A monologue from the play by Thomas Dekker

  • NOTE: This monologue is reprinted from The Chief Elizabethan Dramatists. Ed. William Allan Neilson. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1911.
  • HIPPOLITO: [Taking up a picture]
    My Infelice's face, her brow, her eye,
    The dimple on her cheek! And such sweet skill
    Hath from the cunning workman's pencil flown,
    These lips look fresh and lively as her own,
    Seeming to move and speak. 'Las, now I see
    The reason why fond women love to buy
    Adulterate complexion! Here 'tis read:
    False colors last after the true be dead.
    Of all the roses grafted on her cheeks,
    Of all the graces dancing in her eyes,
    Of all the music set upon her tongue,
    Of all that was past woman's excellence,
    In her white bosom--look!--a painted board
    Circumscribes all. Earth can no bliss afford.
    Nothing of her but this? This cannot speak,
    It has no lap for me to rest upon,
    No lip worth tasting; here the worms will feed,
    As in her coffin. Hence, then, idle art!
    True love's best pictured in a truelove's heart.
    Here art thou drawn, sweet maid, till this be dead,
    So that thou liv'st twice, twice art buriƩd.
    Thou figure of my friend, lie there.
    What's here? [Takes up a skull]
    Perhaps this shrewd pate was my enemy's.
    'Las, say it were! I need not fear him now!
    For all his boasts, his contumelious breath,
    His frowns, though dagger-pointed, all his plot,
    Though ne'er so mischievous, his Italian pills,
    His quarrels, and that common fence, his law,
    See, see, they're all eaten out! Here's not left one!
    How clean they're picked away to bare bone!
    How mad are mortals, then, to rear great names
    On tops of swelling houses, or to wear out
    Their fingers' ends in dirt, to scrape up gold,
    Not caring, so that sumpter horse, the back,
    Be hung with gaudy trappings! With what coarse,
    Yea, rags most beggarly, they clothe the soul!
    Yet, after all, their gayness looks thus foul.
    What fools are men to build a garish tomb,
    Only to save the carcass whilst it rots,
    To maintain 't long in stinking, make good carrion,
    But leave no good deeds to preserve them sound!
    For good deeds keep men sweet, long above ground.
    And must all come to this? Fools, wise, all hither?
    Must all heads thus at last be laid together?
    Draw me my picture then, thou grave neat workman,
    After this fashion, not like this. These colors
    In time, kissing but air, will be kissed off;
    But here's a fellow--that which he lays on
    Till doomsday alters not complexion.
    Death's best painter then; they that draw shapes
    And live by wicked faces are but God's apes.
    They come but near the life, and there they stay.
    This fellow draws life too; his art is fuller--
    The pictures which he makes are without color.