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A monologue from the play by Thomas Middleton
NOTE: This monologue is reprinted from Your Five Gallants. Thomas Middleton. London: Richard Bonian, 1608.
Now, with a covetous and long-thirsting eye,
Let me behold my purchase,
And try the soundness of my bones with laughter.
How? Is not this the chain of pearl I gave
To that perjured harlot? ’tis, ‘sfoot, ’tis,
The very chain!–O damnèd mistress!–Ha!
And this the purse which, not five days before,
I sent her fill’d with fair spur-royals? Heart,
The very gold! ‘Slife, is this no robbery?
How many oaths flew toward heaven,
Which ne’er came half-way thither, but, like fire-drakes,
Mounted a little, gave a crack, and fell:
Feign’d oaths bound up to sink more deep to hell.
What folded paper’s this? death, ’tis her hand!
[Reads.] Master Tailby, you know with what affection I love you. You do? I count the world but as my prey to maintain you. The more dissembling jade you, I must tell you.
I have sent you an embroidered purse here with fifty fair spur-royals in’t. A pox on you for your labor, wench! And I desire you of all loves to keep that chain of pearl from Master Pursenet’s sight.
He cannot, strumpet; I behold it now, unto my secret torture. So fare thee well, but be constant and want nothing–as long as I ha’t, i’faith! methinks it should have gone so.
Well, what a horrible age do we live in, that a man cannot have a jade to himself! Let him but turn his back, the best of her is chipped away like a court loaf, that when a man comes himself, has nothing but bombast;
and these are two simple chippings here. Does my boy pick and I steal to enrich myself, to keep her, to maintain him? Why, this is right the sequence of the world. A lord maintains her,
she maintains a knight, he maintains a wh*re, she maintains a captain. So in like manner the pocket keeps my boy, he keeps me, I keep her, she keeps him; it runs like quicksilver from one to another.
‘Sfoot, I perceive I have been the chief upholder of this gallant all this while: it appears true, we that pay dearest for our pasture are ever likely worse used. ‘Sfoot, he has a nag can run for nothing,
has his choice, nay, and gets by the running of her. O fine world, strange devils, and pretty damnable affections!