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    A MAD WORLD, MY MASTERS

    A monologue from the play by Thomas Middleton


  • NOTE: This monologue is reprinted from A Mad World, My Masters. Thomas Middleton. London: Walter Burre, 1608.
  • MOTHER: Hold thee there, girl.
    Every part of the world shoots up daily into more subtlety; the very spider weaves her cauls with more art and cunning to entrap the fly.
    The shallow ploughman can distinguish now
    'Twixt simple truth and a dissembling brow;
    Your base mechanic fellow can spy out
    A weakness in a lord, and learns to flout.
    How does't behove us then that live by slight,
    To have our wits wound up to their stretch'd height!
    Fifteen times, thou knowest I have sold thy maidenhead
    To make up a dowry for thy marriage, and yet
    There's maidenhead enough for old Sir Bounteous still:
    He'll be all his lifetime about it yet,
    And be as far to seek when he has done.
    The sums that I have told upon thy pillow!
    I shall once see those golden days again:
    Though fifteen, all thy maidenheads are not gone.
    Th'Italian is not serv'd yet, nor the French:
    The British men come for a dozen at once,
    They engross all the market: tut, my girl,
    'Tis nothing but a politic conveyance,
    A sincere carriage, a religious eyebrow,
    That throws their charms over the worldling's senses;
    And when thou spiest a fool that truly pities
    The false springs of thine eyes,
    And honourably doats upon thy love,
    If he be rich, set him by for a husband.
    Be wisely temper'd, and learn this, my wench,
    Who gets th' opinion for a virtuous name
    May sin at pleasure, and ne'er think of shame.

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