The Rover; Or, The Banish'd Cavaliers, Part Ii Quotes

Aphra Behn

"Poverty's Catching"

Context: Willmore, the Rover, is an English Cavalier banished from his native land because of his loyalty to the crown during the civil wars. He has become a professional soldier who travels about Europe seeking employment and pleasure. Arriving in Madrid, he meets two women who fall in love with him. One is La Nuche, a Spanish courtesan; the other is Ariadne, stepdaughter to the English ambassador. The latter is engaged to marry Beaumond, the ambassador's nephew and Willmore's friend. Beaumond, too, is fascinated by La Nuche. One day while Willmore is talking with La Nuche they are interrupted by Don Carlo, an aged admirer of the courtesan. Later, after a scuffle, Willmore rejoins La Nuche in a nearby church, where he accuses the girl of having loved him for his appearance and supposed wealth; she accuses him of being too eager to know every woman he can. Because La Nuche's bawd, Petronella Elenora, has made advances to Nicholas Fetherfool, Willmore accuses La Nuche of being interested only in plying her trade. La Nuche angrily replies that Willmore ought to try the trade before he treats her so harshly. As they argue with each other, Petronella, accompanied by Sancho, La Nuche's bodyguard, comes up. Observing La Nuche wasting her time, as the bawd sees it, with a penniless man, Petronella makes a caustic comment to her and then speaks to Sancho, bidding him go with her:

LA NUCHE [to Willmore]
There's your eternal Quarrel to our Sex, 'twere a fine Trade indeed to keep a Shop and give your Ware for Love: would it turn to account think ye, Captain, to trick and dress, to receive all wou'd enter? faith, Captain, try the Trade.
What in discourse with this Railer!–come away; Poverty's catching. [Speaking to Sancho.]