The Beggar's Opera - John Gay
1. What a dickens is the Woman always a whimpring about Murder for? No
2. Gentleman is ever look’d upon the worse for killing a Man in his own Defence;
3. and if Business cannot be carried on without it, what would you have a
4. Gentleman do?
5. If I am in the wrong, my Dear, you must excuse me, for no body can help the
6. Frailty of an over-scrupulous Conscience.
7. Murder is as fashionable a Crime as a Man can be guilty of. How many fine
8. Gentlemen have we in Newgate every Year, purely upon that
9. Article! If they have wherewithal to persuade the Jury to bring it in
10. Manslaughter, what are they the worse for it? So, my Dear, have done upon
11. this Subject. Was Captain Macheath here this Morning, for the
12. Bank-Notes he left with you last Week?
13. Yes, my Dear; and though the Bank hath stopt Payment, he was so chearful
14. and so agreeable! . . . Pray, my Dear, is the Captain rich?
15. The Captain keeps too good Company ever to grow rich. Marybone
16. and the Chocolate-houses are his Undoing. The Man that proposes to get Money
17. by play should have the Education of a fine Gentleman, and be train’d up to it
18. from his Youth.
19. Really, I am sorry upon Polly’s Account the Captain hath not
20. more Discretion. What Business hath he to keep Company with Lords and
21. Gentlemen? He should leave them to prey upon one another.
22. Upon Polly’s Account! What, a Plague, does the Woman mean?—
23. Upon Polly’s Account!
24. Captain Macheath is very fond of the Girl.
25. And what then?
26. If I have any Skill in the Ways of Women, I am sure Polly thinks
27. him a very pretty Man.
28. And what then? You would not be so mad to have the Wench marry him!
29. Gamesters and Highwaymen are generally very good to their Whores, but
30. they are very Devils to their Wives.
31. But if Polly should be in Love, how should we help her, or how can
32. she help herself? Poor Girl, I am in the utmost Concern about her.
33. If Love the Virgin’s Heart invade,
34. How, like a Moth, the simple Maid
35. Still plays about the Flame!
36. If soon she be not made a Wife,
37. Her Honour’s sing’d, and then for Life,
39. She’s—what I dare not name.
40. Look ye, Wife. A handsome Wench in our way of Business is as profitable as at
41. the Bar of a Temple Coffee-House, who looks upon it as her
42. livelihood to grant every Liberty but one. You see I would indulge the Girl as
43. far as prudently we can. In any thing, but Marriage! After that, my Dear, how
44. shall we be safe? Are we not then in her Husband’s Power? For a Husband
45. hath the absolute Power over all a Wife’s Secrets but her own. If the Girl had
46. the Discretion of a Court-Lady, who can have a Dozen young Fellows at her Ear
47. without complying with one, I should not matter it; but Polly is
48. Tinder, and a Spark will at once set her on a Flame. Married! If the Wench
49. does not know her own Profit, sure she knows her own Pleasure better than
50. to make herself a Property! My Daughter to me should be, like a Court-Lady to
51. a Minister of State, a Key to the whole Gang. Married! If the Affair is not
52. already done, I’ll terrify her from it, by the Example of our Neighbours.
53. May-hap, my Dear, you may injure the Girl. She loves to imitate the fine
54. Ladies, and she may only allow the Captain Liberties in the view of Interest.
55. But ’tis your Duty, my Dear, to warn the Girl against her Ruin, and to instruct
56. her how to make the most of her Beauty. I’ll go to her this moment, and sift her.
57. Never was a Man more out of the way in an Argument than my Husband!
58. Why must our Polly, forsooth, differ from her Sex, and love only
59. her Husband? And why must Polly’s Marriage, contrary to all
60. Observations, make her the less followed by other Men? All Men are Thieves
61. in Love, and like a Woman the better for being another’s Property.
How is Mrs. Peachum’s view of Polly different than her husband’s?