The Beggar's Opera

Act II. Scene II.

Lockit, Turnkeys, Macheath, Constables.

LOCKIT. Noble Captain, you are welcome. You have not been a Lodger of mine this Year and half. You know the Custom, Sir. Garnish, Captain, Garnish. Hand me down those Fetters there.

MACHEATH. Those, Mr. Lockit, seem to be the heaviest of the whole Set. With your Leave, I should like the further Pair better.

LOCKIT. Look ye, Captain, we know what is fittest for our Prisoners. When a Gentleman uses me with Civility, I always do the best I can to please him. - Hand them down I say. - We have them of all Prices, from one Guinea to ten, and 'tis fitting every Gentleman should please himself.

MACHEATH. I understand you, Sir. [Gives Money.] The Fees here are so many, and so exorbitant, that few Fortunes can bear the Expence of getting off handsomly, or of dying like a Gentleman.

LOCKIT. Those, I see, will fit the Captain better - Take down the further Pair. Do but examine them, Sir. - Never was better work. How genteely they are made! - They will fit as easy as a Glove, and the nicest Man in England might not be asham'd to wear them. [He puts on the Chains.] If I had the best Gentleman in the Land in my Custody I could not equip him more handsomly. And so, Sir - I now leave you to your private Meditations.

[Exeunt leaving Macheath solus.]


AIR XXV. Courtiers, Courtiers, think it no Harm, &c.

Man may escape from Rope and Gun;

Nay, some have out liv'd the Doctor's Pill;

Who takes a Woman must be undone,

That Basilisk is sure to kill.

The Fly that sips Treacle is lost in the Sweets,

So he that tastes Woman, Woman, Woman,

He that tastes Woman, ruin meets.

To what a woful Plight have I brought myself! Here must I (all Day long, 'till I am hang'd) be confin'd to hear the Reproaches of a Wench who lays her Ruin at my Door - I am in the Custody of her Father, and to be sure, if he knows of the matter, I shall have a fine time on't betwixt this and my Execution. - But I promis'd the Wench Marriage - What signifies a Promise to a Woman? Does not Man in Marriage itself promise a hundred things that he never means to perform? Do all we can, Women will believe us; for they look upon a Promise as an Excuse for following their own Inclinations. - But here comes Lucy, and I cannot get from her. - Wou'd I were deaf!

[Enter Lucy.]

LUCY. You base Man you, - how can you look me in the Face after what hath passed between us? - See here, perfidious Wretch, how I am forc'd to bear about the Load of Infamy you have laid upon me - O Macheath! thou hast robb'd me of my Quiet - to see thee tortur'd would give me Pleasure.

AIR XXVI. A lovely Lass to a Friar came, &c.

Thus when a good Housewife sees a Rat

In her Trap in the Morning taken,

With Pleasure her Heart goes pit-a-pat,

In Revenge for her Loss of Bacon.

Then she throws him

To the Dog or Cat,

To be worried, crush'd and shaken.

MACHEATH. Have you no Bowels, no Tenderness, my dear Lucy, to see a Husband in these Circumstances?

LUCY. A Husband!

MACHEATH. In ev'ry Respect but the Form, and that, my Dear, may be said over us at any time. - Friends should not insist upon Ceremonies. From a Man of Honour, his Word is as good as his Bond.

LUCY. 'Tis the Pleasure of all you fine Men to insult the Women you have ruin'd.

AIR XXVII. 'Twas when the Sea was roaring, &c.

How cruel are the Traitors,

Who lye and swear in jest,

To cheat unguarded Creatures

Of Virtue, Fame, and Rest!

Whoever steals a Shilling,

Through Shame the Guilt conceals:

In Love the perjur'd Villain

With Boasts the Theft reveals.

MACHEATH. The very first Opportunity, my Dear, (have but Patience) you shall be my Wife in whatever manner you please.

LUCY. Insinuating Monster! And so you think I know nothing of the Affair of Miss Polly Peachum. - I could tear thy Eyes out!

MACHEATH. Sure, Lucy, you can't be such a Fool as to be jealous of Polly!

LUCY. Are you not married to her, you Brute, you.

MACHEATH. Married! Very good. The Wench gives it out only to vex thee, and to ruin me in thy good opinion. 'Tis true, I go to the House; I chat with the Girl, I kiss her, I say a thousand things to her (as all Gentlemen do) that mean nothing, to divert myself; and now the silly Jade hath set it about that I am married to her, to let me know what she would be at. Indeed, my dear Lucy, these violent Passions may be of ill consequence to a Woman in your Condition.

LUCY. Come, come, Captain, for all your Assurance, you know that Miss Polly hath put it out of your Power to do me the Justice you promis'd me.

MACHEATH. A jealous Woman believes every thing her Passion suggests. To convince you of my Sincerity, if we can find the Ordinary, I shall have no Scruples of making you my Wife; and I know the Consequence of having two at a time.

LUCY. That you are only to be hang'd, and so get rid of them both.

MACHEATH. I am ready, my dear Lucy, to give you Satisfaction - if you think there is any in Marriage. - What can a Man of Honour say more?

LUCY. So then, it seems, you are not married to Miss Polly.

MACHEATH. You know, Lucy, the Girl is prodigiously conceited. No Man can say a civil thing to her, but (like other fine Ladies) her Vanity makes her think he's her own for ever and ever.

AIR XXVIII. The Sun had loos'd his weary Teams, &c.

The first time at the Looking-glass

The Mother sets her Daughter,

The Image strikes the smiling Lass

With Self-love ever after,

Each time she looks, she, fonder grown,

Thinks ev'ry Charm grows stronger.

But alas, vain Maid, all Eyes but your own

Can see you are not younger.

When Women consider their own Beauties, they are all alike unreasonable in their Demands; for they expect their Lovers should like them as long as they like themselves.

LUCY. Yonder is my Father - perhaps this way we may light upon the Ordinary, who shall try if you will be as good as your Word. - For I long to be made an honest Woman.


[Enter Peachum and Lockit with an Account-Book.]

LOCKIT. In this last Affair, Brother Peachum, we are agreed. You have consented to go halves in Macheath.

PEACHUM. We shall never fall out about an Execution - But as to that Article, pray how stands our last Year's Account?

LOCKIT. If you will run your Eye over it, you'll find 'tis fair and clearly stated.

PEACHUM. This long Arrear of the Government is very hard upon us! Can it be expected that we would hang our Acquaintance for nothing, when our Betters will hardly save theirs without being paid for it. Unless the People in Employment pay better, I promise them for the future, I shall let other Rogues live besides their own.

LOCKIT. Perhaps, Brother, they are afraid these Matters may be carried too far. We are treated too by them with Contempt, as if our Profession were not reputable.

PEACHUM. In one respect indeed our Employment may be reckon'd dishonest, because, like Great Statesmen, we encourage those who betray their Friends.

LOCKIT. Such Language, Brother, any where else, might turn to your Prejudice. Learn to be more guarded, I beg you.

AIR XXIX. How happy are we, &c.

When you censure the Age,

Be cautious and sage,

Lest the Courtiers offended should be:

If you mention Vice or Bribe,

'Tis so pat to all the Tribe;

Each cries - That was levell'd at me.

PEACHUM. Here's poor Ned Clincher's Name, I see. Sure, Brother Lockit, there was a little unfair Proceeding in Ned's Case: for he told me in the Condemn'd Hold, that for Value receiv'd, you had promis'd him a Session or two longer without Molestation.

LOCKIT. Mr. Peachum - this is the first time my Honour was ever call'd in Question.

PEACHUM. Business is at an end - if once we act dishonourably.

LOCKIT. Who accuses me?

PEACHUM. You are warm, Brother.

LOCKIT. He that attacks my Honour, attacks my Livelihood. - And this Usage - Sir - is not to be borne.

PEACHUM. Since you provoke me to speak - I must tell you too, that Mrs. Coaxer charges you with defrauding her of her Information-Money, for the apprehending of curl-pated Hugh. Indeed, indeed, Brother, we must punctually pay our Spies, or we shall have no Information.

LOCKIT. Is this Language to me, Sirrah, - who have sav'd you from the Gallows, Sirrah!

[Collaring each other.]

PEACHUM. If I am hang'd, it shall be for ridding the World of an arrant Rascal.

LOCKIT. This Hand shall do the Office of the Halter you deserve, and throttle you - you Dog! -

PEACHUM. Brother, Brother - We are both in the Wrong - We shall be both Losers in the Dispute - for you know we have it in our Power to hang each other. You should not be so passionate.

LOCKIT. Nor you so provoking.

PEACHUM. 'Tis our mutual Interest; 'tis for the Interest of the World we should agree. If I said any thing, Brother, to the Prejudice of your Character, I ask pardon.

LOCKIT. Brother Peachum - I can forgive as well as resent. - Give me your Hand. Suspicion does not become a Friend.

PEACHUM. I only meant to give you Occasion to justify yourself: But I must now step home, for I expect the Gentleman about this Snuff-

box, that Filch nimm'd two Nights ago in the Park. I appointed him at this Hour.

[Exit Peachum.]

[Enter Lucy.]

LOCKIT. Whence come you, Hussy?

LUCY. My Tears might answer that Question.

LOCKIT. You have then been whimpering and fondling, like a Spaniel, over the Fellow that hath abus'd you.

LUCY. One can't help Love; one can't cure it. 'Tis not in my Power to obey you, and hate him.

LOCKIT. Learn to bear your Husband's Death like a reasonable Woman. 'Tis not the fashion, now-a-days, so much as to affect Sorrow upon these Occasions. No Woman would ever marry, if she had not the Chance of Mortality for a Release. Act like a Woman of Spirit, Hussy, and thank your Father for what he is doing.

AIR XXX. Of a noble Race was Shenkin.

LUCY. Is then his Fate decreed, Sir?

Such a Man can I think of quitting?

When first we met, so moves me yet,

O see how my Heart is splitting!

LOCKIT. Look ye, Lucy - There is no saving him. - So, I think, you must ev'n do like other Widows - buy yourself Weeds, and be chearful.


You'll think ere many Days ensue

This Sentence not severe;

I hang your Husband, Child, 'tis true,

But with him hang your Care.

Twang dang dillo dee.

Like a good Wife, go moan over your dying Husband. That, Child is your Duty - Consider, Girl, you can't have the Man and the Money too -

so make yourself as easy as you can, by getting all you can from him.

[Exit Lockit.]

[Enter Macheath.]

LUCY. Though the Ordinary was out of the way to-day, I hope, my Dear, you will, upon the first Opportunity, quiet my Scruples - Oh Sir! my Father's hard heart is not to be soften'd, and I am in the utmost Despair.

MACHEATH. But if I could raise a small Sum - Would not twenty Guineas, think you, move him? - Of all the Arguments in the way of Business, the Perquisite is the most prevailing - Your Father's Perquisites for the Escape of Prisoners must amount to a considerable Sum in the Year. Money well tim'd, and properly apply'd, will do any thing.

AIR XXXII. London Ladies.

If you at an Office solicit your Due,

And would not have Matters neglected;

You must quicken the Clerk with the Perquisite too,

To do what his Duty directed.

Or would you the Frowns of a Lady prevent,

She too has this palpable Failing,

The Perquisite softens her into Consent;

That Reason with all is prevailing.

LUCY. What Love or Money can do shall be done: for all my Comfort depends upon your Safety.

[Enter Polly.]

POLLY. Where is my dear Husband? - Was a Rope ever intended for this Neck! - O let me throw my Arms about it, and throttle thee with Love!-

-Why dost thou turn away from me? - 'Tis thy Polly - 'Tis thy Wife.

MACHEATH. Was ever such an unfortunate Rascal as I am!

LUCY. Was there ever such another Villain!

POLLY. O Macheath! was it for this we parted? Taken! Imprisoned! Try'd! Hang'd - cruel Reflection! I'll stay with thee 'till Death -

no Force shall tear thy dear Wife from thee now. - What means my Love? - Not one kind Word! not one kind Look! think what thy Polly suffers to see thee in this Condition.

AIR XXXIII. All in the Downs, &c.

Thus when the Swallow seeking Prey,

Within the Sash is closely pent,

His Consort, with bemoaning Lay,

Without sits pining for th' Event.

Her chatt'ring Lovers all around her skim;

She heeds them not (poor Bird!) her Soul's with him.

MACHEATH. [Aside.] I must disown her. [Aloud.] The Wench is distracted.

LUCY. Am I then bilk'd of my Virtue? Can I have no Reparation? Sure Men were born to lie, and Women to believe them! O Villain! Villain!

POLLY. Am I not thy Wife? - Thy Neglect of me, thy Aversion to me too severely proves it. - Look on me. - Tell me, am I not thy Wife?

LUCY. Perfidious Wretch!

POLLY. Barbarous Husband!

LUCY. Hadst thou been hang'd five Months ago, I had been happy.

POLLY. And I too - If you had been kind to me 'till Death, it would not have vexed me - And that's no very unreasonable Request, (though from a Wife) to a Man who hath not above seven or eight Days to live.

LUCY. Art thou then married to another? Hast thou two Wives, Monster?

MACHEATH. If Women's Tongues can cease for an Answer - hear me.

LUCY. I won't. - Flesh and Blood can't bear my Usage.

POLLY. Shall I not claim my own? Justice bids me speak.

AIR XXXIV. Have you heard of a frolicksome Ditty, &c.

MACHEATH. How happy could I be with either,

Were t'other dear Charmer away!

But while you thus teaze me together,

To neither a Word will I say;

But tol de rol, &c.

POLLY. Sure, my Dear, there ought to be some Preference shewn to a Wife! At least she may claim the Appearance of it. He must be distracted with his Misfortunes, or he could not use me thus.

LUCY. O Villain, Villain! thou hast deceiv'd me - I could even inform against thee with Pleasure. Not a Prude wishes more heartily to have Facts against her intimate Acquaintance, than I now wish to have Facts against thee. I would have her Satisfaction, and they should all out.

AIR XXXV. Irish Trot.

POLLY. I am bubbled.

LUCY. . . . I'm bubbled.

POLLY. O how I am troubled!

LUCY. Bambouzled, and bit!

POLLY. . . . My Distresses are doubled.

LUCY. When you come to the Tree, should the Hangman refuse,

These Fingers, with Pleasure, could fasten the Noose.

POLLY. I'm bubbled, &c.

MACHEATH. Be pacified, my dear Lucy - This is all a Fetch of Polly's, to make me desperate with you in case I get off. If I am hang'd, she would fain have the Credit of being thought my Widow - Really, Polly, this is no time for a Dispute of this sort; for whenever you are talking of Marriage, I am thinking of Hanging.

POLLY. And hast thou the Heart to persist in disowning me?

MACHEATH. And hast thou the Heart to persist in persuading me that I am married? Why, Polly, dost thou seek to aggravate my Misfortunes?

LUCY. Really, Miss Peachum, you but expose yourself. Besides, 'tis barbarous in you to worry a Gentleman in his Circumstances.


POLLY. Cease your Funning;

Force or Cunning

Never shall my Heart trapan.

All these Sallies

Are but Malice

To seduce my constant Man.

'Tis most certain,

By their flirting

Women oft' have Envy shown.

Pleas'd, to ruin

Others wooing;

Never happy in their own.

POLLY. Decency, Madam, methinks might teach you to behave yourself with some Reserve with the Husband, while his Wife is present.

MACHEATH. But seriously, Polly, this is carrying the Joke a little too far.

LUCY. If you are determin'd, Madam, to raise a Disturbance in the Prison, I shall be obliged to send for the Turnkey to shew you the Door. I am sorry, Madam, you force me to be so ill-bred.

POLLY. Give me leave to tell you, Madam: These forward Airs don't become you in the least, Madam. And my Duty, Madam, obliges me to stay with my Husband, Madam.

AIR XXXVII. Good-morrow, Gossip Joan.

LUCY. Why how now, Madam Flirt?

If you thus must chatter;

And are for flinging Dirt,

Let's try who best can spatter;

Madam Flirt.

POLLY. Why how now, saucy Jade;

Sure the Wench is tipsy!

How can you see me made [To him.]

The Scoff of such a Gipsy?

Saucy Jade! [To her.]

[Enter Peachum.]

PEACHUM. Where's my Wench? Ah Hussy! Hussy! - Come you home, you Slut; and when your Fellow is hang'd, hang yourself, to make your Family some Amends.

POLLY. Dear, dear Father, do not tear me from him - I must speak; I have more to say to him - Oh! twist thy Fetters about me, that he may not haul me from thee!

PEACHUM. Sure all Women are alike! If ever they commit the Folly, they are sure to commit another by exposing themselves - Away Not a Word more - You are my Prisoner, now, Hussy.

AIR XXXVIII. Irish Howl.

POLLY. No Power on Earth can e'er divide

The Knot that sacred Love hath ty'd.

When Parents draw against our Mind,

The True-Love's Knot they faster bind.

Oh, oh ray, oh Amborah - oh, oh, &c.

[Holding Macheath, Peachum pulling her.]