cf. The Family of Love IV.ii, Anything for a Quiet Life II.ii.

standing collars: a high, straight collar fastened in front, like that worn by Moll on the title-page; cf. Northward Ho! II.i, If This Be Not a Good Play, the Devil Is in It III.iii.

Michaelmas Term: the first term in the legal year, when termers would have a lot of money; cf. Westward Ho! II.i, III.iii, IV.i.

tilting: encountering (cf. IV.ii for other meanings, although this usage has sexual innuendo as well)

them: the other knights

[Pox]: Foxe (Q)

Russian bear: Bears were imported from Russia for the bear-baitings, and they were known for their ferocity; cf. The Whore of Babylon II.i, Macbeth III.iv.

baggage: wanton; cf. A Chaste Maid in Cheapside I.i, Romeo and Juliet III.v, Pericles IV.ii, The Comedy of Errors III.i, The Merry Wives of Windsor IV.ii.

take up more: i.e., on credit

ningles: ingles, i.e., favorite boys, catamites; cf. Satiromastix I.ii.

horse-leeches: rapacious parasites; cf. A Fair Quarrel III.ii.

advise: advice

woodcock: a bird easily trapped and hence a dupe; cf. The Witch II.iii, The Family of Love II.iv, the character Woodcock in Blurt, Master Constable, No Wit, No Help like a Woman's III.i, Northward Ho! V.i.

counter: Counters (or compters) were debtors' prisons (in London were the Poultry Counter, in which Dekker himself was once imprisoned, and the Wood Street Counter); they were divided into four wards. The master's was for the richest and provided the best accommodations; then came the knight's, the twopenny, and finally, for the poorest, the Hole, a name which Middleton frequently takes advantage of for the bawdy pun. Cf. The Phoenix II.iii & IV.iii, A Chaste Maid in Cheapside V.iv, Your Five Gallants I.i, Michaelmas Term III.iv, A Trick to Catch the Old One IV.iii, The Puritan III.iv.

countertenor: for the same pun, cf. The Witch of Edmonton II.i.

bridled there: with a pun on Bridewell, a prison for prostitutes

Bedlam: St. Mary of Bethlehem Hospital, the lunatic asylum just outside London (for its location, consult the map in the notes for A Chaste Maid in Cheapside). Cf. The Changeling I.ii.

counter:/Why, 'tis an university!: Writers at this time frequently made this comparison (e.g., Middleton in The Phoenix and Michaelmas Term).

commence: earn a degree

be plac'd: beg plac't (Q)

Proceeds: advances to a higher degree

dispute: undergo a disputatio, or oral examination; cf. Middleton's parody in A Chaste Maid in Cheapside IV.i.

Lies by th' heels: is arrested and chained; cf. Anything for a Quiet Life V.i.

puttocks: buzzards; this is the name of the sergeant in The Puritan.

spirits: i.e., sergeants (looking ahead to Curtilax's line about conjuring); cf. Michaelmas Term III.iii.

muzzle-chops: nickname for a man with a prominent nose and mouth

blue coat: describing the uniform of serving-men; cf. A Trick to Catch the Old One II.i, No Wit, No Help like a Woman's IV.ii, The Shoemakers' Holiday V.ii.

honesty: a collective term for gentry, here used in the singular ironically

I conjure most in that circle: with the pun on the circle in which conjurers evoked spirits

toward: promising, hopeful

One pair of shears sure cut out both your coats: i.e., you are two of a kind; cf. Measure for Measure I.ii.

ware: merchandise (cf. No Wit, No Help like a Woman's I.iii); as Gomme notes, the image is not very precise, unless Sir Davy is thinking of the wares a peddler carries on his back, just as these officers are always on the backs of gentlemen.

great fish and little fish: proverbial; cf. Pericles II.i.

a sergeant cares but for the shoulder of a man: i.e., because he claps the man on his shoulder to signify his arrest; cf. Michaelmas Term III.iii, The Puritan III.iii, Satiromastix IV.ii, Westward Ho! V.iv.

Jews: Jews were often unkindly depicted or referred to in these terms in Elizabethan and Jacobean drama; the most notable examples are of course The Merchant of Venice and The Jew of Malta. Also cf. The Phoenix II.ii, Your Five Gallants IV.viii, The Family of Love I.iii.

[flay]: flea (Q)

Bartholomew Fair: London's annual jamboree and chief national cloth sale; it was opened by the Lord Mayor on St. Bartholomew's Eve (August 23) and lasted a fortnight. Cf., of course, Jonson's Bartholomew Fair.

Sa, sa: from the French "ça, ça" the exclamation of fencers when delivering a thrust, here used as a hunting cry; cf. King Lear, The Revenger's Tragedy V.i, Patient Grissil III.ii.

give the counter: "To hunt counter is to run a false scent, or follow it in reverse direction; so here, turn him back. There is doubtless a play on counter in the sense of prison" (Gomme).

mace: A sergeant's scepter or staff of office, with the pun on the spice; cf. A Mad World, My Masters III.ii, The Old Law V.i, Anything for a Quiet Life III.ii.

caudle: warm drink of gruel and ale or wine, often used medicinally; cf. Your Five Gallants IV.ii, The Witch II.iii, The Family of Love III.i, No Wit, No Help like a Woman's II.iii, The Puritan IV.iii.

double your files, traverse your ground: literally, make the ranks smaller by putting two files in one, and move from side to side; it doesn't make sense, but Sir Davy's enthusiasm outstrips his knowledge of military maneuvers.

and: and and (Q)

ambuscado: ambush

[nook] thou: uooke (Q); hide in that nook

wrangling: noisy, argumentative

ravens: Ravenshaw is a sergeant in The Puritan; also cf. Westward Ho! III.ii.

wind-shaken: weakened by the force of the wind, here a metaphor for having been weakened by debts and ill-luck

men-midwives: cf. The Whore of Babylon II.i.

Peeping?: The officers are peeking into the tavern to see when Jack Dapper will come out.

two infected maltmen: "Presumably the cloaks would hide the visible signs of an infection (but 'infected' could mean tainted with crime). I do not know why maltmen...should be picked on.... Maltmen appear in several proverbs, none of which seems to tell on the present context" (Gomme). Cf. No Wit, No Help like a Woman's III.i.

course: a pursuit with hounds, a hunting term

buckler: a small, round shield; cf. The Phoenix II.iii, The Changeling I.ii, Much Ado about Nothing V.ii.

dry-beat: cf. The Shoemakers' Holiday I.iv.

a butcher dry-beat him with a cudgel: As Mulholland conjectures, an allusion to fray in February 1611 involving two butchers, Ralph Brewin of St. Clement's Eastcheap and John Lynsey of St. Andrew's Undershaft, accused on assaulting gentlemen patrons of The Fortune.

[MOLL]/Honest sergeant--/[TRAPDOOR]: In Q, the s.p. is Both, and the word "sergeant" is "Seriant" uncorrected, "Serieant" corrected. Gomme follows Dyce and Bullen, and maintains the dual s.p. while emending to "servant". On the other hand, Bowers prefers "sir", believing Gull would not be addressed before his master, and that the compositor mistakenly expanded the abbreviation "Sr". However, I tend to think the Q reading is correct, and that Moll's and Trapdoor's lines were fused to convey the fact that they are acting in tandem and are speaking almost simultaneously. Splitting the s.p. somewhat clarifies the action and helps a reader visualize the trick: Moll accosts and in some way "hangs upon" Curtilax (as he puts it) in order to expose him and divert his attention, leaving it to Trapdoor to sound the alarm, thus allowing Jack and Gull to escape. (Cf. similar "rescue" in The Phoenix IV.iii, where a reveler physically prevents an arrest by feigning a jest.)

rescue: the taking of a person or goods out of custody by force; cf. 1 The Honest Whore IV.iii, Coriolanus III.i.

Shoe Lane: the lane that ran south from Holborn Street to Fleet Street; it paralleled the Fleet Ditch to the east

scriveners' bands: i.e., in debt; Middleton especially took a very dim of scriveners (i.e., notaries, those who draw up contracts and bonds of debt): cf. A Trick to Catch the Old One I.iii, The Family of Love III.i, The Phoenix II.ii, A Yorkshire Tragedy i, The Revenger's Tragedy I.iii.


German watch: renowned for their complexity and craftsmanship; cf. A Mad World, My Masters IV.i, Love's Labours Lost III.i.

hundred marks in yellow links: his chain of office as magistrate; cf. A Mad World, My Masters V.i & V.ii.

headboroughs: parish officers whose functions are identical to those of petty constables'; cf., e.g., Verges in Much Ado about Nothing, The Changeling I.ii.

court cupboard: a sideboard with three shelves and elaborately carved legs

closely: secretly

lets: prevents

[glisterings]: gilsterings (Q)

mysteries: skill, art (obs.), cf. All's Well that Ends Well, Ford and Dekker's The Sun's Darling IV.i; Dyce suggests emending to "miseries".

to choose: for choice

[father's]: fathets (Q)

I pitied her for name's sake: Moll was traditionally the name of a "low" woman; cf. A Yorkshire Tragedy i, the lascivious Moll Plus in The Puritan, and Moll Yellowhammer (ironically named because she is virtuous) in A Chaste Maid in Cheapside.

lays: wagers; cf. The Revenger's Tragedy V.i, The Changeling III.iii.

ring-doves: like turtle-doves (III.iii), emblematic of true love; cf. A Game at Chess IV.iv.

fury: with a pun on fury in the sense of musical inspiration

Like a swan above bridge: Bullen notes that "the Thames abounded with swans at this date." There is a pun on the piece of wood over which the strings of the viol are stretched.

close: secretive

call the viol an unmannerly instrument for a woman: viol de gambo, a six-stringed violin which was gripped between the player's thighs, with the sexual innuendo reinforced by the sexual pun on "instrument"; cf. A Trick to Catch the Old One I.i, Your Five Gallants II.i.

Burse: The Royal Exchange, built by Sir Thomas Gresham in 1566-68; it had many shops and was famous for its silks and draperies. Cf. A Chaste Maid in Cheapside I.ii ("Gresham's Burse"), Anything for a Quiet Life I.i, Westward Ho! II.i.

Saint Kathern's: the dockside district of London's East End, which had a notorious reputation; cf. The Devil is an Ass I.i, The Alchemist V.iii.

Fleet: the Fleet prison

hoise up sails: cf. 2 The Honest Whore IV.ii, Patient Grissil III.i, If This Be Not a Good Play, the Devil Is in It II.i.

tails: 1) cant term for the sexual organs and, by extension, lascivious people, 2) pun on tales

cousin-germans: first cousins; cf. The Old Law II.i, Blurt, Master Constable I.ii.

many a younger brother...wriggle in and out: "Suggestive of a variation on that type of cony-catching known as 'The curbing law' (whereby a thief angles with a hooked rod through an open window for valuables that he has previously spotted)" (Hoy).

eel in a sandbag: Gomme glosses as "a proverbial phrase used of things languishing for want of proper sustenance" (as Cynthia's Revels II.v), but this doesn't seem to fit the context.

ballets: i.e., ballads commemorating the condemned

brokers/Would be chosen for hangmen: It was customary for hangmen to receive the clothes of their victims; cf. The Devil Is an Ass I.i.

wardropes: wardrobes

No poison, sir, but serves us for some use: cf. The Changeling II.ii, "The ugliest creature/Creation fram'd for some use."

Foot: by God's foot, an oath (elsewhere "'Sfoot"); cf. The Phoenix I.ii, A Yorkshire Tragedy ix, Blurt, Master Constable I.i, The Bloody Banquet I.iv, The Revenger's Tragedy I.iii.

sight: sigh

plunge: stress, straits, i.e., into a dilemma

Puts down: 1) surpasses, 2) overthrows, which Sir Alexander interprets as doing so by means of venereal disease

And will do still; he'll ne'er be in other tale: he'll always be wanting the full payment, i.e., nobody will pay him if doesn't extend credit

Clifford's Inn: the oldest of the Inns of Chancery, next to St. Dunstan's in the West on Fleet Street

You teach to sing too?: with the sexual innuendo; cf. A Chaste Maid in Cheapside II.i, Troilus and Cressida V.ii.

prick-song: a pricked song is music written down, with the sexual innuendo; cf. Women Beware Women III.ii, The Phoenix I.ii, Your Five Gallants II.i, Romeo and Juliet II.iv, The Witch III.ii, Match Me in London IV.ii.

lesson: musical exercise or composition written for use in teaching

mend: surpass

angels mark'd with holes in them: Small holes are drilled in the shillings for means of identification; evidently Sir Alexander means to have Moll arrested later for stealing them.


fish: slang for loose women or the female genitals

roses: Large silk roses on shoes became fashionable at the end of the 16th century; Moll wears them in the title-page illustration. Cf. Webster's The White Devil V.iii, Chapman's Caesar and Pompey II.i.

Bunhill: A street in London near Moorfields; on its east side were the artillery fields, used for archery practice. Bullen notes that in September 1623, Middleton received twenty marks "for his service at the shooting on Bunhill, and at the Conduit Head before the Lord Mayor and Aldermen."

fline: flown

Pimlico: The part of Hoxton from the corner of St. John's Road and New North Road to Hoxton Street, which was called Pimlico Walk; it was a place of resort and famous for fresh cakes and ale. The name was later transferred to the area between the Thames and St. James's Park. Cf. The Alchemist V.ii.

double: be duplicitous, evasive; cf. No Wit, No Help like a Woman's II.i.

shag-ruff band...set in a cramp-ring: "One of a number of ingenious depictions of the Jacobean gallant's head precisely fixed in the centre of a stiffly elaborate ruff" (Hoy). Cramp-rings were rings that supposed protected the wearer from the cramp and epilepsy; they were hallowed by the king or queen every year on Good Friday. Cf. The Alchemist IV.iii, The White Devil III.i.

tilt: an awning over a boat

punk: whore; cf. Your Five Gallants I.i, A Trick to Catch the Old One I.ii, Blurt, Master Constable III.i.

incontinently: 1) immediately, 2) with an insatiable sexual appetite; cf. Blurt, Master Constable II.ii, The Old Law V.i, Satiromastix III.i.

poking my ruff: poking-sticks (or poting-sticks) were steel sticks used to set the plaits of the ruff; cf. Blurt, Master Constable III.iii, A Yorkshire Tragedy i, 1 The Honest Whore II.i.

hit I him i' the teeth: I reproached him; cf. A Fair Quarrel II.ii, Satiromastix I.ii.

rest: a wood pole with an iron spike on one end driven into the ground, and a semicircular piece of iron on the other which supported the musket when firing

whisking: moving actively, brisk, lively

running: flighty

purse-nets: a bag-shaped net, the mouth of which can be drawn together with cords, used especially for catching rabbits or fish; cf. Pursenet the pickpocketing gallant in Your Five Gallants, 2 The Honest Whore IV.ii.

[MISTRESS GALLIPOT/ ]: A line of Mistress Gallipot's seems to have dropped out, for Mistress Openwork has two consecutive speeches. "Then they hang the head" appears at the top of the page, with the s.p. appearing as the catchphrase at the bottom of the previous page. The sequence of dialogue doesn't necessitate a line between the two speeches (i.e., Mistress Openwork's second speech can follow the first without any disruption in sense), but another line could easily be inserted. Three copies of (Q) were reset, resulting in accidentals such as "Then they hang head": Bowers conjectures that the printer realized Mistress Gallipot's was missing, unlocked the frame, found it could not be inserted, and the reset the type carelessly.

hang the head...droop: with the sexual innuendo

cog: wheedle, fawn, employ feigned flattery; cf. The Merry Wives of Windsor III.iii, Westward Ho! II.i.

ingle: 1) fondle, caress, or 2) wheedle, cajole (as in Blurt, Master Constable II.ii)

riven: broken, split

frump'd: mocked, insulted

how shall I find water to keep these two mills going?: a pun on water = semen; cf. A Chaste Maid in Cheapside II.ii

clapp'd under hatches: kept below deck, with the pun clap = clip, i.e., embrace

all split: to make all split = to wreak havoc; cf. The Witch II.ii, A Chaste Maid in Cheapside IV.ii, A Midsummer Night's Dream I.ii.

cork heels: Chopines had cork soles and high cork heels, and were often associated with wantonness; cf. A Chaste Maid in Cheapside III.ii, The Changeling III.iii & V.iii, Much Ado about Nothing V.iv, The Revenger's Tragedy I.ii, 2 The Honest Whore III.i.

gudgeons: small, easily-caught fish, therefore fools; cf. the character Gudgeon in The Family of Love, A Chaste Maid in Cheapside IV.ii, The Bloody Banquet II.i, Northward Ho! I.ii, Match Me in London V.ii.

false faces: At one time fashionable only among the upper classes, the wearing of masks to conceal a woman's identity had worked its way down the social scale; by Restoration times, it was mostly identified with prostitution. Cf. The Phoenix I.v.

you'll eat of a cod's head of your own dressing: i.e., you'll catch yourself in your own net (cod's head = fool), but also with sexual innuendo. Cf. Blurt, Master Constable II.ii, 2 The Honest Whore V.ii.

gib: cat, a term of reproach, especially for an old woman

Your worst: Gomme emends to "you're worsted", i.e., you're blemished, but the Q reading can stand as an abbreviation for "Do your worst," as Mistress Gallipot says later this scene.

music of the spheres: in Ptolemaic astronomy, crystal spheres revolved between earth and God's throne, a frequently occurring image; cf., e.g., The Revenger's Tragedy II.i.

get you a-mumming: literally, a command to don a mask and take part in a mummers' play, but Mistress Openwork is telling him to be quiet (pun on mum)

Pass by their privilege current: i.e., most people, believing the wearer to be beautiful beneath the mask, show her respect; as Gomme notes, however, the prostitutes who wore masks did not always pass current, as in Northward Ho! I.ii, 2 The Honest Whore IV.i.

Dam: dambe (Q); both "dam" and "damn" fit the context, and the pun is probably intentional, but the OED records "dambe" as an erroneous form only of "dam."

beldam: witch

[sprites]: spirits (Q), emended for the rhyme

[them]: then (Q)

as shopkeepers do their broid'red stuff: a popular charge against tradesmen of keeping the light low to disguise shoddy merchandise; cf. the draper Quomodo (whose henchmen are Falselight and Shortyard) in Michaelmas Term, The Duchess of Malfi I.i, Anything for a Quiet Life II.ii. Hoy suggests emending to "braided", i.e., goods that have changed color, or faded.

two flags were advanc'd: an allusion to the raising of flags at theaters to announce performances; cf. The Whore of Babylon IV.i.


Westward Ho: the cry of the Thames watermen, but obviously a direct reference to Dekker's and Webster's 1604 comedy, which features citizens' wives and their gallants on a journey westward to Brainford; also cf. Twelfth Night III.i.

toss/Me in a blanket: Blanketing, or tossing in a blanket, was a form of punishment, the offender being tossed in the air by blanket held by those below. There is the innuendo of love-making in a blanket, as Openwork links baboon, a term of abuse, with its proverbially lascivious nature. Cf. The Bloody Banquet III.i, Satiromastix IV.iii.

stale: a lover or mistress whose devotion is turned into ridicule for the amusement of rivals

reversion: 1) legal term for the right of succession after death or the expiration of a grant, 2) leftovers of a meal; cf. The Old Law II.ii, The Changeling IV.iii.

Cold Harbour: Also called Cole Harbour, a mansion by the Thames on Upper Thames Street, later tenements where debtors and vagabonds found sanctuary from the law (a cole = a cheat, sharper); it burned down in the Great Fire of 1666. Cf. A Trick to Catch the Old One II.i, III.i, IV.i, Anything for a Quiet Life II.iii (illustration), Westward Ho! IV.ii.


western [pug]: png (Q). 1) pug = harlot, 2) western pug = navigators of barges down the Thames from places like Brentford to London; cf. Westward Ho! II.ii.

tilted: 1) jousted, with the sexual innuendo, 2) pitched in the boat on the waves, with the sexual innuendo; cf. III.iii, 1 Henry IV II.iii.

run atilt: engage in a joust

OPENWORK: Mis. Open. (Q)

I'll ride to Oxford...brazen head speak: At Oxford, Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay spent seven years constructing a brass head in order to ask it if it was possible to build a brass wall around England. Unfortunately, the head was left unattended when it came time for the head to speak. The story would have been familiar from The Famous History of Friar Bacon (earliest extant copy dated 1627, but prob. c. 1550), and from Greene's Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay (1594), the prologue and epilogue of which Middleton wrote in 1602.

text letters: large or capital letters; cf. If This Be Not a Good Play, the Devil Is in It I.ii, The Whore of Babylon V.ii.

turn'd it all to poison: It was believed that every spider was poisonous, but only if the victim knew it was there; cf. No Wit, No Help like a Woman's II.i, The Winter's Tale II.i.

OPENWORK: Mist. Open. (Q)

[counterfeit]: counterfet (Q)

chore: core, here, the core of the apple from the garden of Eden

rub: another allusion the game of bowls, where rub = an obstacle by which a bowl is hindered in its proper course: cf. No Wit, No Help like a Woman's I.i & II.iii, The Revenger's Tragedy III.v, The Shoemakers' Holiday V.iv, Richard II III.iv, Hamlet III.i, Henry VIII II.i, and Henry V II.ii, V.ii.

deal upon: 1) set to work upon, 2) have sexual intercourse with

sumner: summoner, a petty officer who notified people when they were to appear in court; cf. A Trick to Catch the Old One II.i, Anything for a Quiet Life I.i.

aloof off: cf. s.d.'s for Michaelmas Term I.i, III.i, No Wit, No Help like a Woman's IV.i.

snaffling: snuffling (var.); Greenwit is pretending to have a cold in order to disguise his voice.

Rose Tavern: There were many London taverns bearing this name. Hoy and Gomme think that the one near Temple Bar at the corner of Thanet Place, frequented by lawyers, is the most attractive candidate. Another Rose Tavern stood on Holborn Hill, from which coaches departed for Brentford.

Crastino sancti Dunstani: the morrow after St. Dunstan's Day (19 May)

Bow Church: St. Mary's le Bow (Sancta Maria de Arcubus) on the corner of Bread Street in West Cheap, the original site of the Court of Arches, the chief court of the Archbishops of Canterbury; cf. A Chaste Maid in Cheapside I.i.

libel: the plaintiff's charges

fagary: vagary; cf. Satiromastix IV.ii.

tawny-coat: the traditional dress of a summoner; cf. Patient Grissil IV.iii.

I must lose my hair in their company: with the jest that he has syphilis, which causes the hair to fall out; cf., A Midsummer Night's Dream I.ii, The Revenger's Tragedy I.i, The Bloody Banquet II.iii, A Trick to Catch the Old One IV.v, Westward Ho! V.iv, 1 The Honest Whore II.ii.

in the nose: The advanced stages of syphilis involved the disintegration of cartilage and tissue, and the disfigurement of the nose was an obvious sign; cf. No Wit, No Help like a Woman's IV.ii.

a knack to know an honest man: An anonymous play by this title was mentioned by Henslowe as being a new piece on 22 October 1594, between which date and 3 November 1596 twenty-one performances by the Admiral's Men at the Rose on the Bankside are recorded; it was printed in 1596. This and "a knack to know a knave" were proverbial.

A very clean shift,/But able to make me lousy: with the pun on shift = piece of clothing and lousy = lice-ridden

[Gelt]: Get (Q). This seems to be the best emendation, = gold (from geld, i.e., money)

Irish: a dice game resembling backgammon

when she comes to bearing: 1) in Irish and backgammon, the removal of a piece at the end of a game, 2) child-bearing; cf. Northward Ho! IV.i.


perspicuous: clear in statement

Meg of Westminster: There was another Moll, much like Moll Frith, whose exploits are told in The Life and Pranks of Long Meg of Westminster (1582); cf. Satiromastix III.i, Jonson's The Fortunate Isles.

forlorn hope: Originally, a chosen body of fighters detached to the front to begin the attack, or skirmishers, it came to mean figuratively those in a desperate condition.

mittimus: a writ for the receiving and keeping of a criminal; cf. The Phoenix V.i, The Old Law V.i.

Newgate: One of the six gates of ancient London and a chief prison, demolished in 1767; see the illustration above. Cf. A Chaste Maid in Cheapside II.ii, Your Five Gallants III.v, Anything for a Quiet Life III.ii, The Puritan I.iii.

firework to run upon a line: for an illustration, cf. "firedrake" (a firecracker) in The Witch I.i; also cf. Your Five Gallants III.ii, The Whore of Babylon III.i.

linstock: a stick approximately three feet long used to hold matches for igniting a cannon; cf. Blurt, Master Constable II.ii.

captain of the galley-foist: a term of contempt. A galley-foist was a large barge with oars, used specifically as the one that transported the Lord Mayor to Westminster to take his oath; cf. 2 The Honest Whore IV.iii.

shovel-board shilling: a highly-polished shilling used in the game of shovel-board, a game resembling the modern shuffleboard; cf. The Merry Wives of Windsor I.i, Every Man in His Humour III.v.

whistled the poor little buzzard off: a term from falconry, meaning to dismiss by whistling; cf. Othello III.iii.

boot-halers: freebooters, marauders, highwaymen

boon voyage: an anglicizing of bon voyage

nappy: heady, intoxicated

ging: company, crew

world's end: There were apparently many taverns of this name within and (more appropriately) far outside London.

cow-heel: a cow's foot stewed to a jelly

Alla corago: from coraggio (Ital., courage); cf. All's Well that End's Well II.v, The Tempest V.i.

siege of Belgrade: The Hungarians lost Belgrade to the Turks in 1521.

Moldavians, Walachians, and Transylvanians: inhabitants of three of the Balkan provinces in modern Rumania

Sclavonians: a general name for the Slavic people; cf. A Fair Quarrel IV.i.

from Venice to Roma...diverse others: "An amble indeed: Vecchio is presumably Civitavecchia, Bononia and Bolonia are one and the same, the modern Bologna, Romania is Romogna, Valteria Volterra, Mountepulchena Montepulciano. Moll recognizes that this is not proper journey but a string of names picked up at hearsay" (Gomme).

butter-box: The Dutch were stereotyped as being overfond of butter, and therefore fat; cf. No Wit, No Help like a Woman's I.iii, The Shoemakers' Holiday I.iv.

ruffling: swaggering

Ick, mine here...mine here: Gomme provides a translation, although "a 'translation' must be a matter partly of guesswork, but it isn't entirely gibberish, though some words are hard to identify. (I have supposed that, since Tearcat goes once into Spanish, he may also include an attempt at a French word: it looks as if Beasa may be baiser.) 'I, sir? I am the ruffling Tearcat, the brave soldier, I have traveled through all Holland: the rascal who gave more [than] a kiss and a word. I beat him with blows on the head; pulled out thence a hundred thousand devils, cheerfully, sir'."

jobbering: jabbering

Not a cross: i.e., not a penny; coins were frequently stamped with a cross on the reverse. Cf. Blurt, Master Constable II.i, The Family of Love I.ii. Sir Beauteous is trying to get rid of them by offering them money.

skeldering: sponging, used especially for vagabonds posing as soldiers; cf. Satiromastix I.ii, the character Shift in Every Man out of His Humour.

glaziers: eyes

black patches: black patches were fashionable, and often hid blemishes such as rheum and scabs; cf. Blurt, Master Constable III.iii, Anything for a Quiet Life IV.ii.

Isle of Dogs: a peninsula in the Thames between Limehouse, Greenwich, and Blackwall Reaches, so named because it was said the king's hounds were kept there; it was a place of refuge from creditors and the law, which led to frequent jokes. The lost play The Isle of Dogs by Jonson and Nashe led to the theaters being closed for two months. Cf. Satiromastix IV.i.

whip-jack: A "sort of nimble-fing'red knaves...who talk of nothing but fights at sea, piracies, drownings and shipwracks, travelling both in the shapes and names of mariners, with a counterfeit license to beg from town to town.... The end of their land voyage is to rob booths at fairs.... These whip-jacks will talk of the Indies and of all countries that lie under heaven, but are indeed no more but fresh-water soldiers" (The Bellman of London).

horners: 1) workers in horn (i.e., the animal's horn is the raw material), 2) cuckolds (obs.)

horns for the thumb: case or thimble of horn which the cutpurse wore when using a knife to cut the strings of a purse; thieves came to be known as horn-thumbs.

nipping: cutting a purse

maunderer: beggar

pad: road

out at elbows: have a coat worn out at the elbows, to be ragged, poor, in bad condition

cant: "It was necessary that a people, so fast increasing and so daily practicing new and strange villainies, should borrow to themselves a speech which, so near as thy could, none but themselves could understand; and for that cause was this language, which some call pedlar's French, invented.... This word canting seems to be derived from the Latin verb canto, which signifies in English to sing, or to make a sound with words, that's to say, speak. And very aptly may canting take his derivation a cantando, from singing, because amongst these beggarly consorts that can play upon no better instruments, the language of canting is a kind of music, and he that in such assemblies can cant best is counted the best musician" (Lanthorn and Candlelight). Some canting phrases have already been glossed above; Gomme provides an excellent glossary, culled from works of Dekker and others featuring canters' dictionaries.

upright man: The highest "office" in the thieves' hierarchy; after him comes the ruffler, the angler, the rogue, and finally the wild rogue.

doxy: whore

Halt not: do not limp, i.e., be roundabout

by the salomon: by the Mass, an oath

kinchin mort in her slate at her back: "Kinchin morts are girls of a year or two old, which the morts, their mothers, carry at their backs in the slates, which in the canting tongue are sheets" (The Bellman of London).

dell: "A dell is a young wench...but as yet not spoiled of her maidenhead.... These dells are reserved as dishes for the upright men, for none but they must have the first taste of them" (The Bellman of London). A wild dell was one born or begotten under a hedge.

darkmans: night

strommel: straw

ben: good

[booze]: bouse (Q)

gruntling cheat, a cackling cheat, and a quacking cheat: "By joining of two simples do they make almost all their compounds. As for example, head, and nab-cheat is a hat or a cap, which word cheat being coupled to other words stands in very good stead and does excellent service" (Lanthorn and Candlelight). Trapdoor therefore refers to a pig, a cock or capon, and a duck.

old: fine, rare

ken: house. Like "cheat," this word is often used in combination with other cant, e.g., a boozing ken is an alehouse, and a few lines later a lib ken is a "sleep-house" or lodging, and a stalling (or stuling) ken is a house for receiving stolen goods.

queer cuffin: "The word cove or cofe or cuffin signifies a man, a fellow, etc., but differs something in his property according as it meets with other words, for a gentleman is called a gentry cove or cofe, a good fellow is a ben cofe, a churl is called a queer cuffin...and in canting they term a Justice of the Peace (because he punisheth them, belike) by no other name than by queer cuffin, that's to say a churl or a naughty man" (Lanthorn and Candlelight).

heave: rob

mill: rob

bung: purse

couch a hogshead: lie down asleep

ruffmans: woods or bushes

wap: have sexual intercourse

niggle: have sexual intercourse

Cut benar whids: speak good words

fambles: hands

stamps: legs

fadoodling: apparently Trapdoor's invention; the earliest OED entry is 1670 (= something ridiculous)

fit: strain

gage: quart pot

rom-booze: wine

Romville: London

caster: cloak

Peck: meat

pannam: bread

[lap]: butter; lay (Q)

popler: porridge

deuse a [vill]: the country; vile (Q)

[MOLL, TEARCAT]: Tearcat's name appears as a s.p. at both the third and tenth lines, and the s.d. The song appears in the right-hand margin at the sixth; like Gomme, I think it is reasonable to assume they join in a chorus here, as well as the last two lines.

lightmans: day

hartmans: stocks

scour the queer cramp-ring: to wear fetters (a jocular use of cramp-ring: cf. IV.ii)

palliard: beggar

docked: lay with

skew: cup

Avast: away

bing: go

Romford market: Romford, twelve miles northeast of London in Essex, famous for its hog market; cf. A Chaste Maid in Cheapside IV.i.

stall'd: made, ordained

trine: hang

cheats: gallows

I prae, sequor: go before, I follow

gallant: finely dressed

wand: switch for urging a horse on; cf. The Witch II.iii.

strike: Their cant here is best explained by this passage from The Bellman of London, some of which is covered in Moll's explanation below: "This figging law, like the body of some monstrous and terrible beast, stands upon ten feet, or rather lifts up proudly ten dragon-like heads, the names of which are these, viz.:
He that cuts the purse is called the nip.
He that is half with him is the snap, or the cloyer.
The knife is called a cuttle-bung.
He that picks the pocket is called a foist.
He that faceth the man is the stale.
The taking of the purse is called drawing.
The spying of this villain is called smoking or boiling.
The purse is the bung.
The money the shells.
The act doing is called striking."

Shadow: follow closely

cheaping: asking the price of, bargaining for

caduceus: Strictly defined, the wand carried by an ancient Greek or Roman herald: one was carried by Mercury, the messenger of the gods. Although it sounds as Moll is referring to a rod on which the goldsmith kept his rings in the marketplace, Mercury was also the god of thieves (cf. the inscription in the title-page of the 1662 prose tract above), and this stick may be similar to a curber's hook (cf. IV.i). Cf. Troilus and Cressida II.iii.

ken: know

[trust]: rrust (Q)

last new play i' the Swan: Further evidence for the 1611 date of composition. The Swan produced no new plays from 1597/8 to 1611, featuring acrobatic performances and sports contests instead. The Swan was used exclusively as a theater from 1611 to 1615; A Chaste Maid in Cheapside was performed there in 1613. It was located in the Paris Garden, Southwark, at the western end of the Bankside, west of Hopton Street (click here for a map: the Swan is on the left, the Globe on the right). Illustration: the famous 'de Witt sketch' by Arend van Buchel, after a drawing by his friend Johannes de Witt, who had visited the Swan Theater around 1596. This is the only contemporary picture of the interior of an Elizabethan playhouse.

Make it good: Returning property stolen by cutpurses was evidently a custom of Mary Frith's.

synagogue: meeting-house of thieves where stolen money and goods are accounted for and divided, officers elected, etc.

Pacus palabros: from pocas palabras (Spanish, few words); cf. The Taming of the Shrew Induc., The Spanish Tragedy III.xiv.

In younger days: Moll Frith would have been about 26 in 1611.

cheaters: "The cheating law, or the art of winning money by false dice. Those that practise this study call themselves cheaters, the dice cheaters, and the money which they purchase cheats" (The Bellman of London). Cf. 1 The Honest Whore IV.ii.

lifters: The lifting law "teacheth a kind of lifting of goods clean away. The such liftings are three sorts of levers used to get up the baggage, viz.:
He that first stealeth the parcel is called the lift.
The that receives it is the marker.
He that stands without and carries it away is called the santar" (The Bellman of London).

puggards: thieves; cf. The Winter's Tale IV.iii.

curbers: Those who hook goods out of a window (cf. IV.i)

black guard: cf. Westward Ho! III.iii.

some Italian pander: In further support of a 1611 composition date, Mulholland ties this observation to the Crudities of Thomas Coryate (?1577-1617), entered in the Stationers' Register on 26 November 1610 and printed in 1611. The interesting link is that Prince Henry, who financed its publication, was also the patron of the company at the Fortune Theater; Mulholland suggests that this allusion could be either "a token of support for the beleaguered Coryate" or "a form of advertisement."

quick: lively

tickling: pleasing, amusing, with the pun on making an arrest, or whipping; cf. Your Five Gallants IV.viii, Blurt, Master Constable I.ii, passim, Anything for a Quiet Life III.ii.


close: secretly

the Sluice: an embankment on the Thames built to protect the low-lying district of Lambeth Marsh from flooding, with a possible pun of sluice = to have sexual intercourse with

Lambeth: notorious for thieves; cf. Westward Ho! IV.i.

six wet towns: possibly the riverside towns of Fulham, Richmond, Kingston, Hampton, Chertsey, and Staines

where fares lie soaking: i.e., where travelers lie soaking wet, with the sexual innuendo

Blackfriars: cf. A Chaste Maid in Cheapside for a map showing the Blackfriars stairs.

[has]: had (Q)

gaskin-bride: a bride who wears gaskins, a particular kind of breeches or hose; cf. The Puritan III.iii.

rak'd up: i.e., smothered

culverin: a large cannon, ten to thirteen feet long; cf. Patient Grissil IV.iii, The Noble Spanish Soldier II.i.

[SIR ALEXANDER]: Fitz-All. (Q)

He does it well: Indicating that Greenwit and Goshawk know about Fitzallard's plot?

For your speeches...rashness: i.e., though I foresee that you will tax me for rashness

engage: wager

his: i.e., Sir Alexander's

upon her: i.e., Moll

matches: wagers

In that refusal: i.e., of Moll

Of an old knight: in the manner of an old knight

monthly: like a lunatic, who supposedly were made mad by Luna, the moon; cf. The Witch IV.i, The Phoenix IV.i ("privileg'd by the moon"), The Changeling III.iii.

smock-dowry: with no dowry but her smock; cf. A Trick to Catch the Old One IV.iv, A Chaste Maid in Cheapside III.iii.

unmark'd: unnoticed, of no account

work upon advantage: take advantage of my position; cf. A Fair Quarrel III.iii.

citizens and their wives: In the d.p. in (Q), Tiltyard, Openwork, and Gallipot are bracketed with the Latin cives et uxores to the right.

challenge: be the equivalent of, rival

sped: 1) provided, 2) sexually fertile

simple: pure, disinterested

[Cheaters]: Cheates (Q)

booted but not coach'd: Gomme offers various explanations for this line; the best sense seems to me to be that those who cheat at dice will be rich or respectable enough to be well-shod but not enough to ride in coaches.

Vessels: maidenheads

before [thee]: done to thee; hee (Q)

pursue: seek

cuck: put on the cucking stool

[gentlewomen]: gentlewoman (Q); the following line calls for the plural: Moll is addressing the citizens' wives.

beams: sunbeams


hit her o'er: directed criticism toward

book: Believed by R. C. Bald to be Martin Mark-All, Beadle of Bridewell: His Defence and Answer to the Bellman of London, a pamphlet of 1610, now lost. Its author, one S. R., and Dekker exchanged hostilities in print, stemming from S. R.'s deriding Dekker's attempts at rogue literature and questioning his knowledge of thieves' cant.

humourous: full of humours or fancies, whimsical

The Roaring Girl...recompense: That this passage refers specifically to Moll Frith herself has been much discussed; it was certainly within her character, although, as Gomme suggests, it could refer to the actor playing Moll who was to appear at the Fortune in another play.

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Last modified: June 12, 1998
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