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Ben Jonson


Ben Jonson

English writer
byname of Benjamin Jonson
born June 11?, 1572, London, Eng.
died Aug. 6, 1637, London

English Stuart dramatist, lyric poet, and literary critic. He is generally regarded as the second most important English dramatist, after William Shakespeare, during the reign of James I. Among his major plays are the comedies Every Man in His Humour (1598), Volpone (1605), Epicoene; or, The Silent Woman (1609), The Alchemist (1610), and Bartholomew Fair (1614).

Theatrical career
Jonson was born two months after his father died. His stepfather was a bricklayer, but by good fortune the boy was able to attend Westminster School. His formal education, however, ended early, and he at first followed his stepfather’s trade, then fought with some success with the English forces in the Netherlands. On returning to England, he became an actor and playwright, experiencing the life of a strolling player. He apparently played the leading role of Hieronimo in Thomas Kyd’s The Spanish Tragedy. By 1597 he was writing plays for Philip Henslowe, the leading impresario for the public theatre. With one exception (The Case Is Altered), these early plays are known, if at all, only by their titles. Jonson apparently wrote tragedies as well as comedies in these years, but his extant writings include only two tragedies, Sejanus (1603) and Catiline (1611).

The year 1598 marked an abrupt change in Jonson’s status, when Every Man in His Humour was successfully presented by the Lord Chamberlain’s theatrical company (a legend has it that Shakespeare himself recommended it to them), and his reputation was established. In this play Jonson tried to bring the spirit and manner of Latin comedy to the English popular stage by presenting the story of a young man with an eye for a girl, who has difficulty with a phlegmatic father, is dependent on a clever servant, and is ultimately successful—in fact, the standard plot of the Latin dramatist Plautus. But at the same time Jonson sought to embody in four of the main characters the four “humours” of medieval and Renaissance medicine—choler, melancholy, phlegm, and blood—which were thought to determine human physical and mental makeup.

That same year Jonson killed a fellow actor in a duel, and, though he escaped capital punishment by pleading “benefit of clergy” (the ability to read from the Latin Bible), he could not escape branding. During his brief imprisonment over the affair he became a Roman Catholic.

Following the success of Every Man in His Humour, the same theatrical company acted Jonson’s Every Man Out of His Humour (1599), which was even more ambitious. It was the longest play ever written for the Elizabethan public theatre, and it strove to provide an equivalent of the Greek comedy of Aristophanes; “induction,” or “prelude,” and regular between-act comment explicated the author’s views on what the drama should be.

The play, however, proved a disaster, and Jonson had to look elsewhere for a theatre to present his work. The obvious place was the “private” theatres, in which only young boys acted (see children’s company). The high price of admission they charged meant a select audience, and they were willing to try strong satire and formal experiment; for them Jonson wrote Cynthia’s Revels (c. 1600) and Poetaster (1601). Even in these, however, there is the paradox of contempt for human behaviour hand in hand with a longing for human order.

From 1605 to 1634 he regularly contributed masques for the courts of James I and Charles I, collaborating with the architect and designer Inigo Jones. This marked his favour with the court and led to his post as poet laureate.

His masques at court
It appears that Jonson won royal attention by his Entertainment at Althorpe, given before James I’s queen as she journeyed down from Scotland in 1603, and in 1605 The Masque of Blackness was presented at court. The “masque” was a quasi-dramatic entertainment, primarily providing a pretense for a group of strangers to dance and sing before an audience of guests and attendants in a royal court or nobleman’s house. This elementary pattern was much elaborated during the reign of James I, when Jones provided increasingly magnificent costumes and scenic effects for masques at court. The few spoken words that the masque had demanded in Elizabethan days expanded into a “text” of a few hundred lines and a number of set songs. Thus the author became important as well as the designer: he was to provide not only the necessary words but also a special “allegorical” meaning underlying the whole entertainment. It was Jonson, in collaboration with Jones, who gave the Jacobean masque its characteristic shape and style. He did this primarily by introducing the suggestion of a “dramatic” action. It was thus the poet who provided the informing idea and dictated the fashion of the whole night’s assembly. Jonson’s early masques were clearly successful, for during the following years he was repeatedly called upon to function as poet at court. Among his masques were Hymenaei (1606), Hue and Cry After Cupid (1608), The Masque of Beauty (1608), and The Masque of Queens (1609). In his masques Jonson was fertile in inventing new motives for the arrival of the strangers. But this was not enough: he also invented the “antimasque,” which preceded the masque proper and which featured grotesques or comics who were primarily actors rather than dancers or musicians.

Important though Jonson was at the court in Whitehall, it was undoubtedly Jones’s contributions that caused the most stir. That tension should arise between the two men was inevitable, and eventually friction led to a complete break: Jonson wrote the Twelfth Night masque for the court in 1625 but then had to wait five years before the court again asked for his services.

His prime and later life
In 1606 Jonson and his wife (whom he had married in 1594) were brought before the consistory court in London to explain their lack of participation in the Anglican church. He denied that his wife was guilty but admitted that his own religious opinions held him aloof from attendance. The matter was patched up through his agreement to confer with learned men, who might persuade him if they could. Apparently it took six years for him to decide to conform. For some time before this he and his wife had lived apart, Jonson taking refuge in turn with his patrons Sir Robert Townshend and Esmé Stuart, Lord Aubigny.

During this period, nevertheless, he made a mark second only to Shakespeare’s in the public theatre. His comedies Volpone; or, the Foxe (1606) and The Alchemist (1610) were among the most popular and esteemed plays of the time. Each exhibited man’s folly in the pursuit of gold. Set respectively in Italy and London, they demonstrate Jonson’s enthusiasm both for the typical Renaissance setting and for his own town on Europe’s fringe. Both plays are eloquent and compact, sharp-tongued and controlled. The comedies Epicoene (1609) and Bartholomew Fair (1614) were also successful.

Jonson embarked on a walking tour in 1618–19, which took him to Scotland. During the visit the city of Edinburgh made him an honorary burgess and guild brother. On his return to England he received an honorary Master of Arts degree from Oxford University, a most signal honour in his time. Jonson’s life was a life of talk as well as of writing. He engaged in “wit-combats” with Shakespeare and reigned supreme. It was a young man’s ultimate honour to be regarded as a “son of Ben.”

In 1623 his personal library was destroyed by fire. By this time his services were seldom called on for the entertainment of Charles I’s court, and his last plays failed to please. In 1628 he suffered what was apparently a stroke and, as a result, was confined to his room and chair, ultimately to his bed. That same year he was made city chronologer (thus theoretically responsible for the city’s pageants), though in 1634 his salary for the post was made into a pension. Jonson died in 1637 and was buried in Westminster Abbey.

The first folio edition of his works had appeared in 1616; posthumously, in a second Jonson folio (1640), appeared Timber: or, Discoveries, a series of observations on life and letters. Here Jonson held forth on the nature of poetry and drama and paid his final tribute to Shakespeare: in spite of acknowledging a belief that his great contemporary was, on occasion, “full of wind”—sufflaminandus erat—he declared that “I loved the man, and do honour his memory, on this side idolatry, as much as any.”

His plays and achievement
Ben Jonson occupies by common consent the second place among English dramatists of the reigns of Elizabeth I and James I. He was a man of contraries. For “twelve years a papist,” he was also—in fact though not in title—Protestant England’s first poet laureate. His major comedies express a strong distaste for the world in which he lived and a delight in exposing its follies and vices. A gifted lyric poet, he wrote two of his most successful plays entirely in prose, an unusual mode of composition in his time. Though often an angry and stubborn man, no one had more disciples than he. He was easily the most learned dramatist of his time, and he was also a master of theatrical plot, language, and characterization. It is a measure of his reputation that his dramatic works were the first to be published in folio (the term, in effect, means the “collected works”) and that his plays held their place on the stage until the period of the Restoration. Later they fell into neglect, though The Alchemist was revived during the 18th century, and in the mid-20th century several came back into favour: Volpone, The Alchemist, and Bartholomew Fair especially have been staged with striking success.

Jonson’s chief plays are still very good theatre. His insistence on putting classical theory into practice in them has reinforced rather than weakened the effect of his gift of lively dialogue, robust characterization, and intricate, controlled plotting. In each of them he maneuvers a large cast of vital personages, all consistently differentiated from one another. Jonson’s plots are skillfully put together; incident develops out of incident in a consistent chain of cause and effect, taking into account the respective natures of the personages involved and proceeding confidently through a twisting, turning action that is full of surprises without relying on coincidence or chance. Sometimes Jonson’s comedy derives from the dialogue, especially when it is based on his observation of contemporary tricks of speech. But there are also superbly ludicrous situations, often hardly removed from practical joke.

Jonson is renowned for his method of concentrating on a selected side, or on selected sides, of a character, showing how they dominate the personality. This is to some extent a natural outcome of his classical conception of art, but it also stems from his clear, shrewd observation of people. In Jonson’s plays both eccentricity and normal behaviour are derived from a dominating characteristic, so that the result is a live, truthfully conceived personage in whom the ruling passion traces itself plainly. The later plays, for example, have characters whose behaviour is dominated by one psychological idiosyncrasy. But Jonson did not deal exclusively in “humours.” In some of his plays (notably Every Man in His Humour), the stock types of Latin comedy contributed as much as the humours theory did. What the theory provided for him and for his contemporaries was a convenient mode of distinguishing among human beings. The distinctions so made could be based on the “humours,” on Latin comic types, or, as in Volpone, in the assimilation of humans to different members of the animal kingdom. The characters Volpone, Mosca, Sir Epicure Mammon, Face, Subtle, Dol Common, Overdo, and Ursula are not simply “humours”; they are glorious type figures, so vitally rendered as to take on a being that transcends the type. This method was one of simplification, of typification, and yet also of vitalization.

The Restoration dramatists’ use of type names for their characters (Cockwood, Witwoud, Petulant, Pinchwife, and so on) was a harking back to Jonson, and similarly in the 18th century, with such characters as Peachum, Lumpkin, Candour, and Languish. And though, as the 18th century proceeded, comic dramatists increasingly used names quite arbitrarily, the idea of the Jonsonian “type” or “humour” was always at the root of their imagining. Jonson thus exerted a great influence on the playwrights who immediately followed him. In the late Jacobean and Caroline years, it was he, Shakespeare, and Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher who provided all the models. But it was he, and he alone, who gave the essential impulse to dramatic characterization in comedy of the Restoration and also in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Clifford Leech




Type of work: Drama
Author: Ben Jonson (15737-1637)
Type of plot: Comedy of manners
Time of plot: Early seventeenth century
Locale: London
First presented: 1610

A masterpiece of plot construction, The Alchemist marked the peak of Jonson's career. A delightful, entertaining satire on human greed, this play is free of the sermonizing that characterizes the dramatist's other work.

Principal Characters

Subtle, the Alchemist, a moldy, disreputable cheat. Joining forces with Jeremy Butler and Dol Common, he uses his fund of scientific and pseudo-scientific jargon to fleece the gullible. He promises large returns from transmutation of metals, astrological prophecies, physical nostrums, or whatever seems most likely to entrap his victims. When the master of the house returns, he is forced to take flight without his gains.
Face (Jeremy Butler), Subtle's contact man, who furnishes his master's house as the Alchemist's headquarters. He is a resourceful, quick-witted improviser. Disguised as a rough, blunt captain, he entices victims to the house. When his master, Lovewit, returns home unexpectedly, he arranges a marriage between Lovewit and the Widow Pliant, thereby escaping punishment.
Dol Common, the third of the tricksters, common mistress of the other two. Her dominant personality keeps her quarrelsome cohorts in line. She can act various roles, such as an exotic lady or the Queen of the Fairies to carry out Subtle's various schemes. Along with Subtle she is forced to flee with the jeers of Face following her.
Sir Epicure Mammon, a fantastic voluptuary. He is a veritable fountain of lust and imagined luxury, and he seeks the philosopher's stone to help him to unbounded self-indulgence. When his investment is wiped out by the explosion of the Alchemist's furnace, planned and well-timed by Subtle, Sir Epicure confesses that he has been justly punished for his voluptuous mind.
Abel Drugger, a small-time tobacconist ambitious for commercial success. Engaged to the Widow Pliant, he brings her and her brother Kastril to the Alchemist. He is tricked out of not only his money but the widow.
Kastril, the angry boy, brother of the Widow Pliant. He has come up to London to learn to smoke and quarrel. Face uses him to get rid of the skeptic, Surly. He is much taken with old Lovewit, who quarrels well, and consent* to his sister's marriage with him.
Pertinax Surly, a sour skeptic who prides himself on being too astute to be tricked. First coming to the Alchemist's as a friend of Sir Epicure, he returns disguised as a Spanish don, planning to save the Widow Pliant from Subtle and Face and to marry her. He is driven away by Kastril and loses the widow to Lovewit.
Tribulation Wholesome, an oily Puritan hypocrite from Amsterdam. Himself quite willing to compromise his conscience for profit, he has difficulty restraining his uncompromising companion, Deacon Ananias.
Ananias, a deacon, a hot-tempered zealot who considers even the word Christmas a Papist abomination. Quarrelsome at first, he finally agrees that counterfeiting is lawful if it is for the benefit of the faithful. Along with Tribulation he is driven away by Lovewit.
Dame Pliant, an easy-going, attractive young widow, affianced to Drugger, but perfectly willing to accept another husband. Subtle and Face both hope to marry her, but the latter decides that it is safer to hand her over to Lovewit, his master.
Lovewit, the master of the house who has left London because of the plague. His absence sets up the plot; his return resolves it. He drives away Subtle. Dol. and their victims, but forgives Jeremy Butler (Face) when he arranges a marriage between his master and the rich young widow, Dame Pliant.


The Story

Master Lovewit having left the city because of plague, his butler, Jeremy, known as Face to his friends of the underworld, invited Subtle, a swindler posing as an alchemist, and Dol Common, a prostitute, to join him in using the house as a base of operations for their rascally activities. Matters fared well for the three until a dispute arose between Face and Subtle over authority. Dol, seeing their money-making projects doomed if this strife continued, rebuked the two men and cajoled them back to their senses.
No sooner had Face and Subtle become reconciled than Dapper, a gullible lawyer's clerk given to gambling, called, by previous arrangement with Face, to learn from the eminent astrologer, Doctor Subtle, how to win at all games of chance. Dapper, in the hands of the two merciless rascals, was relieved of all his ready cash, in return for which Subtle predicted that Dapper would have good luck at the gaming tables. In order to gull Dapper further, Subtle told him to return later to confer with the Queen of Fairy, a mysterious benefactress who could promote Dapper's worldly success.
Abel Drugger, an ambitious young druggist who had been led on by Face, was the next victim to enter the house. To his delight, he learned from Subtle, who spoke in incomprehensible pharmaceutical and astrological jargon, that he would have a rich future.
Next arrived Sir Epicure Mammon, a greedy and lecherous knight, with his friend Pertinax Surly, a man versed in the ways of London confidence men. Having been promised the philosopher's stone by Subtle, Mammon had wild visions of transforming all of his possessions into gold and silver, but he was completely taken in by the duplicities of Subtle and Face. Subtle further aroused Mammon's greed by describing at length, in the pseudo-scientific gibberish of the alchemist-confidence man, the processes which led to his approximate achievement of the mythical philosopher's stone. Surly, quick to see what was afoot, scoffed at Subtle and at the folly of Mammon.
During the interview Mammon caught sight of Dol, who appeared inadvertently, and was fascinated. Thinking quickly. Face told Mammon that Dol was an aristocratic lady who, being mad, was under the care of Doctor Subtle but who in her moments of sanity was most affable. Before he left the house Mammon promised to send to the unprincipled Subtle certain of his household objects of base metal for the purpose of having them transmuted into gold.
The parade of victims continued. Elder Ananias of the Amsterdam community of extreme Protestants came to negotiate for his group with Subtle for the philosopher's stone. Subtle, with Face as his assistant, repeated his extravagant jargon to the impressionable Ananias, who, in his greed, declared that the brethren were impatient with the slowness of the experiment. Subtle, feigning professional indignation, frightened Ananias with a threat to put out forever his alchemist's fire.
Drugger reappeared to be duped further. Subtle and Face were delighted when he told them that a wealthy young widow had taken lodgings near his and that her brother, just come into an inheritance, had journeyed to London to learn how to quarrel in rakish fashion. The two knaves plotted eagerly to get brother and sister into their clutches.
Ananias returned with his pastor, Tribulation Wholesome. Both Puritans managed to wink at moral considerations as Subtle glowingly described the near completion of the philosopher's stone. Prepared to go to any ends to procure the stone, Ananias and Tribulation contracted to purchase Mammon's household articles, which, Subtle explained, he needed for the experiment; the proceeds of the sale would go toward the care of orphans for whom Subtle said he was responsible.
Subtle and Face also plotted to sell these same household articles to the young widow, who, having just moved to London, was probably in need of such items. In the meantime Face met in the streets a Spanish Don—Surly in clever disguise—who expressed a desire to confer with Subtle on matters of business and health.
Dapper returned to meet the Queen of Fairy. At the same time Drugger brought to the house Master Kastril, the angry young man who would learn to quarrel. Kastril was completely taken in. Subtle, promising to make him a perfect London gallant, arranged to have him instructed by Face, who posed as a city captain. Kastril was so pleased with his new acquaintances that he sent Drugger to bring his sister to the house.
Kastril having departed, Dol, Subtle, and Face relieved Dapper of all of his money in a ridiculous ritual in which Dapper was to see and talk to the Queen of Fairy. During the shameless proceedings Mammon knocked. Dapper, who had been blindfolded, was gagged and hastily put into a water closet at the rear of the house. Mammon entered and began to woo Dol, whom he believed to be a distracted aristocratic lady. Face and Subtle, in order to have the front part of the house clear for further swindles, shunted the amorous pair to another part of the house.
Young Kastril returned with his widowed sister, Dame Pliant; both were deeply impressed by Subtle's manner and by his rhetoric. When the Spanish Don arrived, Subtle escorted Kastril and Dame Pliant to inspect his laboratory. By that time both Subtle and Face were determined to wed Dame Pliant.
Face introduced the Spaniard to Dame Pliant, who, in spite of her objections to Spaniards in general, consented to walk in the garden with the Don.
Meanwhile, in another part of the house, Dol assumed madness. Subtle, discovering the distraught Mammon with her, declared that Mammon's moral laxity would surely delay completion of the philosopher's stone. Following a loud explosion, Face reported that the laboratory was a shambles. Mammon despondently left the house, and Subtle simulated a fainting spell.
In the garden Surly revealed his true identity to Dame Pliant and warned the young widow against the swindlers. When, as Surly, he confronted the two rogues, Face, in desperation, told Kastril that Surly was an impostor who was trying to steal Dame Pliant away. Drugger entered and, being Face's creature, insisted that he knew Surly to be a scoundrel. Then Ananias came to the house and all but wrecked Subtle's plot by talking indiscreetly of making counterfeit money. Unable to cope with the wily rascals, Surly departed, followed by Kastril.
Glad to be rid of his callers, Subtle placed Dame Pliant in Dol's care. But they were once more thrown into confusion when Lovewit, owner of the house, made an untimely appearance. Face, quickly reverting to his normal role of Jeremy, the butler, went to the door in an attempt to detain his master long enough to permit Subtle and Dol to escape.
Although warned by his butler that the house was infested, Lovewit suspected that something was amiss when Mammon and Surly returned to expose Subtle and Face. Kastril, Ananias, and Tribulation confirmed their account. Dapper, having managed to get rid of his gag, cried out inside the house. Deciding that honesty was the only policy, Face confessed everything to his master and promised to provide him with a wealthy young widow as his wife, if Lovewit would have mercy on his servant.
In the house, meanwhile, Subtle concluded the gulling of Dapper and sent the young clerk on his way, filled with the belief that he would win at all games of chance. Subtle and Dol then tried to abscond with the threesome's loot, but Face, back in Lovewit's good graces, thwarted them in their attempt. They were forced to escape empty-handed by the back gate.
Lovewit won the hand of Dame Pliant and in his good humor forgave his crafty butler. When those who had been swindled demanded retribution, they were finally convinced that they had been mulcted as a result of their own selfishness and greed.


Critical Evaluation

For anyone interested in learning how to take in the gullible, Ben Jonson's The Alchemist is a fundamental text. "Cony-catching" was a popular practice in Elizabethan England, and Jonson, an intimate of London's jails, taverns, theaters, and places of even less repute, here reveals the technique on several of the most amusing and lucrative ploys. And his protagonist, it should be noted, gets off scot-free.
The complex and incongruous tone of life in London in the Elizabethan Age helped account for the widespread faith in astrology and alchemy and helped make them leading gimmicks. Commerce thrived, but people were not far from believing in the dragons slain by King Arthur's knights. Many believed also that the dawning age of science would discover a "Philosopher's Stone" which would transmute dross into gold. Jonson's London, the London of The Alchemist, was growing and glittering and slightly hysterical, and cozening was easy, widespread, and immensely successful.
The critical response to the play has been intriguing. Coleridge, presumably impressed by the play's adherence to the classical unities, praised it as having one of the most perfect plots in literature. Several modern commentators have contended that while The Alchemist does cleave to the classical ideals, it is not a proper comedy, it has no plot at all, and it consists merely of a series of linked incidents. Romantic and Victorian critics particularly, enchanted by Jonson's contemporary and diametric opposite, William Shakespeare, were put off by Jonson's classical forms, his satiric manner, and his coarseness. They also disliked his unemotional tone, controlled plots, and intellectual detachment. While The Alchemist lacks none of these features, they do not necessarily render it deficient.
The classical ideals are so well met in The Alchemist that the play is in its own way a small masterpiece. Jonson observes unity of time in that the dramatic situation is enacted in the same amount of time that it would take in real life. Unity of place is maintained in that the scene, Lovewit's house in the Friars, is specific and limited. The discrete beginning, middle, and conclusion of the play provide for unity of action. The characters are types who behave consistently, doing nothing unexpected, and thus the ideal of decorum, the paramount classical precept, is met; Jonson's prostitute is bawdy, his churchmen sanctimonious.
Faithfulness to classical concepts, however, is not the only virtue of The Alchemist. A talented actor as well as a writer of poetry, masques, criticism, and tragic and comic plays, Jonson was a masterful manipulator of theatrical effects. The opening argument of The Alchemist, presented in antic verse, catapults the play headlong into a rollicking, boisterous, bawd\ life of its own. The simple yet ingenious plot provides for the multiplicity of incident dear to the Renaissance heart; costume, disguise, and transmutation of idemit\ are similarly exploited.
The internal development is more complex than some critics suggest. The characters are introduced in approximate order of both their social status and rapacity. As these advance, so does the degree of cozening inflicted by Face and Subtle, and this progression reinforces the cohesiveness of the play. Although the fates of the characters are not contingent, since all are frauds or dupes, they interact in complex and amusing ways. These interactions, which become so dense that eventually Face and Subtle have their victims cozening each other, engender organic unity and dramatic tension simultaneously. As the play advances, the number of characters on stage increases, the pace quickens, and the scenes grow shorter. The climax is predictable but impressive, the denouement tidy, and the entire proceeding animated by a genuine and hearty spirit.
Despite its qualifications as a well-wrought, clever, and entertaining play in the classical mode, The Alchemist owes much of its literary interest and charm to Jon-son's rhetorical flourishes. The underworld slang and alchemical jargon used by the protagonists lend color and authenticity. Double entendres and simultaneous dialogue (which originated with Jonson) add to the effect. But most impressive, perhaps, is the way Subtle and Face use a debased eloquence in perpetrating their frauds. One of Subtle's elegant, highly rhetorical, pseudo-rational arguments, for example, seems unequivocally to establish the propensity of all metals to turn into gold. Surly's calm and earnest reasoning with Dame Pliant, on the other hand, seems but a pale counterfeit of Subtle's spirited equivocation.
The Alchemist dramatizes what might happen when moral order is suspended by plague in London. Lovewit, representing responsible society, jettisons civic responsibility and flees the city, leaving behind only knaves and fools. Although the reader is reminded early that order will eventually be restored, society in the hands of the unscrupulous degenerates into chaos. The servant supplants the master, science is overthrown by alchemy, reason is toppled by rhetoric, nature's secrets are transcended, and the moral order is subverted as churchmen become swindlers.
Jonson's vehicle, satire, was quite popular in Elizabethan England, and in The Alchemist its effect is intensified by the plague in the background. Jonson intended to be instructive, even if it meant instructing by ridicule. And the classicist in him wanted to restore to England some of the glory of Augustan Rome. To this end Jonson adopted Cicero's famous definition of tragedy: "a copy of life, a mirror of custom, a representation of truth." Accordingly, he anchors his play in contemporary London and reflects the speech, behavior, and attitudes of its citizens. The Renaissance saw a shift in emphasis from the world of the Church to the world of experience, but while Jonson set an extremely worldly stage, his morality was severe and almost medieval. His moral values, clear from the first scene on, are constantly reiterated as The Alchemist indicts vain and wishful thinking and directs the mind to the contemplation of virtue. It is a sign of Ben Jonson's genius that he does so both unequivocally and entertainingly.




Type of work: Drama
Author: Ben Jonson (15737-1637)
Type of plot: Social satire
Time of plot: Sixteenth century
Locale: Venice
First presented: 1605


One of Ben Jonson's most effective "humours" comedies, Volpone is intricately plotted and vigorous and savage in its satire of hypocrisy, mendacity, and greed. In this play the characters resemble predatory beasts.


Principal Characters

Volpone (vol-po'na), the Fox, a Venetian magnifico. Delighting in foxlike trickery, Volpone scorns the easy gain of cheating widows and orphans and the hard gain of labor. He chooses for his victims Venice's leading crooked advocate, its most greedy and dishonest merchant, and its most hardened miser. The joy of the chase of gold and jewels belonging to other men is keener to him than the possession. He also delights in acting, both onstage and off. To fool others with disguises, makeup, and changes of voice is a passion with him. His three weaknesses are excessive trust of his unreliable parasite Mosca, his ungovernable desire for Corvino's virtuous wife Celia, and his overconfidence in his ability to deceive. When defeated, however, he shows a humorous and sporting self-knowledge and resignation to his punishment.
Mosca (mos'ka), the Gadfly, Volpone's malicious and witty parasite. Acting as the chief instrument of Volpone's trickery and the frequent instigator of additional pranks, he keeps the plot moving. Under cover of tormenting Volpone's victims, he often engages in annoying Volpone himself, almost always with impunity. His tantalizing of Volpone with sensuous descriptions of Celia sets in train the events that finally destroy both his master and himself. A master improviser of deceit and pranks, he becomes in love with his dear self, underestimates his master, and falls victim to his own overconfidence and greed. He whines and curses as he is dragged away to punishment.
Voltore (vol-to'ra), the Vulture, an advocate. A ruthless and voracious scavenger seeking the spoils of the dead, he yearns for Volpone's wealth. He is willing to connive whenever gain is apparent. A dangerous man when thwarted, he helps Volpone gain acquittal in his first trail; then, tormented beyond endurance by Mosca, who pretends that Volpone is dead and has left Voltore nothing, the lawyer reverses himself and causes the collapse of Volpone's plans.
Corbaccio (korba't-cho), the Raven, an aged miser. Feeble, stone-deaf, pathologically greedy, he is willing to risk his son's inheritance to have Volpone exchange wills with him; he is also willing to have Mosca administer poison in Volpone's sleeping draft to hasten the validation of the will.
Corvino (kor-ve'no), the Crow, the merchant husband of Celia. Mean-spirited, cowardly, and insanely jealous of his beautiful wife, he is the most repulsive of Volpone's victims. His greed is sufficient to counteract his jealousy, and he is willing to leave his wife in Volpone's hands in order to assure his future as Volpone's heir.
Celia (sel'ya), Corvino's virtuous wife. Cursed with a repulsive and pathologically jealous husband, the heavenly Celia faces her slander and perils with noble fortitude.
Bonario (bo-na'ryo), the good son of Corbaccio. He is the savior of Celia when she is helpless in Volpone's clutches.
Lady Politic Would-Be, a parrot-voiced, shallow-brained Englishwoman. She grates on Volpone's sensibilities so much that he is willing to lose the financial gain which she thrusts upon him. At any price he wishes to be rid of "my madam with the everlasting voice." Her unreasonable jealousy makes her a gullible tool when Mosca accuses her husband of having an affair with Celia; her resulting false testimony saves Volpone and convicts Celia and Bonario at the first trial.
Sir Politic Would-Be, a gullible, naive traveler. Eager to be thought a member of the inner circle of state knowledge, Sir Pol has a sinister explanation for even the most commonplace actions. He furnishes the picture of the ridiculous English tourist on the Continent.
Peregrine (ð¸ã'ý-grin), a sophisticated traveler. He finds amusement, mixed with contempt, in the credulities and foibles of Sir Pol.
Androgyne (an-droj's-no), the hermaphrodite.
Castrone (ka-stro'ne), the eunuch, and
Nano (na'no), the dwarf, household freaks kept by Volpone for amusement.
Avocatori (a-vo'ka-to're), the four judges. The ambition of the fourth, to marry his daughter to Mosca, stirs Volpone to make his confession, which saves Bonario and Celia and brings punishment on the evildoers.


The Story

Volpone and his servant, Mosca, were playing a cunning game with all who professed to be Volpone's friends, and the two conspirators boasted to themselves that Volpone acquired his riches not by the common means of trade but by a method which cheated no one in a commercial sense. Volpone had no heirs. Since it was believed he possessed a large fortune, many people were courting his favor in hopes of rich rewards after his death.
For three years, while the foxy Volpone feigned gout, catarrh, palsy, and consumption, valuable gifts had been given him. Mosca's role in the grand deception was to assure each hopeful donor that he was the one whom Volpone had honored in an alleged will.
To Voltore, one of the dupes, Mosca boasted that particular attention was being paid to Voltore's interests. When Voltore the vulture left, Corbaccio the crow followed. He brought a potion to help Volpone, or so he claimed. But Mosca knew better than to give his master medicine from those who were awaiting the fox's death. Mosca suggested that to influence Volpone, Corbaccio should go home, disinherit his own son, and leave his fortune to Volpone. In return for this generous deed, Volpone, soon to die, would leave his fortune to Corbaccio, whose son would benefit eventually.
Next came Corvino, who was assured by Mosca that Volpone, now near death, had named him in a will. After the merchant had gone, Mosca told Volpone that Corvino had a beautiful wife whom he guarded at all times. Volpone resolved to go in disguise to see this woman.
Sir Politic Would-Be and his wife were traveling in Venice. Peregrine, another English visitor, met Sir Politic on the street and gave him news from home. While the two Englishmen were trying to impress one another, Mosca and a servant came to the street and erected a stage for a medicine vendor to display his wares. Volpone, disguised as a mountebank, mounted the platform. While he haggled with Sir Politic and Peregrine over the price of his medicine, Celia appeared at her window and tossed down her handkerchief. Struck by Celia's beauty, Volpone resolved to possess her. Meanwhile Corvino brutally scolded Celia and told her that henceforth he would confine her to her room.
Mosca went to Corvino with news that physicians had recommended a healthy young girl sleep by Volpone's side and that other men were striving to be the first to win Volpone's gratitude in this manner. Not to be outdone, Corvino promised that Celia would be sent to Volpone.
Mosca also told Bonario, Corbaccio's son, that his father was about to disinherit him. He promised to lead Bonario to a place where he could witness his father's betrayal.
When Lady Politic Would-Be came to visit Volpone, she was so talkative Volpone feared she would make him actually sick. To relieve Volpone's distress, the servant told the lady that Sir Politic was in a gondola with a young girl. Lady Would-Be hurried off in pursuit of her husband. Volpone retired to a private closet while Mosca led Bonario behind a curtain so the young man could spy on Corbaccio. At that moment, eager to win favor with Volpone, Corvino arrived with Celia, and Mosca had to send Bonario off to another room so he would not know of her presence. Meanwhile Corvino had told Celia what she must do to prove her chastity. To quiet her fears and to guarantee the inheritance from Volpone, Corvino assured his distressed wife that Volpone was so decrepit he could not harm her.
When they were alone, Volpone leaped from his couch and displayed himself as an ardent lover. As he was about to force himself upon Celia, Bonario appeared from his hiding place and saved her. While Mosca and Volpone, in terror of exposure, bewailed their ruined plot, Corbaccio knocked. Volpone dashed back to his couch. As Mosca was assuring Corbaccio of Volpone's forthcoming death, Voltore entered the room and overheard the discussion. Mosca drew Voltore aside and assured the lawyer that he was attempting to get possession of Corbaccio's money so that Voltore would inherit more from Volpone. Mosca further explained that Bonario had mistaken Celia's visit and had burst in on Volpone and threatened to kill him. Taken in by Mosca's lies, Voltore promised to keep Bonario from accusing Volpone of rape and Corvino of villainy; he ordered the young man arrested.
Mosca proceeded with his case against Celia and Bonario. He had assured Corvino, Corbaccio, and Voltore, independently, that each would be the sole heir of Volpone. Now he added Lady Would-Be as a witness against Celia. In court Voltore presented Celia and Bonario as schemers against Corvino and he further showed that Bonario's father had disinherited his son and that Bonario had dragged Volpone out of bed and had attacked him. Both Corvino and Corbaccio testified against Celia and Bonario, while Mosca whispered to the avaricious old gentlemen that they were helping justice. To add to the testimony, Mosca presented Lady Would-Be, who told the court she had seen Celia beguiling Sir Politic in a gondola. Mosca promised Lady Would-Be that as a reward for her testimony her name would stand first on Volpone's list of heirs.
When the trial was over, Volpone sent his servants to announce that he was dead and that Mosca was his heir. While Volpone hid behind a curtain, Mosca sat at a desk taking an inventory of the inheritance as the hopefuls arrived. The next step in Volpone's plan was to escape from Venice with his loot. Mosca helped him disguise himself as a commodore. Mosca also put on a disguise.
Having lost his hopes for the inheritance, Voltore withdrew his false testimony at the trial, and Corbaccio and Corvino trembled lest their cowardly acts be revealed. The court ordered Mosca to appear. Suspecting that Mosca planned to keep the fortune for himself, the disguised Volpone went to the court. When the dupes, learning that Volpone was still alive, began to bargain for the wealth Mosca held, Volpone threw off his disguise and exposed to the court the foolish behavior of Corbaccio, Corvino, and Voltore, and the innocence of Celia and Bonario.
The court then sentenced each conspirator according to the severity of his crime. Bonario was restored to his father's inheritance, and Celia was allowed to return to her father because Corvino had attempted to barter her honor for wealth.
The court announced that evil could go only so far and then it killed itself.


Critical Evaluation

Written during a period in which Ben Jonson had turned his hand largely to the making of entertaining masques and satirical anti-masques, Volpone's success did something to make up for the failure of his tragedy, Sejanus. Volpone was performed by the King's Men in London and at the two universities, to which he later dedicated the play in his prologue. The play also led to Jonson's most fertile dramatic period, that of the five great comedies (including Epicoene, 1609; The Alchemist, 1610; Bartholomew Fair, 1614; and The Devil Is an Ass, 1616). Jonson was preeminent among the Elizabethans and Jacobeans as that rare combination of the academic and creative genius. He was a serious classicist who criticized Shakespeare's "little Latin and less Greek," modeling his own plays on those of the Romans. As a humanist he brought classical control and purity to English forms, further strengthening those forms with Italian imports (his comedies were influenced strongly by Machiavelli). More than anyone else at the time, Jonson followed the prescriptions of Sidney's An Apologiefor Poetrie (1595). Like Sidney, he believed that the poet had a moral function in society; he viewed drama as a means of social education, paving the way for the great English satirists of the eighteenth century. His diverse artistic character makes Jonson both representative of his own age and a predecessor of the more rigorous classicism of the Augustans.
Jonson's style, as might be expected, is disciplined, formal, balanced, and classically simple and unembel-lished—a style that foreshadows the Cavalier school (who called themselves "the sons of Ben"). Though his dramatic verse is highly stylized, it is nevertheless vibrant and fast-moving; we hardly feel we are reading poetry. Rarely does Jonson allow himself the lyrical excursions of Shakespeare or the rhetorical complexity of Marlowe, though he was capable of both. There is a solidity, firmness, and straightforward clarity in his comedies equaled only by the classical French comic theater of Moliere. In Volpone Jonson follows the Aristotelian unities, as proclaimed to the Renaissance by Castelvetro. The action of the play takes place in only one day (the unity of time); it occurs entirely in Venice (place); and with the exception of some of the exchanges between Peregrine and Sir Politic Would-Be, the action is unified structurally, all centered around the machinations of Volpone and his parasite, and their greedy suitors.
The satirical theme of the play is greed, the vice that dominates the actions of all the characters. Family bonds, marriage, and legal justice are not merely disregarded by Corbaccio, Corvino, and Voltore, they are made the means by which the characters' inhuman avarice destroys them. Actually, Jonson would insist that their greed is all too human, recalling what Spenser's Sir Calidore had exclaimed, "No greater crime to man/ Than inhumani-tie." It is ironic that the Politic Would-Be's, though they too want Volpone's money, seem less offensive and morally corrupt simply because they do not sell their souls for hope of lucre. The passages in which they appear are a kind of relief. For though Volpone is a comedy it is so serious that it is almost equally tragic, foreshadowing Byron's Don Juan who said, "And if I laugh at any mortal thing, 'tis that I may not weep." Volpone may be a comedy insofar as it deals with particular figures in a particular situation; but its social application is in deadly earnest. Jonson has succeeded brilliantly in combining the stereotyped dramatis personae of Latin comedy, the Renaissance characters based on humours (which he himself used in his first comedy, Every Man in His Humour), the popular tradition of beast-fables (from which he derived the names of his characters), with astute psychological insight that makes them all come alive before our eyes. Although the plot of Volpone is original, it is based on the common Roman captatores theme dealt with by Horace, Juvenal, Pliny, Lucian, and Petronius. Jonson turns his fortune hunters loose in contemporary Venice—chosen, no doubt, because the English of the time regarded Italy as a country of crime and rampant passions (compare Nash's The Unfortunate Traveller)—and the audience understands that this kind of man is eternal. That is the point Jonson himself makes in defining the high moral purpose of comic satire in his preface to the two universities.
Another important theme is that of imitation, as a distortion of normal reality. Sir Politic Would-Be seeks to imitate Volpone, an imitation of an imitation in the sense that led Plato to expel the poets from his republic; the tragedy is that though Volpone can be imitated, he is not imitable. And no one in the play has a firm moral standard that prevents them all from degrading their humanity. Lady Would-Be attempts to cover her mental deformities with physical cosmetics, and the dressing scene remains one of the most familiar and most pathetic in the play. Carrying imitation even further, Volpone pretends to be a mountebank in a complicated and convincing scene that leads to the question of how can we distinguish between a real imitator and an imitation imitator? Indeed Volpone and Mosca are actors throughout. They are also directors, leading the fortune hunters, one by one, to give their best performances; in the process, they reveal how near beneath the surface lies the actor's instinct in all men. Any strong emotion can activate it: love of power in the case of Bolingbroke in Richard the Second, sheer ambition in Macbeth, jealousy in Othella, and greed in Volpone. Volpone creates chaos, associated with comedy from the time of Aristophanes, by confusing the identifying features of species, class, sex, and morals. Animals imitate men; men imitate animals.
Volpone is, of course, the guiding spirit who, like Marlowe's Jew of Malta, takes constant pleasure in his own mental agility and showmanship. Mosca is equally forceful; his only motive seems to be a delight in perpetrating perversities, and he accepts his inheritance only because it allows him to continue to be perverse. The three birds of prey, Corbaccio, Corvino, and Voltore, stumble over one another in their haste to devour the supposed carcass. If they are hideous caricatures, they are, in fact, caricatures of themselves—as the development of the play from the first scene demonstrates. Mosca and Volpone simply bring out the worst in them; they do not plant it—it is there. The sham trial in act 4 is the dramatic triumph of Jonson's career. When Corvino calls Voltore "mad" at the very point when the old man has become sane again, we see that we, too, have been beguiled by the terrible logic of greed.


Translated by Hugh Craig



Lady Politic Would-Be
Sir Politic Would-Be


Act 1

Scene 1

A: Good morning to the Day; and, next, my Gold: Open the shrine, that I may see my Saint. Hayle the worlds soule, and mine. More glad then is The teeming earth, to see the longd-for Sunne Peepe through the hornes of the Caelestiall Ram, Am I, to view thy splendor, darkening his: That lying here, amongst my other hoordes, Shew'st like a flame, by night; or like the Day Strooke out of Chaos, when all darkenes fled Unto the center. O thou Son of Sol, (But brighter then thy father) let me kisse, With adoration, thee, and euery relique Of sacred treasure, in this blessed roome. Well did wise Poets, by thy glorious name, Title that age, which they would have the best; Thou being the best of things: and far transcending All stile of ioy, in children, parents, friends, Or any other waking dreame on earth. Thy lookes when they to Venus did ascribe, They should have given her twenty thousand Cupids; Such are thy beauties, and our loves. Deare Saint, Riches, the dombe God, that giu'st all men tongues; That canst do naught, and yet mak'st men do all things; The price of soules; euen hell, with thee to boote, Is made worth heauen. Thou art vertue, fame, Honor, and all things else. Who can get thee He shall be noble, valiant, honest, wise, --

B: And what he will Sir. Riches are in fortune A greater good, then wisedome is in nature.

A: True, my beloved Mosca. Yet, I glory More in the cunning purchasse of my wealth, Then in the glad possession; since I gaine No cowmon way: I vse no trade, no venter; I wound no earth with plow-shares; fat no beasts To feede the Shambles; have no mills for iron, Oyle, corne, or men, to grinde them into poulder; I blow no subtill glasse; expose no shipps To threatnings of the furrow-faced sea; I turne no moneys, in the publike banke; Nor vsure priuate.

B: No Sir, nor deuoure Soft prodigalls. You shall have some will swallow A melting heire, as glibly, as your Dutch Will pills of butter, and ne're purge for it; Teare forth the fathers of poore families Out of their beds, and coffin them aliue, In some kinde, clasping prison, where their bones May be forth-comming, when the flesh is rotten: But your sweet nature doth abhorre these courses; You loath, the widdowes, or the orphans teares Should washe your pauements; or their pityous cries Ring in your roofes: and beate the ayre, for vengeance.


Scene 2


A: Right, Mosca, I do loath it.

B: And besides, Sir, You are not like a thresher, that doth stand With a huge flaile, watching a heape of corne, And, hungry, dares not taste the smallest graine, But feedes on mallowes, and such bitter herbes; Nor like the merchant, who hath fill'd his vaults With Romagnia, and rich Candian wines, Yet drinks the lees of Lombards vineger: You will not lie in straw, whilst mothes, and wormes Feed on your sumptuous hangings, and soft bedds. You know the vse of riches, and dare give, now, From that bright heape, to me, your poore obseruer, Or to your Dwarfe, or your Hermaphrodite, Your Eunuch, or what other houshold-trifle Your pleasure allowes maint'nance.

A: Hold thee, Mosca, Take of my hand; thou strik'st on truth, in all: And they are enuious, terme thee Parasite. Call forth my Dwarfe, my Eunuch, and my Foole, And let them make me sport. What should I do, But cocker up my Genius, and liue free To all delights, my fortune calls me too? I have no wife, no parent, childe, allye, To give my substance too; but whome I make, Must be my heyre: and this makes men obserue me, This drawes new clients, dayly, to my house, Women, and men, of euery sexe, and age, That bring me presents, send me plate, coyne, iewels, With hope, that when I die, (which they expect Each greedy minute) it shall then returne Ten-fold upon them; whilst some, couetous Aboue the rest, seeke to engrosse me, whole, And counter-worke, the one, unto the other, Contend in gifts, as they would seeme, in love: All which I suffer, playing with their hopes, And am content to coyne them into profit, To looke upon their kindnesse, and take more, And looke on that; still, bearing them in hand, Letting the cherry knock against their lips,

K: And, drawe it, by their mouths, and back againe. How now!

K: Now roome, for fresh Gamsters, who do will you to know, They do bring you neither Play, nor Vniuersity Show; And therefore do intreat you, that whatsoeuer they reherse, May not fare a whit the worse, for the false pase of the verse. If you wonder at this, you will wonder more, ere we passe, For know, here is inclos'd the Soule of Pithagoras, That Iugler divine, as hereafter shall follow; Which Soule (fast, and loose, sir) came first from Apollo, And was breath'd into A Ethalides; Mercurius his son, Where it had the gift to remember all that euer was done. From thence it fled forth, and made quicke transmigration To goldy-lockt Euphorbus, who was kill'd, in good fashion, At the seege of old Troy, by the Cuckold of Sparta. Hermotimus was next (I finde it, in my Charta') To whom it did passe, where no sooner it was missing, But with one Pirrhus, of Delos, it learn'd to go a fishing: And thence, did it enter the Sophist of Greece. From Pithagore, she went into a beautifull peece, Hight Aspasia, the Meretrix; and the next tosse of her Was, againe, of a Whore, she became a Philosopher, Crates the Cynick: (as it selfe doth relate it) Since, Kings, Knights, and Beggars, Knaues, Lords and Fooles gat it, Besides, Oxe, and Asse, cammel, Mule, Goat, and Brock, In all which it hath spoke, as in the Coblers Cock. But I come not here, to discourse of that matter, Or his One, Two, or Three, or his greath Oath, by Quater, His Musicks, his Trigon, his golden Thigh, Or his telling how Elements shift: but I Would aske, how of late, thou best suffered translation, And shifted thy coat, in these dayes of Reformation?

V: Like one of the Reformed, a Foole, as you see, Counting all old Doctrine heresie:

K: But not on thine own forbid meates hast thou venter'd?

V: On fish, when first, a Carthusian I enter'd.

K: Why, then thy dogmaticall Silence hath left thee?

V: Of that an obstreperous Lawyer bereft me.

K: O wonderfull change! when Sir Lawyer forsooke thee, For Pithagore's sake, what body then tooke thee?

V: A good dull Moyle.

K: And how?: by that meanes, Thou wert brought to allow of the eating of Beanes?

V: Yes.

K: But, from the Moyle, into whome didst thou passe?

V: Into a very strange Beast, by some Writers cal'd an Asse; By others, a precise, pure, illuminate Brother, Of those deuoure flesh, and sometimes one an other: And will drop you forth a libell, or a sanctified lie, Betwixt euery spooneful of a Natiuity Pie.

K: Now quit thee, for Heauen, of that profane nation; And gently, report thy next transmigration.

V: To the same that I am.

K: A Creature of delight? And (what is more then a Foole) an Hermaphrodite? Now 'pray thee, sweete Soule, in all thy variation, Which Body wouldst thou choose, to take up thy station?

V: Troth, this I am in, euen here would I tarry.

K: Because here, the delight of each Sexe thou canst varie?

V: Alas, those pleasures be stale, and forsaken; No, it is your Foole, wherewith I am so taken, The onely one Creature, that I can call blessed: For all other formes I have prou'd most distressed.

K: Spoke true, as thou wert in Pithagoras still. This learned opinion we celebrate will, Fellow Eunuch (as behooues us) with all our wit, and arte, To dignifie that, whereof our selues are so great, and special a part.

A: Now very, very pretty: Mosca, this Was thy inuention?

B: If it please my Patron, Not else.

A: It doth good Mosca.

B: Then it was Sir

V: Fooles, they are the onely Nation Worth mens enuy, or admiration; Free from care, or sorrow-taking, Themselues, and others merry making: All they speake, or do, is sterling. Your Foole, he is your great mans dearling, And your Ladies sport, and pleasure; Tongue, and Bable are his treasure. His very face begetteth laughter, And he speakes truth, free from slaughter; He is the grace of euery feast, And, sometimes, the cheefest guest: Hath his trencher, and his stoole, When wit shall waite upon the Foole: O, who would not be He, he, he?

A: Who is that? away, looke Mosca.

B: Foole, be gon, It is Signior Voltore, the Aduocate, I know him, by his knock.

A: Fetch me my gowne, My furres, and night-caps; say, my couch is changing: And let him intertaine himselfe, a while, Within in the gallery. Now, now, my clients Beginne their visitation; Vulture, Kite, Rauen, and gor-Crowe, all my birds of prey, That think me turning carcasse, now they come: I am not for them yet. How now? the newes?

B: A peece of plate, Sir.

A: Of what bignesse?

B: Huge, Massie, and antique, with your name inscrib'd, And armes ingrauen.

A: Good, And not a Foxe Stretch'd on the earth, with fine delusiue sleights, Mocking a gaping Crow? ha, Mosca?

B: Sharpe, Sir.

A: Give me my furres. Why dost thou laugh so, man?

B: I cannot choose, Sir, when I apprehend What thoughts he has (within) now, as he walks: That this might be the last gift, he should give; That this would fetch you; if you died to day, And gaue him all, what he should be to morrow; What large returne would come of all his venters; How he should worship'd be, and reuerenc'd; Ride, with his furres, and foote-cloths; waited on By heards of Fooles, and clients; have cleare way Made for his moyle, as letter'd as himselfe; Be cald the great, and learned Aduocate: And then concludes, there is nought impossible.

A: Yes, to be learned, Mosca;

B: O no: rich Implies it. Hood an asse, with reuerend purple, So you can hide his two ambitious eares, And, he shall passe for a cathedrall Doctor.

A: My caps, my caps, good Mosca, fetch him in.

B: Stay, Sir, your ointment for your eyes.

A: That is true; Dispatch, dispatch: I long to have possession Of my new present.

B: That, and thousands more, I hope, to see you lord of.

A: Thankes, kind Mosca.


Scene 3


B: And that, when I am lost in blended dust, And hundred such, as I am, in succession --

A: Nay, that were too much, Mosca.

B: You shall liue, Still, to delude these Harpyeis.

A: Louing Mosca, It is well, my pillow now, and let him enter. Now, my fain'd Cough, my Pthisick, and my Goute, My Apoplexie, Palsie, and Catarrhe, Helpe, with your forced functions, this my posture, Wherein, this three yeare, I have milk'd their hopes. He comes, I heare him (vh, vh, vh, vh) o.

B: You still are, what you were, Sir. Onely you (Of all the rest) are he, commands his love: And you do wisely to preserue it, thus, With early visitation, and kinde notes Of your good meaning to him, which, I know, Cannot but come most gratefull. Patron, Sir. Here is Signior Voltore is come --

A: What say you?

B: Sir Signior Voltore is come, this morning, To visit you.

A: I thanke him.

B: And hath brought A peece of antique plate, bought of St Marke, With which he here presents you.

A: He is welcome. Pray him, to come more often.

B: Yes.

E: What saies he?

B: He thankes you, and desires you see him often.

A: Mosca.

B: My Patron?

A: Bring him neare, where is he? I long to feele his hand.

B: The plate is here Sir.

E: How fare you Sir?

A: I thanke you, Signior Voltore. Where is the plate? mine eyes are bad.

E: I am sorry, To see you still thus weake.

B: That he is not weaker.

A: You are too munificent.

E: No Sir. would to heauen, I could as well give health to you, as that plate.

A: You give Sir what you can. I thanke you. Your love Hath tast in this, and shall not be vnanswer'd. I pray you see me often.

E: Yes, I shall Sir.

A: Be not far from me.

B: Do you obserue that Sir?

A: Hearken unto me, still. It will concerne you.

B: You are a happy man Sir, know your good.

A: I cannot now last long.

B: You are his heyre Sir.

E: Am I?

A: I feele me going, (vh,vh,vh,vh.) I am sayling to my port, (vh,vh,vh,vh?) And I am glad, I am so neere my haven.

B: Alas, kinde gentleman, well, we must all go.

E: But, Mosca.

B: Age will conquer.

E: 'Pray thee heare me. Am I inscrib'd his heire, for certain?

B: Are you? I do beseech you Sir you will vouchsafe To write me, in your family. All my hopes, Depend upon your worship; I am lost, Except the rising Sunne do shine on me.

E: It shall both shine, and warme thee, Mosca.

B: Sir. I am a man, that have not done your love All the worst offices here I weare your keys, See all your coffers, and your caskets lockt, Keepe the poore inuentorie of your iewels, Your plate, and moneyes, am your Steward Sir. Husband your goods here.

E: But am I sole heyre?

B: Without a partner Sir confirmde this morning; The waxe is warme yet, and the inke scarse dry Upon the parchment:

E: Happy, happy me! By what good chance, sweete Mosca?

B: Your desert Sir; I know no second cause.

E: Thy modesty Is loath to know it; well, we shall requite it.

B: He euer lik'd your course Sir. That first tooke him. I, oft, have heard him say, how he admir'd Men of your large profession, that could speake To euery cause, and things mere contraries, Till they were hearse againe, yet all be Law; That, with most quicke agility, could turne, And returne; make knots, and vndoe them; Give forked councell; take prouoking gold On eyther hand, and put it up: These men, He knewe, would thriue, with their humility. And (for his part) he thought, he should be blest To have his heyre of such a suffering spirit, So wise, so graue, of so perplex'd a tongue, And loud withall, that would not wag, nor scarce Lie still, without a fee; when euery word Your worship but lets fall, is a Cecchine. Who is that? One knockes, I would not have you seen Sir. And yet -- pretend you came, and went in hast; I will fashion an excuse. And, gentle Sir, When you do come to swim, in golden lard, Up to the armes, in honey, that your chin Is borne up stiffe, with fatnesse of the flood, Think on your vassall; but remember me: I have not beene your worst of clients.

E: Mosca --


Scene 4


B: When will you have your inuentory brought, Sir Or see a coppy of the Will? Anone, I will bring them to you Sir. Away, be gon, Put businesse in your face.

A: Excellent Mosca! Come hither, let me kisse thee.

B: Keepe you still Sir. Here is Corbaccio.

A: Set the plate away, The Vulture is gone, and the old Rauen is come.

B: Betake you, to your silence, and your sleepe: Stand there, and multiply. Now, shall we see A wretch, who is (indeed) more impotent, Then this can fayne to be; yet hopes to hop Ouer his graue. Signior Corbaccio, You are very welcome, Sir.

D: How does your Patron?

B: Troth as he did, Sir, no amends.

D: What? mendes he?

B: No, Sir: he is rather worse.

D: That is well. Where is he?

B: Upon his couch Sir, newly fall'n a sleepe.

D: Does he sleepe well?

B: No winke, Sir, all this night, Nor yesterday, but slumbers.

D: Good. He should take Some counsell of Physitians: I have brought him An Opiate here, from mine own Doctor --

B: He will not heare of drugs.

D: Why? I my selfe Stood by while it was made; saw all the ingredients: And know, it cannot but most gently worke. My life for his, it is but to make him sleepe.

A: Aye, his last sleepe, if he would take it.

B: Sir. He has no faith in Physick:

D: 'Say you? 'say you?

B: He has no faith in Physick: He does think Most of your Doctors are the greater danger, And worse disease, to escape. I often have Heard him protest, that your Physitian Should neuer be his heyre.

D: Not I his heyre?

B: Not your Physitian, Sir.

D: O, no, no, no, I do not meane it.

B: No Sir, nor their fees He cannot brooke: He sayes, they flea a man, Before they kill him.

D: Right, I conceiue you.

B: And then, they do it by experiment; For which the Law not onely doth absolue them, But giues them great reward: And, he is loath To hire his death, so.

D: It is true, they kill, With as much licence, as a Iudge.

B: Nay more; For he but kills, Sir, where the Law condemnes, And these can kill him, too;

D: Aye, or me: Or any man. How does his Apoplexe? Is that strong on him, still?

B: Most violent. His speech is broken, and his eyes are set, His face drawne longer, then it was wont --

D: How? how? Stronger, then he was wont?

B: No, Sir: his face Drawne longer, then it was wont.

D: O, good.

B: His mouth Is euer gaping, and his eye-lids hang.

D: Good.

B: A freezing numnesse stiffens all his ioynts, And makes the colour of his flesh like lead.

D: It is good.

B: His pulse beats slow, and dull.

D: Good symptomes, still.

B: And, from his braine --

D: Ha? how? not from his braine?

B: Yes, Sir, and from his braine --

D: I conceiue you, good.

B: Flowes a cold sweat, with a continuall rhewme, Forth the resolued corners of his eyes.

D: Is it possible? yet I am better, ha! How does he, with the swimming of his head?

B: O, Sir it is past the Scotomy; he, now, Hath lost his feeling, and hath left to snort: You hardly can perceiue him, that he breaths.

D: Excellent, excellent, sure I shall outlast him: This makes me yong againe, a score of yeares.

B: I was a coming for you, Sir.

D: Has he made his Will? What has he giu'n me?

B: No, Sir.

D: Nothing? ha?

B: He has not made his Will, Sir.

D: O, o, o. But what did Voltore, the Lawyer, here?

B: He smelt a carcasse Sir, when he but heard My maister was about his Testament; As I did vrge him to it, for your good --

D: He came unto him, did he? I thought so.

B: Yes, and presented him this peece of plate.

D: To be his heire?

B: I do not know Sir.

D: True, I know it too.

B: By your own scale, Sir.

D: Well, I shall preuent him, yet. See Mosca, looke, Here, I have brought a bag of bright Cecchines, Will quite weigh downe his plate.

B: Yea marry, Sir. This is true Physick, this your sacred Medicine, No talke of Opiates, to this great Elixir.

D: It is Aurum palpabile, if not potabile.

B: It shall be minister'd to him, in his boule?

D: Aye, do, do, do.

B: Most blessed Cordiall, This will recouer him.

D: Yes, do, do, do.

B: I think, it were not best, Sir.

D: What?

B: To recouer him.

D: O, no, no, no; by no meanes.

B: Why, Sir. this Will work some strange effect if he but feele it.

D: It is true, therefore forbeare; I will take my venter: Give me it againe.

B: At no hand, pardon me; You shall not do your selfe that wrong Sir I Will so aduise you, you shall have it all.

D: How?

B: All Sir it is your right, your own; no man Can claime a part: it is yours, without a riuall, Decre'd by destiny.

D: How? how, good Mosca?

B: I will tell you Sir. This fit he shall recouer;

D: I do conceiue you.

B: And, on first aduantage Of his gain'd sense, will I re-importune him Unto the making of his Testament: And shew him this.

D: Good, good.

B: It is better yet, If you will heare, Sir.

D: Yes, with all my heart.

B: Now, would I councell you, make home with speed; There, frame a Will; whereto you shall inscribe My maister your sole heyre.

D: And disinherit My son?

B: O Sir, the better: for that colour Shall make it much more taking.

D: O, but colour?

B: This Will Sir, you shall send it unto me. Now, when I come to inforce (as I will do) Your cares, your watchings, and your many prayers, Your more then many gifts, your this dayes present, And last, produce your Will; where (without thought, Or least regard, unto your proper issue, A son so braue, and highly meriting) The streame of your diuerted love hath throwne you Upon my maister, and made him your heyre: He cannot be so stupide, or stone dead, But, out of conscience, and mere gratitude --

D: He must pronounce me, his?

B: It is true.

D: This plot Did I think on before.

B: I do beleeue it.

D: Do you not beleeue it?

B: Yes Sir.

D: Mine own proiect.

B: Which when he hath done, Sir.

D: Publish'd me his heire?

B: And you so certaine, to suruiue him.

D: Aye.

B: Beeing so lusty a man.

D: It is true.

B: Yes Sir.

D: I thought on that too. See, how he should be The very organ, to expresse my thoughts!

B: You have not onely done your selfe a good,

D: But multiplied it on my son?

B: It is right, Sir.

D: Still, my inuention.

B: 'Lasse Sir, heauen knowes, It hath beene all my study, all my care, (I even grow grey withall) how to worke things --

D: I do conceiue, sweet Mosca.

B: You are he, For whom I labour, here.

D: Aye, do, do, do: I will straight about it.

B: Rooke go with you, Rauen.

D: I know thee honest.

B: You do lie, Sir.

D: And --

B: Your knowledge is no better then your eares, Sir.

D: I do not doubt, to be a father to thee.

B: Nor I, to gull my brother of his blessing.

D: I may have my youth restor'd to me, why not?

B: Your worship is a precious asse.

D: What sayest thou?

B: I do desire your worship, to make hast, Sir.

D: It is done, it is done, I go.

A: O, I shall burst; Let out my sides, let out my sides --

B: Containe Your fluxe of laughter, Sir; you know, this hope Is such a baite, it couers any hooke.

A: O, but thy working, and thy placing it! I cannot hold; good rascall, let me kisse thee: I neuer knew thee, in so rare a humor.

B: Alas Sir, I but do, as I am taught; Follow your graue instructions; give them words; Powre oyle into their eares: and send them hence.

A: It is true, it is true. What a rare punishment Is auarice, to it selfe?

B: Aye, with our help, Sir.


Scene 5


A: So many cares, so many maladies, So many feares attending on old age, Yea, death so often call'd on, as no wish Can be more frequent with them, their limbes faint, Their senses dull, their seeing, hearing, going All dead before them; yea, their very teeth, Their instruments of eating, failing them: Yet this is reckon'd life! Nay, here was one; Is now gone home, that wishes to liue longer! Feeles not his gout, nor palsy, faines himselfe Yonger, by scores of yeares, flatters his age, With confident bellying it, hopes he may With charmes, like A Eson, have his youth restor'd, And with these thoughts so battens, as if Fate Would be as easily cheated on, as he, And all turnes ayre! Who is that, there, now? a third?

B: Close, to your couch againe: I heare his voice. It is Coruino, our spruce merchant.

A: Dead.

B: Another bout, Sir, with your eyes. Who is there?

B: Signior Coruino! come most wisht for! O, How happy were you, if you knew it, now!

C: Why? what? wherein?

B: The tardie houre is come, Sir.

C: He is not dead?

B: Not dead, Sir, but as good; He knowes no man.

C: How shall I do then?

B: Why sir?

C: I have brought him, here, a Pearle.

B: Perhaps, he has So much remembrance left, as to know you, Sir; He still calls on you, nothing but your name Is in his mouth: Is your Pearle orient, Sir?

C: Venice was neuer owner of the like.

A: Signior Coruino.

B: Hearke.

A: Signior Coruino.

B: He calls you, step and give it him. He is here, Sir, And he has brought you a rich Pearle.

C: How do you Sir? Tell him, it doubles the twelfe Caract.

B: Sir, He cannot vnderstand, his hearing is gone; And yet it comforts him, to see you --

C: Say, I have a Diamant for him, too.

B: Best shew it Sir, Put it into his hand; it is onely there He apprehends: He has his feeling, yet. See, how he graspes it!

C: 'Lasse, good gentleman! How pittifull the sight is!

B: Tut, forget Sir. The weeping of an heyre should still be laughter, Vnder a visor.

C: Why? am I his heyre?

B: Sir, I am sworne, I may not shew the Will, Till he be dead: But, here has beene Corbaccio, Here has beene Voltore, here were others too, I cannot nomber them, they were so many, All gaping here for legacyes; but I, Taking the vantage of his naming you, (Signior Coruino, Signior Coruino,) tooke Paper, and pen, and ynke, and there I ask'd him, Whom he would have his heyre? Coruino: Who Should be executor, Coruino: And, To any question, he was silent too, I still interpreted the noddes, he made, (Though weakenesse) for consent: and sent home the others, Nothing bequeath'd them, but to crie, and curse.

C: O, my deare Mosca. Does he not perceiue us?

B: No more then a blinde harper. He knowes no man, No face of friend, nor name of any seruant, Who it was that fed him last, or gaue him drinke: Not those, he hath begotten, or brought up Can he remember.

C: Has he children?

B: Bastards, Some dozen, or more, that he begot on beggars, Gipseys, and Iewes, and Black-moores, when he was drunke. Knew you not that Sir? it is the common fable. The Dwarfe, the Foole, the Eunuch are all his; He is the true father of his familie, In all, saue me: but he has giu'n them nothing.

C: That is well, that is well. Art sure he does not heare us?

B: Sure Sir? why looke you, credit your own sense. The Poxe approch, and adde to your diseases, If it would send you hence the sooner, Sir. For, your incontinence, it hath deseru'd it Throughly, and throughly, and the Plague to boot. (You may come neere, Sir) Would you would once close Those filthy eyes of yours, that flowe with slime, Like two frog-pits; and those same hanging cheekes, Couer'd with hide, in steede of skinne: (nay helpe, Sir) That looke like frozen dish-clouts, set on end.

C: Or, like an old smoak'd wall, on which the raine Ran downe in streakes.

B: Excellent, Sir, speake out; You may be lowder yet: A Culuering, Discharged in his eare would hardly bore it.

C: His nose is like a common sewre, still running;

B: It is good: and, what his mouth?

C: A very draught.

B: O stop it up --

C: By no meanes;

B: 'Pray you let me. Faith, I could stifle him, rarely, with a pillow, As well, as any woman, that should keepe him.

C: Do as you will, but I will be gone.

B: Be so; It is your presence makes him last so long.

C: I pray you, vse no violence.

B: No, Sir? why? Why should you be thus scrupulous? 'pray you, Sir.

C: Nay, at your discretion.

B: Well, good Sir, be gone.

C: I will not trouble him now, to take my Pearle?

B: Puh, nor your Diamant. What a needelesse care Is this afflicts you? Is not all, here yours? Am not I here? whom you have made? your creature? That owe my beeing to you?

C: Gratefull Mosca: Thou art my friend, my fellow, my companion, My partner, and shalt share in all my fortunes.

B: Excepting one.

C: What is that?

B: Your gallant wife, Sir. Now, is he gone; we had no other meanes, To shoote him hence, but this.

A: My diuine Mosca! Thou hast to day out-gone thy selfe. Who is there? I will be troubled with no more. Prepare Me musicke, dances, banquets, all delights; The Turke is not more sensual, in his pleasures, Then will Volpone. Let me see, a Pearle? A Diamant? Plat? Cecchines? good mornings purchase; Why this is better then rob Churches, yet: Or fat, by eating (once a mon'th) a man. Who is it?

B: The beauteous Lady Would-bee, Sir. Wife, to the English Knight, Sir Politique Would-bee, (This is the stile, Sir, is directed me) Hath sent to know, how you have slept to night, And if you would be visited.

A: Not, now. Some three houres, hence --

B: I told the Squire, so much.

A: When I am high with mirth, and wine; then, then. 'Fore heauen, I wonder at the desperate valure Of the bold English, that they dare let loose Their wiues, to all encounters!

B: Sir, this Knight Had not his name for nothing, he is politique, And knowes, how ere his wife affect strange ayres, She hath not yet the face, to be dishonest. But had she Signior Coruino's wiues face --

A: Has she so rare a face?

B: O Sir, the wonder, The blazing Starre of Italy; a wench Of the first yeare, a beauty, ripe, as haruest! Whose skinne is whiter then a Swan, all ouer! Then siluer, snow, or lillies! a soft lip, Would tempt you to eternity of kissing! And flesh, that melteth, in the touch, to bloud! Bright as your gold, and lovely, as your gold!

A: Why had not I knowne this, before?

B: Alas, Sir. My selfe, but yesterday, discouer'd it.

A: How might I see her?

B: O, not possible; She is kept as warily, as is your gold: Neuer does come abroad, neuer takes ayre, But at a windore. All her lookes are sweet, As the first grapes, or cherries; and are watch'd As neare, as they are.

A: I must see her --


Act 2


Scene 1


B: Sir. There is a guard, of ten spies thick, upon her; All his whole houshold: each of which is set Upon his fellow, and have all their charge, When he goes out, when he comes in, examin'd.

A: I will go see her, though but at her windore.

B: In some disguise, then?

A: That is true, I must Maintaine mine own shape, still, the same: we will think.

F: Sir, to a wise man, all the world is his foile. It is not Italy, nor France, nor Europe, That must bound me, if my Fates call me forth. Yet, I protest, it is no salt desire Of seeing Countries, shifting a Religion, Nor any dis-affection to the State Where I was bred, (and, unto which I owe My dearest plots) hath brought me out; much lesse, That idle, antique, stale, grey-headed proiect Of knowing mens mindes, and manners, with Vlisses: But, a peculiar humour of my wiues, Layd for this height of Venice, to obserue, To quote, to learne the language, and so forth -- I hope you trauell, Sir, with licence?

G: Yes.

F: I dare the safelier conuerse -- How long, Sir, Since you left England?

G: Seauen weekes.

F: So lately! You have not beene with my Lord Ambassador?

G: Not yet, Sir.

F: 'Pray you, what newes, Sir, vents our climate? I heard, last night, a most strange thing reported By some of my Lords followers, and I long To heare, how it will be seconded!

G: What was it, Sir?

F: Marry, Sir, of a Rauen, that should build In a ship royall of the Kings.

G: This fellow Does he gull me, trow? or is gull'd? your name Sir?

F: My name is Politique Would-bee.

G: O, that speaks him. A Knight, Sir?

F: A poore Knight, Sir.

G: Your Lady Lies here, in Venice, for intelligence Of tires, and fashions, and behauiour, Among the Curtizans? the fine Lady Would-be?

F: Yes; Sir; the spider, and the bee, oft times, Suck from one flower.

G: Good Sir Politique! I crie you mercy; I have heard much of you: It is true, Sir, of your Rauen.

F: On your knowledge?

G: Yes, and your Lions whelping, in the Tower.

F: Another whelpe?

G: Another, Sir.

F: Now heauen! What prodigies be these? The Fires at Berwike! And the new Starre! these things concurring, strange! And full of omen! Saw you those Meteors?

G: I did Sir.

F: Fearefull! Pray you Sir, confirme me, Were there three Porcpisces seene, aboue the Bridge, As they give out?

G: Sixe, and a Sturgeon, Sir.

F: I am astonish'd.

G: Nay sir, be not so; I will tell you a greater prodigie, then these --

F: What should these things portend!

G: The very day (Let me be sure) that I put forth from London, There was a Whale discouer'd, in the riuer, As high as Woollwich, that had waited there (Few know how many moneths) for the subuersion Of the Stode-Fleete.

F: Is it possible? Beleeue it, It was either sent from Spaine, or the Arch-duke, Spinola's Whale, upon my life, my credit; Will they not leaue these proiects? Worthy Sir, Some other newes.

G: Faith, Stone, the Foole, is dead; And they do lack a tauerne-Foole, extremely.

F: Is Mass' Stone dead?

G: He is dead Sir; why? I hope You thought him not immortall? O this Knight (Were he well knowne) would be a precious thing To fit our English Stage: He that should write But such a fellow, should be thought to faine Extremely, if not maliciously.

F: Stone dead?

G: Dead. Lord! how deepely Sir you apprehend it? He was no kinsman to you?

F: That I know of. Well! that same fellow was an vnknowne Foole.

G: And yet you know him, it seemes?

F: I did so. Sir, I knew him one of the most dangerous heads Liuing within the State, and so I held him.

G: Indeed Sir?

F: While he liu'd, in action. He has receiu'd weekely intelligence, Upon my knowledge, out of the Low Countries, (For all parts of the world) in cabages; And those dispens'd, againe, to Ambassadors, In oranges, musk-melons, apricocks, Limons, pome-citrons, and such like: sometimes, In Colchester-oysters, and your Selsey-cockles.

G: You make me wonder!

F: Sir. upon my knowledge. Nay, I, have obseru'd him, at your publique Ordinary, Take his aduertisement, from a Traueller (A conceald States-man) in a trencher of meate; And, instantly, before the meale was done, Conuay an answer in a tooth-pick.

G: Strange! How could this be, Sir?

F: Why, the meate was cut So like his character, and so layd, as he Must easily read the cipher.

G: I have heard, he could not read, Sir.

F: So, it was giuen out, (In pollitie,) by those, that did imploy him: But he could read, and had your languages, And to it, as sound a noddle --

G: I have heard, Sir, That your Babiouns were spies; and that they were A kinde of subtle Nation, neare to China:

F: Aye, aye, your Mamuluchi. Faith, they had Their hand in a French plot, or two; but they Were so extremely giuen to women, as They made discouery of all: Yet I Had my aduises here (on wensday last) From one of their own coat, they were return'd, Made their relations (as the fashion is) And now stand faire, for fresh imployment.

G: 'Hart! This Sir Poll: will be ignorant of nothing. It seemes Sir, you know all?

F: Not all Sir. But, I have some generall notions; I do love To note, and to obserue: Though I liue out, Free from the actiue torrent, yet I would marke The currents, and the passages of things, For mine own priuate vse; and know the ebbes, And flowes of State.

G: Beleeueit, Sir, I hold My selfe, in no small tie, unto my fortunes, For casting me thus luckely, upon you; Whose knowledge (if your bounty equall it) May do me great assistance, in instruction For my behauiour, and my bearing, which Is yet so rude, and raw --


Scene 2


F: Why? came you forth Empty of rules, for trauayle?

G: Faith, I had Some common ones, from out that vulgar Grammar, Which he, that cri'd Italian to me, taught me.

F: Why, this it is, that spoiles all our braue blouds, Trusting our hopefull gentry unto Pedants, Fellowes of out-side, and mere barke. You seeme To be a gentleman, of ingenuous race -- I not professe it, but my fate hath beene To be, where I have been consulted with, In this high kinde, touching some great mens sons, Persons of bloud, and honor --

G: Who be these, Sir?

B: Vnder that windore, there it must be. The same:

F: Fellowes, to mount a banke! Did your instructer In the deare Tongues, neuer discourse to you Of the Italian Montebankes?

G: Yes, Sir.

F: Why, Here shall you see one.

G: They are Quack-saluers, Fellowes, that liue by venting oyles, and drugs?

F: Was that the character he gaue you of them?

G: As I remember.

F: Pittie his ignorance. They are the onely-knowing men of Europe, Great, generall Schollers, excellent Phisitians, Most admir'd States-men, profest Fauorites, And cabinet-Councellors, to the greatest Princes: The onely Languag'd-men, of all the world.

G: And, I have heard, they are most lewd impostors; Made all of termes, and shreds; no lesse beliers Of great-mens fauors, then their own vile med'cines; Which they will vtter upon monstrous othes: Selling that drug, for two pence, ere they part, Which they have valew'd at twelue crownes, before.

F: Sir, calumnies are answer'd best with silence; Your selfe shall iudge. Who is it mounts, my friends?

B: Scoto of Mantua, Sir.

F: Is it he? nay, then I will proudly promise, Sir, you shall behold Another man, then has beene phant'sied to you. I wonder, yet, that he should mount his banke Here, in this nooke, that has beene wont to appeare In face of the Piazza! Here, he comes

A: Mount Zany,

X: Follow, follow, follow, follow, follow.

F: See how the people follow him! he is a man May write 10000. Crownes, in Banke, here. Note, Marke but his gesture; I do vse to obserue The state he keepes, in getting up!

G: It is worth it, Sir.

A: Most noble Gent: and my worthy Patrons, it may seeme strange, that I, your Scoto Mantuano, who was euer wont to fixe my Banke in face of the publike Piazza, neare the shelter of the portico, to the Procuratia, should, now (after eight months absence, from this illustrous Citty of Venice) humbly retire my selfe, into an obscure nooke of the Piazza;

F: Did not I, now, obiect the same?

G: Peace, Sir.


Let me tel you: I am not (as your Lombard Prouerbe sayth) cold on my feete, or content to part with my commodities at a cheaper rate, then I accustomed; looke not for it. Nor, that the calumnious reports of that impudent detractor, and shame to our profession, (Alessandro Buttone, I meane) who gaue out, in publike, I was condemn'd a'Sforzato to the Galleys, for poysoning the Cardinall Bemboos -- Cooke, hath at all attached, much lesse deiected me. No, no, worthie Gent: (to tell you true) I cannot indure, to see the rable of these ground Ciarlitani, that spread their clokes on the pauement, as if they meant to do feates of actiuitie, and then come in, lamely, with their mouldy tales out of Boccacio, like stale Tabarine, the Fabulist: some of them discoursing their trauells, and of their tedious captiuity in the Turkes Galleyes, when indeed (were the truth knowne) they were the Christians Galleyes, where very temperately, they eate bread, and drunke water, as a wholesome pennance (enioyn'd them by their Confessors) for base pilferies.

F: Note but his bearing, and contempt of these.


These turdy-facy-nasty-patie-lousie-farticall rogues, with one poore groats-worth of vnprepar'd antimony, finely wrapt up in seuerall 'Scartoccios, are able, very well, to kill their twenty a weeke, and play; yet these meagre steru'd spirits, who have halfe stopt the organs of their mindes with earthy oppilations, want not their fauourers among your shriuel'd, sallad-eating Artizans: who are ouerioy'd, that they may have their halfeperth of Physick, though it purge them into another world, makes no matter.

F: Excellent! have you heard better Language, Sir?


Well, let them go. And Gentlemen, honourable Gentlemen, know, that for this time, our Banque, being thus remou'd from the clamours of the Canaglia, shall be the Scene of pleasure, and delight; For I have nothing to sell, little or nothing to sell:

F: I told you, Sir; his ende.

G: You did so, Sir.


I protest, I, and my sixe seruants, are not able to make of this pretious liquor, so fast, as it is fetch'd away from my lodging, by Gentlemen of your Citty; strangers of the Terra-ferma; worshipful Merchants; aye, and Senators too: who, euer since my arriuall, have detained me to their vses, by their splendidous liberalities. And worthily. For what auayles your rich man to have his magazines stuft with Moscadelli, or the purest grape, when his Physitians prescribe him (on paine of death) to drinke nothing but water, cocted with Anise-seeds? O health! health! the blessing of the rich, the riches of the poore! who can buy thee at too deare a rate, since there is no enioying this world, without thee? Be not then so sparing of your purses, honorable Gentlemen, as to abridge the naturall course of life --

G: You see his ende?

F: Aye, is it good?


For, when a humide Fluxe, or Catarrhe, by the mutability of ayre, falls from your head, into an arme or shouilder, or any other part; take you a Duckat, or your Cecchine of gold, and applie to the place affected: see, what good effect it can worke. No, no, it is this blessed Vnguento, this rare Extraction, that hath onely power to disperse all malignant humors, that proceede, either of hot, cold, moist or windy causes --

G: I would he had put in dry too.

F: 'pray you, obserue.


To fortifie the most indigest, and crude stomacke, aye, were it of one, that (through extreame weakenesse) vomited bloud, applying onely a warme napkin to the place, after the vnction, and fricace; For the Vertigine, in the head, putting but a drop into your nostrills, likewise, behind the eares; a most soueraigne, and approoued remedy. The Mall-caduco, Crampes, Convulsions, Paralysies, Epilepsies, Tremor-cordia, retired-Nerues, ill Vapours of the spleene, Stoppings of the Liuer, the Stone, the Strangury, Hernia ventosa, Iliaca passio; stops a Disenteria, immediatly; easeth the torsion of the small guts: and cures Melancolia hypocondriaca, being taken and applyed, according to my printed Receipt. For, this is the Physitian, this the medicine; this councells, this cures; this giues the direction, this works the effect: and (in summe) both together may be term'd an abstract of the theorick, and practick in the A Esculapian Art. It will cost you eight Crownes. And, Zan Fritada, 'pray thee sing a verse, extempore, in honour of it.

F: How do you like him, Sir?

G: Most strangely, I!

F: Is not his language rare?

G: But Alchimy, I neuer heard the like: or Broughtons bookes.

A: Had old Hippocrates, or Galen, (That to their bookes put med'cines all in) But knowne this secret, they had neuer (Of which they will be guilty euer) Beene murderers of so much paper, Or wasted many a hurtlesse taper: No Indian drug had ere beene famed, Tabacco, Sassafras not named; Ne yet, of Guacum one small stick, Sir, Nor Raymund Lullies greate Elixir. Ne, had beene knowne the danish Gonswart. Or Paracelsus, with his long-sword.

G: All this, yet, will not do, eight Crownes is high.


No more; Gentlemen, if I had but time to discourse to you the miraculous effects of this my oyle, surnamed oglio del Scoto, with the count-lesse catalogue of those I have cured of the aforesayd, and many more diseases, the Pattents and Priuiledges of all the Princes, and Common-wealthes of Christendome, or but the depositions of those that appear'd on my part, before the Signiry of the Sanita', and most learned Colledge of Physitians; where I was authorized, upon notice taken of the admirable vertues of my medicaments, and mine own excellency, in matter of rare, and vnknowne secrets, not onely to disperse them publiquely in this famous Citty, but in all the Territories, that happely ioy vnder the gouernment of the most pious and magnificent States of Italy. But may some other gallant fellow say, O, there be diuers, that make profession to have as good, and as experimented receipts, as yours: Indeed, very many have assay'd, like Apes, in imitation of that, which is really, and essentially in me, to make of this oyle; bestow'd great cost in furnaces, stilles, alembekes, continuall fires, and preparation of the ingredients, as indeede there goes to it sixe hundred seuerall Simples, beside, some quantity of humane fat, for the conglutination, which we buy of the Anatomistes; But, when these Practitioners come to the last decoction, blow, blow, puff, puff, and all flies in fumo: ha, ha, ha. Poore wretches! I rather pitty their folly, and indiscretion, then their losse of time, and money; for those may be recouer'd by industry: but to be a Foole borne is a disease incurable. For my selfe, I alwaies from my youth have indeauor'd to get the rarest secrets, and booke them; eyther in exchange, or for money; I spared nor cost, nor labour, where anything was worthy to be learned. And Gentlemen, honourable Gentlemen, I will vndertake (by vertue of Chymicall Art) out of the honourable hat, that couers your head, to extract the foure Elements; that is to say, the Fire, Ayre, Water, and Earth, and returne you your felt, without burne, or staine. For, whilst others have beene at the balloo, I have beene at my booke: and am now past the craggy pathes of study, and come to the flowrie plaines of honour, and reputation.

F: I do assure you, Sir, that is his ayme.

A: But, to our price.

G: And that withall, Sir Poll.


You all know (honourable Gentlemen) I neuer valew'd this ampulla, or violl, at lesse then eight Crownes, but for this time, I am content, to be depriu'd of it for sixe; sixe Crownes is the price; and lesse, in curtesie, I know you cannot offer me; take it, or leaue it, howsoeuer, both it, and I am at your seruice. I aske you not, as the valew of the thing, for then I should demand of you a thousand Crownes, so the Cardinalls Montalto, Fernese, the great Duke of Tuscany, my Gossip, with diuers other Princes have giuen me; but I despise money: only to shew my affection to you, honorable Gentlemen, and your illustrous State here, I have neglected the messages of these Princes, mine own offices, fram'd my iourney hither, onely to present you with the fruicts of my trauells. Tune your voyces once more, to the touch of your instruments, and give the honorable assembly some delightfull recreation.

G: What monstrous, and most painefull circumstance Is here, to get some three, or foure Gazets? Some three-pence, in the whole, for that it will come to

A: You that would last long, list to my song, Make no more coyle, but buy of this oyle. Would you be euer faire? and yong? Stout of teeth? and strong of tongue? Tart of palat? quick of eare? Sharpe of sight? of nostrill cleare? Moist of hand? and light of foot? (Or I will come neerer to it) Would you liue free from all diseases? Do the act, your mistres pleases; Yet fright all aches from your bones? Here is a med'cine, for the nones.


Scene 3


Well, I am in a humor (at this time) to make a present of the small quantity my coffer containes: to the rich, in courtesie, and to the poore, for Gods sake. Wherefore, now marke; I ask'd you sixe Crownes, and sixe Crownes, at other times, you have payd me; you shall not give me sixe Crownes, nor fiue, nor foure, nor three, nor two, nor one; nor halfe a Duckat; no, nor a Muccinigo: six pence it will cost you, or sixe hundred pound -- expect no lower price, for by the banner of my front, I will not bate a bagatine, that I will have, onely, a pledge of your loves, to carry something from amongst you, to shew, I am not contemn'd by you. Therefore, now, tosse your handkerchiefes, chearefully, chearefully; and be aduertised, that the first heroique spirit, that deignes to grace me, with a handkerchiefe, I will give it a little remembrance of something, beside, shall please it better, then if I had presented it with a double Pistolet.

G: Will you be that heroique Sparke, Sir Pol? O see! the windore has preuented you.


Lady, I kisse your bounty; and, for this timely grace, you have done your poore Scoto of Mantua, I will returne you, ouer and aboue my oyle, a secret, of that high, and inestimable nature, shall make you for euer enamour'd on that minute, wherein your eye first descended on so meane, yet not altogether to be despis'd an obiect. Here is a Poulder, conceal'd in this paper, of which, if I should speake to the worth, nine thousand volumes were but as one page, that page as a line, that line as a word; so short is this Pilgrimage of man (which some call Life) to the expressing of it: would I reflect on the price? why, the whole World were but as an Empire, that Empire as a Prouince, that Prouince as a Banke, that Banke as a priuate Purse, to the purchase of it. I will, onely, tell you; it is the Poulder, that made Venus a Goddesse (giuen her by Apollo) that kept her perpetually yong, clear'd her wrincles, firm'd her gumnmes, fill'd her skinne, colour'd her hayre; From her, deriu'd to Helen, and at the sack of Troy (vnfortunately) lost: Till now, in this our age, it was as happily recouer'd, by a studious Antiquary, out of some ruines of Asia, who sent a moyetie of it, to the Court of France (but much sophistcated) wherewith the Ladyes there, now, colour their hayre. The rest (at this present) remaines with me; extracted, to a Quint essence: so that, where euer it but touches, in youth it perpetually preserues, in age restores the complexion; seats your teeth, did they dance like Virginall iacks, firme as a wall; makes them white, as Iuory, that were black, as --

C: Bloud of the deuill, and my shame! come downe, here; Come downe: No house but mine to make your Scene? Signior Flaminio, will you downe, Sir? downe? What is my wife your Franciscina? Sir? No windores on the whole Piazza, here, To make your properties, but mine? but mine? Hart! ere to morrow, I shall be new christen'd, And cald the Pantalone di Besogniosi, About the towne.

G: What should this meane, Sir Poll?

F: Some trick of State, beleeue it. I will home.

G: It may be some designe on you:

F: I know not. I will stand upon my gard.

G: It is your best, Sir.


Scene 4


F: This three weekes, all my aduises, all my letters They have beene intercepted.

G: Indeed, Sir? Best have a care.

F: Nay so I will.

G: This Knight, I may not loose him, for my mirth, till night.

A: O I am wounded.

B: Where, Sir?

A: Not without; Those blowes were nothing: I could beare them euer. But angry Cupid, boulting from her eyes, Hath shot himselfe into me, like a flame; Where, now, he flings about his burning heat, As in a furnace, some ambitious fire, Whose vent is stopt. The fight is all within me. I cannot liue, except thou helpe me, Mosca; My liuer melts, and I, without the hope Of some soft ayre, from her refreshing breath, Am but a heape of cinders.

B: 'Lasse, good Sir, Would you had neuer seene her.

A: Nay, would thou Hadst neuer told me of her.

B: Sir it is true; I do confesse, I was vnfortunate, And you vnhappy: but I am bound in conscience. No lesse then duety, to effect my best To your release of torment, and I will, Sir.

A: Deare Mosca, shall I hope?

B: Sir, more then deare, I will not bidd you to dispaire of ought, Within a humane compasse.

A: O, there spoke My better Angell. Mosca, take my keyes, Gold, plate, and iewells, all is at thy deuotion; Employ them, how thou wilt; nay, coyne me, too: So thou, in this, but crowne my longings. Mosca?

B: Vse but your patience.

A: So I have.

B: I doubt not But bring successe to your desires.

A: Nay, then, I not repent me of my late disguise.

B: If you can horne him, Sir, you neede not.

A: True: Besides, I neuer meant him for my heyre. Is not the colour of my beards. and eye-browes, To make me knowne?

B: No iot.


Scene 5


A: I did it well.

B: So well, would I could follow you in mine, With halfe the happinesse; and, yet, I would Escape your Epilogue.

A: But, were they gull'd With a beleefe, that I was Scoto?

B: Sir, Scoto himselfe could hardly have distinguish'd; I have not time to flatter you, we will part: And, as I prosper, so applaud my art.

C: Death of mine honour, with the citties Foole? A iugling, tooth-drawing, prating Montebanke? And, at a publique windore? where whilst he, With his strain'd action, and his dole of faces, To his drug-Lecture drawes your itching eares, A crewe of old, vn-mari'd, noted lechers, Stood leering up, like Satyres; and you smile, Most graciously? and fanne you fauours forth, To give your hote Spectators satisfaction? What; was your Montebanke their call? their whistle? Or were you 'enamour'd on his copper rings? His saffron iewell, with the toade-stone in it? Or his imbroydred sute, with the cope-stitch, Made of a herse-cloath? or his old tilt-feather? Or his starch'd beard? well; you shall have him, yes. He shall come home, and minister unto you The fricace, for the Mother. Or, let me see, I think, you had rather mount? would you not mount? Why, if you will mount, you may; yes truely, you may: And so, you may be seene, downe to the foote. Get you a citterne, Lady Vanity, And be a Dealer, with the Vertuous Man; Make on: I will but protest myselfe a cuckold, And saue your dowry. I am a Dutchman, I; For, if you thought me an Italian, You would be damn'd, ere you did this, you Whore: Thou wouldst tremble, to imagine, that the murder Of father, mother, brother, all thy race, Should follow, as the subiect of my iustice.

I: Good Sir, have pacience.

C: What couldst thou propose Lesse to thy selfe, then, in this heate of wrath, And stung with my dishonour, I should strike This steele unto thee, with as many stabs, As thou wert gaz'd upon with goatish eyes?

I: Alas Sir, be appeas'd; I could not think My beeing at the windore should more, now, Moue your impatience, then at other times:


Scene 6


C: No? not to seeke, and entertaine a parlee; With a knowne knaue? before a multitude? You were an Actor, with your handkercheife; Which he, most sweetly, kist in the receipt, And might (no doubt) returne it, with a letter, And point the place, where you might meete: your sisters, Your mothers, or your aunts might serue the turne.

I: Why, deare Sir, when do I make these excuses? Or euer stirre, abroad, but to the Church? And that, so seldome --

C: Well, it shall be lesse; And thy restraint, before, was liberty, To what I now decree: And therefore, marke me. First, I will have this baudy light damn'd up; And, till it be done, some two, or three yards of, I will chalke a line: ore which, if thou but (chance To) set thy desp'rate foote; more hell, more horror, More wilde, remorcelesse rage shall seize on thee, Then on a Coniurer, that had heed-lesse left, His Circles saftie, ere his Deuill was layd. Then, here is a lock, which I will hang upon thee; And, now I think of it, I will keepe thee back-wards; Thy lodging shall be back-wards; thy walkes back-wards; Thy prospect-all be back-wards; and no pleasure, That thou shalt know, but back-wards: Nay, since you force My honest nature, know, it is your own Being too open, makes me vse you thus. Since you will not containe your subtill nostrills In a sweete roome, but, they must snuffe the ayre Of ranke, and sweaty passengers -- One knocks. Away, and be not seene, paine of thy life; Not looke toward the windore: if thou dost -- (Nay stay, heare this) let me not prosper, Whore, But I will make thee an Anatomy, Dissect thee mine own selfe, and read a lecture Upon thee, to the citty, and in publique. Away. Who is there?

V: It is Signior Mosca, Sir.

C: Let him come in, his master is dead: There is yet Some good, to helpe the bad. My Mosca, welcome; I gesse your newes.

B: I feare, you cannot, Sir.

C: Is it not his death?

B: Rather, the contrary.

C: Not his recouery?

B: Yes, Sir,

C: I am curst, I am bewitch'd, my crosses meete to vexe me. How? how? how? how?

B: Why, Sir, with Scoto's oyle; Corbaccio, and Voltore brought of it, Whilst I was busy in an inner roome --

C: Death! that damn'd Mountebanke; but, for the Law, Now, I could kill the raskall: it cannot be, His oyle should have that vertue. Have not I Knowne him a common rogue, come fidling in To the Osteria, with a tumbling whore, And, when he has done all his forc'd tricks, beene glad Of a poore spoonefull of ded wine, with flies in it? It cannot be. All his ingredients Are a sheepes gall, a rosted bitches marrow, Some fewe sod earewigs pounded caterpillers, A little capons grease, and fasting spitle: I know hem, to a dram.

B: I know not, Sir, But some of it, there they pour'd into his eares, Some in his nostrills, and recouer'd him; Applying but the fricace.

C: Pox on that fricace.

B: And since to seeme the more officious, And flatt'ring of his health, there, they have had (At extreme fees) the Colledge of Physitians Consulting on him how they might restore him; Where, one would have a cataplasme of spices, Another a flead Ape clapt to his brest, A third would have it a Dog, a fourth an oyle With wilde Cates skinnes: At last, they all resolu'd That, to preserue him, was no other meanes, But some yong woman must be streight sought out, Lusty, and ful if iuice, to sleepe by him; And, to this seruice (most vnhappily, And most vnwillingly) am I now imploy'd, Which, here, I thought to pre-acquaint you with, For your aduise, since it concernes you most, Because, I would not do that thing might crosse Your ends, on whome I have my whole dependance, Sir: Yet if I do it not, they may delate My slacknesse to my Patron, worke me out Of his opinion; and there, all your hopes, Venters, or whatsoeuer, are all frustrate. I do but tell you, Sir. Besides, they are all Now striuing, who shall first present him. Therefore -- I could intreate you, breefly, conclude some-what: Preuent them if you can.

C: Death to my hopes! This is my villanous fortune! best to hire Some common Curtezan?

B: Aye, I thought on that, Sir. But they are all so subtle, full of art, And age againe, doting, and flexible, So as -- I cannot tell -- we may perchance Light on a queane, may cheate us all.

C: It is true.

B: No, no: it must be one, that has no tricks, Sir, Some simple thing, a creature, made unto it; Some wench you may command. Have you no kinswoman? Gods son -- Think, think, think, think, think, think, think, Sir. One of the Doctors offer'd, there, his daughter.

C: How!

B: Yes, Signior Lupo, the Physitian,

C: His daughter?

B: And a virgin, Sir. Why? Alasse He knowes the state of his body, what it is; That naught can warme his bloud Sir, but a feuer; Nor any incantation raise his spirit: A long forgetfullnesse hath seiz'd that part. Besides, Sir, who shall know it? some one, or two.

C: I pray thee give me leaue: If any man But I had had this luck -- The thing in it selfe, I know, is nothing -- Wherefore should not I As well command my bloud, and my affections, As this dull Doctor? In the point of honor, The cases are all one, of wife, and daughter.

B: I heare him comming.

C: She shall do it: it is done. Slight, if this Doctor that is not engag'd, Vnlesse it be for his councell (which is nothing) Offer his daughter, what should I, that am So deepely in? I will preuent him, wretch! Couetous wretch! Mosca, I have determin'd.

B: How Sir?

C: We will make all sure. The party, you wot of, Shall be mine own wife, Mosca.

B: Sir. The thing, (But that I would not seeme to councell you) I should have motion'd to you at the first: And, make your count, you have cut all their throtes. Why! it is directly taking a possession! And, in his next fit, we may let him go. It is but to pul the pillow, from his head, And he is thratled: it had beene done, before, But for your scrupulous doubts.


Scene 7


C: Aye, a plague on it, My conscience fooles my wit. Well, I will be briefe, And so be thou, least they should be before us: Go home, prepare him, tell him, with what zeale, And willingnesse, I do it: sweare it was, On the first hearing, (as thou mayst do, truely) Mine own free motion.

B: Sir, I warrant you, I will so possesse him with it, that the rest Of his steru'd clients shall be banisht, all; And onely you receiu'd. But come not, Sir, Vntill I send, for I have something, else To ripen, for your good (you must not know it)

C: But do not you forget to send, now.


Act 3


Scene 1


B: Feare not.


Scene 2


C: Where are you, wife? my Celia? wife? what, blubbering? Come, drye those teares. I think, thou thought'st me in earnest? Ha? by this light, I talk'd so but to trie thee. Me thinkes, the lightnesse of the occasion Should have confirm'd thee. Come, I am not iealous:

I: No?

C: Faith, I am not I, nor neuer was: It is a poore, vnprofitable humor. Do not I know, if women have a will, They will do against all the watches, of the world? And that the feircest spies, are tam'd with gold? Tut, I am confident in thee thou shalt see it: And see, I will give thee cause too, to beleeue it. Come, kisse me. Go, and make thee ready straight, In all thy best attire, thy choicest iewells, Put them all on, and, with them, thy best lookes: We are inuited to a solemne feast, At old Volpone's, where it shall appeare How far I am free, from iealousie, or feare.

B: I Feare, I shall begin to grow in love With my deare selfe, and my most prosp'rous parts, They do so spring, and burgeon; I can feele A whimsey in my bloud: (I know not how) Successe hath made me wanton. I could skip Out of my skinne, now, like a subtill snake, I am so limber. O! Your Parasite Is a most pretious thing, dropt from aboue, Not bred amongst clods, and clot-poules, here on earth. I muse, the Mysterie was not made a Science, It is so liberally profest! Almost, All the wise world is little else, in nature, But Parasites, or Sub-parasites. And, yet, I meane not those, that have your bare Towne-art, To know, who is fit to feede them; have no house, No family, no care, and therefore mould Tales for mens eares, to baite that sense; or get Kitchin-inuention, and some stale receipts To please the belly, and the groine; nor those, With their Court-dog-trickes, that can fawne, and fleere, Make their revenue out of legges, and faces, Eccho my-Lord, and lick away a moath: But you fine, elegant rascall, that can rise, And stoope (almost together) like an arrow; Shoote through the aire, as nimbly as a starre; Turne short, as doth a swallow; and be here, And there, and here, and yonder, all at once; Present to any humour, all occasion; And change a visor, swifter, then a thought. This is the creature, had the art borne with him; Toyles not to learne it, but doth practise it Out of most excellent nature: And such sparkes, Are the true Parasites, others but their Zani's.

B: Who is this? Bonario? old Corbaccio's son? The person I was bound to seeke. Fayre Sir, You are happ'ly met.

J: That cannot be by thee.

B: Why Sir?

J: Nay 'pray thee know thy way, and leaue me; I would be loath to inter-change discourse, With such a mate, as thou art

B: Curteous Sir. Scorne not my pouerty.

J: Not I, by heauen, But thou shalt give me leaue to hate thy basenesse.

B: Basenesse?

J: Aye Answer me, Is not thy sloth Sufficient argument? thy flattery? Thy meanes of feeding?

B: Heauen, be good to me. These imputations are too common, Sir, And eas'ly stuck on vertue, when she is poore; You are vnequall to me, and how ere Your sentence may be righteous yet you are not, That ere you know me, thus, proceed in censure: St Marke beare witnesse against you, it is inhumane.

J: What? does he weepe? the signe is soft, and good; I do repent me, that I was so harsh.

B: It is true, that sway'd, by strong necessity, I am enforc'd to eate my carefull bread With too much obsequy; it is true, beside, That I am faine to spin mine own poore rayment, Out of my mere obseruance, being not borne, To a free fortune: but that I have done Base offices, in rending friends asunder, Diuiding families, betraying councells, Whispering false lies, or mining men with prayses, Train'd their credulitie with periuries, Corrupted chastity, or am in love With mine own tender ease, but would not rather Proue the most rugged, and laborious course, That might redeeme, my present estimation; Let me here perish, in all hope of goodnesse.

J: This cannot be a personated passion. I was to blame, so to mistake thy nature; 'Pray thee forgiue me: and speake out thy bus'nesse.

B: Sir, it concernes you; and though I may seeme, At first, to make a maine offence, in manners, And in my gratitude, unto my maister, Yet, for the pure love, which I beare all right, And hatred of the wrong, I must reueale it. This very houre, your father is in purpose To disinherit you --

J: How?

B: And thrust you forth, As a mere stranger to his bloud; it is true, Sir: The worke no way ingageth me, but, as I claime an interest in the generall state Of goodnesse, and true vertue, which I heare To abound in you: and, for which mere respect, Without a second ayme, Sir, I have done it.

J: This tale hath lost thee much of the late trust, Thou hadst with me; it is impossible: I know not how to lend it any thought, My father should be so vnnaturall.

Scene 3


B: It is a confidence, that well becomes Your piety; and form'd (no doubt) it is, From your own simple innocence: which makes Your wrong more monstrous, and abhor'd. But, Sir, I now, will tell you more. This very minute, It is, or will be doing: And, if you Shall be but pleas'd to goe with me, I will bring you, (I dare not say where you shall see, but) where Your eare shall be a witnesse of the deed; Heare your selfe written Bastard; and profest The common issue of the earth.

J: I am maz'd.

B: Sir, if I do it not, draw your iust sword, And score your vengeance, on my front, and face; Marke me your villayne: You have too much wrong, And I do suffer for you, Sir. My heart Weepes bloud, in anguish --

J: Lead. I follow thee.

A: Mosca stayes long, me thines. Bring forth your sports And helpe, to make the wretched time more sweete.

K: Dwarfe, Foole, and Eunuch, well mett here we be. A question it were now, whether of us three, Being, all, the knowne delicates, of a rich man, In pleasing him, claime the precedency can?

V: I claime for my selfe. And, so doth the Foole.

K: It is foolish indeed: let me set you both to schoole. First, for your Dwarfe, he is little, and witty, And euery thing, as it is little, is pritty; Else, why do men say to a creature (of my shape) So soone as they see him, it is a pritty little Ape? And, why a pritty Ape? but for pleasing imitation Of greater mens action, in a ridiculous fashion. Beside, this feat body of mine doth not craue Halfe the meat, drinke, and cloth, one of your bulkes will have. Admit, your Fooles face be the Mother of Laughter, Yet, for his braine, it must alwaies come after: And, though that do feede him, it is a pittifull case, His body is beholding to such a bad face.

A: Who is there? my couch, Away, looke Nano, see: Give me my cappes, first -- go, enquire. Now, Cupid Send it be Mosca, and with faire returne.


Scene 4


K: It is the beauteous Madam --

A: Would-bee? is it?

K: The same.

A: Now, torment on me; squire her in: For she will enter, or dwell here for euer. Nay, quickly, that my fit were past. I feare A second hell too, that my loathing this Will quite expell my appetite to the other: Would she were taking, now, her tedious leaue. Lord, how it threates me, what I am to suffer!

H: I thanke you, good Sir. 'Pray you signifie Unto your Patron, I am here. This band Shewes not my neck inough (I trouble you, Sir, Let me request you, bid one of my women Come hether to me) In good faith, I, am drest Most fauorably, to day, it is no matter, It is well inough. Looke, see, these petulant things, How they have done this!

A: I do feele the Feuer Entring, in at mine eares; O, for a charme To fright it hence.

H: Come nearer: Is this curle In his right place? or this? why is this highter Then all the rest? you have not wash'd your eies, yet? Or do they not stand euen in your head? Where is your fellow? call her.

K: Now, St Marke Deliuer us: anone, she will beate her women, Because her nose is red.

H: I pray you, view This tire, forsooth; are all things apt, or no

W: One haire a little, here, sticks out, forsooth.

H: Does it so forsooth? and where was your deare sight When it did so, forsooth? what now? bird-eyd? And you too? 'pray you both approach, and mend it. Now (by that light) I muse, you are not asham'd, I, that have preach'd these things, so oft, unto you, Read you the principles, argu'd all the grounds, Disputed euery grace, euery fitnesse, Call'd you to councell of so frequent dressings --

K: (More carefully, then of your fame, or honor)

H: Made you acquainted, what an ample dowry The knowledge of these things would be unto you, Able, alone, to get you Noble husbands At your returne: And you, thus, to neglect it? Besides, you seeing what a curious Nation The Italians are, what will they say of me? The English lady cannot dresse her selfe; Here is a fine imputation, to our Country: Well, goe your waies, and stay, in the next roome. This fucus was too course too, it is no matter. Good-Sir, you will give them entertaynement?

A: The storme comes toward me.

H: How does my Volp?

A: Troubled with noyse, I cannot sleepe; I dreamt' That a strange Fury entred, now, my house, And, with the dreadfull tempest of her breath, Did cleaue my roofe asunder.

H: Beleeue me, and I Had the most fearefull dreame, could I remember it --

A: Out on my fate; I have giu'n her the occasion How to torment me: she will tell me hers.

H: Me thought, the golden Mediocrity Polite, and delicate --

A: O, if you do love me, No more; I sweate, and suffer, at the mention Of any dreame: feele, how I tremble yet.

H: Alasse, good soule! the Passion of the heart. Seed-pearle were good now, boild with sirrope of Apples, Tincture of Gold, and Currall, Citron-pills, Your Elicampane roote, Mirobalanes --

A: Ay me, I have ta'ne a grasse-hopper by the wing.

H: Burnt silke, and Amber, you have Muscadell Good in the house --

A: You will not drinke, and part?

H: No, feare not that. I doubt, we shall not get Some English saffron (halfe a dram would serue) Your sixteene Cloves, a little Muske, dri'd Mintes, Buglosse, and barley-meale --

A: She is in againe, Before I fayn'd diseases, now I have one.

H: And these appli'd, with a right scarlet-cloth --

A: Another floud of words! a very torrent!

H: Shall I, Sir, make you a Poultise?

A: No, no, no; I am very well: you neede prescribe no more.

H: I have, a little, studied Physick; but, now, I am all for Musique: saue, in the forenoones, An houre, or two, for Paynting. I would have A Lady, indeed, to have all, Letters, and Artes, Be able to discourse, to write, to paynt, But principall (as Plato holds) your Musique (And, so does wise Pithagoras, I take it) Is your true rapture; when there is concent In face, in voice, and clothes: and is, indeed, Our sexes chiefest ornament.

A: The Poe+t; As old in time, as Plato, and as knowing, Says that your highest female grace is Silence.

H: Which of your Poe+ts? Petrarch? or Tasso? or Dante? Guerrini? Ariosto? Aretino? Cieco di Hadria? I have read them all.

A: Is euery thing a cause, to my distruction?

H: I think, I have two or three of them, about me.

A: The sunne, the sea will sooner, both, stand still, Then her aeternall tongue; nothing can scape it.

H: Here is Pastor Fido --

A: Professe obstinate silence, That is, now, my safest.

H: All our English Writers, I meane such, as are happy in the Italian, Will deigne to steal out of this Author, mainely; Almost as much, as from Montagnie; He has so moderne, and facile a veine, Fitting the time, and catching the Court-eare. Your Petrarch is more passionate, yet he, In dayes of Sonetting, trusted them, with much: Dante is hard, and fewe can vnderstand him. But, for a desperate wit, there is Aretine; Onely, his pictures are a little obscene -- You marke me not?

A: Alasse, my mind is perturb'd.

H: Why in such cases we must cure our selues, Make vse of our Philosophie --

A: O 'ay me.

H: And, as we find our passions do rebell, Encounter them with reason; or diuert them, By giuing scope unto some other humour Of lesser danger: As, in politique bodyes, There is nothing, more doth ouerwhelme the iudgment, And clouds the vnderstanding, then too much Setling, and fixing, and (as it were) subsiding Upon one obiect. For the incorporating Of these same outward things, into that part, Which we call mentall, leaues some certaine faeces, That stop the organs, and as Plato sayes, Assassinates our Knowledge.

A: Now, the spirit Of patience helpe me.

H: Come, in faith, I must Visit you more, a dayes; and make you well: Laugh, and be lusty.

A: My good Angell saue me.


Scene 5


H: There was but one sole man, in all the world, With whom I ere could sympathize; and he Would lie you often three, foure houres together, To heare me speake: and be (sometime) so rap't, As he would answer me, quite from the purpose, Like you, and you are like him, iust. I will discourse (And it be but only, Sir, to bring you a sleepe) How we did spend our time, and loves, together, For some sixe yeares.

A: O, o, o, o, o, o.

H: For we were Coaetanei, and brought up --

A: Some power, some fate, some fortune rescue me.

B: God saue you, Madam.

H: Good Sir.

A: Mosca? welcome, Welcome to my redemption.

B: Why, Sir?

A: O, Rid me of this my torture, quickly, there; My Madam, with the euerlasting voyce: The Bells, in time of pestilence, ne're made Like noyse, or were in that perpetuall motion; The Cock-pit comes not neare it. All my house, But now, steam'd like a bath, with her thicke breath. A Lawyer could not have beene heard; nor scarse Another Woman such a hayle of words She has let fall. For hells sake, ridd her hence.

B: Has she presented?

A: O, I do not care, I will take her absence, upon any price, With any losse.

B: Madam.

H: I have brought your Patron A toy, a cap here, of mine own worke --

B: It is well, I had forgot to tell you, I saw your Knight, Where you would little think it --

H: Where?

B: Many, Where yet, if you make hast you may apprehend him, Rowing upon the water in a gondole, With the most cunning Curtizan, of Venice.

H: Is it true?

B: Pursue them, and beleeue your eyes; Leaue me, to make your gift. I knew, it would take. For lightly, they, that vse themselues most licence, Are still most iealous.

A: Mosca, hearty thanks, For thy quick fiction, and deliuery of me. Now, to my hopes, what saist thou?

H: But do you heare, Sir?

A: Againe; I feare a paroxisme.

H: Which way Row'd they together?


Scene 6


B: Toward the Rialto.

H: I pray you, lend me your Dwarfe.


Scene 7


B: I pray you, take him -- Your hopes, Sir, are like happy blossomes, fayre, And promise timely fruict, if you will stay But the maturing; keepe you, at your couch, Corbaccio will arriue straight, with the Will: When he is gone, I will tell you more.

A: My bloud, My spirits are return'd; I am aliue: And like your wanton gam'ster, at Primero, Whose thought had whisper'd to him not go lesse, Me thinkes I lie, and drawe -- for an encounter.

B: Sir, here conceald, you may here all. But 'pray you Have patience, Sir; the same is your father, knocks: I am compeld, to leaue you.

J: Do so. Yet, Cannot my thought imagine this a truth.

B: Death on me! you are come too soone, what meant you? Did not I say, I would send?

C: Yes, but I feard You might forget it, and then they preuent us.

B: Preuent? did ere man hast so, for his hornes? A Courtier would not ply it so, for a place. Well, now there is no helping it, stay here; I will presently returne.

C: Where are you, Celia? You know not, wherefore I have brought you hether?

I: Not well, except you told me.

C: Now, I will: Hearke hether.

B: Sir, your father hath sent word, It will be halfe an houre, ere he come; And therefore, if you please to walke, the while, Into that gallery -- at the vpper end, There are some bookes, to entertaine the time: And I will take care, no man shall come unto you, Sir.

J: Yes, I will stay there; I do doubt this fellow.

B: There, he is farre inough; he can heare nothing: And, for his father, I can keepe him of.

C: Nay, now, there is no starting back; and therefore, Resolue upon it: I have so decree'd. It must be done. Nor, would I moue it, afore, Because I would auoyd all shifts and tricks, That might deny me.

I: Sir, let me beseech you, Affect not these strange trialls; if you doubt My chastity, why lock me up, for euer: Make me the heyre of darkenesse. Let me liue, Where I may please your feares, if not your trust.

C: Beleeue it, I have no such humor, I. All that I speake, I meane; yet I am not mad: Not horne-mad, see you? Go to, shew your selfe Obedient, and a wife.

I: O heauen!

C: I say it, Do so.

I: Was this the traine?

C: I have told you reasons; What the Phisitians have set downe; how much, It may concerne me; what my ingagements are; My meanes; and the necessity of those meanes, For my recouery: wherefore, if you be Loyall, and mine, be wonne, respect my venture.

I: Before your honour?

C: Honour? tut, a breath; There is no such thing, in nature: a mere terme Inuented to awe fooles. What is my gold The worse, for touching? clothes, for being look'd on? Why, this is no more. An old, decrepite wretch, That has no sense, no sinewe; takes his meate With others fingers; onely knowes to gape, When you do scald his gummes; a voice; a shadow; And, what can this man hurt you?

I: Lord! what spirit Is this hath entred him?

C: And for your same, That is such a ligg; as if I would go tell it, Crie it, on the Piazza! who shall know it? But he, that cannot speake it; and this fellow, Whose lippes are in my pocket: saue your selfe, If you will proclaime it, you may. I know no other, Should come to know it.

I: Are heauen, and Saints then nothing? Will they be blind, or stupide?

C: How?

I: Good Sir, Be iealous stil, aemulate them; and think What hate they burne with, toward euery sinne.

C: I graunt you; if I thought it were a sinne, I would not vrge you. Should I offer this To some young Frenchman, or hot Tuscane bloud, That had read Aretine, conn'd all his printes, Knew euery quirke within lusts Laborinth, And were profest Cristique, in lechery; And I would loope upon him, and applaud him, This were a sinne: but here, it is contrary, A pious worke, mere charity, for Physick, And honest politie, to assure mine own.

I: O heauen, canst thou suffer such a change?

A: Thou art mine honor, Mosca and my pride, My ioy, my tickling, my delight: go, bring them.

B: Please you drawe neare, Sir.

C: Come on, what -- You will not be rebellious? By that light --

B: Sir, Signior Coruino, here, is come to see you,

A: O.

B: And, hearing of the consultation had, So lately, for your health, is come to offer, Or rather, Sir, to prostitute --

C: Thankes, sweete Mosca,

B: Freely, vna -- sk'd, or vn -- intreated --

C: Well.

B: (As the true, feruent instance of his love) His own most faire, and proper wife; the beauty, Onely of price, in Venice --

C: It is well vrg'd.

B: To be your comfortresse, and to preserue you.

A: Alasse, I am past already. 'Pray you, thanke him, For his good care, and promptnesse. But for that, It is a vaine labour, eene to fight, against heauen; Applying fire to a stone: (uh, uh, uh, uh,) Making a dead leafe grow againe. I take His wishes gently, though; and, you may tell him, What I have done for him: Mary, my state is hopelesse, Will him, to pray for me: and to vse his fortune, With reuerence, when he comes to it.

B: Do you heare, Sir? Go to him, with your wife.

C: Heart of my father! Wilt thou persist thus? Come. I pray thee, come. Thou seest it is nothing: Celia. By this hand, I shall grow violent. Come, do it, I say.

I: Sir, kill me, rather: I will take downe poyson, Eate burning coales, do any thing --

C: Be damn'd. (Heart I will drag thee hence, home, by the haire; Cry thee a strumpet, through the streetes; rip up Thy mouth, unto thine eares; and slit thy nose, Like a raw rotchet -- Do not tempt me, come, Yeld, I am loth -- (Death) I will buy some slaue, Whom I will kill, and binde thee to him, aliue; And, at my windore, hang you forth: deuising Some monstrous crime, which I, in CAPITAL letters, Will eate into thy flesh, with Aqua-fortis, And burning cor'siues, on this stubborne brest. Now, by the bloud, thou hast incens'd, I will do it.

I: Sir, what you please, you may, I am your Martyr.

C: Be not thus obstinate, I have not deseru'd it: Think, who it is, intreats you. 'Pray thee, sweete; (Good'faith) thou shalt have iewells, gownes, attires, What thou wilt think, and aske -- Do, but, goe kisse him. Or touch him, but. For my sake. At my sute. This once. No? Not? I shall remember this. Will you disgrace me, thus? Do you thirst my vndoing?

B: Nay, gentle Lady, be aduis'd.


No, no. She has watch'd her time. God's precious -- this is skiruy: it is very skiruie: And you are --

B: Nay good, Sir.

C: An errant Locust, by heauen, a Locust. Whore, Crocodile, that hast thy teares prepar'd, Expecting, how thou wilt bid hem flow.

B: Nay, 'Pray you, Sir, She will consider.

I: Would my life would serue To satisfie --

C: (S'Death) if she would but speake to him, And saue my reputation, it were somewhat; But, spightfully to affect my vtter ruine:

B: Aye, now you have put your fortune, in her hands. Why in faith, it is her modesty, I must quit her; If you were absent, she would be more comming; I know it: and dare vndertake for her. What woman can, before her husband? 'pray you, Let us departe, and leaue her, here.

C: Sweete Celia, Thou mayst redeeme all, yet; I will say no more: If not, esteeme your selfe as lost, -- Nay, stay there.

I: O God, and his good Angells! whether, whether Is shame fled humane brests? that, with such ease, Men dare put of your honors, and their own? Is that, which euer was a cause of life, Now place'd beneath the basest circumstance? And modesty an exile made, for money?

A: Aye in Coruino, and such earth-fed mindes, That neuer tasted the true heau'n of love. Assure thee, Celia, he that would sell thee, Onely for hope of gaine, and that vncertaine, He would have sold his part of Paradise For ready money, had he met a Cope-man. Why art thou maz'd, to see me thus reuiu'd? Rather, applaud thy beauties miracle; It is thy great worke: that hath, not now alone, But sundry times, rays'd me, in seuerall shapes, And, but this morning, like a Mountebanke; To see thee at thy windore. Aye, before I would have left my practise, for thy love, In varying figures, I would have contended With the blew Proteus, or the horned Floud. Now, art thou welcome.

I: Sir.

A: Nay, flie me not; Nor, let thy false imagination That I was bedrid, make thee think, I am so: Thou shalt not find it. I am, now, as fresh, As hot, as high, and, in as Iouiall plight, As when (in that so celebrated Scene, At recitation of our Como edie, For entertayment of the great Valoys) I acted yong Antinou+s; and atracted The eyes, and eares of all the Ladies, present, To admire each gracefull gesture, note, and footing. Come, my Celia, let us proue, While we can, the sports of love; Time will not be ours, for euer, He, at length, our good will seuer; Spend not then his guiftes, in vaine. Sunnes, that set, may rise againe: But if, once, we loose this light, It is with us perpetuall night. Why should we deferre our ioyes? Fame, and rumor are but toyes. Cannot we delude the eyes Of a few poore houshold-spies? Or his easier eares beguile, Thus remooued, by our wile? It is no sinne, loves fruicts to steale; But the sweete thefts to reveale: To be taken, to be seene, These have crimes accounted beene.

I: Some serene blast me, or dire lightning strike This my offending face.

A: Why droopes my Celia? Thou hast, in place of a base husband, found A worthy lover: vse thy fortune well, With secrecy, and pleasure. See, behold, What thou art Queene of; not in expectation, As I feede others: but possess'd, and crown'd. See, here, a rope of pearle; and each, more orient Then that the braue A Egiptian Queene carrous'd: Dissolue, and drinke them. See, a Carbuncle, May put out both the eyes of our St Marke; A Diamant, would have bought Lollia Paulina, When she came in, like star-light, hid with iewells, That were the spoyles of Prouinces; take these, And weare, and loose them: Yet, remaines an Eare-ring To purchase them againe, and this whole State. A Gem, but worth a priuate patrimony, Is nothing: we will eate such at a meale. The heads of parrots, tongues of nightingalles, The braynes of peacocks, and of estriches Shall be our foode: and, could we get the pho enix, (Though Nature lost her kind) she were our dish.

I: Good Sir, these things might moue a minde affected With such delights; but I, whose innocence Is all I can think wealthy, or worth the enioying, And, which once lost, I have nought to loose beyond it, Cannot be taken with these sensuall baytes: If you have conscience --

A: It is the Beggers vertue, If thou hast wisdome, heare me Celia. Thy bathes shall be the iuyce of Iuly-flowers, Spirit of roses, and of violets, The milke of vnicornes, and panthers breath Gather'd in bagges, and mixt with Cretan wines. Our drinke shall be prepared gold, and amber; Which we will take, vntill my roofe whirle round With the vertigo: and my Dwarfe shall dance, My Eunuch sing, my Foole make up the antique. Whilst, we, in changed shapes, act Ouids tales, Thou, like Europa now, and I like Ioue, Then I like Mars, and thou like Erycine, So, of the rest, till we have quite run through And weary'd all the fables of the Gods. Then will I have thee, in more moderne formes, Attired like some sprightly Dame of France, Braue Tuscan lady, or proud Spanish Beautie; Sometimes, unto the Persian Sophies Wife; Or the grand-Signiors Mistresse; and, for change, To one of our most arte-full Curtezans, Or some quick Negro, or cold Russian; And I will meete thee, in as many shapes: Where we may, so, trans-fuse our wandring soules, Out at our lippes, and score up summes of pleasures, That the curious shall not know, How to tell them, as they flow; And the enuious, when they find What there number is, be pind.

I: If you have eares, that will be pierc'd -- or eyes, That can be open'd -- a heart, may be touch'd -- Or any part, that yet sounds man, about you -- If you have touch of holy Saints -- or Heauen -- Do me the grace, to let me scape -- if not, Be bountifull, and kill me -- you do know, I am a creature, hether ill betrayd, By one, whose shame I would forget it were -- If you will daigne me neither of these graces, Yet feede your wrath, Sir, rather then your lust -- (It is a vice, comes nearer manlinesse --) And punish that vnhappy crime of nature, Which you miscall my beauty -- Flea my face, Or poison it, with oyntments, for seducing Your bloud to this rebellion -- Rub these hands, With what may cause an eating leprosie, Even to my bones, and marrow -- Any thing, That may dis-fauour me, saue in my honour -- And I will kneele to you, 'pray for you, pay downe A thousand howrely vowes, Sir, for your health -- Report, and think you vertuous --

A: Think me cold, Frosen, and impotent, and so report me? That I had Nestor's hernia, thou wouldst think. I do degenerate, and abuse my Nation, To play with oportunity, thus long: I should have done the act, and then have parlee'd. Yeeld, or I will force thee.


Scene 8


I: O, iust God.

A: In vaine --

J: Forbeare, foule rauisher, libidinous swine, Free the forc'd lady, or thou dy'st, Impostor. But that I am loath to snatch thy punishment Out of the hand of Iustice, thou shouldst, yet, Be made the timely sacrifice of vengeance, Before this Altar, and this drosse, thy Idoll. Lady, let us quit the place, it is the den Of villany; feare nought you have a guard: And he, ere long, shall meete his iust reward.

A: Fall on me, roofe, and bury me in ruine, Become my graue, that wert my shelter. O, I am vn-masqu'd, vn-spirited, vn-done, Betray'd to beggary, to infamy --

B: Where shall I runne, most wretched shame of men, To beate out my vn-luckie braines?

A: Here, here. What? dost thou bleede?

B: O, that his well-driu'n sword Had beene so curteous, to have cleft me downe, Unto the nauill; e're I liu'd to see My life, my hopes, my spirits, my Patron, all Thus desperately engaged, by my error.

A: Woe, on thy fortune.

B: And my follies, Sir.

A: Thou hast made me miserable.

B: And my selfe, Sir. Who would have thought, he would have harken'd, so?


Scene 9


A: What shall we do?

B: I know not, if my heart Could expiate the mischance, I would pluck it out. Will you be pleas'd to hang me? or cut my throate? And I will requite you, Sir. Let us die like Romanes, Since we have liu'd, like Grecians.

A: Hearke, who is there? I heare some footing, Officers, the Saffi, Come to apprehend us! I do feele the brand Hissing, already, at my fore-head: now, Mine eares are boring.

B: To your couch, Sir, you Make that place good, how euer. Guilty men Suspect, what they deserue still. Signior Corbaccio!

D: Why! how now? Mosca!

B: O, vndone, amaz'd, Sir. Your son (I know not, by what accident) Acquainted with your purpose, to my Patron, Touching your Will, and making him your heire; Entred our house with violence, his sword drawne, Sought for you, call'd you wretch, vnnaturall, Vow'd he would kill you.

D: Me?

B: Yes, and my Patron.

D: This act, shall disinherit him indeed: Here is the Will.

B: It is well, Sir.

D: Right, and well. Be you as carefull, now, for me.

B: My life, Sir, Is not more tenderd, I am onely yours.

D: How does he? will he die shortly, think'st thou?

B: I feare He will out-last May.

D: To day?

B: No, last-out May, Sir,

D: Couldst thou not give him a dram?

B: O by no meanes, Sir.

D: Nay, I will not bid you.

E: This is a knaue, I see.

B: How, Signior Voltore! did he heare me?

E: Parasite,

B: Who is that? O, Sir, most timely welcome --

E: Scarce, To the discouery of your tricks, I feare. You are his, onely? and mine, also? are you not?

B: Who? I, Sir?

E: You, Sir. What deuise is this About a Will?

B: A plot for you, Sir.

E: Come, Put not your foysts upon me, I shall sent them.

B: Did you not heare it?

E: Yes, I heare, Corbaccio Hath made your Patron, there, his heire.

B: It is true, By my deuise, drawne to it by my plot, With hope --

E: Your Patron should reciprocate? And, you have promis'd?

B: For your good, I did, Sir. Nay more, I told his son, brought, hid him here, Where he might heare his father passe the deed: Being perswaded to it, by this thought, Sir, That the vnnaturallnesse, first, of the act, And then, his fathers oft disclayming in him, Which I did meane to helpe on, would sure enrage him To do some violence upon his parent, On which the law should take sufficient hold, And you be stated in a double hope: Truth be my comfort, and my conscience, My onely ayme was, to dig you a fortune Out of these two, old, rotten Sepulchers --

E: I cry thee mercy Mosca.

B: Worth your patience, And your great merit, Sir. And, see the change!

E: Why? what successe?

B: Most happlesse! you must helpe, Sir. Whilst we expected the old Rauen, in comes Coruino's wife, sent hether, by her husband --

E: What, with a present?

B: No, Sir, On visitation; (I will tell you how, anone) and, staying long, The youth, he growes impatient, rushes forth, Seizeth the lady, wound's me, makes her sweare (Or he would murder her, that was his vow) To affirme my patron would have done her rape: Which how vnlike it is, you see! and, hence, With that pretext, he is gone, to accuse his father; Defame my Patron; defeate you --

E: Where is her husband? Let him be sent for, streight.

B: Sir, I will go fetch him.

E: Bring him, to the Scrutineo.

B: Sir, I Will.

E: This must be stopt.

B: O, you do nobly, Sir. Alasse, it was labor'd all, Sir, for your good; Nor was there want of councell, in the plot: But fortune can, at any time, ore throw The proiects of a hundred learned Clearkes, Sir.


Act 4


Scene 1


D: What is that?

E: Wilt please you, Sir, to go along?

B: Patron, go in, and pray for our successe.

A: Need makes deuotion; Heauen your labor blesse.

F: I told you, Sir, it was a plot: you see What obseruation is. You mention'd me, For some instructions: I will tell you, Sir, (Since we are met, here, in this height of Venice) Some few perticulars, I have set downe, Onely, for this meridian, fit to be knowne Of your crude Trauailer, and they are these. I will not touch, Sir, at your phrase, or clothes, For they are old.

G: Sir, I have better.

F: Pardon I meant, as they are Theames.

G: O, Sir, proceed: I will slander you no more of wit, good Sir.

F: First, for your garbe, it must be graue, and serious, Very reseru'd, and lock't; not tell a secret, On any termes, not to your father; scarse A fable, but with caution; make sure choise Both of your company, and discourse; beware, You neuer speake a truth --

G: How?

F: Not to strangers, For those be they, you must conuerse with, most; Others I would not know, Sir, but, at distance, So as I still might be a sauer, in them: You shall have tricks, else, past upon you, hourely. And then, for your Religion, professe none; But wonder, at the diuersity of all; And, for your part, protest, were there no other But simply the Lawes, of the Land, you could content you: Nic: Machiauell, and Monsieur Bodine, both, Were of this minde. Then, must you learne the vse, And handling of your siluer forke, at meales; The mettall of your glasse -- These are maine matters, With your Italian, and to know the hower, When you must eat your melons, and your figges.

G: Is that a point of State, too?

F: Here it is, For your Venetian, if he see a man Preposterous, in the least, he has him straight; He has: he strippes him. I will acquaint you, Sir, I now have liu'd here (it is some fourteene monthes) Within the first weeke, of my landing here, All tooke me for a Citizen of Venice: I knew the formes, so well --

G: And nothing else.

F: I had read Contarene, tooke me a house, Dealt with my Iewes, to furnish it with moueables -- Well, if I could but finde one man -- one man, To mine own heart, whome I durst trust -- I would --

G: What? what, Sir?

F: Make him rich; make him a fortune: He should not think, againe. I would command it.

G: As how?

F: With certaine proiects, that I have: Which, I may not discouer.

G: If I had But one to wager with, I would lay odds, now, He tells me, instantly.

F: One is, (and that I care not greatly, who knowes) to serue the State Of Venice, with red herrings, for three yeares, And at a certaine rate, from Roterdam, Where I have correspendence. There is a letter, Sent me from one of the States, and to that purpose; He cannot write his name, but that is his marke.

G: He is a Chaundler?

F: No, a Cheesemonger. There are some other two, with whome I treate About the same negotiation; And -- I will vndertake it: For, it is thus, I will do it with ease, I have cast it all. Your hoigh Carries but three men in her, and a boy; And she shall make me three returnes, a yeare: So, if there come but one of three, I saue, If two, I can defalke. But, this is now, If my mayne proiect faile.

G: Then, you have otheres? I should be loath to draw the subtill ayre

F: Of such a place, without my thousand aymes. I will not dissemble, Sir, where ere I come, I love to be consideratiue; and, it is true, I have, at my free houres, thought upon Some certaine Goods, unto the State of Venice, Which I do call my Cautions: and, Sir, which I meane (in hope of pension) to propound To the great Councell, then unto the Forty, So to the Ten. My meanes are made already --

G: By whome?

F: Sir, one, that though his place be obscure, Yet, he can sway, and they will heare him. He is A Commandadore.

G: What, a common sergeant?

F: Sir, such, as they are, put it in their mouthes, What they should say, sometimes: as well as greater. I think I have my notes, to shew you --

G: Good, Sir.

F: But, you shall sweare unto me, on your gentry, Not to anticipate --

G: I, Sir?

F: Nor reueale A circumstance -- My paper is not with me.

G: O, but, you can remember, Sir.

F: My first is Concerning Tinder-boxes. You must know, No family is, here, without its boxe; Now Sir, it being so portable a thing, Put case, that you, or I were ill affected Unto the State: Sir, with it, in our pockets, Might not I go into the Arsenale? Or you? come out againe? and none the wiser?

G: Except your selfe, Sir.

F: Go to, then. I, therefore, Aduertise to the State, how fit it were, That none, but such as were knowne Patriots, Sound lovers of their country, should be sufferd To enioy them in their houses: And, euen those, Seald, at some office, and at such a bignesse, As might not lurke in pockets.

G: Admirable!

F: My next is, how to enquire, and be resolu'd, By present demonstration, whether a Ship, Newly arriued from Soria, or from And suspected part of all the Leuant, Be guilty of the Plague: And, where they vse To lie out forty, fifty dayes, sometimes, About the Lazaretto, for their triall; I will saue that charge, and losse unto the merchant, And, in an houre, cleare the doubt.

G: Indeede, Sir?

F: Or -- I will loose my labour.

G: "My faith, that is much.

F: Nay, Sir, conceiue me. It will cost me, in onions, Some thirty Liu'res --

G: Which is one pound sterling.

F: Beside my water-workes: For this I do, Sir. First, I bring in your ship, 'twixt two brickwalles; (But those the State shall venter) on the one I straine me a fayre tarre-paulin; and, in that, I stick my onions, cut in halfes: the other Is full of loope holes, out at which, I thrust The noses of my bellowes; and, those bellowes I keepe, with water-workes, in perpetuall motion, Which is the easi'st matter of a hundred.) Now, Sir, your onion, which doth naturally Attract the infection, and your bellowes, blowing The aire upon him, will shew (instantly) By his chang'd colour, if there be contagion; Or else, remaine as faire, as at the first: Now it is knowne, it is nothing.

G: You are right, Sir.

F: I would, I had my note.

G: 'Faith, so would I: But, you have done well, for once, Sir.

F: Were I false, Or would be made so, I could shew you reasons, How I could sell this State, now, to the Turke; Spight of their Galleys, or their --

G: Pray you, Sir Poll.

F: I have them not, about me.

G: That I fear'd. They are there, Sir?

F: No. This is my Diary, Wherein I note my actions of the day.


Scene 2


G: 'Pray you, let us see, Sir. What is here? Notandum, A Rat had gnawne my spur-lethers; notwithstanding, I put on new, and did go forth: but, first, I threw three beanes ouer the threshold. Item, I went, and bought two tooth-pickes, whereof one I burst, immediatly, in a discourse With a dutch Merchant, about Ragion del stato. From him, I went, and payd a moccinigo, For peecing my silke stockings; by the way, I cheapend sprats: and at St Markes, I vrin'd. 'Faith, these are politique notes!

F: Sir, I do slippe No action of my life, thus, but I quote it.

G: Beleeue me, it is wise!

F: Nay, Sir, read forth.

H: Where should this loose Knight be, trow? sure he is hous'd.

K: Why, then he is fast.

H: Aye, he plaies both, with me: I pray you, stay. This heate will do more harme To my complexion, then his heart is worth; (I do not care to hinder, but to take him) How it comes of!

W: My maister is, yonder.

H: Where?

W: With a yong Gentleman.

H: That same is the party, In mans apparell. 'Pray you, Sir, iog my Knight: I will be tender to his reputation, How euer he demerit.

F: My Lady!

G: Where?

F: It is she indeed Sir, you shall know her. She is, Were she not mine, a Lady of that merite, For fashion, and behauiour; and, for beauty I durst compare --

G: It seemes, you are not iealous, That dare commend her.

F: Nay, and for discourse --

G: Beeing your wife, she cannot misse that.

F: Madame, Here is a Gentleman, 'pray you, vse him, fayrely, He seemes a youth, but he is --

H: None?

F: Yes, one Has put his face, as soone, into the world --

H: You meane, as early? but to day?

F: How is this?

H: Why in this habit, Sir, you apprehend me. Well Mr Would-bee, this doth not become you; I had thought, the odour, Sir, of your good name, Had beene more precious to you; that you would not Have done this dire massacre, on your honour; One of your grauitie, and ranke, besides: But, Knights, I see, care little for the oath They make to Ladies; chiefely their own Ladies.

F: Now by my Spurres (the Symbole of my Knight-hood)

G: (Lord! how his brayne is humbled, for an oath)

F: I reach you not.

H: Right, Sir, your politie May beare it through, thus. Sir, a word with you. I would be loath, to contest, publikely, With any Gentlewoman or to seeme Froward, or violent (as the Courtier sayes) It comes too neare rusticity, in a Lady, Which I would shun, by all meanes: and, how-euer I may deserue from Mr Would-bee, yet, To have one fayre Gentlewoman, thus, be made The vnkind instrument, to wrong another, And one she knowes not; aye, and to perseuer: In my poore iudgement, is not warranted From being a solo ecisme in our sexe, If not in manners.

G: How is this!

F: Sweete Madame, Come nearer to your ayme.

H: Mary, and will, Sir. Since you prouoke me, with your impudence, And laughter of your light land-Syren, here, Your Sporus, your Hermaphrodite --

G: What is here: Poe+tique fury, and Historique stormes?

F: The Gentleman, beleeue it, is of worth, And of our Nation.

H: Aye, your white-Friars nation? Come, I blush for you, Mr Would-bee, I; And am asham'd, you should have no more forehead, Then, thus, to be the Patron, or Saint George To a lewd harlot, a base fricatrice, A female deuill, in a male out-side.

F: Nay, And you be such a one! I must bid, adieu To your delights. The case appeares too liquide.

H: Aye, you may carry it cleare, with your State-face; But, for your Carniuale Concupiscence, Who here is fled, for liberty of conscience, From furious persecution of the Marshall, Her will I disc'ple.

G: This is fine, In faith! And do you vse this, often? is this part Of your wits exercise, against you have occasion? Madam --

H: Go to, Sir.


Scene 3


G: Do you heare me, Lady? Why, if your Knight have set you to begge shirts, Or to inuite me home, you might have done it A nearer way, by farre:

H: This cannot worke you, Out of my snare.

G: Why? am I in it, then? Indeed, your husband told me, you were fayre, And so you are; onely, your nose enclines (That side, that is next the Sunne) to the Queene-apple:

H: This cannot be indur'd, by any patience.

B: What is the matter, Madame?

H: If the Senate Right not my quest, in this; I will protest them, To all the world, no Aristocracye.

B: What is the iniurie, Lady?

H: Why, the callet, You told me of, here I have ta'ne disguis'd.

B: Who? this? What meanes your Ladiship? The creature I mention'd to you, is apprehended, now, Before the Senate, you shall see her --

H: Where?

B: I will bring you to her. This yong Gentleman I saw him land, this morning, at the Port.

H: Is it possible! how has my iudgement wander'd? Sir, I must, blushing, say to you, I have err'd: And plead your pardon.

G: What! more changes, yet?


Scene 4


H: I hope, you have not the malice to remember A Gentlewomans passion. If you stay, In Venice, here, please you to vse me, Sir --

B: Will you goe, Madam?

H: 'Pray you, Sir, vse me. In faith, The more you vse me the more I shall conceiue, You have forgot our quarrell.

G: This is rare! Sir Politique Would-bee? No, Sir Politique Baud. To bring me, thus, acquainted with his wife! Well, wise Sir Pol: since you have practis'd, thus, Upon my freshman-ship, I will trie your salt-head, What proofe it is against a counter-plot.

E: Well, now you know the carriage of the businesse, Your constancy is all, that is requir'd Unto the safety of it.

B: Is the lie Safely conuai'd amongst us? Is that sure? Knowes euery man his burden?

C: Yes.

B: Then, shrinke not.

C: But, knowes the Aduocate the truth?

B: O, Sir, By no meanes. I deuis'd a formall tale, That salu'd your reputation. But, be valiant, Sir.

C: I feare no one, but him; that, this his pleading Should make him stand for a co-heire --

B: Co-halter, Hang him: we will but vse his tongue, his noise, As we do Croakers, here.

C: Aye, what shall he do?

B: When we have done, you meane?

C: Yes.

B: Why, we will think, Sell him for Mummia, he is halfe dust already. Do not you smile, to see this Buffalo, How he does sport it with his head? -- I should If all were well, and past. Sir, onely you Are here, that shall enioy the crop of all, And these not know for whome they toile.

D: Aye, peace.

B: But you shall eate it. Much. Worshipfull Sir, Mercury sit upon your thundring tongue, Or the French Hercules, and make your language As conquering as his club, to beate along, (As with a tempest) flat, our aduersaries; But, much more, yours, Sir.


Scene 5


E: Here they come, have done.

B: I have another witnesse, if you neede, Sir, I can produce.

E: Who is it?

B: Sir, I have her.

O: The like of this the Senate neuer heard of.

M: It will come most strange to them, when we report it.

O: The Gentlewoman has beene euer held Of vn-reproued name.

N: So has the youth.

O: The more vnnaturall part that of his father.

M: More, of the husband.

L: I not know to give His act a name, it is so monstrous!

O: But the Impostor, he is a thing created To exceed example!

L: And all after times!

M: I neuer heard a true voluptuary. Discrib'd, but him.

N: Appeare yet those were cited?

V: All, but the old magnifico, Volpone.

L: Why is not he here?

B: Please your Fatherhoods, Here is his Avuocate. Himselfe is, so weake, So feeble --

O: What are you?

J: His Parasite, His Knaue, his Pandar -- I beseech the Court, He may be forc'd to come, that your graue eies May beare strong witnesse of his strange impostures.

E: Upon my faith, and credit, with your vertues, He is not able to endure the ayre.

M: Bring him, howe euer.

N: We will see him.

O: Fetch him.

E: Your Father-hoodes fit pleasures be obey'd, But sure, the sight will rather mooue your pittyes, Then indignation; may it please the Court, In the meane time, he may be heard in me: I know this Place most voide of preiudice, And therefore craue it, since we have no reason To feare our truth should hurt our cause.

N: Speake free.

E: Then know, most honor'd Fathers, I must now Discouer, to your strangely abused eares, The most prodigious, and most frontlesse piece Of solid impudence, and trechery, That euer vicious nature yet brought forth To shame the State of Venice. This lewd woman (That wants no artificiall lookes, or teares, To helpe the visor, she has now put on) Hath long beene knowne a close adultresse, To that lasciuious youth there, not suspected, I say, but knowne; and taken, in the act, With him; and by this man, the easie husband, Pardon'd: whose timelesse bounty makes him, now, Stand here, the most vnhappy, innocent person, That euer mans own vertue made accus'd. For these, not knowing how to owe a gift Of that deare grace, but with their shame; being plac'd So aboue all powers of their gratitude, Began to hate the benefit; and, in place Of thankes, deuise to extirpe the memory Of such an act: wherein, I pray your Father-hoods, To obserue the malice, yea, the rage of creatures Discouer'd in their euils; and what heart Such take, euen, from their crimes. But that, anone, Will more appeare. This Gentleman, the father, Hearing of this foule fact, with many others, That dayly strooke at his too-tender eares, And, grieu'd in nothing more, then that he could not Preserue himselfe a parent (his sons ills Growing to that strange floud) at last decreed To dis-inherit him.

L: These be strange turnes!

M: The yong mans fame was euer faire, and honest.

E: So much more full of danger is his vice, That can beguile so, vnder shade of vertue. But as I said (my honour'd Sires) his father Having this setled purpose, (by what meanes To him betray'd, we know not) and this day Appointed for the deed, that Parricide, (I cannot stile him better) by confederacy Preparing this his Paramour, to be there, Entred Volpone's house (who was the man Your Father-hoods must vnderstand, design'd For the inheritance) there, sought his father; But, with what purpose sought he him, my Sires? (I tremble to pronounce it, that a son Unto a father, and to such a father Should have so foule, felonious intent) It was, to murder him. When, being preuented By his more happy absence, what then did he? Not check his wicked thoughts; no, now new deedes: (Mischiefe doth euer ende. Where it begins) An act of horror, Fathers! he drag'd forth The aged Gentleman, that had there lien, bed-rid, Three yeares, and more, out off his innocent couch, Naked upon the floore, there left him; wounded His seruant in the face; and, with this strumpet The stale to his for'gd practise, who was glad To be so actiue, (I shall here desire Your Father-hoods to note but my collections, As most remarkable) thought, at once, to stop His fathers ends; discredit his free choise, In the old Gentleman; redeeme themselues, By laying infamy, upon this man To whome, with blushing, they should woe their liues.

L: What proofes have you of this?

J: Most honour'd Fathers, I humbly craue, there be no credite giuen To this mans mercenary tongue.

M: Forbeare.

J: His soule moues in his face.

N: O, Sir.

J: This fellow, For six sols more, would pleade against his Maker.

L: You do forget your selfe.

E: Nay, nay, graue Fathers, Let him have scope; can any man imagine That he will spare his accuser, that would not Have spar'd his parent?

L: Well, produce your proofes.

I: I would, I could forget, I were a creature.

E: Signior Corbaccio.

O: What is he?

E: The father.

M: Has he had an oath?

V: Yes.

D: What must I do now?

V: Your testimony is crau'd.

D: Speake to the knaue? I will have my mouth, first, stopt with earth; my heart Abhors his knowledge: I disclaime in him

L: But, for what cause?

D: The mere portent of nature. He is an vtter stranger to my loynes.

J: Have they made you to this?

D: I will not heare thee, Monster of men, swine, goate, wolfe, Parricide, Speake not, thou viper.

J: Sir, I will sit downe, And rather wish my innocence should suffer, Then I resist the authority of a father.

E: Signior Coruino.

M: This is strange!

L: Who is this?

V: The husband.

O: Is he sworne?

V: He is.

N: Speake then.

C: This woman (please your Father-hoods) is a whore, Of most hot exercise, more then a partrich, Upon record --

L: No more.

C: Neighes, like a gennet.

V: Preserue the honour of the Court.

C: I shall, And modesty of your most reuerend eares. And, yet, I hope that I may say, these eyes Have seene her glew'd unto that peece of Cedar; That fine well-timber'd gallant: and that, here, The letters may be read, through the horne, That make the story perfect.

B: Excellent, Sir.

C: There is no harme in this, now, is there?

B: None.

C: Or if I said, I hop'd that she were onward To her damnation, if there be a hell Greater then whore, and woman; a good Christian May make the doubt.

N: His griefe hath made him frantique.

L: Remoue him, hence.

M: Looke to the woman.

C: Rare! Prettily fain'd! againe!

O: Stand from about her.

L: Give her the ayre.

N: What can you say?

B: My wound (May it please your wisdomes) speakes for me, receiu'd In ayde of my good Patron, when he mist His sought for father, when that well-taught dame Had her Qu: giuen her, to crie out a rape.

J: O, Most lay'd impudence! Fathers.

N: Sir, be silent, You had your hearing free, so must they theirs.

M: I do begin to doubt the imposture, here.

O: This woman, has too many moodes.

E: Graue Fathers, She is a creature, of a most profest, And prostituted lewdnesse.

C: Most impetuous, Vnsatisfied, graue Fathers.

E: May her faynings Not take your wisdomes: but, this day, she bayted A stranger, a graue Knight, with her loose eeyes, And more lasciuious kisses. This man saw them Together, on the water, in a Gondola.

B: Here is the Lady herselfe, that saw them too, Without; who, then, had in the open streetes Pursew'd them, but for sauing her Knights honour.


Scene 6


L: Produce that Lady.

M: Let her come.

O: These things They strike, with wonder!

N: I am turn'd a stone!

B: Be resolute, Madam.

H: Aye, this same is she. Out, thou Chameleon harlot; now, thine eyes Vie teares with the Hyaena: darst thou looke Upon my wronged face? I crie your pardons. I feare, I have (forgettingly) transgrest Against the dignity of the Court --

M: No, Madame.

H: And beene exorbitant --

O: You have not, Lady. These proofes are strong.

H: Surely, I had no purpose, To scandalize your Honors, or my sexes.

N: We do beleeue it.

H: Surely, you may beleeue it.

M: Madame, we do.

H: Indeede, you may; my breeding Is not so course --

O: We know it.

H: To offend With pertinacy --

N: Lady.

H: Such a presence; No, surely.

L: We well think it.

H: You may think it.

L: Let her o'recome. What witnesses have you, To make good your report?

J: Our consciences:

I: And heauen, that neuer fayles the innocent.

O: These are no testimonies.

J: Not, in your Courts, Where multitude, and clamour, ouercomes.

L: Nay, then you do waxe insolent.

E: Here, here, The testimony comes, that will conuince, And put to vtter dumbnesse, their bold tongues. See here, graue Fathers, here is the Rauisher, The Rider on mens wiues, the great Impostor, The grand Voluptuary: Do you not think, These limbes should affect Venery? or these eyes Couet a concubine? 'Pray you, marke these hands, Are they not fit to stroke a Ladies brests? Perhaps, he doth dissemble.

J: So he does.

E: Would you have him tortur'd?

J: I would have him prou'd.

E: Best trie him, then, with goades, or burning Irons; Put him to the strappado; I have heard, The Rack hath cur'd the goute; faith, give it him, And helpe him of a malady, be courteous: I will vndertake, before these honor'd Fathers, He shall have, yet, as many left diseases, As she has knowne adulterers, or thou strumpets. O, my most equall Hearers, if these deedes, Acts, of this bold, and most exorbitant straine, May passe with suffrance; what one Cittizen, But owes the forfeit of his life, yea fame, To him that dares traduce him? Which of you Are safe, my honord Fathers? I would aske (With leaue of your graue Father-hoods) if their plot Have any face, or colour like to truth? Or if, unto the dullest nostrill, here, It smell not ranke, and most abhorred flaunder? I craue your care of this good Gentleman, Whose life is much indanger'd, by their fable; And, as for them, I will conclude with this, That vicious persons when they are hot, and flesh'd In impious acts, their constancy abounds: Damn'd deedes are done with greatest confidence.

L: Take them to custody, and seuer them.

M: It is pitty, two such prodigies should liue.

L: Let the old Gentleman be return'd, with care; I am sory, our credulity wrong'd him.

O: These are two creatures!

N: I have an earthquake in me!

M: Their shame (euen in their cradles) fled their faces.

O: You have done a worthy seruice to the State, Sir, In their discouery.

L: You shall heare, ere night, What punishment the Court decrees upon them.

E: We thanke your Father-hoods. How like you it?

B: Rare. I would have your tongue, Sir, tipt with gold, for this; I would have you be the heyre to the whole Citty; The earth I would have want men, ere you want liuing: They are bount to erect your Statue, in St Markes. Signior Coruino, I would have you goe, And shew your selfe, that you have conquer'd.

C: Yes.

B: It was much better, that you should professe Your selfe a cuckold, thus; then that the other Should have beene prou'd.

C: Nay I consider'd that; Now it is her fault:

B: Then, it had beene yours.

C: True, I do doubt this Aduocate, still.

B: In faith, You need not, I dare ease you of that care.

C: I trust thee, Mosca.

B: As your, own soule, Sir.

D: Mosca.

B: Now for your businesse, Sir.

D: How? have you busines?

B: Yes, yours, Sir.

D: O, none else?

B: None else, not I.

D: Be carefull, then.

B: Rest you, with both your eies, Sir.

D: Dispatch it,

B: Instantly.

D: And looke, that all, What-euer, be put in, iewells, plate, moneyes, House-holdstuffe, bedding, curtines.

B: Curtine-rings, Sir. Onely, the Aduocates fee must be deducted.

D: I will pay him, now: you will be too prodigall.

B: Sir. I must tender it.

D: Two Cecchines is well?

B: No, sixe, Sir.

D: It is too much.

B: He talk'd a great while, You must consider that, Sir.

D: Well, there is three --

B: I will give it him.

D: Do so, and there is for thee.

B: Bountifull bones! What horride strange offence Did he commit against nature, in his youth, Worthy this age? You see, Sir, how I worke Unto your ends; take you no notice.

E: No, I will leaue you.


Act 5


Scene 1


B: All, is yours; the Deuill, and all, Good Aduocate. Madame, I will bring you home.


Scene 2


H: No, I will go see your Patron.

B: That you shall not: I will tell you, why. My purpose is, to vrge My patron to reforme his Will; and, for The zeale, you have shew'n to day, whereas before You were but third, or fourth, you shall be now Put in the first; which would appeare as beg'd, If you be present. Therefore --

H: You shall sway me.

A: Well, I am here; and all this brunt is past: I ne're was in dislike with my disguise, Till this fled moment; here, it was good, in priuate, But, in your publike, Caue, whilst I breath. 'Fore God, my left legge began to have the crampe; And I appre'nded, straight, some power had strooke me With a dead Palsey: Well, I must be merry, And shake it off. A many of these feares Would put me into some villanous disease, Should they come thick upon me: I will preuent them. Give me a boule of lusty wine, to fright This humor from my heart; (Hum, hum, hum) It is almost gone, already: I shall conquer. Any deuise, now, of rare, ingenious knauery, That would possesse me with a violent laughter, Would make me up, againe: So, so, so, so. This heate is life; it is blood, by this time: Mosca!

B: How now, Sir? does the day looke cleare againe? Are we recouerd? and wrought out of error, Into our way? to see our path, before us? Is our trade free, once more?

A: Exquisite Mosca!

B: Was it not carry'd learnedly?

A: And stoutly. Good wits are greatest in extremities.

B: It were a folly, beyond thought, to trust Any grand act unto a cowardly spirit: You are not taken with it, enough, me thinkes?

A: O, more, then if I had enioy'd the wench: The pleasure of all woman-kind is not like it.

B: Why, now you speake, Sir. We must, here be fixt; Here, we must rest; this is our maister-peice; We cannot think, to goe beyond this.

A: True. Thou hast playd thy prise, my precious Mosca.

B: Nay Sir, To gull the Court --

A: And, quite diuert the torrent, Upon the innocent.

B: Yes, and to make So rare a Musique, out of Discordes --

A: Right. That, yet, to me is the strangest! how thou hast borne it! That these (being so diuided amongst them selues) Should not sent some-what, or in me, or thee, Or doubt their own side.

B: True. They will not see it; Too much light blinds them, I think: each of them Is so possest, and stuft with his own hopes, That any thing, unto the contrary, Neuer so true, or neuer so apparent, Neuer so palpable, they will resist it --

A: Like a temptation of the Deuill.

B: Right Sir. Merchants may talke of trade, and your great Signiors Of land, that yeelds well; but if Italy Have any glebe, more fruictfull, then these fellowes, I am deceiu'd. Did not your Aduocate rare?

A: O, my most honor'd Fathers, my graue Fathers, Vnder correction of your Father-hoods, What face of truth is, here? If these strange deedes May passe, most honour'd Fathers -- I had much a do To forbeare laughing.

B: It seem'd to me, you sweate, Sir.

A: In troth, I did a little.

B: But confesse, Sir, Were you not daunted?

A: In good faith, I was A little in a mist; but not deiected: Neuer, but still my selfe.

B: I think it, Sir. Now (so truth helpe me) I must needes say this, Sir, And, out of conscience; for your Aduocate: He has taken paynes, in faith, Sir, and deseru'd, In my poore iudgement, I speake it, vnder fauour, Not to contrary you, Sir, very richly -- Well -- to be cosend.

A: Troth, and I think so too, By that I heard him, in the latter ende.

B: O, but before, Sir; had you heard him, first, Draw it to certaine heads, then aggrauate, Then vse his vehement figures -- I look'd stil, When he would shift a shirt; and, doing this Out of pure love, no hope of gaine --

A: It is right. I cannot answer him, Mosca, as I would, Not yet; but, for thy sake, at thy intreaty, I will beginne, euen now, to vexe them all: This very instant.

B: Good, Sir.

A: Call the Dwarfe,. And Eunuch, forth.

B: Castrone, Nano.

K: Here.

A: Shall we have a Iig, now?

B: What you please, Sir.

A: Goe, Streight, give out, about the streetes, you two, That I am dead; do it, with constancy, Sadly, do you heare? impute it to the griefe Of this late slander.

B: What do you meane Sir?

A: O, I shall have, instantly, my Vulture, Crow, Rauen, come flying hither (on the newes) To peck for carrion, my shee-Wolfe, and all, Greedy, and full of expectation

B: And then, to have it rauish'd from their mouths?

A: It is true, I will have thee put on a gowne, And take upon thee, as thou wert mine heire; Shew them a Will; Open that chest, and reach Forth one of those, that has the Blankes. I will straight Put in thy name.

B: It will be rare, Sir.

A: Aye When they even gape, and finde themselues deluded,

B: Yes.

A: And, thou vse them skiruily. Dispatch, Get on thy gowne.

B: But, what, Sir, if they aske After the body?

A: Say, it was corrupted,

B: I will say it stunke, Sir; and was faine to have it Coffin'd up instantly, and sent away.

A: Any thing, what thou wilt. Hold, here is my Will. Get thee a cap, a count-booke, pen and inke, Papers afore thee; sit, as thou wert taking An inuentory of parcells: I will get up, Behind the curtine, on a stoole, and hearken; Sometime, peepe ouer; see, how they do looke; With what degrees, their bloud doth leaue their faces; O, it will afford me a rare meale of laughter.

B: Your Aduocate will turne starke dull, upon it.

A: It will take of his Oratories edge.

B: But your Clarissimo, old round-backe, he Will crumpe you, like a hog-louse, with the touch.

A: And what Coruino?

B: O, Sir, looke for him, To morrow morning, with a rope, and a dagger, To visite all the streetes; he must runne madd. My Lady too, that came into the Court, To beare false witnesse, for your Worship.

A: Yes, And kist me 'fore the Fathers; when my face Flow'd all with oyles.

B: And sweate -- Sir. Why, your gold Is such another med'cine, it dries up All those offensiue sauors! It tranformes The most deformed, and restores them lovely, As it were the strange poe+ticall Girdle. IOVE Could not inuent, to himselfe, a shroud more subtle, To passe Acrisius guardes. It is the thing Makes all the world her grace, her youth, her beauty.

A: I think, she loves me.

B: Who? the Lady, Sir? She is iealous of you.

A: Dost thou say so?

B: Hearke, There is some, already.

A: Looke.


Scene 3


B: It is the Vulture: He has the quickest sent.

A: I will to my place, Thou, to thy posture,

B: I am set.

A: But, Mosca, Play the Artificer now, torture them, rarely.

E: How now, my Mosca?

B: Turkie Carpets, nine --

E: Taking an inuentory? that is well.

B: Two Sutes of bedding, Tissew --

E: Where is the Will? Let me read that, the while.

D: So, set me downe: And get you home.

E: Is he come, now, to trouble us?

B: Of Cloth of gold, two more--

D: Is it done, Mosca?

B: Of seuerall vellets, eight --

E: I like his care.

D: Dost thou not heare?

C: Ha? is the houre come, Mosca?

A: Aye, now, they muster.

C: What does the Aduocate, here? Or this Corbaccio?

D: What do these here?

H: Mosca? Is his thred spunne?

B: Eight Chests of Linnen --

A: O, My fine Dame would-bee, too!

C: Mosca, the Will, That I may shew it these, and rid hem hence.

B: Six Chests of Diaper foure of Damasske -- There.

D: Is that the Will?

B: Downe-Beds, and Boulsters --

A: Rare! Be busie still. Now, they begin to flutter: They neuer think of me. Looke, see, see, see! How their swift eies runne ouer the long deed, Unto the Name, and to the Legacies, What is bequeath'd them, there --

B: Ten Sutes of Hangings --

A: Aye, in their garters, Mosca. Now, their hopes Are at the gaspe.

E: Mosca the heire?

D: What is that?

A: My Aduocate is dumbe, Looke to my Merchant, He has heard of some strange storme, a ship is lost: He faintes. My Lady will swoune. Old Glazen-eies, He hath not reach'd his dispaire, yet.

D: All these Are out of hope, I am sure the man.

C: But, Mosca --

B: Two Cabinets.

C: Is this in earnest?

B: One Of Ebony --

C: Or, do you but delude me?

B: The other, Mother of Pearle -- I am very busie. Good faith, it is a fortune throwne upon me -- Item, one Salt of Agat -- not my seeking.

H: Do you heare, Sir?

B: A perfum'd Boxe -- 'pray you forbeare, You see I am troubled -- made of an Onyx --

H: How!

B: To morrow, or next day, I shall be at leasure, To talke with you all.

C: Is this my large hopes issue?

H: Sir, I must have a fayrer answere.

B: Madame? Mary, and shall: 'pray you, fairely quit my house. Nay, raise no tempest with your lookes; but, hearke you: Remember, what your Ladyship offerd me, To put you in, an heire; go to, think on it. And what you said, eene your best Madames did For maintaynance, and why not you? Inough. Go home, and vse the poore Sir Poll. Your Knight, well; For feare I tell some riddles; Go, be melancholique.

A: O, my fine Deuill!

C: Mosca, 'pray you a word.

B: Lord! will not you take your dispatch hence, yet? Me thinkes (of all) you should have beene the example. Why should you stay, here? with what thought? what promise? Heare you; do not you know, I know you an asse? And, that you would; most faine, have beene a wittoll, If fortune would have let you? that you are A declar'd cuckold, on good termes? This Pearle, You will say, was yours? right. This Diamant? I will not deny it, but thanke you. Much here, else? It may be so. Why, think that these good workes May helpe to hide your bad: I will not betray you, Although you be but extraordinary, And have it onely in title, it sufficeth. Go home; be melancholique, too: or mad.

A: Rare Mosca! how his villany becomes him.

E: Certaine, he doth delude all these, for me.

D: Mosca the heire?

A: O, his fowre eies have found it.

D: I am cosen'd, cheated, by a Parasite-slaue; Harlot, thou hast gul'd me.

B: Yes, Sir. Stop your mouth, Or I shall draw the only tooth, is left. Are not you he, that filthy couetous wretch, With the three legges, that, here, in hope of prey, Have, any time this three yeare, snuft about, With your most grou'ling nose; and would have hir'd Me, to the pois'ning of my Patron? Sir? Are not you he, that have, to day, in Court, Profess'd the dis-inheriting of your son? Periur'd your selfe? goe home, and die, and stinke; If you but croake a sillable, all comes out: Away, and call your porters, go, go stinke.

A: Excellent varlet!

E: Now, my faithfull Mosca, I finde thy constancie.

B: Sir?

E: Sincere.

B: A Table Of Porphiry -- I mar'le, you will be thus troublesome.

A: Nay, leaue off now, they are gone.

B: Why? who are you? What? who did send for you? O crie you mercy, Reuerend Sir: good faith, I am grieu'd for you, That any chance of mine should thus defeate Your (I must needs say) most deseruing trauailes: But, I protest, Sir, it was cast upon me, And I could, almost, wish to be without it, But, that the will of the dead must be obseru'd, Mary, my ioy is, that you need it not, You have a gift, Sir, (thanke your education) Will neuer let you want, while there are men, And malice to breed causes. Would I had But halfe the like, for all my fortune, Sir. If I have any sutes (as I do hope, Things being so easie, and direct, I shall not) I will make bold with your obstreperous aide, (Conceiue me) for your fee, Sir. In meane time, You, that have so much law, I know have the conscience, Not to be couetous of what is mine. Good Sir, I thanke you, for my plate; it will helpe To set up a yong man. Good faith, you looke As you were costiue; best goe home, and purge, Sir,

A: Bid him, eate lettice well: my witty mischiefe, Let me embrace thee. O, that I could now Transforme thee to a Venus -- Mosca, goe, Streight, take my habite of Clarissimo, And walke the streets; be seene, torment them more: We must purseew, as well as plot. Who would Have lost this feast?

B: I doubt, it will loose them.

A: O, my recouery shall recouer all, That I could now but think on some disguise, To meete them in: and aske them questions. How I would vexe them still, at euery turne?

B: Sir, I can fit you.

A: Canst thou?


Scene 4


B: Yes. I know One of the Commandadori, Sir, so like you, Him will I streight make drunke, and bring you his habite.

A: A rare disguise, and answering thy braine! O, I will be a sharpe disease unto them.

B: Sir you must looke for curses --

A: Till they burst; The FOXE fares euer best, when he is curst.

G: Am I inough disguis'd?

V: I warrant you.

G: All my ambition is to fright him, onely.

V: If you could ship him away, twere excellent, To Zant, or to Alepo?

G: Yes, and have his Aduentures put in the Booke of voyages. And his guld story registred, for truth? Well, Gentlemen, when I am in, a while; And that you think us warme in our discourse, Know your approaches.

V: Trust it, to our care.

G: 'Saue you faire Lady. Is Sir Poll. within?

W: I do not know, Sir.

G: 'Pray you, say unto him, Here is a merchant, upon earnest businesse, Desires to speake with him.

W: I will see, Sir.

G: 'Pray you. I see, the Family is all female, here.

W: He says, Sir, he has waighty affaires of State, That now require him whole; some other time, You may possesse him.

G: Pray you, say againe, If those require him whole; these will exact him, Whereof I bring him tideings. What might be His graue affaire of State, now? how, to make Bolognian sauseges, here, in Venice, sparing One of the Ingredients.

W: Sir, he says, he knowes By your word tidings, that you are no States-man, And therefore, wills you stay.

G: Sweet, 'pray you returne him, I have not read so many Proclamations, And studied them, for words, as he has done -- But, here he deignes to come.

F: Sir!! I must craue Your courteous pardon; There hath chanc'd (to day) Vnkinde disaster, 'twixt my Lady, and me: And I was penning my Apologie To give her satisfaction, as you came, now.

G: Sir, I am greiu'd, I bring you worse disaster; The Gentleman, you met at the Port, to day, That told you, he was newly arriu'd --

F: Aye, was A fugitiue-Punke?

G: No, Sir, a Spie, set on you, And he has made relation to the Senate, That you profest to him, to have a plot, To sell the State of Venice, to the Turke.

F: O me.

G: For which, warrants are sign'd by this time, To apprehend you, and to search your study, For papers --

F: Alasse, Sir. I have none, but notes, Drawne out of Play-bookes--

G: All the better, Sir.

F: And some Essayes. What shall I do?

G: Sir, Best Conuay your selfe into a Sugar-Chest; Or, if you could lie round, a Frayle were rare: And I could send you, aboard.

F: Sir, I but talk'd so, For discourse sake, merely.

G: Hearke, they are there.

F: I am a wretch, a wretch.

G: What, will you do Sir? Have you nere a Curren-Butt to leape into? They will put you to the Rack, you must be sodaine.

F: Sir, I have an ingine --

V: Sir Politique Would-be? Where is he?

F: That I have thought upon, before time.

G: What is it?

F: I shall ne're indure the torture. Mary, it is, Sir, of a Tortoyse-shell, Apted, for these extremities: 'Pray you Sir, helpe me. Here, I have a place, Sir, to put back my leggs, Please you to lay it on, Sir, with this cap, And my black gloves, I will lie, Sir, like a Tortoyse, Till they are gone,

G: And, call you this an ingine?

F: Mine own deuise -- Good Sir, bid my wiues women To burne my papers.

V: Where is he hid? We must, And will, sure, finde him. Which is his study? What Are you, Sir?

G: I am a merchant, that came here To looke upon this Tortoyse.

V: How? St Marke! What Beast is this?

G: It is a Fish.

V: Come out, here.

G: Nay, you may strike him, Sir, and tread upon him: He will beare a cart.

V: What, to runne ouer him?

G: Yes.

V: Let us iumpe, upon him; Can he not goe?

G: He creepes Sir.

V: Let us see him creepe

G: No, good Sir, you will hurt him.

V: (Heart) I will see him creepe; or prick his gutts. Come out, here.

G: 'Pray you, Sir , (creepe a little)

V: Forth. Yet furder.

G: Good Sir. (creepe)

V: We will see his leggs. Gods 'so he has garters! Aye, and gloves! Is this Your fearefull Tortoyse?

G: Now, Sir Poll. We are euen; For your next proiect, I shall be prepar'd: I am sory, for the funerall of your notes, Sir.

V: It were a rare motion, to be seene in Fleete-street! Aye, in the Terme. Or Smithfield, in the Faire. Me thinkes, it is but a melancholique sight!

G: Farewell, most politique Tortoyse.

F: Where is my Lady? Knowes she of this?


Scene 5


W: I know not, Sir.

F: Enquire. O, I shall be the fable of all feasts; The freight of the Gazetti; ship-boies tale; And, which is worst, euen talke for Ordinaries.

W: My Lady is come most melancholique, home, And says, Sir, she will straight to sea, for Physick.

F: And I, to shunne, this place, and clime for euer; Creeping, with house, on back: and think it well, To shrinke my poore head, in my politique shell,

A: Am I then like him?

B: O, Sir, you are he: No man can seuer you.

A: Good.

B: But, what am I?

A: 'Fore heau'n, a braue Clarissimo, thou becom'st it! Pitty, thou wert not borne one.

B: If I hold My made one, it will be well.


Scene 6


A: I will goe, and see What newes, first, at the Court.

B: Do so. My FOXE Is out on his hole, and, ere he shall re-enter, I will make him languish, in his borrow'd case, Except he come to composition, with me: Androgyno, Castrone, Nano.

X: Here.

B: Go, recreate your selues, abroad; go, sport: So, now I have the keies, and am possest. Since he will, needes, be dead, afore his time, I will burie him, or gaine by him; I am his heyre: And so will keepe me, till he share at least. To cosen him of all, were but a cheat Well plac'd; no man would construe it a sinne: Let his sport pay for it, this is call'd the FOXE-trap.

D: They say, the Court is set.

C: We must mainteine Our first tale good, for both our reputations.

D: Why? mine is no tale: my son would, there, have kild me.

C: That is true, I had forgot; Mine is, I am sure But, for your Will, Sir.

D: Aye, I will come upon him, For that, hereafter; now his Patron is dead.

A: Signior Coruino! and Corbaccio! Sir, Much ioy unto you.

C: Of what?

A: The sodaine good, Dropt down upon you --

D: Where?

A: (And, none knowes how) From old Volpone, Sir.

D: Out, errant Knaue.

A: Let not your too much wealth, Sir, make you furious.

D: Away, thou varlet.

A: Why Sir?

D: Dost thou mock me?

A: You mock the world, Sir, did you not change Wills?

D: Out, harlot.

A: O! belike you are the man, Signior Coruino? 'faith, you carry it well; You grow not mad withall: I love your spirit. You are not ouer-leauend, with your fortune. You should have some would swell, now, like a wine-fat, With such an Autumne -- Did he give you all, Sir?


Scene 7


D: Auoid, you Rascall.

A: 'Troth, your wife has shew'ne Her selfe a very woman; but, you are well, You need not care, you have a good estate, To beare it out Sir: better, by this chance. Except Corbaccio have a share?

C: Hence varlet.

A: You will not be a' knowne, Sir: it is wise, Thus do all Gam'sters, at all games, dissemble; No man will seeme to winne: here, comes my Vulture, Heauing his beake up in the ayre, and snuffing.

E: Ovt-stript thus, by a Parasite? a slaue? Would run on errands? and make less, for crums? Well, what I will do --

A: The Court stayes for your worship. I ee'ne reioyce, Sir, at your worships happinesse, And, that it fell into so learned hands, That vnderstand the fingering.

E: What do you meane?

A: I meane to be a sutor to your worship, For the small tenement, out of reparations; That, at the end of your long row of houses, By the Piscaria: It was, in Volpone's time, Your predecessor, e're he grew diseas'd, A handsome, pretty, custom'd baudy-house, As any was in Venice (none disprais'd) But fell with him; His body, and that house Decay'd, together.

E: Come, Sir, leaue your prating.

A: Why, if your worship give me but your hand, That I may have the refusall; I have done. It is a meere toy, to you, Sir; candle rents: As your learn'd worship knowes --

E: What do I know?


Scene 8


A: Mary, no end of your wealth, Sir, God decrease it.

E: Mistaking knaue! what, mockst thou my mis-fortune?

A: His blessing on your heart, Sir, would it were more. Now, to my first, againe; at the next corner.

(MOSCA passant)

D: See, in our habite! see the impudent varlet!

C: That I could shoote mine eyes at him, like gunstones.

A: But, is this true, Sir, of the Parasite?

D: Againe, to afflict us? Monster!

A: In good faith, Sir, I am hartily greeu'd, a beard of your graue length Should be so ouer-reach'd. I neuer brook'd That Parasites hayre, me thought his nose should cosen, There still was somewhat, in his looke, did promise The bane of a Clarissimo.

D: Knaue --

A: Me thinkes, Yet you, that are so traded in the world, A witty merchant, the fine bird, Coruino, That have such morall Emblemes on your name, Should not have sung your shame; and dropt your cheese: To let the FOXE laugh at your emptinesse.

C: Sirrah, you think, the priuiledge of the place, And your red saucy cap, that seemes (to me) Nayl'd to your iolt-head, with those two Cecchines, Can warrant your abuses; come you, hither: You shall perceiue, Sir, I dare beate you. Approch.

A: No hast, Sir, I do know your valure, well, Since you durst publish what you are, Sir.

C: Tarry, I would speake , with you.

A: Sir, another time --

C: Nay, now.

A: O God, Sir! I were a wise man Would stand the fury of a distracted cuckold.

D: What! come againe?


Scene 9


A: Upon them, Mosca; saue me.

D: The ayre is infected, where he breathes.

C: Lets fly him.

A: Excellent Basiliske! Turne upon the Vulture.

E: Well, flesh-flie, it is Sommer with you now; Your Winter will come on.

B: Good Aduocate, 'Pray thee, not rayle, nor threaten out of place, thus; Thou wilt make a solo ecisme (as Madam sayes) Get you a biggen, more: your brayne breakes loose.

E: Well, Sir.

A: Would you have me beate the insolent slaue? Throwe durt, upon his first good cloathes?

Scene 10


E: This same Is, doubtlesse, some Familiar!

A: Sir, the Court, In troth, stayes for you. I am madd, a Mule, That neuer read Iustinian, should get up, And ride an Aduocate. Had you no quirk, To auoide gullage, Sir., by such a creature? I hope you do but iest; he has not done it: This is but confederacy, to blinde the rest. You are the heyre?

E: A strange, officious, Trouble-some knaue! thou dost torment me.

A: I know -- It cannot be, sir, that you should be consen'd; It is not within the wit of man, to do it: You are so wise, so prudent -- And, it is fit, That wealth, and wisdome still, should go together --

O: Are all the parties, here?

V: All but the Aduocate.

M: And, here he comes.

L: Then bring them forth to sentence.

E: O my most honourd Fathers, let your mercy Once winne upon your iustice, to forgiue -- I am distracted --

A: What will he do, now?

E: O, I know not which to addresse my selfe to, first, Whether your Father-hoods, or these innocents --

C: Will he betray himselfe,

E: Whome, equally, I have abus'd, out of most couetous endes --

C: The man is mad!

D: What is that?

C: He is possest.

V: For which; now strooke in conscience, here I prostate My selfe, at you offended feete, for pardon.

X: Arise.

I: O heau'n, how iust thou art!

A: I am caught In myne own noose --

C: Be constant. Sir, nought now Can helpe, but impudence.

L: Speake forward.

V: Silence.

E: It is not passion in me, reuerend Fathers, But onely conscience, conscience, my good Sires, That makes me, now, tell trueth. That Parasite, That Knaue hath been the instrument of all --

L: Where is that Knaue? fetch him.

A: I go.

C: Graue Fathers, This man is distracted, he confest it, now; For, hoping to be old Volpone's heyre, Who now is dead --

N: How?

M: Is Volpone dead?

C: Dead since, graue Fathers --

J: O, sure vengeance!

L: Stay, -- Then, he was no deceiuer?

E: O, no, none: The Parasite, graue Fathers --

C: He does speake, Out of mere enuie, 'cause the seruant is made The thing, he gap't for; please your Father-hoods, This is the truth: though, I will not iustifie The other, but he may be somewhere faulty.

E: Aye, to your hopes, as well as mine, Coruino: But I will vse modesty. 'Pleaseth your wisdomes To view these certaine notes, and but conferre them; As I hope fauour, they shall speake cleare truth.

C: The Deuill has entred him.

J: Or bides in you.

O: We have done ill, by a publike Officer, To send for him, if he be heire;

M: For whome?

O: Him, that they call the Parasite.

N: It is true; He is a man, of great estate, now left.

O: Goe you, and learne his name; and say, the Court Intreates his presence, here: but, to the clearing Of some few doubts.

M: This same is a labyrinth!

L: Stand you unto your first report?

C: My state, My life, my fame --

J: Where is it?

C: Are at the stake

L: Is yours so too?

D: The Aduocate is a knave: And has a forked tongue --

M: Speake to the point.


Scene 11


D: So is the Parasite, too.

L: This is confusion.

E: I do beseech your Father-hoods, read but those;

C: And credit nothing, the false spirit hath writ: It cannot be (my Sires) but he is possest.


Scene 12


A: To make a snare, for mine own neck! and run My head into it, wilfully! with laughter! When I had newly scap't, was free, and cleare! Out of mere wantonnesse! o, the dull Deuill Was in this braine of mine, when I deuis'd it; And Mosca gaue it second: he must now Helpe to seare up this veyne, or we bleed dead. How now! who let you loose? whether go you, now? What? to bury Ginger bread? or to drowne Kitlings?

K: Sir, Maister Mosca call'd us out of dores, And bid us all go play, and tooke the keyes.

V: Yes.

A: Did Maister Mosca take the keyes? why, so! I am farder, in. These are my fine conceipts! I must be merry, with a mischiefe to me! What a vile wretch was I, that could not beare My fortune, soberly? I must have my Crotchets! And my Conundrums! well, go you, and seeke him: His meaning may be truer, then my feare. Bid him he, streight, come to me, to the Court; Thether will I; and, if it be possible, Vn-screw my Aduocate, upon new hopes: When I prouok'd him, then I lost my selfe.

L: These things can ne're be reconcil'd. He, here, Professeth, that the Gentleman was wrong'd; And that the Gentlewoman was brought thether, Forc'd by her husband: and there left.

E: Most true.

I: How ready is heau'n to those, that pray.

L: But, that Volpone would have rauish'd her, he holds Vtterly false; knowing his impotence.

C: Graue Fathers, he is possest; againe, I say Possest: nay, if there be possession, And obsession, he has both.

N: Here comes our Officer.

A: The Parasite will streight be, here, graue Fathers.

O: You might inuent some other name, Sir varlet.

N: Did not the Notarie meet him?

A: Not, that I know.

O: His comming will cleare all.

M: Yet it is misty.

E: May it please your Father-hoods --

A: Sir, the Parasite Will'd me to tell you, that his Maister liues; That you are still the man; your hopes the same; And this was, onely a iest --

E: How?

A: Sir, to trie If you were firme, and how you stood affected.

E: Art sure he liues?

A: Do I liue, Sir?

E: O me! I was too violent.

A: Sir, you may redeeme it, They said, you were possest; fall downe, and seeme so: I will helpe to make it good. God blesse the man! Stop your wind hard, and swell: See, see, see, see! He vomits crooked pinnes! his eyes are set, Like a dead hares, hung in a poulters shop! His mouth is running away! Do you see, Signior? Now, it is in his belly!

C: Aye, the Deuill!

A: Now, in his throate.

C: Aye, I perceiue it plaine.

A: It will out, it will out; stand cleere. See, where it flyes! In shape of a blew toad, with a battes wings! Do not you see it, Sir?

D: What? I think I do.

C: It is too manifest.

A: Looke! he comes to himselfe!

E: Where am I?

A: Take good heart, the worst is past, Sir. You are dis-possest.

L: What accident is this?

M: Sodaine, and full of wonder!

N: If he were Possest, as it appeares, all this is nothing.

C: He has beene, often, subiect to these fitts.

L: Shew him that writing, do you know it, Sir?

A: Deny it, Sir, forweare it, know it not.

E: Yes, I do know it well, it is my hand:

A: But all, that it containes, is false.

J: O practise!

M: What maze is this!

L: Is he not guilty, then, Whome you, there, name the Parasite?

E: Graue Fathers, No more then, his good Patron, old Volpone.

O: Why, he is dead?

E: O no, my honor'd Fathers, He liues --

L: How! liues?

E: Liues.

M: This is subtler, yet!

N: You sayd, he was dead?

E: Neuer.

N: You sayd so?

C: I heard so.

O: Here comes the Gentleman, make him way.

N: A stoole.

O: A proper man! and, were Volpone dead, A fit match for my daughter.

N: Give him way.

A: Mosca, I was almost lost, the Aduocate Had betrayd all; but, now, it is recouer'd: All is on the henge againe -- say, I am liuing.

B: What busie knaue is this. Most reuerend Fathers, I sooner had attended your graue pleasures, But that my order, for the funerall Of my deare Patron did require me --

A: (Mosca!)

B: Whome I intend to bury, like a Gentleman --

A: Aye, quick, and cosen me of all.

M: Still stranger! More intricate!

L: And come about, againe!

O: It is a match, my daughter is bestow'd.

B: (Will you give me halfe?

A: First I will be hang'd.

B: I know, Your voice is good, cry not so low'd)

L: Demand The Aduocate. Sir, did not you affirme, Volpone was aliue?

A: Yes, and he is; This Gent'man told me, so. (Thou shalt have halfe.)

B: Whose drunkard is this same? speake some, that know him: I neuer saw his face. (I cannot now Afford it you so cheape.

A: No?)

L: What say you?

E: The Officer told me.

A: I did, graue Fathers, And will maintayne, he liues, with mine own life. And that this creature told me. (I was borne, With all good starres my enemies.)

B: Most graue Fathers, If such an insolence, as this, must passe Upon me, I am silent: it was not this, For which you sent, I hope.

M: Take him away.

A: (Mosca.)

N: Let him be whipt.

A: (Wilt thou betray me? Cosen me?)

N: And taught, to beare himselfe Toward a person of his ranke.

O: Away.

B: I humbly thanke your Father-hoods.

A: Soft, soft: whipt? And loose all that I have? If I confesse, It cannot be much more.

O: Sir, are you married? 88

A: They will be ally'd, anone; I must be resolute: The FOXE shall, here, vncase.

B: (Patron.)

A: Nay, now, My ruines shall not come alone; your match I will hinder sure: my substance shall not glew you, Nor screw you, into a Family.

B: (Why, Patron!)

A: I am Volpone, and this is my Knaue; This, his own Knaue; This, auarices Foole; This, a Chimo era of Wittall, Foole, and Knaue; And, reuerend Fathers, since we all can hope Nought, but a sentence, let us not now dispaire it. You heare me breife.

C: May it please your Father-hoods --

V: Silence.

L: The knot is now vndone, by miracle!

M: Nothing can be more clear.

N: Or, can more proue These innocent.

L: Give them their liberty.

J: Heauen could not, long, let such grosse crimes be hid.

M: If this be held the high way, to get riches, May I be poore.

N: This is not the gaine, but torment.

L: These possesse wealth, as sick men possesse Feuers, Which, trulyer, may be sayd to possesse them.

M: Disroabe that Parasite.

X: Most honor'd Fathers --

L: Can you plead ought to stay the course of Iustice? If you can, speake.

X: We beg fauor,

I: And mercy.

L: You hurt your innocence, suing for the guilty. Stand forth; and, first, the Parasite. You appeare To have beene the chiefest minister, if not plotter, In all these leud impostures; and now, lastly, Have, with your impudence, abus'd the Court, And habite of a Gentleman of Venice, Being a fellow of no birth or bloud: For which, our sentence is, first thou be whipt; Then liue perpetuall prisoner in our Gallies.

E: I thanke you, for him.

B: Bane to thy woluish nature.

L: Deliuer him to the Saffi. Thou, Volpone, By bloud, and ranke a Gentleman, canst not fall Vnder like censure; But our iudgement on thee Is, that thy substance all be straight confiscate To the Hospitall, of the Incurabili: And, since the most was gotten by imposture, By fayning lame, gout, palsey and such diseases, Thou art to lie in prison, crampt with irons, Till thou bee'st sick, and lame indeed. Remoue him.

A: This is call'd mortifiyng of a FOXE.

L: Thou Voltore, to take away the scandale Thou hast giu'n all worthy men, of thy profession, Art banish'd from their Fellowship, and our State. Corbaccio, bring him neare. We here possesse Thy son, of all thy estate; and confine thee To the Monastery of San' Spirito: Where since thou knewst not how to liue well here, Thou shalt be learn'd to die well.

D: Ha! what said he?

V: You shall know anone, Sir.

L: Thou Coruino, shalt Be straight imbarqu'd from thine own house, and row'd Round about Venice, thorough the grand Canale, Wearing a cap, with fayre, long Asses eares, In steed of hornes: and so, to mount (a paper Pin'd on thy brest) to the Berlino --

C: Yes, And, have mine eyes beat out with stinking fish, Brus'd fruit and rotten egges -- it is well. I am glad, I shall not see my shame, yet.

L: And to expiate Thy wrongs done to thy wife, thou art to send her Home, to her father, with her dowrie trebled: And these are all your Iudgements --

X: (Honour'd Fathers.

L: Which may not be reuok'd. Now, you begin When crimes are done, and past, and to be punish'd, To think what your crimes are; away, with them. Let all, that see these vices thus rewarded, Take heart, and love to study them. Mischiefes feed Like beasts, till they be fat, and then they bleed.

A: The seasoning of a Play is the applause, Now, though the Foxe be punish'd by the lawes, He, yet, doth hope there is no suffring due, For any fact, which he hath done against you; If there be, censure him: here he, doubtfull, stands.



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