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A monologue from the play by Thomas Middleton and Thomas Dekker
To teach thy base thoughts manners: th’art one of those
That thinks each woman thy fond, flexible wh*re
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 wh*redom 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.