The filthyest wench in town

These snippets come from an anonymously published collection of Epigrams and Elegies printed c.1595. Now known to have been the work of Christopher Marlowe and John Davies, the book caused such a scandal that in 1599 Archbishop Whitgift ordered all copies to be publicly burned.

In Leucam 14

Leuca in presence once a fart did let,
Some laught a little, she forsooke the place:
and madde with shame, did eke her glove forget,
which she returnde to fetch with bashfull grace:
And when she would have said, my glove,
My fart (qd she) which did more laughter move.

In Cineam 19

Thou dogged Cineas hated like a dogge,
For still thou grumblest like a Mastie dogger
comparst thy selfe to nothing but a dogge,
Thou saist thou art as weary as a dogge.
As angry, sick, & hungry as a dogge,
As dull and melancholy as a dogge:
As lazie, sleepie, & as idle as a dogge.
But why dost thou compare thee to a dogge?
In that, for which all men despise a dogge,
I will compare thee better to a dogge.

Thou art as faire and comely as a dogge,
Thou art as true and honest as a dogge,
Thou art as kinde and liberall as a dogge,
Thou art as wise and valiant as a dogge.
But Cineas, I have oft heard thee tell,
Thou art as like thy father as may be,
Tis like inough, and faith I like it well,
But I am glad thou art not like to me.

In Gellam 26

If gellas beautie be examined
she hath a dull dead eye, a saddle nose,
An ill shapte face, with morpheus overspread,
and rotten Teeth which she in laughing showes.
Brieflie she is the filthyest wench in Towne,
of all that do the art of whooring use:
But when she hath put on her sattin gowne,
Her out lawne apron, & her velvet shooes.

Her greene silk stockings, and her peticoate,
Of Taffata, with golden frindge a-rounde:
And is withall perfumed with civet hot,
which doth her valiant stinking breath confounde
Yet she with these addicions is no more,
Then a sweete, filthie, fine ill favored whoore.

In Francum 33

When Francus comes to sollace with his whoore
He sends for rods and strips himselfe stark naked:
For his lust sleepes, and will not rise before,
by whipping of the wench it be awaked.
I envie him not, but wish he had the powre,
To make my selfe his wench but one halfe houre

Ad amicam.

I aske but right let her that cought me late,
Eyther love, or cause that I may hate.
I crave too much, would she but let me love her
love knows with such like praise I dailie move her
Accept him that will serve thee all his youth,
Accept him that will love thee with spotless truth.
If loftie titles cannot cause me to be thine
that am descended but of Knightlie line.
Soone may you plow the little landes I have,
I gladlie graunt my parents given, to save
Appollo, Bacchus, and the Muses may,
and Cupid who hath markt me for thy pray,
My spotlesse life, which but to gods give place,
Naked simplicitie, & modest grace.
I love but one, and her I love change never,
If men have faith, ile live with thee for ever.
The yeeres that fatal destenie shall give,
ile live with thee, and die, or thou shalt grieve.
Be thou the happie subject of my bookes
That I may write thinges worthy thy faire lookes.
By verses horned I got her name,
and she whom in shape of Bull love came.
And she that on a fainde Bull swam to land,
griping his false hornes with her virgin hand.
So likewise we will through the worlde be rung,
And with my name shall thine be alwaies sung.

© 2009-2012 All Rights Reserved


  • July 7, 2010 - 12:33 pm | Permalink

    It wasn’t just this book which was burned. I suspect, as you say, it served to alarm potential writers, but with the 17th C as elsewhere, it was hard to keep a seditious author down.

  • July 6, 2010 - 1:08 am | Permalink

    I wonder if Archbishop Whitgift ordering all the copies to be publicly burned was any more successful in controlling peoples’ thinking and writing than it was in later centuries. I suppose if the books were publicly burned, it would have at least frightened the locals into behaving well.

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