Scene 1 - Peachum’s House

Peachum sitting at a table, with a large book of accounts before him

Air.—An old woman clothed in grey

Through all the employments of life,
   Each neighbour abuses his brother,
Whore and rogue they call husband and wife;
   All professions berogue one another:
The priest calls the lawyer a cheat,
   The lawyer beknaves the divine,
And the statesman, because he’s so great,
   Thinks his trade as honest as mine.

A lawyer is an honest employment; so is mine. Like me, too, he acts in a double capacity, both against rogues and for ’em. For ’tis but fitting that we should protect and encourage cheats, since we live by ’em.

Enter Filch

Filch. Sir, Black Moll hath sent word her trial comes on in the afternoon; and she hopes you will order matters so as to bring her off.

Peach. Why, she may plead her belly at worst; to my knowledge, she hath taken care of that security. But, as the wench is very active and industrious, you may satisfy her that I’ll soften the evidence.

Filch. Tom Gagg, sir, is found guilty.

Peach. A lazy dog! When I took him the time before, I told him what he would come to if he did not mend his hand. This is death, without reprieve. I may venture to book him. [Writes.] ‘For Tom Gagg, forty pounds.’ Let Betty Sly know that I’ll save her from transportation; for I can get more by her staying in England.

Filch. Betty hath brought more goods into our lock to-year than any five of the gang; and, in truth, ’tis a pity to lose so good a customer.

Peach. If none of the gang take her off, she may, in the common course of business, live a twelvemonth longer. I love to let women ’scape. A good sportsman always lets the hen-partridges fly, because the breed of the game depends upon them. Besides, here the law allows us no reward. There is nothing to be got by the death of women—except our wives.

Filch. Without dispute she is a fine woman! ’Twas to her I was obliged for my education. And, to say a bold word, she hath trained up more young fellows to the business than the gaming-table.

Peach. Truly, Filch, thy observation is right. We, and the surgeons, are more beholden to women than all the professions besides.

Air.—The bonny grey-eyed morn, etc.

Filch. ’Tis woman that seduces all mankind;

   By her we first were taught the wheedling arts.
Her very eyes can cheat; when most she’s kind,
   She tricks us of our money with our hearts!
For her, like wolves, by night we roam for prey,
   And practise every fraud to bribe her charms;
For suits of love, like law, are won by pay,
   And beauty must be fee’d into our arms.

Peach. But make haste to Newgate, boy, and let my friends know what I intend; for I love to make them easy one way or other.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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