’Tis Pity She’s a Whore, by John Ford



Friar Bonaventura’s Cell.

Enter Friar and Giovanni.

Friar. Dispute no more in this; for know, young man,
These are no school points; nice philosophy
May tolerate unlikely arguments,
But Heaven admits no jest: wits that presumed
On wit too much, by striving how to prove
There was no God, with foolish grounds of art,
Discover’d first the nearest way to hell;
And fill’d the world with devilish atheism.
Such questions, youth, are fond:4 far better ’tis5
To bless the sun, than reason why it shines;
Yet He thou talk’st of, is above the sun. —
No more! I may not hear it.

Giovanni. Gentle father,
To you I have unclasp’d my burden’d soul,
Emptied the storehouse of my thoughts and heart,
Made myself poor of secrets; have not left
Another word untold, which hath not spoke
All what I ever durst, or think, or know;
And yet is here the comfort I shall have?
Must I not do what all men else may — love?

Friar. Yes, you may love, fair son.

Giovanni. Must I not praise
That beauty, which, if fram’d anew, the gods
Would make a god of, if they had it there;
And kneel to it, as I do kneel to them?

Friar. Why, foolish madman! —

Giovanni. Shall a peevish6 sound,
A customary form, from man to man,
Of brother and of sister, be a bar
’Twixt my perpetual happiness and me?
Say that we had one father, say one womb
(Curse to my joys!) gave both us-life and birth;
Are we not, therefore, each to other bound
So much the more by nature? by the links
Of blood, of reason? nay, if you will have it,
Even of religion, to be ever one,
One soul, one flesh, one love, one heart, one all?

Friar. Have done, unhappy youth! for thou art lost.

Giovanni. Shall, then, for that I am her brother born,
My joys be ever banished from her bed?
No, father; in your eyes I see the change
Of pity and compassion; from your age,
As from a sacred oracle, distils
The life of counsel: tell me, holy man,
What cure shall give me ease in these extremes?

Friar. Repentance, son, and sorrow for this sin:
For thou hast mov’d a Majesty above,
With thy unranged (almost) blasphemy.

Giovanni. O do not speak of that, dear confessor.

Friar. Art thou, my son, that miracle of wit,
Who once, within these three months, wert esteem’d
A wonder of thine age, throughout Bononia?
How did the University applaud
Thy government, behaviour, learning, speech,
Sweetness, and all that could make up a man!
I was proud of my tutelage, and chose
Rather to leave my books, than part with thee;
I did so:— but the fruits of all my hopes
Are lost in thee, as thou art in thy self.
O Giovanni!7 hast thou left the schools
Of knowledge, to converse with lust and death?
For death waits on thy lust. Look through the world,
And thou shall see a thousand faces shine
More glorious than this idol thou ador’st:
Leave her, and take thy choice, ’tis much less sin;
Though in such games as those, they lose that win.

Giovanni. It were more ease to stop the ocean
From floats and ebbs, than to dissuade my vows.

Friar. Then I have done, and in thy wilful flames
Already see thy ruin; Heaven is just. —
Yet hear my counsel.

Giovanni. As a voice of life.

Friar. Hie to thy father’s house, there lock thee fast
Alone within thy chamber; then fall down
On both thy knees, and grovel on the ground;
Cry to thy heart; wash every word thou utter’st
In tears (and if’t be possible) of blood:
Beg Heaven to cleanse the leprosy of lust
That rots thy soul; acknowledge what thou art,
A wretch, a worm, a nothing; weep, sigh, pray
Three times a-day, and three times every night:
For seven days space do this; then, if thou find’st
No change in thy desires, return to me;
I’ll think on remedy. Pray for thyself
At home, whilst I pray for thee here. — Away!
My blessing with thee! we have need to pray.

Giovanni. All this I’ll do, to free me from the rod
Of vengeance; else I’ll swear my fate’s my god.


4 Fond.] i. e. idle, unprofitable.

5 Far better ’tis.] The 4to. reads for. — Reed.

6 Peevish.] Weak, trifling, unimportant. See Mass. vol. i. p. 71.

7 O Giovanni!] Our old dramatists appear to have learned Italian entirely from books; few, if any, of them pronounce it correctly. Giovanni is here used by Ford as a quadrisyllable, as it was by Massinger and others of his contemporaries.

8 It is observed by Langbaine, that the loves of Giovanni and Annabella are painted in too beautiful colours: this, though it may impeach the writer’s taste in selecting such a subject, is yet complimentary to his judgment in treating it. What but the most glowing diction, the most exquisite harmony of versification, could hope to allure the reader through the dreadful display of vice and misery which lay before him! With respect to the scene which has just past, it is replete with excellence as a composition; it may be doubted, however, whether it does not let us somewhat too abruptly into the plot, which, from its revolting nature, should have been more gradually opened. The character of the Friar is artfully drawn; pious, but gentle, irresolute, and, to speak tenderly, strangely indulgent; and thus we are prepared for his subsequent conduct, which involves the fate of his young charge.


The Street, before Florio’s House.

Enter Grimaldi and Vasques, with their Swords drawn.

Vasques. Come, sir, stand to your tackling; if you prove craven, I’ll make you run quickly.

Grimaldi. Thou art no equal match for me.

Vasques. Indeed I never went to the wars to bring home news; nor I cannot play the mountebank for a meal’s meat, and swear I got my wounds in the field. See you these grey hairs? they’ll not flinch for a bloody nose. Wilt thou to this gear?

Grimaldi. Why, slave, think’st thou I’ll balance my reputation with a cast-suit? Call thy master, he shall know that I dare —

Vasques. Scold like a cot-quean;9 — that’s your profession. Thou poor shadow of a soldier, I will make thee know my master keeps servants, thy betters in quality and performance. Com’st thou to fight or prate?

Grimaldi. Neither, with thee. I am a Roman and a gentleman; one that have got mine honour with expense of blood.

Vasques. You are a lying coward, and a fool. Fight, or by these hilts I’ll kill thee:— brave my lord! You’ll fight?

Grimaldi. Provoke me not, for if thou dost —

Vasques. Have at you.

[They fight, Grimaldi is worsted.

Enter Florio, Donado, and Soranzo, from opposite Sides.

Florio. What mean these sudden broils so near my doors?
Have you not other places, but my house,
To vent the spleen of your disorder’d bloods?
Must I be haunted still with such unrest,
As not to eat, or sleep in peace at home?
Is this your love, Grimaldi? Fie! ’tis naught.

Donado. And, Vasques, I may tell thee, ’tis not well
To broach these quarrels; you are ever forward
In seconding contentions.

Enter above10 Annabella and Putana.

Florio. What’s the ground?

Soranzo. That, with your patience, signiors, I’ll resolve:
This gentleman, whom fame reports a soldier,
(For else I know not) rivals me in love
To Signior Florio’s daughter; to whose ears
He still prefers his suit, to my disgrace;
Thinking the way to recommend himself,
Is to disparage me in his report. —
But know, Grimaldi, though, may be, thou art
My equal in thy blood, yet this bewrays
A lowness in thy mind; which, wert thou noble,
Thou would’st as much disdain, as I do thee
For this unworthiness; and on this ground
I will’d my servant to correct his tongue,
Holding a man so base no match for me.

Vasques. And had not your sudden coming prevented us, I had let my gentleman blood under the gills; I should have worm’d you, sir, for running mad.11

Grimaldi. I’ll be reveng’d, Soranzo.

Vasques. On a dish of warm broth to stay your stomach — do, honest innocence, do! spoon-meat is a wholesomer diet than a Spanish blade.

Grimaldi. Remember this! [Exit.

Soranzo. I fear thee not, Grimaldi.

Florio. My lord Soranzo, this is strange to me;
Why you should storm, having my word engag’d:
Owing her heart,12 what need you doubt her ear?
Losers may talk, by law of any game.

Vasques. Yet the villainy of words, Signior Florio, may be such, as would make any unspleened dove choleric. Blame not my lord in this.

Florio. Be you more silent;
I would not for my wealth, my daughter’s love
Should cause the spilling of one drop of blood.
Vasques, put up: let’s end this fray in wine.


Putana. How like you this, child? here’s threatening, challenging, quarrelling, and fighting on every side, and all is for your sake; you had need look to yourself, charge, you’ll be stolen away sleeping else shortly.

Annabella. But, tutoress, such a life gives no content
To me, my thoughts are fix’d on other ends.
Would you would leave me!

Putana. Leave you! no marvel else; leave me no leaving, charge; this is love outright. Indeed, I blame you not; you have choice fit for the best lady in Italy.

Annabella. Pray do not talk so much.

Putana. Take the worst with the best, there’s Grimaldi the soldier, a very well tiinber’d fellow. They say he’s a Roman, nephew to the Duke Montferrato; they say he did good service in the wars against the Milanese; but, ’faith, charge, I do not like him, an’t be for nothing but for being a soldier: not one amongst twenty of your skirmishing captains but have some privy maim or other, that mars their standing upright. I like him the worse, he crinkles so much in the hams: though he might serve if there were no more men, yet he’s not the man I would choose.

Annabella. Fie, how thou prat’st!

Putana. As I am a very woman, I like Signior So — ranzo well; he is wise, and what is more, rich; and what is more than that, kind; and what is more than all this, a nobleman: such a one, were I the fair Annabella myself, I would wish and pray for. Then he is bountiful; besides, he is handsome, and by my troth, I think, wholesome; and that’s news in a gallant of three-and-twenty: liberal, that I know; loving, that you know; and a man sure, else he could never have purchased such a good name with Hippolita, the lusty widow, in her husband’s lifetime. An ’twere but for that report, sweetheart, would he were thine! Commend a man for his qualities, but take a husband as he is a plain, sufficient, naked man; such a one is for your bed, and such a one is Signior Soranzo, my life for’t.

Annabella. Sure the woman took her morning’s draught too soon.

Enter Bergetto and Poggio.

Putana. But look, sweetheart, look what thing comes now! Here’s another of your ciphers to fill up the number: Oh, brave old ape in a silken coat! Observe.

Bergetto. Didst thou think, Poggio, that I would spoil my new clothes, and leave my dinner, to fight!

Poggio. No, sir, I did not take you for so arrant a baby.

Bergetto. I am wiser than so: for I hope, Poggio, thou never heardst of an elder brother that was a coxcomb; didst, Poggio?

Poggio. Never indeed, sir, as long as they had either land or money left them to inherit.

Bergetto. Is it possible, Poggio? Oh, monstrous! Why, I’ll undertake, with a handful of silver, to buy a headful of wit at any time: but, sirrah, I have another purchase in hand; I shall have the wench, mine uncle says. I will but wash my face, and shift socks; and then have at her, i’faith. — Mark my pace, Poggio! [Passes over the Stage.

Poggio. Sir — I have seen an ass and a mule trot the Spanish pavin13 with a better grace, I know not how often. [Aside, and following him.

Annabella. This idiot haunts me too.

Putana. Ay, ay, he needs no description. The rich magnifico that is below with your father, charge, Signior Donado his uncle, for that he means to make this, his cousin, a golden calf, thinks that you will be a right Israelite, and fall down to him presently: but I hope I have tutored you better. They say a fool’s bauble is a lady’s play-fellow; yet you, having wealth enough, you need not cast upon the dearth of flesh, at any rate. Hang him, innocent! 14

Giovanni passes over the Stage.

Annabella. But see, Putana, see! what blessed shape
Of some celestial creature now appears! —
What man is he, that with such sad aspect
Walks careless of himself?

Putana. Where?

Annabella. Look below.

Putana. Oh, ’tis your brother, sweet.

Annabella. Ha!

Putana. Tis your brother.

Annabella. Sure ’tis not he; this is some woeful thing
Wrapp’d up in grief, some shadow of a man.
Alas! he beats his breast, and wipes his eyes,
Drown’d all in tears: methinks I hear him sigh;
Let’s down, Putana, and partake the cause.
I know my brother, in the love he bears me,
Will not deny me partage in his sadness:
My soul is full of heaviness and fear.

[Aside, and exit with Put.

9 Scold like a cot-quean.] A contemptuous term for one who concerns himself with female affairs; an effeminate meddler.

10 Enter above,] i. e. on the raised platform which stood on the old stage, and which served for a balcony to the street, and a gallery to the rooms within doors.

11 I should have worm’d you, sir, for running mad.] i. e. to prevent you from running mad. — Jonson, vol. iv. p. 181. The allusion is, to the practice of cutting what is called the worm from under a dog’s tongue, as a preventive of madness.

12 Owing her heart,] i. e. possessing, oicning: in this sense the word is used by all our old dramatists. Florio’s reasoning, however, is far from correct. It does not follow that, because Soranzo had his word, be owed his daughter’s heart: in short, Annabella seems to have thought nothing of him.

13 The Spanish pavin.] “The Pavan, from Pavo, a peacock, is a grave and majestic dance; the method of performing it was anciently by gentlemen, dressed with a cap and sword; by those of the long robe, in their gowns; by princes, in their mantles, and by ladies, in gowns with long trains, the motion whereof in the dance resembled that of a peacock’s tail.”— Sir John Hawkins.

14 Innocent.] A natural fool. Thus, in the Two Noble Kinsmen, A. iv. s. 4.

“but this very day

I ask’d her questions, and she answer’d roe

So far from what she was, so childishly,

So sillily, as if she were a fool,

An innocent; and I was very angry.”— Reed.


A Hall in Florio’s House.

Giovanni. Lost! I am lost! my fates have doom’d my death:
The more I strive, I love; the more I love,
The less I hope: I see my ruin certain.
What judgment or endeavours could apply
To my incurable and restless wounds,
I thoroughly have examined, but in vain.
O, that it were not in religion sin
To make our love a god, and worship it!
I have even wearied heaven with pray’rs, dried up
The spring of my continual tears, even starv’d
My veins with daily fasts: what wit or art
Could counsel, I have practised; but, alas!
I find all these but dreams, and old men’s tales,
To fright unsteady youth; I am still the same:
Or I must speak, or burst. Tis not, I know,
My lust, but ’tis my fate, that leads me on.15
Keep fear and low faint-hearted shame with slaves!
I’ll tell her that I love her, though my heart
Were rated at the price of that attempt.
Oh me! she comes.

Enter Annabella and Putana.

Annabella. Brother!

Giovanni. If such a thing
As courage dwell in men, ye heavenly powers,
Now double all that virtue in my tongue! [Aside.

Annabella. Why, brother,
Will you not speak to me?

Giovanni. Yes; how do you, sister?

Annabella. Howe’er I am, methinks you are not well.

Putana. Bless us! why are you so sad, sir?

Giovanni. Let me entreat you, leave us a while,

Putana. Sister, I would be private with you.

Annabella. Withdraw, Putana.

Putana. I will. — If this were any other company for her, I should think my absence an office of some credit; but I will leave them together.
[Aside, and exit.

Giovanni. Come, sister, lend your hand; let’s walk together;
I hope you need not blush to walk with me;
Here’s none but you and I.

Annabella. How’s this?

Giovanni. I’faith,
I mean no harm.

Annabella. Harm?

Giovanni. No, good faith. How is it with thee?

Annabella. I trust he be not frantic — [Aside.
I am very well, brother.

Giovanni. Trust me, but I am sick; I fear so sick,
’Twill cost my life.

Annabella. Mercy forbid it! ’tis not so, I hope.

Giovanni. I think you love me, sister.

Annabella. Yes, you know I do.

Giovanni. I know it, indeed — you are very fair.

Annabella. Nay, then I see you have a merry sickness.

Giovanni. That’s as it proves. The poets feign, I read,
That Juno for her forehead did exceed
All other goddesses; but I durst swear
Your forehead exceeds her’s, as her’s did theirs.

Annabella. Troth, this is pretty!

Giovanni. Such a pair of stars
As are thine eyes, would, like Promethean fire,
If gently glanced, give life to senseless stones.

Annabella. Fie upon you!

Giovanni. The lily and the rose, most sweetly strange,
Upon your dimple cheeks do strive for change:
Such lips would tempt a saint; such hands as those
Would make an anchorite lascivious.

Annabella. Do you mock me, or flatter me?

Giovanni. If you would see a beauty more exact
Than art can counterfeit, or nature frame,
Look in your glass, and there behold your own.

Annabella. O, you are a trim youth!

Giovanni. Here! [Offers his dagger to her.

Annabella. What to do?

Giovanni. And here’s my breast; strike home!
Rip up my bosom, there thou shalt behold
A heart, in which is writ the truth I speak —
Why stand you?

Annabella. Are you earnest?

Giovanni. Yes, most earnest. You cannot love?

Annabella. Whom?

Giovanni. Me. My tortured soul
Hath felt affliction in the heat of death.
O, Annabella, I am quite undone!
The love of thee, my sister, and the view
Of thy immortal beauty, have untuned
All harmony both of my rest and life.
Why do you not strike?

Annabella. Forbid it, my just fears!
If this be true, ’twere fitter I were dead.

Giovanni. True! Annabella; ’tis no time to jest.
I have too long suppress’d my hidden flames,
That almost have consum’d me; I have spent
Many a silent night in sighs and groans;
Ran over all my thoughts, despised my fate,
Reason’d against the reasons of my love,
Done all that smooth-cheek’d virtue could advise,
But found all bootless: ’tis my destiny
That you must either love, or I must die.

Annabella. Comes this in sadness16 from you?

Giovanni. Let some mischief
Befall me soon, if I dissemble aught.

Annabella. You are my brother Giovanni.

Giovanni. You
My sister Annabella; I know this,
And could afford you instance why to love
So much the more for this; to which intent
Wise nature first in your creation meant
To make you mine; else’t had been sin and foul
To share one beauty to a double soul.
Nearness in birth and blood, doth but persuade
A nearer nearness in affection.
I have ask’d counsel of the holy church,
Who tells me I may love you; and, ’tis just,
That, since I may, I should; and will, yes will:
Must I now live, or die?

Annabella. Live; thou hast won
The field, and never fought: what thou hast urged,
My captive heart had long ago resolv’d.
I blush to tell thee — but I’ll tell thee now —
For every sigh that thou hast spent for me,
I have sigh’d ten; for every tear, shed twenty:
And not so much for that I loved, as that
I durst not say I loved, nor scarcely think it.

Giovanni. Let not this music be a dream, ye gods,
For pity’s sake, I beg you!

Annabella. On my knees, [She kneels.
Brother, even by our mother’s dust, I charge you,
Do not betray me to your mirth or hate;
Love me, or kill me, brother.

Giovanni. On my knees, [He kneels.
Sister, even by my mother’s dust I charge you,
Do not betray me to your mirth or hate;
Love me, or kill me, sister.

Annabella. You mean good sooth, then?

Giovanni. In good troth, I do;
And so do you, I hope: say, I’m in earnest.

Annabella. I’ll swear it, I.17

Giovanni. And I; and by this kiss, [Kisses her.
(Once more, yet once more; now let’s rise) [they rise] by this,
I would not change this minute for Elysium.
What must we now do?

Annabella. What you will.

Giovanni. Come then;
After so many tears as we have wept,
Let’s learn to court in smiles, to kiss, and sleep.


15 This is a repetition of the sentiment with which he had taken leave of the Friar — My fate’s my god. I would not detain the reader in these scenes, on which Ford has lavished all the charms of bis eloquence; but it may be cursorily observed, that characters like Giovanni, desperately abandoned to vice, endeavour to cheat their conscience, by setting up a deity of their own, and pretending to be swayed by his resistless influence. This is the last stage of human depravation, and, in Scripture language, is called “hardening the heart.”— See Mass. vol. i. p. 217.

16 Comes this in sadness.] i. e. in seriousness.

17 Til swear it, I.] The old copy has and before I; evidently an oversight of the press.


A Street.

Enter Florio and Donado.

Florio. Signior Donado, you have said enough,
I understand you; but would have you know,
I will not force my daughter ’gainst her will.
You see I have but two, a son and her;
And he is so devoted to his book,
As I must tell you true, I doubt his health:
Should he miscarry, all my hopes rely
Upon my girl.18 As for worldly fortune,
I am, I thank my stars, bless’d with enough.
My care is, how to match her to her liking;
I would not have her marry wealth, but love,
And if she like your nephew, let him have her;
Here’s all that I can say.

Donado. Sir, you say well,
Like a true father; and, for my part, I,
If the young folks can like, (’twixt you and me)
Will promise to assure my nephew presently
Three thousand florins yearly, during life,
And, after I am dead, my whole estate.

Florio. Tis a fair proffer, sir; meantime your nephew
Shall have free passage to commence his suit:
If he can thrive, he shall have my consent;
So for this time I’ll leave you, signior. [Exit.

Donado. Well,
Here’s hope yet, if my nephew would have wit;
But he is such another dunce, I fear
He’ll never win the wench. When I was young,
I could have don’t, i’faith, and so shall he,
If he will learn of me; and, in good time,
He comes himself.

Enter Bergetto and Poggio.

How now, Bergetto, whither away so fast?

Bergetto. Oh uncle! I have heard the strangest news that ever came out of the mint; have I not, Poggio?

Poggio. Yes, indeed, sir.

Donado. What news, Bergetto?

Bergetto. Why, look ye, uncle, my barber told me just now, that there is a fellow come to town, who undertakes to make a mill go without the mortal help of any water or wind, only with sandbags; and this fellow hath a strange horse, a most excellent beast, I’ll assure you, uncle, my barber says; whose head, to the wonder of all Christian people, stands just behind where his tail is. Is’t not true, Poggio?

Poggio. So the barber swore, forsooth.

Donado. And you are running thither?

Bergetto. Ay, forsooth, uncle.

Donado. Wilt thou be a fool still? Come, sir, you shall not go; you have more mind of a puppet-play than on the business I told you: why, thou great baby, wilt never have wit? wilt make thyself a May-game to all the world?

Poggio. Answer for yourself, master.

Bergetto. Why, uncle, should I sit at home still, and not go abroad to see fashions like other gallants?

Donado. To see hobby-horses! what wise talk, I pray, had you with Annabella, when you were at Signior Florio’s house?

Bergetto. Oh, the wench! — Uds sa’me, uncle, I tickled her with a rare speech, that I made her almost burst her belly with laughing.

Donado. Nay, I think so; and what speech was’t?

Bergetto. What did I say, Poggio?

Poggio. Forsooth, my master said, that he loved her almost as well as he loved parmasent;19 and swore (I’ll be sworn for him) that she wanted but such a nose as his was, to be as pretty a young woman as any was in Parma.

Donado. Oh gross!

Bergetto. Nay, uncle; — then she ask’d me, whether my father had more children than myself? and I said no; ’twere better he should have had his brains knock’d out first.

Donado. This is intolerable.

Bergetto. Then said she, will Signior Donado, your uncle, leave you all his wealth?

Donado. Ha! that was good; did she harp upon that string?

Bergetto. Did she harp upon that string! ay, that she did. I answer’d, “Leave me all his wealth? why, woman, he hath no other wit; if he had, he should hear on’t to his everlasting glory and confusion: I know, quoth I, I am his white boy,20 and will not be gull’d;” and with that she fell into a great smile, and went away. Nay, I did fit her.

Donado. Ah, sirrah, then I see there’s no changing of nature. Well, Bergetto, I fear thou wilt be a very ass still.

Bergetto. I should be sorry for that, uncle.

Donado. Come, come you home with me: since you are no better a speaker, I’ll have you write to her after some courtly manner, and enclose some rich jewel in the letter.

Bergetto. Ay marry, that will be excellent.

Donado. Peace, innocent!
Once in my time I’ll set my wits to school,
If all fail, ’tis but the fortune of a fool.

Bergetto. Poggio, ’twill do, Poggio!


18 Upon my girl.] Girl is here, and almost every where else in these plays, a dissyllable. — See pp. 19 and 153. The practice is not peculiar to our poet, for Fanshaw, and others of that age, have numerous examples of it.

19 Parmasent.] i. e. Parmasan; the cheese of Parma, where the scene is laid. — Reed suggests that this word may mean a trick in drinking so Called; but poor Bergetto had no tricks of any kind: the allusion is evidently to the cheese, which is sufficiently strong to affect the breath, and therefore ridiculously put in competition with the lady.

20 White-boy.] A childish term of endearment. Warton says that Dr. Busby used to call his favourite scholars his white-boys. The word occurs in Massinger, and most of pur old poets.


Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:54