The Beggar's Opera

Act II. Scene I.

A tavern near Newgate.

Jemmy Twitcher, Crook-finger'd Jack, Wat Dreary, Robin of Bagshot, Nimming Ned, Henry Paddington, Matt of the Mint, Ben Budge, and the rest of the Gang, at the Table, with Wine, Brandy and Tobacco.

BEN. But pr'ythee, Matt, what is become of thy Brother Tom? I have not seen him since my Return from Transportation.

MATT. Poor Brother Tom had an Accident this time Twelve-month, and so clever a made fellow he was, that I could not save him from those fleaing Rascals the Surgeons; and now, poor Man, he is among the Otamys at Surgeons Hall.

BEN. So it seems, his Time was come.

JEMMY. But the present Time is ours, and no body alive hath more. Why are the Laws levell'd at us? are we more dishonest than the rest of Mankind? What we win, Gentlemen, is our own by the Law of Arms, and the Right of Conquest.

CROOK. Where shall we find such another Set of Practical Philosophers, who to a Man are above the Fear of Death?

WAT. Sound Men, and true!

ROBIN. Of try'd Courage, and indefatigable Industry!

NED. Who is there here that would not die for his Friend?

HARRY. Who is there here that would betray him for his Interest?

MATT. Shew me a Gang of Courtiers that can say as much.

BEN. We are for a just Partition of the World, for every Man hath a Right to enjoy Life.

MATT. We retrench the Superfluities of Mankind. The World is avaritious, and I hate Avarice. A covetous fellow, like a Jackdaw, steals what he was never made to enjoy, for the sake of hiding it. These are the Robbers of Mankind, for Money was made for the Free-

hearted and Generous, and where is the Injury of taking from another, what he hath not the Heart to make use of?

JEMMY. Our several Stations for the Day are fixt. Good luck attend us all. Fill the Glasses.

AIR XIX. Fill every Glass, &c.

MATT. Fill every Glass, for Wine inspires us,

And fires us

With Courage, Love and Joy.

Women and Wine should life employ.

Is there ought else on Earth desirous?

CHORUS. Fill every Glass, &c.

[To them enter Macheath.]

MACHEATH. Gentlemen, well met. My Heart hath been with you this Hour; but an unexpected Affair hath detain'd me. No Ceremony, I beg you.

MATT. We were just breaking up to go upon Duty. Am I to have the Honour of taking the Air with you, Sir, this Evening upon the Heath? I drink a Dram now and then with the Stagecoachmen in the way of Friendship and Intelligence; and I know that about this Time there will be Passengers upon the Western Road, who are worth speaking with.

MACHEATH. I was to have been of that Party - but -

MATT. But what, Sir?

MACHEATH. Is there any Man who suspects my Courage?

MATT. We have all been Witnesses of it.

MACHEATH. My Honour and Truth to the Gang?

MATT. I'll be answerable for it.

MACHEATH. In the Division of our Booty, have I ever shewn the least Marks of Avarice or Injustice?

MATT. By these Questions something seems to have ruffled you. Are any of us suspected?

MACHEATH. I have a fixed Confidence, Gentlemen, in you all, as Men of Honour, and as such I value and respect you. Peachum is a Man that is useful to us.

MATT. Is he about to play us any foul Play? I'll shoot him through the Head.

MACHEATH. I beg you, Gentlemen, act with Conduct and Discretion. A Pistol is your last Resort.

MATT. He knows nothing of this Meeting.

MACHEATH. Business cannot go on without him. He is a Man who knows the World, and is a necessary Agent to us. We have had a slight Difference, and 'till it is accommodated I shall be oblig'd to keep out of his way. Any private Dispute of mine shall be of no ill consequence to my Friends. You must continue to act under his Direction, for the moment we break loose from him, our Gang is ruin'd.

MATT. As a Bawd to a Whore, I grant you, he is to us of great Convenience.

MACHEATH. Make him believe I have quitted the Gang, which I can never do but with Life. At our private Quarters I will continue to meet you. A Week or so will probably reconcile us.

MATT. Your Instructions shall be observ'd. 'Tis now high time for us to repair to our several Duties; so 'till the Evening at our Quarters in Moor-Fields we bid you farewel.

MACHEATH. I shall wish myself with you. Success attend you.

[Sits down melancholy at the Table.]

AIR XX. March in Rinaldo, with Drums and Trumpets.

MATT. Let us take the Road.

Hark! I hear the Sound of Coaches!

The Hour of Attack approaches,

To your Arms, brave Boys, and load.

See the Ball I hold!

Let the Chymists toil like Asses,

Our Fire their Fire surpasses,

And turns all our Lead to Gold.

[The Gang, rang'd in the Front of the Stage, load their Pistols, and stick them under their Girdles; then go off singing the first Part in Chorus.]

MACHEATH. What a Fool is a fond Wench! Polly is most confoundedly bit. - I love the Sex. And a Man who loves Money, might as well be contented with one Guinea, as I with one Woman. The Town perhaps have been as much obliged to me, for recruiting it with free-hearted Ladies, as to any Recruiting Officer in the Army. If it were not for us, and the other Gentlemen of the Sword, Drury-Lane would be uninhabited.

AIR XXI. Would you have a young Virgin, &c.

If the Heart of a Man is deprest with Cares,

The Mist is dispell'd when a Woman appears;

Like the Notes of a Fiddle, she sweetly, sweetly

Raises the Spirits, and charms our Ears,

Roses and Lilies her Cheeks disclose,

But her ripe Lips are more sweet than those.

Press her,

Caress her,

With Blisses,

Her Kisses

Dissolve us in Pleasure, and soft Repose.

I must have Women. There is nothing unbends the Mind like them. Money is not so strong a Cordial for the Time. Drawer - [Enter Drawer.] Is the Porter gone for all the Ladies according to my Directions?

DRAWER. I expect him back every Minute. But you know, Sir, you sent him as far as Hockley in the Hole for three of the Ladies, for one in Vinegar-Yard, and for the rest of them somewhere about Lewkner's-

Lane. Sure some of them are below, for I hear the Bar-Bell. As they come I will shew them up. Coming, Coming.

[Enter Mrs. Coaxer, Dolly Trull, Mrs. Vixen, Betty Doxy, Jenny Diver, Mrs. Slammekin, Suky Tawdry, and Molly Brazen.]

MACHEATH. Dear Mrs. Coaxer, you are welcome. You look charmingly to-day. I hope you don't want the Repairs of Quality, and lay on Paint. - Dolly Trull! kiss me, you Slut; are you as amorous as ever, Hussy? You are always so taken up with stealing Hearts, that you don't allow yourself Time to steal any thing else. - Ah Dolly, thou wilt ever be a Coquette! Mrs. Vixen, I'm yours, I always lov'd a Woman of Wit and Spirit; they make charming Mistresses, but plaguy Wives - Betty Doxy! Come hither, Hussy. Do you drink as hard as ever? You had better stick to good wholesom Beer; for in troth, Betty, Strong-Waters will in time ruin your Constitution. You should leave those to your Betters. - What! and my pretty Jenny Diver too! As prim and demure as ever! There is not any Prude, though ever so high bred, hath a more sanctify'd Look, with a more mischievous Heart. Ah! thou art a dear artful Hypocrite. - Mrs. Slammekin! as careless and genteel as ever! all you fine Ladies, who know your own Beauty, affect an Undress. - But see, here's Suky Tawdry come to contradict what I was saying. Every thing she gets one way she lays out upon her Back. Why, Suky, you must keep at least a Dozen Tallymen. Molly Brazen! [She kisses him.] That's well done. I love a free-hearted Wench. Thou hast a most agreeable Assurance, Girl, and art as willing as a Turtle. - But hark! I hear Music. The Harper is at the Door. If Music be the Food of Love, play on. Ere you seat yourselves, Ladies, what think you of a Dance? Come in. [Enter Harper.] Play the French Tune, that Mrs. Slammekin was so fond of.

[A Dance a la ronde in the French manner; near the end of it this song and Chorus.]

AIR XXII. Cotillon.

Youth's the Season made for Joys,

Love is then our Duty,

She alone who that employs,

Well deserves her Beauty.

Let's be gay,

While we may,

Beauty's a Flower, despis'd in Decay.

Youth's the Season, &c.

Let us drink and sport to-day,

Ours is not to-morrow.

Love with Youth flies swift away,

Age is nought but Sorrow.

Dance and sing,

Time's on the Wing.

Life never knows the Return of Spring.

CHORUS. Let us drink, &c.

MACHEATH. Now, pray Ladies, take your Places. Here Fellow. [Pays the Harper.] Bid the Drawer bring us more Wine. [Exit Harper.] If any of the Ladies choose Ginn, I hope they will be so free to call for it.

JENNY. You look as if you meant me. Wine is strong enough for me. Indeed, Sir, I never drink Strong-Waters, but when I have the Cholic.

MACHEATH. Just the Excuse of the fine Ladies! Why, a Lady of Quality is never without the Cholic. I hope, Mrs. Coaxer, you have had good Success of late in your Visits among the Mercers.

MRS. COAXER. We have so many Interlopers - Yet with Industry, one may still have a little Picking. I carried a silver-flowered Lutestring, and a Piece of black Padesoy to Mr. Peachum's Lock but last Week.

MRS. VIXEN. There's Molly Brazen hath the Ogle of a Rattle-Snake. She rivetted a Linen-Draper's Eye so fast upon her, that he was nick'd of three Pieces of Cambric before he could look off.

BRAZEN. Oh dear Madam! - But sure nothing can come up to your handling of Laces! And then you have such a sweet deluding Tongue! To cheat a Man is nothing; but the Woman must have fine Parts indeed who cheats a Woman.

MRS. VIXEN. Lace, Madam, lies in a small Compass, and is of easy Conveyance. But you are apt, Madam, to think too well of your Friends.

MRS. COAXER. If any woman hath more Art than another, to be sure, 'tis Jenny Diver. Though her Fellow be never so agreeable, she can pick his Pocket as coolly, as if money were her only Pleasure. Now that is a Command of the Passions uncommon in a Woman!

JENNY. I never go to the Tavern with a Man, but in the View of Business. I have other Hours, and other sort of Men for my Pleasure. But had I your Address, Madam

MACHEATH. Have done with your Compliments, Ladies; and drink about: You are not so fond of me, Jenny, as you use to be.

JENNY. 'Tis not convenient, Sir, to shew my Fondness among so many Rivals. 'Tis your own Choice, and not the Warmth of my Inclination that will determine you.

AIR XXIII. All in a misty Morning, &c.

Before the Barn-Door crowing,

The Cock by Hens attended,

His Eyes around him throwing,

Stands for a while suspended.

Then One he singles from the Crew,

And cheers the happy Hen;

With how do you do, and how do you do,

And how do you do again.

MACHEATH. Ah Jenny! thou art a dear Slut.

JENNY. A Man of Courage should never put any thing to the Risk but his Life. These are the Tools of a Man of Honour. Cards and Dice are only fit for cowardly Cheats, who prey upon their Friends.

[She takes up his Pistol. Tawdry takes up the other.]

TAWDRY. This, Sir, is fitter for your Hand. Besides your Loss of Money, 'tis a Loss to the Ladies. Gaming takes you off from Women. How fond could I be of you! but before Company 'tis ill bred.

MACHEATH. Wanton Hussies!

JENNY. I must and will have a Kiss to give my Wine a Zest.

[They take him about the Neck and make signs to Peachum and Constables, who rush in upon him.]

PEACHUM. I seize you, Sir, as my Prisoner.

MACHEATH. Was this well done, Jenny? - Women are Decoy Ducks; who can trust them! Beasts, Jades, Jilts, Harpies, Furies, Whores!

PEACHUM. Your Case, Mr. Macheath, is not particular. The greatest Heroes have been ruin'd by Women. But, to do them Justice, I must own they are a pretty sort of Creatures, if we could trust them. You must now, Sir, take your Leave of the Ladies, and if they have a mind to make you a Visit, they will be sure to find you at home. This Gentleman, Ladies, lodges in Newgate. Constables, wait upon the Captain to his Lodgings.

AIR XXIV. When first I laid Siege to my Chloris, &c.

MACHEATH. At the Tree I shall suffer with Pleasure,

At the Tree I shall suffer with Pleasure,

Let me go where I will,

In all kinds of Ill,

I shall find no such Furies as these are.

PEACHUM. Ladies, I'll take care the Reckoning shall be discharged.

[Exit Macheath, guarded with Peachum and Constables.]

MRS. VIXEN. Look ye, Mrs. Jenny, though Mr. Peachum may have made a private Bargain with you and Suky Tawdry for betraying the Captain, as we were all assisting, we ought all to share alike.

MRS. COAXER. I think Mr. Peachum, after so long an Acquaintance, might have trusted me as well as Jenny Diver.

MRS. SLAMMEKIN. I am sure at least three Men of his hanging, and in a Year's time too (if he did me Justice) should be set down to my Account.

TRULL. Mrs. Slammekin, that is not fair. For you know one of them was taken in Bed with me.

JENNY. As far as a Bowl of Punch or a Treat, I believe Mrs. Suky will join with me. - As for any thing else, Ladies, you cannot in Conscience expect it.

MRS. SLAMMEKIN. Dear Madam -

TRULL. I would not for the World -

MRS. SLAMMEKIN. 'Tis impossible for me -

TRULL. As I hope to be sav'd, Madam -

MRS. SLAMMEKIN. Nay, then I must stay here all Night -

TRULL. Since you command me.

[Exeunt with great Ceremony.]