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Volpone; Or, The Fox
by Ben Jonson
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MOS: I think it were not best, sir.

CORB: What?

MOS: To recover him.

CORB: O, no, no, no; by no means.

MOS: Why, sir, this Will work some strange effect, if he but feel it.

CORB: 'Tis true, therefore forbear; I'll take my venture: Give me it again.

MOS: At no hand; pardon me: You shall not do yourself that wrong, sir. I Will so advise you, you shall have it all.

CORB: How?

MOS: All, sir; 'tis your right, your own; no man Can claim a part: 'tis yours, without a rival, Decreed by destiny.

CORB: How, how, good Mosca?

MOS: I'll tell you sir. This fit he shall recover.

CORB: I do conceive you.

MOS: And, on first advantage Of his gain'd sense, will I re-importune him Unto the making of his testament: And shew him this. [POINTING TO THE MONEY.]

CORB: Good, good.

MOS: 'Tis better yet, If you will hear, sir.

CORB: Yes, with all my heart.

MOS: Now, would I counsel you, make home with speed; There, frame a will; whereto you shall inscribe My master your sole heir.

CORB: And disinherit My son!

MOS: O, sir, the better: for that colour Shall make it much more taking.

CORB: O, but colour?

MOS: 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 than many gifts, your this day's present, And last, produce your will; where, without thought, Or least regard, unto your proper issue, A son so brave, and highly meriting, The stream of your diverted love hath thrown you Upon my master, and made him your heir: He cannot be so stupid, or stone-dead, But out of conscience, and mere gratitude—

CORB: He must pronounce me his?

MOS: 'Tis true.

CORB: This plot Did I think on before.

MOS: I do believe it.

CORB: Do you not believe it?

MOS: Yes, sir.

CORB: Mine own project.

MOS: Which, when he hath done, sir.

CORB: Publish'd me his heir?

MOS: And you so certain to survive him—

CORB: Ay.

MOS: Being so lusty a man—

CORB: 'Tis true.

MOS: Yes, sir—

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

MOS: You have not only done yourself a good—

CORB: But multiplied it on my son.

MOS: 'Tis right, sir.

CORB: Still, my invention.

MOS: 'Las, sir! heaven knows, It hath been all my study, all my care, (I e'en grow gray withal,) how to work things—

CORB: I do conceive, sweet Mosca.

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

CORB: Ay, do, do, do: I'll straight about it. [GOING.]

MOS: Rook go with you, raven!

CORB: I know thee honest.

MOS [ASIDE.]: You do lie, sir!

CORB: And—

MOS: Your knowledge is no better than your ears, sir.

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

MOS: Nor I to gull my brother of his blessing.

CORB: I may have my youth restored to me, why not?

MOS: Your worship is a precious ass!

CORB: What say'st thou?

MOS: I do desire your worship to make haste, sir.

CORB: 'Tis done, 'tis done, I go. [EXIT.]

VOLP [LEAPING FROM HIS COUCH.]: O, I shall burst! Let out my sides, let out my sides—

MOS: Contain Your flux of laughter, sir: you know this hope Is such a bait, it covers any hook.

VOLP: O, but thy working, and thy placing it! I cannot hold; good rascal, let me kiss thee: I never knew thee in so rare a humour.

MOS: Alas sir, I but do as I am taught; Follow your grave instructions; give them words; Pour oil into their ears, and send them hence.

VOLP: 'Tis true, 'tis true. What a rare punishment Is avarice to itself!

MOS: Ay, with our help, sir.

VOLP: So many cares, so many maladies, So many fears attending on old age, Yea, death so often call'd on, as no wish Can be more frequent with them, their limbs 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 live longer! Feels not his gout, nor palsy; feigns himself Younger by scores of years, flatters his age With confident belying it, hopes he may, With charms, like Aeson, have his youth restored: And with these thoughts so battens, as if fate Would be as easily cheated on, as he, And all turns air! [KNOCKING WITHIN.] Who's that there, now? a third?

MOS: Close, to your couch again; I hear his voice: It is Corvino, our spruce merchant.

VOLP [LIES DOWN AS BEFORE.]: Dead.

MOS: Another bout, sir, with your eyes. [ANOINTING THEM.] —Who's there? [ENTER CORVINO.] Signior Corvino! come most wish'd for! O, How happy were you, if you knew it, now!

CORV: Why? what? wherein?

MOS: The tardy hour is come, sir.

CORV: He is not dead?

MOS: Not dead, sir, but as good; He knows no man.

CORV: How shall I do then?

MOS: Why, sir?

CORV: I have brought him here a pearl.

MOS: 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 pearl orient, sir?

CORV: Venice was never owner of the like.

VOLP [FAINTLY.]: Signior Corvino.

MOS: Hark.

VOLP: Signior Corvino!

MOS: He calls you; step and give it him.—He's here, sir, And he has brought you a rich pearl.

CORV: How do you, sir? Tell him, it doubles the twelfth caract.

MOS: Sir, He cannot understand, his hearing's gone; And yet it comforts him to see you—

CORV: Say, I have a diamond for him, too.

MOS: Best shew it, sir; Put it into his hand; 'tis only there He apprehends: he has his feeling, yet. See how he grasps it!

CORV: 'Las, good gentleman! How pitiful the sight is!

MOS: Tut! forget, sir. The weeping of an heir should still be laughter Under a visor.

CORV: Why, am I his heir?

MOS: Sir, I am sworn, I may not shew the will, Till he be dead; but, here has been Corbaccio, Here has been Voltore, here were others too, I cannot number 'em, they were so many; All gaping here for legacies: but I, Taking the vantage of his naming you, "Signior Corvino, Signior Corvino," took Paper, and pen, and ink, and there I asked him, Whom he would have his heir? "Corvino." Who Should be executor? "Corvino." And, To any question he was silent too, I still interpreted the nods he made, Through weakness, for consent: and sent home th' others, Nothing bequeath'd them, but to cry and curse.

CORV: O, my dear Mosca! [THEY EMBRACE.] Does he not perceive us?

MOS: No more than a blind harper. He knows no man, No face of friend, nor name of any servant, Who 'twas that fed him last, or gave him drink: Not those he hath begotten, or brought up, Can he remember.

CORV: Has he children?

MOS: Bastards, Some dozen, or more, that he begot on beggars, Gipsies, and Jews, and black-moors, when he was drunk. Knew you not that, sir? 'tis the common fable. The dwarf, the fool, the eunuch, are all his; He's the true father of his family, In all, save me:—but he has giv'n them nothing.

CORV: That's well, that's well. Art sure he does not hear us?

MOS: Sure, sir! why, look you, credit your own sense. [SHOUTS IN VOL.'S EAR.] The pox approach, and add to your diseases, If it would send you hence the sooner, sir, For your incontinence, it hath deserv'd it Thoroughly, and thoroughly, and the plague to boot!— You may come near, sir.—Would you would once close Those filthy eyes of yours, that flow with slime, Like two frog-pits; and those same hanging cheeks, Cover'd with hide, instead of skin—Nay help, sir— That look like frozen dish-clouts, set on end!

CORV [ALOUD.]: Or like an old smoked wall, on which the rain Ran down in streaks!

MOS: Excellent! sir, speak out: You may be louder yet: A culverin Discharged in his ear would hardly bore it.

CORV: His nose is like a common sewer, still running.

MOS: 'Tis good! And what his mouth?

CORV: A very draught.

MOS: O, stop it up—

CORV: By no means.

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

CORV: Do as you will: but I'll begone.

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

CORV: I pray you, use no violence.

MOS: No, sir! why? Why should you be thus scrupulous, pray you, sir?

CORV: Nay, at your discretion.

MOS: Well, good sir, begone.

CORV: I will not trouble him now, to take my pearl.

MOS: Puh! nor your diamond. What a needless care Is this afflicts you? Is not all here yours? Am not I here, whom you have made your creature? That owe my being to you?

CORV: Grateful Mosca! Thou art my friend, my fellow, my companion, My partner, and shalt share in all my fortunes.

MOS: Excepting one.

CORV: What's that?

MOS: Your gallant wife, sir,— [EXIT CORV.] Now is he gone: we had no other means To shoot him hence, but this.

VOLP: My divine Mosca! Thou hast to-day outgone thyself. [KNOCKING WITHIN.] —Who's there? I will be troubled with no more. Prepare Me music, dances, banquets, all delights; The Turk is not more sensual in his pleasures, Than will Volpone. [EXIT MOS.] Let me see; a pearl! A diamond! plate! chequines! Good morning's purchase, Why, this is better than rob churches, yet; Or fat, by eating, once a month, a man. [RE-ENTER MOSCA.] Who is't?

MOS: The beauteous lady Would-be, sir. Wife to the English knight, Sir Politick Would-be, (This is the style, sir, is directed me,) Hath sent to know how you have slept to-night, And if you would be visited?

VOLP: Not now: Some three hours hence—

MOS: I told the squire so much.

VOLP: When I am high with mirth and wine; then, then: 'Fore heaven, I wonder at the desperate valour Of the bold English, that they dare let loose Their wives to all encounters!

MOS: Sir, this knight Had not his name for nothing, he is politick, And knows, howe'er his wife affect strange airs, She hath not yet the face to be dishonest: But had she signior Corvino's wife's face—

VOLP: Has she so rare a face?

MOS: O, sir, the wonder, The blazing star of Italy! a wench Of the first year! a beauty ripe as harvest! Whose skin is whiter than a swan all over, Than silver, snow, or lilies! a soft lip, Would tempt you to eternity of kissing! And flesh that melteth in the touch to blood! Bright as your gold, and lovely as your gold!

VOLP: Why had not I known this before?

MOS: Alas, sir, Myself but yesterday discover'd it.

VOLP: How might I see her?

MOS: O, not possible; She's kept as warily as is your gold; Never does come abroad, never takes air, But at a window. All her looks are sweet, As the first grapes or cherries, and are watch'd As near as they are.

VOLP: I must see her.

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

VOLP: I will go see her, though but at her window.

MOS: In some disguise, then.

VOLP: That is true; I must Maintain mine own shape still the same: we'll think.

[EXEUNT.]



ACT 2. SCENE 2.1.

ST. MARK'S PLACE; A RETIRED CORNER BEFORE CORVINO'S HOUSE.

ENTER SIR POLITICK WOULD-BE, AND PEREGRINE.

SIR P: Sir, to a wise man, all the world's his soil: 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 disaffection to the state Where I was bred, and unto which I owe My dearest plots, hath brought me out; much less, That idle, antique, stale, gray-headed project Of knowing men's minds, and manners, with Ulysses! But a peculiar humour of my wife's Laid for this height of Venice, to observe, To quote, to learn the language, and so forth— I hope you travel, sir, with license?

PER: Yes.

SIR P: I dare the safelier converse—How long, sir, Since you left England?

PER: Seven weeks.

SIR P: So lately! You have not been with my lord ambassador?

PER: Not yet, sir.

SIR P: Pray you, what news, sir, vents our climate? I heard last night a most strange thing reported By some of my lord's followers, and I long To hear how 'twill be seconded.

PER: What was't, sir?

SIR P: Marry, sir, of a raven that should build In a ship royal of the king's.

PER [ASIDE.]: This fellow, Does he gull me, trow? or is gull'd? —Your name, sir.

SIR P: My name is Politick Would-be.

PER [ASIDE.]: O, that speaks him. —A knight, sir?

SIR P: A poor knight, sir.

PER: Your lady Lies here in Venice, for intelligence Of tires, and fashions, and behaviour, Among the courtezans? the fine lady Would-be?

SIR P: Yes, sir; the spider and the bee, ofttimes, Suck from one flower.

PER: Good Sir Politick, I cry you mercy; I have heard much of you: 'Tis true, sir, of your raven.

SIR P: On your knowledge?

PER: Yes, and your lion's whelping, in the Tower.

SIR P: Another whelp!

PER: Another, sir.

SIR P: Now heaven! What prodigies be these? The fires at Berwick! And the new star! these things concurring, strange, And full of omen! Saw you those meteors?

PER: I did, sir.

SIR P: Fearful! Pray you, sir, confirm me, Were there three porpoises seen above the bridge, As they give out?

PER: Six, and a sturgeon, sir.

SIR P: I am astonish'd.

PER: Nay, sir, be not so; I'll tell you a greater prodigy than these.

SIR P: What should these things portend?

PER: The very day (Let me be sure) that I put forth from London, There was a whale discover'd in the river, As high as Woolwich, that had waited there, Few know how many months, for the subversion Of the Stode fleet.

SIR P: Is't possible? believe it, 'Twas either sent from Spain, or the archdukes: Spinola's whale, upon my life, my credit! Will they not leave these projects? Worthy sir, Some other news.

PER: Faith, Stone the fool is dead; And they do lack a tavern fool extremely.

SIR P: Is Mass Stone dead?

PER: He's dead sir; why, I hope You thought him not immortal? [ASIDE.] —O, this knight, Were he well known, would be a precious thing To fit our English stage: he that should write But such a fellow, should be thought to feign Extremely, if not maliciously.

SIR P: Stone dead!

PER: Dead.—Lord! how deeply sir, you apprehend it? He was no kinsman to you?

SIR P: That I know of. Well! that same fellow was an unknown fool.

PER: And yet you knew him, it seems?

SIR P: I did so. Sir, I knew him one of the most dangerous heads Living within the state, and so I held him.

PER: Indeed, sir?

SIR P: While he lived, in action. He has received weekly intelligence, Upon my knowledge, out of the Low Countries, For all parts of the world, in cabbages; And those dispensed again to ambassadors, In oranges, musk-melons, apricocks, Lemons, pome-citrons, and such-like: sometimes In Colchester oysters, and your Selsey cockles.

PER: You make me wonder.

SIR P: Sir, upon my knowledge. Nay, I've observed him, at your public ordinary, Take his advertisement from a traveller A conceal'd statesman, in a trencher of meat; And instantly, before the meal was done, Convey an answer in a tooth-pick.

PER: Strange! How could this be, sir?

SIR P: Why, the meat was cut So like his character, and so laid, as he Must easily read the cipher.

PER: I have heard, He could not read, sir.

SIR P: So 'twas given out, In policy, by those that did employ him: But he could read, and had your languages, And to't, as sound a noddle—

PER: I have heard, sir, That your baboons were spies, and that they were A kind of subtle nation near to China:

SIR P: Ay, ay, your Mamuluchi. Faith, they had Their hand in a French plot or two; but they Were so extremely given to women, as They made discovery of all: yet I Had my advices here, on Wednesday last. From one of their own coat, they were return'd, Made their relations, as the fashion is, And now stand fair for fresh employment.

PER: 'Heart! [ASIDE.] This sir Pol will be ignorant of nothing. —It seems, sir, you know all?

SIR P: Not all sir, but I have some general notions. I do love To note and to observe: though I live out, Free from the active torrent, yet I'd mark The currents and the passages of things, For mine own private use; and know the ebbs, And flows of state.

PER: Believe it, sir, I hold Myself in no small tie unto my fortunes, For casting me thus luckily upon you, Whose knowledge, if your bounty equal it, May do me great assistance, in instruction For my behaviour, and my bearing, which Is yet so rude and raw.

SIR P: Why, came you forth Empty of rules, for travel?

PER: Faith, I had Some common ones, from out that vulgar grammar, Which he that cried Italian to me, taught me.

SIR P: Why this it is, that spoils all our brave bloods, Trusting our hopeful gentry unto pedants, Fellows of outside, and mere bark. You seem To be a gentleman, of ingenuous race:— I not profess it, but my fate hath been To be, where I have been consulted with, In this high kind, touching some great men's sons, Persons of blood, and honour.—

[ENTER MOSCA AND NANO DISGUISED, FOLLOWED BY PERSONS WITH MATERIALS FOR ERECTING A STAGE.]

PER: Who be these, sir?

MOS: Under that window, there 't must be. The same.

SIR P: Fellows, to mount a bank. Did your instructor In the dear tongues, never discourse to you Of the Italian mountebanks?

PER: Yes, sir.

SIR P: Why, Here shall you see one.

PER: They are quacksalvers; Fellows, that live by venting oils and drugs.

SIR P: Was that the character he gave you of them?

PER: As I remember.

SIR P: Pity his ignorance. They are the only knowing men of Europe! Great general scholars, excellent physicians, Most admired statesmen, profest favourites, And cabinet counsellors to the greatest princes; The only languaged men of all the world!

PER: And, I have heard, they are most lewd impostors; Made all of terms and shreds; no less beliers Of great men's favours, than their own vile med'cines; Which they will utter upon monstrous oaths: Selling that drug for two-pence, ere they part, Which they have valued at twelve crowns before.

SIR P: Sir, calumnies are answer'd best with silence. Yourself shall judge.—Who is it mounts, my friends?

MOS: Scoto of Mantua, sir.

SIR P: Is't he? Nay, then I'll proudly promise, sir, you shall behold Another man than has been phant'sied to you. I wonder yet, that he should mount his bank, Here in this nook, that has been wont t'appear In face of the Piazza!—Here, he comes.

[ENTER VOLPONE, DISGUISED AS A MOUNTEBANK DOCTOR, AND FOLLOWED BY A CROWD OF PEOPLE.]

VOLP [TO NANO.]: Mount zany.

MOB: Follow, follow, follow, follow!

SIR P: See how the people follow him! he's a man May write ten thousand crowns in bank here. Note, [VOLPONE MOUNTS THE STAGE.] Mark but his gesture:—I do use to observe The state he keeps in getting up.

PER: 'Tis worth it, sir.

VOLP: Most noble gentlemen, and my worthy patrons! It may seem strange, that I, your Scoto Mantuano, who was ever wont to fix my bank in face of the public Piazza, near the shelter of the Portico to the Procuratia, should now, after eight months' absence from this illustrious city of Venice, humbly retire myself into an obscure nook of the Piazza.

SIR P: Did not I now object the same?

PER: Peace, sir.

VOLP: Let me tell you: I am not, as your Lombard proverb saith, cold on my feet; or content to part with my commodities at a cheaper rate, than I accustomed: look not for it. Nor that the calumnious reports of that impudent detractor, and shame to our profession, (Alessandro Buttone, I mean,) who gave out, in public, I was condemn'd a sforzato to the galleys, for poisoning the cardinal Bembo's—cook, hath at all attached, much less dejected me. No, no, worthy gentlemen; to tell you true, I cannot endure to see the rabble of these ground ciarlitani, that spread their cloaks on the pavement, as if they meant to do feats of activity, and then come in lamely, with their mouldy tales out of Boccacio, like stale Tabarine, the fabulist: some of them discoursing their travels, and of their tedious captivity in the Turks' galleys, when, indeed, were the truth known, they were the Christians' galleys, where very temperately they eat bread, and drunk water, as a wholesome penance, enjoined them by their confessors, for base pilferies.

SIR P: Note but his bearing, and contempt of these.

VOLP: These turdy-facy-nasty-paty-lousy-fartical rogues, with one poor groat's-worth of unprepared antimony, finely wrapt up in several scartoccios, are able, very well, to kill their twenty a week, and play; yet, these meagre, starved spirits, who have half stopt the organs of their minds with earthy oppilations, want not their favourers among your shrivell'd sallad-eating artizans, who are overjoyed that they may have their half-pe'rth of physic; though it purge them into another world, it makes no matter.

SIR P: Excellent! have you heard better language, sir?

VOLP: Well, let them go. And, gentlemen, honourable gentlemen, know, that for this time, our bank, being thus removed 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.

SIR P: I told you, sir, his end.

PER: You did so, sir.

VOLP: I protest, I, and my six servants, are not able to make of this precious liquor, so fast as it is fetch'd away from my lodging by gentlemen of your city; strangers of the Terra-firma; worshipful merchants; ay, and senators too: who, ever since my arrival, have detained me to their uses, by their splendidous liberalities. And worthily; for, what avails your rich man to have his magazines stuft with moscadelli, or of the purest grape, when his physicians prescribe him, on pain of death, to drink nothing but water cocted with aniseeds? O health! health! the blessing of the rich, the riches of the poor! who can buy thee at too dear a rate, since there is no enjoying this world without thee? Be not then so sparing of your purses, honourable gentlemen, as to abridge the natural course of life—

PER: You see his end.

SIR P: Ay, is't not good?

VOLP: For, when a humid flux, or catarrh, by the mutability of air, falls from your head into an arm or shoulder, or any other part; take you a ducat, or your chequin of gold, and apply to the place affected: see what good effect it can work. No, no, 'tis this blessed unguento, this rare extraction, that hath only power to disperse all malignant humours, that proceed either of hot, cold, moist, or windy causes—

PER: I would he had put in dry too.

SIR P: 'Pray you, observe.

VOLP: To fortify the most indigest and crude stomach, ay, were it of one, that, through extreme weakness, vomited blood, applying only a warm napkin to the place, after the unction and fricace;—for the vertigine in the head, putting but a drop into your nostrils, likewise behind the ears; a most sovereign and approved remedy. The mal caduco, cramps, convulsions, paralysies, epilepsies, tremor-cordia, retired nerves, ill vapours of the spleen, stopping of the liver, the stone, the strangury, hernia ventosa, iliaca passio; stops a disenteria immediately; easeth the torsion of the small guts: and cures melancholia hypocondriaca, being taken and applied according to my printed receipt. [POINTING TO HIS BILL AND HIS VIAL.] For, this is the physician, this the medicine; this counsels, this cures; this gives the direction, this works the effect; and, in sum, both together may be termed an abstract of the theorick and practick in the Aesculapian art. 'Twill cost you eight crowns. And,—Zan Fritada, prithee sing a verse extempore in honour of it.

SIR P: How do you like him, sir?

PER: Most strangely, I!

SIR P: Is not his language rare?

PER: But alchemy, I never heard the like: or Broughton's books.

NANO [SINGS.]: Had old Hippocrates, or Galen, That to their books put med'cines all in, But known this secret, they had never (Of which they will be guilty ever) Been murderers of so much paper, Or wasted many a hurtless taper; No Indian drug had e'er been famed, Tabacco, sassafras not named; Ne yet, of guacum one small stick, sir, Nor Raymund Lully's great elixir. Ne had been known the Danish Gonswart, Or Paracelsus, with his long-sword.

PER: All this, yet, will not do, eight crowns is high.

VOLP: No more.—Gentlemen, if I had but time to discourse to you the miraculous effects of this my oil, surnamed Oglio del Scoto; with the countless catalogue of those I have cured of the aforesaid, and many more diseases; the pattents and privileges of all the princes and commonwealths of Christendom; or but the depositions of those that appeared on my part, before the signiory of the Sanita and most learned College of Physicians; where I was authorised, upon notice taken of the admirable virtues of my medicaments, and mine own excellency in matter of rare and unknown secrets, not only to disperse them publicly in this famous city, but in all the territories, that happily joy under the government of the most pious and magnificent states of Italy. But may some other gallant fellow say, O, there be divers that make profession to have as good, and as experimented receipts as yours: indeed, very many have assayed, like apes, in imitation of that, which is really and essentially in me, to make of this oil; bestowed great cost in furnaces, stills, alembecks, continual fires, and preparation of the ingredients, (as indeed there goes to it six hundred several simples, besides some quantity of human fat, for the conglutination, which we buy of the anatomists,) but, when these practitioners come to the last decoction, blow, blow, puff, puff, and all flies in fumo: ha, ha, ha! Poor wretches! I rather pity their folly and indiscretion, than their loss of time and money; for these may be recovered by industry: but to be a fool born, is a disease incurable. For myself, I always from my youth have endeavoured to get the rarest secrets, and book them, either in exchange, or for money; I spared nor cost nor labour, where any thing was worthy to be learned. And gentlemen, honourable gentlemen, I will undertake, by virtue of chemical art, out of the honourable hat that covers your head, to extract the four elements; that is to say, the fire, air, water, and earth, and return you your felt without burn or stain. For, whilst others have been at the Balloo, I have been at my book; and am now past the craggy paths of study, and come to the flowery plains of honour and reputation.

SIR P: I do assure you, sir, that is his aim.

VOLP: But, to our price—

PER: And that withal, sir Pol.

VOLP: You all know, honourable gentlemen, I never valued this ampulla, or vial, at less than eight crowns, but for this time, I am content, to be deprived of it for six; six crowns is the price; and less, in courtesy I know you cannot offer me; take it, or leave it, howsoever, both it and I am at your service. I ask you not as the value of the thing, for then I should demand of you a thousand crowns, so the cardinals Montalto, Fernese, the great Duke of Tuscany, my gossip, with divers other princes, have given me; but I despise money. Only to shew my affection to you, honourable gentlemen, and your illustrious State here, I have neglected the messages of these princes, mine own offices, framed my journey hither, only to present you with the fruits of my travels.—Tune your voices once more to the touch of your instruments, and give the honourable assembly some delightful recreation.

PER: What monstrous and most painful circumstance Is here, to get some three or four gazettes, Some three-pence in the whole! for that 'twill come to.

NANO [SINGS.]: You that would last long, list to my song, Make no more coil, but buy of this oil. Would you be ever fair and young? Stout of teeth, and strong of tongue? Tart of palate? quick of ear? Sharp of sight? of nostril clear? Moist of hand? and light of foot? Or, I will come nearer to't, Would you live free from all diseases? Do the act your mistress pleases; Yet fright all aches from your bones? Here's a med'cine, for the nones.

VOLP: Well, I am in a humour at this time to make a present of the small quantity my coffer contains; to the rich, in courtesy, and to the poor for God's sake. Wherefore now mark: I ask'd you six crowns, and six crowns, at other times, you have paid me; you shall not give me six crowns, nor five, nor four, nor three, nor two, nor one; nor half a ducat; no, nor a moccinigo. Sixpence it will cost you, or six hundred pound— expect no lower price, for, by the banner of my front, I will not bate a bagatine, that I will have, only, a pledge of your loves, to carry something from amongst you, to shew I am not contemn'd by you. Therefore, now, toss your handkerchiefs, cheerfully, cheerfully; and be advertised, that the first heroic spirit that deignes to grace me with a handkerchief, I will give it a little remembrance of something, beside, shall please it better, than if I had presented it with a double pistolet.

PER: Will you be that heroic spark, sir Pol? [CELIA AT A WINDOW ABOVE, THROWS DOWN HER HANDKERCHIEF.] O see! the window has prevented you.

VOLP: Lady, I kiss your bounty; and for this timely grace you have done your poor Scoto of Mantua, I will return you, over and above my oil, a secret of that high and inestimable nature, shall make you for ever enamour'd on that minute, wherein your eye first descended on so mean, yet not altogether to be despised, an object. Here is a powder conceal'd in this paper, of which, if I should speak 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 is but as an empire, that empire as a province, that province as a bank, that bank as a private purse to the purchase of it. I will only tell you; it is the powder that made Venus a goddess (given her by Apollo,) that kept her perpetually young, clear'd her wrinkles, firm'd her gums, fill'd her skin, colour'd her hair; from her deriv'd to Helen, and at the sack of Troy unfortunately lost: till now, in this our age, it was as happily recovered, by a studious antiquary, out of some ruins of Asia, who sent a moiety of it to the court of France, (but much sophisticated,) wherewith the ladies there, now, colour their hair. The rest, at this present, remains with me; extracted to a quintessence: so that, whereever it but touches, in youth it perpetually preserves, in age restores the complexion; seats your teeth, did they dance like virginal jacks, firm as a wall; makes them white as ivory, that were black, as—

[ENTER CORVINO.]

COR: Spight o' the devil, and my shame! come down here; Come down;—No house but mine to make your scene? Signior Flaminio, will you down, sir? down? What, is my wife your Franciscina, sir? No windows on the whole Piazza, here, To make your properties, but mine? but mine? [BEATS AWAY VOLPONE, NANO, ETC.] Heart! ere to-morrow, I shall be new-christen'd, And call'd the Pantalone di Besogniosi, About the town.

PER: What should this mean, sir Pol?

SIR P: Some trick of state, believe it. I will home.

PER: It may be some design on you:

SIR P: I know not. I'll stand upon my guard.

PER: It is your best, sir.

SIR P: This three weeks, all my advices, all my letters, They have been intercepted.

PER: Indeed, sir! Best have a care.

SIR P: Nay, so I will.

PER: This knight, I may not lose him, for my mirth, till night.

[EXEUNT.]

SCENE 2.2.

A ROOM IN VOLPONE'S HOUSE.

ENTER VOLPONE AND MOSCA.

VOLP: O, I am wounded!

MOS: Where, sir?

VOLP: Not without; Those blows were nothing: I could bear them ever. But angry Cupid, bolting from her eyes, Hath shot himself into me like a flame; Where, now, he flings about his burning heat, As in a furnace an ambitious fire, Whose vent is stopt. The fight is all within me. I cannot live, except thou help me, Mosca; My liver melts, and I, without the hope Of some soft air, from her refreshing breath, Am but a heap of cinders.

MOS: 'Las, good sir, Would you had never seen her!

VOLP: Nay, would thou Had'st never told me of her!

MOS: Sir 'tis true; I do confess I was unfortunate, And you unhappy: but I'm bound in conscience, No less than duty, to effect my best To your release of torment, and I will, sir.

VOLP: Dear Mosca, shall I hope?

MOS: Sir, more than dear, I will not bid you to dispair of aught Within a human compass.

VOLP: O, there spoke My better angel. Mosca, take my keys, Gold, plate, and jewels, all's at thy devotion; Employ them how thou wilt; nay, coin me too: So thou, in this, but crown my longings, Mosca.

MOS: Use but your patience.

VOLP: So I have.

MOS: I doubt not To bring success to your desires.

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

MOS: If you can horn him, sir, you need not.

VOLP: True: Besides, I never meant him for my heir.— Is not the colour of my beard and eyebrows, To make me known?

MOS: No jot.

VOLP: I did it well.

MOS: So well, would I could follow you in mine, With half the happiness! [ASIDE.] —and yet I would Escape your Epilogue.

VOLP: But were they gull'd With a belief that I was Scoto?

MOS: Sir, Scoto himself could hardly have distinguish'd! I have not time to flatter you now; we'll part; And as I prosper, so applaud my art.

[EXEUNT.]

SCENE 2.3.

A ROOM IN CORVINO'S HOUSE.

ENTER CORVINO, WITH HIS SWORD IN HIS HAND, DRAGGING IN CELIA.

CORV: Death of mine honour, with the city's fool! A juggling, tooth-drawing, prating mountebank! And at a public window! where, whilst he, With his strain'd action, and his dole of faces, To his drug-lecture draws your itching ears, A crew of old, unmarried, noted letchers, Stood leering up like satyrs; and you smile Most graciously, and fan your favours forth, To give your hot spectators satisfaction! What; was your mountebank their call? their whistle? Or were you enamour'd on his copper rings, His saffron jewel, with the toad-stone in't, Or his embroider'd suit, with the cope-stitch, Made of a herse-cloth? 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'd rather mount; would you not mount? Why, if you'll mount, you may; yes truly, you may: And so you may be seen, down to the foot. Get you a cittern, lady Vanity, And be a dealer with the virtuous man; Make one: I'll but protest myself a cuckold, And save your dowry. I'm a Dutchman, I! For, if you thought me an Italian, You would be damn'd, ere you did this, you whore! Thou'dst tremble, to imagine, that the murder Of father, mother, brother, all thy race, Should follow, as the subject of my justice.

CEL: Good sir, have pacience.

CORV: What couldst thou propose Less to thyself, than in this heat of wrath And stung with my dishonour, I should strike This steel into thee, with as many stabs, As thou wert gaz'd upon with goatish eyes?

CEL: Alas, sir, be appeas'd! I could not think My being at the window should more now Move your impatience, than at other times.

CORV: No! not to seek and entertain a parley With a known knave, before a multitude! You were an actor with your handkerchief; Which he most sweetly kist in the receipt, And might, no doubt, return it with a letter, And point the place where you might meet: your sister's, Your mother's, or your aunt's might serve the turn.

CEL: Why, dear sir, when do I make these excuses, Or ever stir abroad, but to the church? And that so seldom—

CORV: Well, it shall be less; And thy restraint before was liberty, To what I now decree: and therefore mark me. First, I will have this bawdy light damm'd up; And till't be done, some two or three yards off, I'll chalk a line: o'er which if thou but chance To set thy desperate foot; more hell, more horror More wild remorseless rage shall seize on thee, Than on a conjurer, that had heedless left His circle's safety ere his devil was laid. Then here's a lock which I will hang upon thee; And, now I think on't, I will keep thee backwards; Thy lodging shall be backwards; thy walks backwards; Thy prospect, all be backwards; and no pleasure, That thou shalt know but backwards: nay, since you force My honest nature, know, it is your own, Being too open, makes me use you thus: Since you will not contain your subtle nostrils In a sweet room, but they must snuff the air Of rank and sweaty passengers. [KNOCKING WITHIN.] —One knocks. Away, and be not seen, pain of thy life; Nor look toward the window: if thou dost— Nay, stay, hear this—let me not prosper, whore, But I will make thee an anatomy, Dissect thee mine own self, and read a lecture Upon thee to the city, and in public. Away! [EXIT CELIA.] [ENTER SERVANT.] Who's there?

SERV: 'Tis signior Mosca, sir.

CORV: Let him come in. [EXIT SERVANT.] His master's dead: There's yet Some good to help the bad.— [ENTER MOSCA.] My Mosca, welcome! I guess your news.

MOS: I fear you cannot, sir.

CORV: Is't not his death?

MOS: Rather the contrary.

CORV: Not his recovery?

MOS: Yes, sir,

CORV: I am curs'd, I am bewitch'd, my crosses meet to vex me. How? how? how? how?

MOS: Why, sir, with Scoto's oil; Corbaccio and Voltore brought of it, Whilst I was busy in an inner room—

CORV: Death! that damn'd mountebank; but for the law Now, I could kill the rascal: it cannot be, His oil should have that virtue. Have not I Known him a common rogue, come fidling in To the osteria, with a tumbling whore, And, when he has done all his forced tricks, been glad Of a poor spoonful of dead wine, with flies in't? It cannot be. All his ingredients Are a sheep's gall, a roasted bitch's marrow, Some few sod earwigs pounded caterpillars, A little capon's grease, and fasting spittle: I know them to a dram.

MOS: I know not, sir, But some on't, there, they pour'd into his ears, Some in his nostrils, and recover'd him; Applying but the fricace.

CORV: Pox o' that fricace.

MOS: And since, to seem the more officious And flatt'ring of his health, there, they have had, At extreme fees, the college of physicians Consulting on him, how they might restore him; Where one would have a cataplasm of spices, Another a flay'd ape clapp'd to his breast, A third would have it a dog, a fourth an oil, With wild cats' skins: at last, they all resolved That, to preserve him, was no other means, But some young woman must be straight sought out, Lusty, and full of juice, to sleep by him; And to this service, most unhappily, And most unwillingly, am I now employ'd, Which here I thought to pre-acquaint you with, For your advice, since it concerns you most; Because, I would not do that thing might cross Your ends, on whom I have my whole dependance, sir: Yet, if I do it not, they may delate My slackness to my patron, work me out Of his opinion; and there all your hopes, Ventures, or whatsoever, are all frustrate! I do but tell you, sir. Besides, they are all Now striving, who shall first present him; therefore— I could entreat you, briefly conclude somewhat; Prevent them if you can.

CORV: Death to my hopes, This is my villainous fortune! Best to hire Some common courtezan.

MOS: Ay, I thought on that, sir; But they are all so subtle, full of art— And age again doting and flexible, So as—I cannot tell—we may, perchance, Light on a quean may cheat us all.

CORV: 'Tis true.

MOS: 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? Odso—Think, think, think, think, think, think, think, sir. One o' the doctors offer'd there his daughter.

CORV: How!

MOS: Yes, signior Lupo, the physician.

CORV: His daughter!

MOS: And a virgin, sir. Why? alas, He knows the state of's body, what it is; That nought can warm his blood sir, but a fever; Nor any incantation raise his spirit: A long forgetfulness hath seized that part. Besides sir, who shall know it? some one or two—

CORV: I prithee give me leave. [WALKS ASIDE.] If any man But I had had this luck—The thing in't self, I know, is nothing—Wherefore should not I As well command my blood and my affections, As this dull doctor? In the point of honour, The cases are all one of wife and daughter.

MOS [ASIDE.]: I hear him coming.

CORV: She shall do't: 'tis done. Slight! if this doctor, who is not engaged, Unless 't be for his counsel, which is nothing, Offer his daughter, what should I, that am So deeply in? I will prevent him: Wretch! Covetous wretch!—Mosca, I have determined.

MOS: How, sir?

CORV: We'll make all sure. The party you wot of Shall be mine own wife, Mosca.

MOS: Sir, the thing, But that I would not seem to counsel you, I should have motion'd to you, at the first: And make your count, you have cut all their throats. Why! 'tis directly taking a possession! And in his next fit, we may let him go. 'Tis but to pull the pillow from his head, And he is throttled: it had been done before, But for your scrupulous doubts.

CORV: Ay, a plague on't, My conscience fools my wit! Well, I'll be brief, And so be thou, lest they should be before us: Go home, prepare him, tell him with what zeal And willingness I do it; swear it was On the first hearing, as thou mayst do, truly, Mine own free motion.

MOS: Sir, I warrant you, I'll so possess him with it, that the rest Of his starv'd clients shall be banish'd all; And only you received. But come not, sir, Until I send, for I have something else To ripen for your good, you must not know't.

CORV: But do not you forget to send now.

MOS: Fear not.

[EXIT.]

CORV: Where are you, wife? my Celia? wife? [RE-ENTER CELIA.] —What, blubbering? Come, dry those tears. I think thou thought'st me in earnest; Ha! by this light I talk'd so but to try thee: Methinks the lightness of the occasion Should have confirm'd thee. Come, I am not jealous.

CEL: No!

CORV: Faith I am not I, nor never was; It is a poor unprofitable humour. Do not I know, if women have a will, They'll do 'gainst all the watches of the world, And that the feircest spies are tamed with gold? Tut, I am confident in thee, thou shalt see't; And see I'll give thee cause too, to believe it. Come kiss me. Go, and make thee ready, straight, In all thy best attire, thy choicest jewels, Put them all on, and, with them, thy best looks: We are invited to a solemn feast, At old Volpone's, where it shall appear How far I am free from jealousy or fear.

[exeunt.]



ACT 3. SCENE 3.1.

A STREET.

ENTER MOSCA.

MOS: I fear, I shall begin to grow in love With my dear self, and my most prosperous parts, They do so spring and burgeon; I can feel A whimsy in my blood: I know not how, Success hath made me wanton. I could skip Out of my skin, now, like a subtle snake, I am so limber. O! your parasite Is a most precious thing, dropt from above, Not bred 'mongst clods, and clodpoles, here on earth. I muse, the mystery 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 mean not those that have your bare town-art, To know who's fit to feed them; have no house, No family, no care, and therefore mould Tales for men's ears, to bait that sense; or get Kitchen-invention, and some stale receipts To please the belly, and the groin; nor those, With their court dog-tricks, that can fawn and fleer, Make their revenue out of legs and faces, Echo my lord, and lick away a moth: But your fine elegant rascal, that can rise, And stoop, almost together, like an arrow; Shoot through the air as nimbly as a star; Turn 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 than a thought! This is the creature had the art born with him; Toils not to learn it, but doth practise it Out of most excellent nature: and such sparks Are the true parasites, others but their zanis.

[ENTER BONARIO.]

MOS: Who's this? Bonario, old Corbaccio's son? The person I was bound to seek.—Fair sir, You are happily met.

BON: That cannot be by thee.

MOS: Why, sir?

BON: Nay, pray thee know thy way, and leave me: I would be loth to interchange discourse With such a mate as thou art

MOS: Courteous sir, Scorn not my poverty.

BON: Not I, by heaven; But thou shalt give me leave to hate thy baseness.

MOS: Baseness!

BON: Ay; answer me, is not thy sloth Sufficient argument? thy flattery? Thy means of feeding?

MOS: Heaven be good to me! These imputations are too common, sir, And easily stuck on virtue when she's poor. You are unequal to me, and however, Your sentence may be righteous, yet you are not That, ere you know me, thus proceed in censure: St. Mark bear witness 'gainst you, 'tis inhuman. [WEEPS.]

BON [ASIDE.]: What! does he weep? the sign is soft and good; I do repent me that I was so harsh.

MOS: 'Tis true, that, sway'd by strong necessity, I am enforced to eat my careful bread With too much obsequy; 'tis true, beside, That I am fain to spin mine own poor raiment Out of my mere observance, being not born To a free fortune: but that I have done Base offices, in rending friends asunder, Dividing families, betraying counsels, Whispering false lies, or mining men with praises, Train'd their credulity with perjuries, Corrupted chastity, or am in love With mine own tender ease, but would not rather Prove the most rugged, and laborious course, That might redeem my present estimation, Let me here perish, in all hope of goodness.

BON [ASIDE.]: This cannot be a personated passion.— I was to blame, so to mistake thy nature; Prithee, forgive me: and speak out thy business.

MOS: Sir, it concerns you; and though I may seem, At first to make a main offence in manners, And in my gratitude unto my master; Yet, for the pure love, which I bear all right, And hatred of the wrong, I must reveal it. This very hour your father is in purpose To disinherit you—

BON: How!

MOS: And thrust you forth, As a mere stranger to his blood; 'tis true, sir: The work no way engageth me, but, as I claim an interest in the general state Of goodness and true virtue, which I hear To abound in you: and, for which mere respect, Without a second aim, sir, I have done it.

BON: 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 unnatural.

MOS: 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 abhorr'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 go with me, I'll bring you, I dare not say where you shall see, but where Your ear shall be a witness of the deed; Hear yourself written bastard; and profest The common issue of the earth.

BON: I am amazed!

MOS: Sir, if I do it not, draw your just sword, And score your vengeance on my front and face; Mark me your villain: you have too much wrong, And I do suffer for you, sir. My heart Weeps blood in anguish—

BON: Lead; I follow thee.

[EXEUNT.]

SCENE 3.2.

A ROOM IN VOLPONE'S HOUSE.

ENTER VOLPONE.

VOLP: Mosca stays long, methinks. Bring forth your sports, And help to make the wretched time more sweet.

[ENTER NANO, ANDROGYNO, AND CASTRONE.]

NAN: Dwarf, fool, and eunuch, well met here we be. A question it were now, whether of us three, Being all the known delicates of a rich man, In pleasing him, claim the precedency can?

CAS: I claim for myself.

AND: And so doth the fool.

NAN: 'Tis foolish indeed: let me set you both to school. First for your dwarf, he's little and witty, And every thing, as it is little, is pretty; Else why do men say to a creature of my shape, So soon as they see him, It's a pretty little ape? And why a pretty ape, but for pleasing imitation Of greater men's actions, in a ridiculous fashion? Beside, this feat body of mine doth not crave Half the meat, drink, and cloth, one of your bulks will have. Admit your fool's face be the mother of laughter, Yet, for his brain, it must always come after: And though that do feed him, 'tis a pitiful case, His body is beholding to such a bad face.

[KNOCKING WITHIN.]

VOLP: Who's there? my couch; away! look! Nano, see: [EXE. AND. AND CAS.] Give me my caps, first—go, enquire. [EXIT NANO.] —Now, Cupid Send it be Mosca, and with fair return!

NAN [WITHIN.]: It is the beauteous madam—

VOLP: Would-be?—is it?

NAN: The same.

VOLP: Now torment on me! Squire her in; For she will enter, or dwell here for ever: Nay, quickly. [RETIRES TO HIS COUCH.] —That my fit were past! I fear A second hell too, that my lothing this Will quite expel my appetite to the other: Would she were taking now her tedious leave. Lord, how it threats me what I am to suffer!

[RE-ENTER NANO, WITH LADY POLITICK WOULD-BE.]

LADY P: I thank you, good sir. 'Pray you signify Unto your patron, I am here.—This band Shews not my neck enough.—I trouble you, sir; Let me request you, bid one of my women Come hither to me.—In good faith, I, am drest Most favorably, to-day! It is no matter: 'Tis well enough.— [ENTER 1 WAITING-WOMAN.] Look, see, these petulant things, How they have done this!

VOLP [ASIDE.]: I do feel the fever Entering in at mine ears; O, for a charm, To fright it hence.

LADY P: Come nearer: Is this curl In his right place, or this? Why is this higher Then all the rest? You have not wash'd your eyes, yet! Or do they not stand even in your head? Where is your fellow? call her.

[EXIT 1 WOMAN.]

NAN: Now, St. Mark Deliver us! anon, she will beat her women, Because her nose is red.

[RE-ENTER 1 WITH 2 WOMAN.]

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

1 WOM: One hair a little, here, sticks out, forsooth.

LADY P: Does't so, forsooth? and where was your dear sight, When it did so, forsooth! What now! bird-eyed? And you too? 'Pray you, both approach and mend it. Now, by that light, I muse you are not ashamed! I, that have preach'd these things so oft unto you, Read you the principles, argued all the grounds, Disputed every fitness, every grace, Call'd you to counsel of so frequent dressings—

NAN [ASIDE.]: More carefully than of your fame or honour.

LADY P: 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 return: 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 dress herself." Here's a fine imputation to our country: Well, go your ways, and stay, in the next room. This fucus was too course too, it's no matter.— Good-sir, you will give them entertainment?

[EXEUNT NANO AND WAITING-WOMEN.]

VOLP: The storm comes toward me.

LADY P [GOES TO THE COUCH.]: How does my Volpone?

VOLP: Troubled with noise, I cannot sleep; I dreamt That a strange fury enter'd, now, my house, And, with the dreadful tempest of her breath, Did cleave my roof asunder.

LADY P: Believe me, and I Had the most fearful dream, could I remember't—

VOLP [ASIDE.]: Out on my fate! I have given her the occasion How to torment me: she will tell me hers.

LADY P: Me thought, the golden mediocrity, Polite and delicate—

VOLP: O, if you do love me, No more; I sweat, and suffer, at the mention Of any dream: feel, how I tremble yet.

LADY P: Alas, good soul! the passion of the heart. Seed-pearl were good now, boil'd with syrup of apples, Tincture of gold, and coral, citron-pills, Your elicampane root, myrobalanes—

VOLP [ASIDE.]: Ah me, I have ta'en a grass-hopper by the wing!

LADY P: Burnt silk, and amber: you have muscadel Good in the house—

VOLP: You will not drink, and part?

LADY P: No, fear not that. I doubt, we shall not get Some English saffron, half a dram would serve; Your sixteen cloves, a little musk, dried mints, Bugloss, and barley-meal—

VOLP [ASIDE.]: She's in again! Before I fain'd diseases, now I have one.

LADY P: And these applied with a right scarlet cloth.

VOLP [ASIDE.]: Another flood of words! a very torrent!

LADY P: Shall I, sir, make you a poultice?

VOLP: No, no, no; I am very well: you need prescribe no more.

LADY P: I have a little studied physic; but now, I'm all for music, save, in the forenoons, An hour or two for painting. I would have A lady, indeed, to have all, letters, and arts, Be able to discourse, to write, to paint, But principal, as Plato holds, your music, And, so does wise Pythagoras, I take it, Is your true rapture: when there is concent In face, in voice, and clothes: and is, indeed, Our sex's chiefest ornament.

VOLP: The poet As old in time as Plato, and as knowing, Says that your highest female grace is silence.

LADY P: Which of your poets? Petrarch, or Tasso, or Dante? Guarini? Ariosto? Aretine? Cieco di Hadria? I have read them all.

VOLP [ASIDE.]: Is every thing a cause to my distruction?

LADY P: I think I have two or three of them about me.

VOLP [ASIDE.]: The sun, the sea will sooner both stand still, Then her eternal tongue; nothing can 'scape it.

LADY P: Here's pastor Fido—

VOLP [ASIDE.]: Profess obstinate silence, That's now my safest.

LADY P: All our English writers, I mean such as are happy in the Italian, Will deign to steal out of this author, mainly: Almost as much, as from Montagnie; He has so modern and facile a vein, Fitting the time, and catching the court-ear! Your Petrarch is more passionate, yet he, In days of sonetting, trusted them with much: Dante is hard, and few can understand him. But, for a desperate wit, there's Aretine; Only, his pictures are a little obscene— You mark me not.

VOLP: Alas, my mind is perturb'd.

LADY P: Why, in such cases, we must cure ourselves, Make use of our philosophy—

VOLP: Oh me!

LADY P: And as we find our passions do rebel, Encounter them with reason, or divert them, By giving scope unto some other humour Of lesser danger: as, in politic bodies, There's nothing more doth overwhelm the judgment, And cloud the understanding, than too much Settling and fixing, and, as 'twere, subsiding Upon one object. For the incorporating Of these same outward things, into that part, Which we call mental, leaves some certain faeces That stop the organs, and as Plato says, Assassinate our Knowledge.

VOLP [ASIDE.]: Now, the spirit Of patience help me!

LADY P: Come, in faith, I must Visit you more a days; and make you well: Laugh and be lusty.

VOLP [ASIDE.]: My good angel save me!

LADY P: There was but one sole man in all the world, With whom I e'er could sympathise; and he Would lie you, often, three, four hours together To hear me speak; and be sometimes so rapt, As he would answer me quite from the purpose, Like you, and you are like him, just. I'll discourse, An't be but only, sir, to bring you asleep, How we did spend our time and loves together, For some six years.

VOLP: Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh!

LADY P: For we were coaetanei, and brought up—

VOLP: Some power, some fate, some fortune rescue me!

[ENTER MOSCA.]

MOS: God save you, madam!

LADY P: Good sir.

VOLP: Mosca? welcome, Welcome to my redemption.

MOS: Why, sir?

VOLP: Oh, Rid me of this my torture, quickly, there; My madam, with the everlasting voice: The bells, in time of pestilence, ne'er made Like noise, or were in that perpetual motion! The Cock-pit comes not near it. All my house, But now, steam'd like a bath with her thick breath. A lawyer could not have been heard; nor scarce Another woman, such a hail of words She has let fall. For hell's sake, rid her hence.

MOS: Has she presented?

VOLP: O, I do not care; I'll take her absence, upon any price, With any loss.

MOS: Madam—

LADY P: I have brought your patron A toy, a cap here, of mine own work.

MOS: 'Tis well. I had forgot to tell you, I saw your knight, Where you would little think it.—

LADY P: Where?

MOS: Marry, Where yet, if you make haste, you may apprehend, Rowing upon the water in a gondole, With the most cunning courtezan of Venice.

LADY P: Is't true?

MOS: Pursue them, and believe your eyes; Leave me, to make your gift. [EXIT LADY P. HASTILY.] —I knew 'twould take: For, lightly, they, that use themselves most license, Are still most jealous.

VOLP: Mosca, hearty thanks, For thy quick fiction, and delivery of me. Now to my hopes, what say'st thou?

[RE-ENTER LADY P. WOULD-BE.]

LADY P: But do you hear, sir?—

VOLP: Again! I fear a paroxysm.

LADY P: Which way Row'd they together?

MOS: Toward the Rialto.

LADY P: I pray you lend me your dwarf.

MOS: I pray you, take him.— [EXIT LADY P.] Your hopes, sir, are like happy blossoms, fair, And promise timely fruit, if you will stay But the maturing; keep you at your couch, Corbaccio will arrive straight, with the Will; When he is gone, I'll tell you more.

[EXIT.]

VOLP: My blood, My spirits are return'd; I am alive: And like your wanton gamester, at primero, Whose thought had whisper'd to him, not go less, Methinks I lie, and draw—for an encounter.

[THE SCENE CLOSES UPON VOLPONE.]

SCENE 3.3

THE PASSAGE LEADING TO VOLPONE'S CHAMBER.

ENTER MOSCA AND BONARIO.

MOS: Sir, here conceal'd, [SHEWS HIM A CLOSET.] you may here all. But, pray you, Have patience, sir; [KNOCKING WITHIN.] —the same's your father knocks: I am compell'd to leave you.

[EXIT.]

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

[GOES INTO THE CLOSET.]

SCENE 3.4.

ANOTHER PART OF THE SAME.

ENTER MOSCA AND CORVINO, CELIA FOLLOWING.

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

CORV: Yes, but I fear'd You might forget it, and then they prevent us.

MOS [ASIDE.]: Prevent! did e'er man haste so, for his horns? A courtier would not ply it so, for a place. —Well, now there's no helping it, stay here; I'll presently return.

[EXIT.]

CORV: Where are you, Celia? You know not wherefore I have brought you hither?

CEL: Not well, except you told me.

CORV: Now, I will: Hark hither.

[EXEUNT.]

SCENE 3.5.

A CLOSET OPENING INTO A GALLERY.

ENTER MOSCA AND BONARIO.

MOS: Sir, your father hath sent word, It will be half an hour ere he come; And therefore, if you please to walk the while Into that gallery—at the upper end, There are some books to entertain the time: And I'll take care no man shall come unto you, sir.

BON: Yes, I will stay there. [ASIDE.]—I do doubt this fellow.

[EXIT.]

MOS [LOOKING AFTER HIM.]: There; he is far enough; he can hear nothing: And, for his father, I can keep him off.

[EXIT.]

SCENE 3.6.

VOLPONE'S CHAMBER.—VOLPONE ON HIS COUCH. MOSCA SITTING BY HIM.

ENTER CORVINO, FORCING IN CELIA.

CORV: Nay, now, there is no starting back, and therefore, Resolve upon it: I have so decreed. It must be done. Nor would I move't, afore, Because I would avoid all shifts and tricks, That might deny me.

CEL: Sir, let me beseech you, Affect not these strange trials; if you doubt My chastity, why, lock me up for ever: Make me the heir of darkness. Let me live, Where I may please your fears, if not your trust.

CORV: Believe it, I have no such humour, I. All that I speak I mean; yet I'm not mad; Nor horn-mad, see you? Go to, shew yourself Obedient, and a wife.

CEL: O heaven!

CORV: I say it, Do so.

CEL: Was this the train?

CORV: I've told you reasons; What the physicians have set down; how much It may concern me; what my engagements are; My means; and the necessity of those means, For my recovery: wherefore, if you be Loyal, and mine, be won, respect my venture.

CEL: Before your honour?

CORV: Honour! tut, a breath: There's no such thing, in nature: a mere term Invented to awe fools. What is my gold The worse, for touching, clothes for being look'd on? Why, this is no more. An old decrepit wretch, That has no sense, no sinew; takes his meat With others' fingers; only knows to gape, When you do scald his gums; a voice; a shadow; And, what can this man hurt you?

CEL [ASIDE.]: Lord! what spirit Is this hath enter'd him?

CORV: And for your fame, That's such a jig; as if I would go tell it, Cry it on the Piazza! who shall know it, But he that cannot speak it, and this fellow, Whose lips are in my pocket? save yourself, (If you'll proclaim't, you may,) I know no other, Shall come to know it.

CEL: Are heaven and saints then nothing? Will they be blind or stupid?

CORV: How!

CEL: Good sir, Be jealous still, emulate them; and think What hate they burn with toward every sin.

CORV: I grant you: if I thought it were a sin, I would not urge you. Should I offer this To some young Frenchman, or hot Tuscan blood That had read Aretine, conn'd all his prints, Knew every quirk within lust's labyrinth, And were professed critic in lechery; And I would look upon him, and applaud him, This were a sin: but here, 'tis contrary, A pious work, mere charity for physic, And honest polity, to assure mine own.

CEL: O heaven! canst thou suffer such a change?

VOLP: Thou art mine honour, Mosca, and my pride, My joy, my tickling, my delight! Go bring them.

MOS [ADVANCING.]: Please you draw near, sir.

CORV: Come on, what— You will not be rebellious? by that light—

MOS: Sir, Signior Corvino, here, is come to see you.

VOLP: Oh!

MOS: And hearing of the consultation had, So lately, for your health, is come to offer, Or rather, sir, to prostitute—

CORV: Thanks, sweet Mosca.

MOS: Freely, unask'd, or unintreated—

CORV: Well.

MOS: As the true fervent instance of his love, His own most fair and proper wife; the beauty, Only of price in Venice—

CORV: 'Tis well urged.

MOS: To be your comfortress, and to preserve you.

VOLP: Alas, I am past, already! Pray you, thank him For his good care and promptness; but for that, 'Tis a vain labour e'en to fight 'gainst heaven; Applying fire to stone— [COUGHING.] uh, uh, uh, uh! Making a dead leaf grow again. I take His wishes gently, though; and you may tell him, What I have done for him: marry, my state is hopeless. Will him to pray for me; and to use his fortune With reverence, when he comes to't.

MOS: Do you hear, sir? Go to him with your wife.

CORV: Heart of my father! Wilt thou persist thus? come, I pray thee, come. Thou seest 'tis nothing, Celia. By this hand, I shall grow violent. Come, do't, I say.

CEL: Sir, kill me, rather: I will take down poison, Eat burning coals, do any thing.—

CORV: Be damn'd! Heart, I'll drag thee hence, home, by the hair; Cry thee a strumpet through the streets; rip up Thy mouth unto thine ears; and slit thy nose, Like a raw rotchet!—Do not tempt me; come, Yield, I am loth—Death! I will buy some slave Whom I will kill, and bind thee to him, alive; And at my window hang you forth: devising Some monstrous crime, which I, in capital letters, Will eat into thy flesh with aquafortis, And burning corsives, on this stubborn breast. Now, by the blood thou hast incensed, I'll do it!

CEL: Sir, what you please, you may, I am your martyr.

CORV: Be not thus obstinate, I have not deserved it: Think who it is intreats you. 'Prithee, sweet;— Good faith, thou shalt have jewels, gowns, attires, What thou wilt think, and ask. Do but go kiss him. Or touch him, but, for my sake.—At my suit.— This once.—No! not! I shall remember this. Will you disgrace me thus? Do you thirst my undoing?

MOS: Nay, gentle lady, be advised.

CORV: No, no. She has watch'd her time. Ods precious, this is scurvy, 'Tis very scurvy: and you are—

MOS: Nay, good, sir.

CORV: An arrant Locust, by heaven, a locust! Whore, crocodile, that hast thy tears prepared, Expecting how thou'lt bid them flow—

MOS: Nay, 'Pray you, sir! She will consider.

CEL: Would my life would serve To satisfy—

CORV: S'death! if she would but speak to him, And save my reputation, it were somewhat; But spightfully to affect my utter ruin!

MOS: Ay, now you have put your fortune in her hands. Why i'faith, it is her modesty, I must quit her. If you were absent, she would be more coming; I know it: and dare undertake for her. What woman can before her husband? 'pray you, Let us depart, and leave her here.

CORV: Sweet Celia, Thou may'st redeem all, yet; I'll say no more: If not, esteem yourself as lost,—Nay, stay there.

[SHUTS THE DOOR, AND EXIT WITH MOSCA.]

CEL: O God, and his good angels! whither, whither, Is shame fled human breasts? that with such ease, Men dare put off your honours, and their own? Is that, which ever was a cause of life, Now placed beneath the basest circumstance, And modesty an exile made, for money?

VOLP: Ay, in Corvino, and such earth-fed minds, [LEAPING FROM HIS COUCH.] That never tasted the true heaven of love. Assure thee, Celia, he that would sell thee, Only for hope of gain, and that uncertain, He would have sold his part of Paradise For ready money, had he met a cope-man. Why art thou mazed to see me thus revived? Rather applaud thy beauty's miracle; 'Tis thy great work: that hath, not now alone, But sundry times raised me, in several shapes, And, but this morning, like a mountebank; To see thee at thy window: ay, before I would have left my practice, for thy love, In varying figures, I would have contended With the blue Proteus, or the horned flood. Now art thou welcome.

CEL: Sir!

VOLP: Nay, fly me not. Nor let thy false imagination That I was bed-rid, make thee think I am so: Thou shalt not find it. I am, now, as fresh, As hot, as high, and in as jovial plight, As when, in that so celebrated scene, At recitation of our comedy, For entertainment of the great Valois, I acted young Antinous; and attracted The eyes and ears of all the ladies present, To admire each graceful gesture, note, and footing. [SINGS.] Come, my Celia, let us prove, While we can, the sports of love, Time will not be ours for ever, He, at length, our good will sever; Spend not then his gifts in vain; Suns, that set, may rise again: But if once we loose this light, 'Tis with us perpetual night. Why should we defer our joys? Fame and rumour are but toys. Cannot we delude the eyes Of a few poor household spies? Or his easier ears beguile, Thus remooved by our wile?— 'Tis no sin love's fruits to steal: But the sweet thefts to reveal; To be taken, to be seen, These have crimes accounted been.

CEL: Some serene blast me, or dire lightning strike This my offending face!

VOLP: Why droops my Celia? Thou hast, in place of a base husband, found A worthy lover: use thy fortune well, With secrecy and pleasure. See, behold, What thou art queen of; not in expectation, As I feed others: but possess'd, and crown'd. See, here, a rope of pearl; and each, more orient Than that the brave Egyptian queen caroused: Dissolve and drink them. See, a carbuncle, May put out both the eyes of our St Mark; A diamond, would have bought Lollia Paulina, When she came in like star-light, hid with jewels, That were the spoils of provinces; take these, And wear, and lose them: yet remains an ear-ring To purchase them again, and this whole state. A gem but worth a private patrimony, Is nothing: we will eat such at a meal. The heads of parrots, tongues of nightingales, The brains of peacocks, and of estriches, Shall be our food: and, could we get the phoenix, Though nature lost her kind, she were our dish.

CEL: Good sir, these things might move a mind affected With such delights; but I, whose innocence Is all I can think wealthy, or worth th' enjoying, And which, once lost, I have nought to lose beyond it, Cannot be taken with these sensual baits: If you have conscience—

VOLP: 'Tis the beggar's virtue, If thou hast wisdom, hear me, Celia. Thy baths shall be the juice of July-flowers, Spirit of roses, and of violets, The milk of unicorns, and panthers' breath Gather'd in bags, and mixt with Cretan wines. Our drink shall be prepared gold and amber; Which we will take, until my roof whirl round With the vertigo: and my dwarf shall dance, My eunuch sing, my fool make up the antic. Whilst we, in changed shapes, act Ovid's tales, Thou, like Europa now, and I like Jove, Then I like Mars, and thou like Erycine: So, of the rest, till we have quite run through, And wearied all the fables of the gods. Then will I have thee in more modern forms, Attired like some sprightly dame of France, Brave Tuscan lady, or proud Spanish beauty; Sometimes, unto the Persian sophy's wife; Or the grand signior's mistress; and, for change, To one of our most artful courtezans, Or some quick Negro, or cold Russian; And I will meet thee in as many shapes: Where we may so transfuse our wandering souls, Out at our lips, and score up sums of pleasures, [SINGS.] That the curious shall not know How to tell them as they flow; And the envious, when they find What there number is, be pined.

CEL: If you have ears that will be pierc'd—or eyes That can be open'd—a heart that may be touch'd— Or any part that yet sounds man about you— If you have touch of holy saints—or heaven— Do me the grace to let me 'scape—if not, Be bountiful and kill me. You do know, I am a creature, hither ill betray'd, By one, whose shame I would forget it were: If you will deign me neither of these graces, Yet feed your wrath, sir, rather than your lust, (It is a vice comes nearer manliness,) And punish that unhappy crime of nature, Which you miscall my beauty; flay my face, Or poison it with ointments, for seducing Your blood to this rebellion. Rub these hands, With what may cause an eating leprosy, E'en to my bones and marrow: any thing, That may disfavour me, save in my honour— And I will kneel to you, pray for you, pay down A thousand hourly vows, sir, for your health; Report, and think you virtuous—

VOLP: 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 opportunity thus long; I should have done the act, and then have parley'd. Yield, or I'll force thee.

[SEIZES HER.]

CEL: O! just God!

VOLP: In vain—

BON [RUSHING IN]: Forbear, foul ravisher, libidinous swine! Free the forced lady, or thou diest, impostor. But that I'm loth to snatch thy punishment Out of the hand of justice, thou shouldst, yet, Be made the timely sacrifice of vengeance, Before this altar, and this dross, thy idol.— Lady, let's quit the place, it is the den Of villany; fear nought, you have a guard: And he, ere long, shall meet his just reward.

[EXEUNT BON. AND CEL.]

VOLP: Fall on me, roof, and bury me in ruin! Become my grave, that wert my shelter! O! I am unmask'd, unspirited, undone, Betray'd to beggary, to infamy—

[ENTER MOSCA, WOUNDED AND BLEEDING.]

MOS: Where shall I run, most wretched shame of men, To beat out my unlucky brains?

VOLP: Here, here. What! dost thou bleed?

MOS: O that his well-driv'n sword Had been so courteous to have cleft me down Unto the navel; ere I lived to see My life, my hopes, my spirits, my patron, all Thus desperately engaged, by my error!

VOLP: Woe on thy fortune!

MOS: And my follies, sir.

VOLP: Thou hast made me miserable.

MOS: And myself, sir. Who would have thought he would have harken'd, so?

VOLP: What shall we do?

MOS: I know not; if my heart Could expiate the mischance, I'd pluck it out. Will you be pleased to hang me? or cut my throat? And I'll requite you, sir. Let us die like Romans, Since we have lived like Grecians.

[KNOCKING WITHIN.]

VOLP: Hark! who's there? I hear some footing; officers, the saffi, Come to apprehend us! I do feel the brand Hissing already at my forehead; now, Mine ears are boring.

MOS: To your couch, sir, you, Make that place good, however. [VOLPONE LIES DOWN, AS BEFORE.] —Guilty men Suspect what they deserve still. [ENTER CORBACCIO.] Signior Corbaccio!

CORB: Why, how now, Mosca?

MOS: O, undone, amazed, sir. Your son, I know not by what accident, Acquainted with your purpose to my patron, Touching your Will, and making him your heir, Enter'd our house with violence, his sword drawn Sought for you, call'd you wretch, unnatural, Vow'd he would kill you.

CORB: Me!

MOS: Yes, and my patron.

CORB: This act shall disinherit him indeed; Here is the Will.

MOS: 'Tis well, sir.

CORB: Right and well: Be you as careful now for me.

[ENTER VOLTORE, BEHIND.]

MOS: My life, sir, Is not more tender'd; I am only yours.

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

MOS: I fear He'll outlast May.

CORB: To-day?

MOS: No, last out May, sir.

CORB: Could'st thou not give him a dram?

MOS: O, by no means, sir.

CORB: Nay, I'll not bid you.

VOLT [COMING FORWARD.]: This is a knave, I see.

MOS [SEEING VOLTORE.]: How! signior Voltore! [ASIDE.] did he hear me?

VOLT: Parasite!

MOS: Who's that?—O, sir, most timely welcome—

VOLT: Scarce, To the discovery of your tricks, I fear. You are his, ONLY? and mine, also? are you not?

MOS: Who? I, sir?

VOLT: You, sir. What device is this About a Will?

MOS: A plot for you, sir.

VOLT: Come, Put not your foists upon me; I shall scent them.

MOS: Did you not hear it?

VOLT: Yes, I hear Corbaccio Hath made your patron there his heir.

MOS: 'Tis true, By my device, drawn to it by my plot, With hope—

VOLT: Your patron should reciprocate? And you have promised?

MOS: For your good, I did, sir. Nay, more, I told his son, brought, hid him here, Where he might hear his father pass the deed: Being persuaded to it by this thought, sir, That the unnaturalness, first, of the act, And then his father's oft disclaiming in him, (Which I did mean t'help 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 only aim was to dig you a fortune Out of these two old rotten sepulchres—

VOLT: I cry thee mercy, Mosca.

MOS: Worth your patience, And your great merit, sir. And see the change!

VOLT: Why, what success?

MOS: Most happless! you must help, sir. Whilst we expected the old raven, in comes Corvino's wife, sent hither by her husband—

VOLT: What, with a present?

MOS: No, sir, on visitation; (I'll tell you how anon;) and staying long, The youth he grows impatient, rushes forth, Seizeth the lady, wounds me, makes her swear (Or he would murder her, that was his vow) To affirm my patron to have done her rape: Which how unlike it is, you see! and hence, With that pretext he's gone, to accuse his father, Defame my patron, defeat you—

VOLT: Where is her husband? Let him be sent for straight.

MOS: Sir, I'll go fetch him.

VOLT: Bring him to the Scrutineo.

MOS: Sir, I will.

VOLT: This must be stopt.

MOS: O you do nobly, sir. Alas, 'twas labor'd all, sir, for your good; Nor was there want of counsel in the plot: But fortune can, at any time, o'erthrow The projects of a hundred learned clerks, sir.

CORB [LISTENING]: What's that?

VOLT: Will't please you, sir, to go along?

[EXIT CORBACCIO, FOLLOWED BY VOLTORE.]

MOS: Patron, go in, and pray for our success.

VOLP [RISING FROM HIS COUCH.]: Need makes devotion: heaven your labour bless!

[EXEUNT.]



ACT 4. SCENE 4.1.

A STREET.

[ENTER SIR POLITICK WOULD-BE AND PEREGRINE.]

SIR P: I told you, sir, it was a plot: you see What observation 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 down, Only for this meridian, fit to be known Of your crude traveller, and they are these. I will not touch, sir, at your phrase, or clothes, For they are old.

PER: Sir, I have better.

SIR P: Pardon, I meant, as they are themes.

PER: O, sir, proceed: I'll slander you no more of wit, good sir.

SIR P: First, for your garb, it must be grave and serious, Very reserv'd, and lock'd; not tell a secret On any terms, not to your father; scarce A fable, but with caution; make sure choice Both of your company, and discourse; beware You never speak a truth—

PER: How!

SIR P: Not to strangers, For those be they you must converse with, most; Others I would not know, sir, but at distance, So as I still might be a saver in them: You shall have tricks else past upon you hourly. And then, for your religion, profess none, But wonder at the diversity, of all: And, for your part, protest, were there no other But simply the laws o' the land, you could content you, Nic. Machiavel, and Monsieur Bodin, both Were of this mind. Then must you learn the use And handling of your silver fork at meals; The metal of your glass; (these are main matters With your Italian;) and to know the hour When you must eat your melons, and your figs.

PER: Is that a point of state too?

SIR P: Here it is, For your Venetian, if he see a man Preposterous in the least, he has him straight; He has; he strips him. I'll acquaint you, sir, I now have lived here, 'tis some fourteen months Within the first week of my landing here, All took me for a citizen of Venice: I knew the forms, so well—

PER [ASIDE.]: And nothing else.

SIR P: I had read Contarene, took me a house, Dealt with my Jews to furnish it with moveables— Well, if I could but find one man, one man To mine own heart, whom I durst trust, I would—

PER: What, what, sir?

SIR P: Make him rich; make him a fortune: He should not think again. I would command it.

PER: As how?

SIR P: With certain projects that I have; Which I may not discover.

PER [ASIDE.]: If I had But one to wager with, I would lay odds now, He tells me instantly.

SIR P: One is, and that I care not greatly who knows, to serve the state Of Venice with red herrings for three years, And at a certain rate, from Rotterdam, Where I have correspendence. There's a letter, Sent me from one of the states, and to that purpose: He cannot write his name, but that's his mark.

PER: He's a chandler?

SIR P: No, a cheesemonger. There are some others too with whom I treat About the same negociation; And I will undertake it: for, 'tis thus. I'll do't with ease, I have cast it all: Your hoy Carries but three men in her, and a boy; And she shall make me three returns a year: So, if there come but one of three, I save, If two, I can defalk:—but this is now, If my main project fail.

PER: Then you have others?

SIR P: I should be loth to draw the subtle air Of such a place, without my thousand aims. I'll not dissemble, sir: where'er I come, I love to be considerative; and 'tis true, I have at my free hours thought upon Some certain goods unto the state of Venice, Which I do call "my Cautions;" and, sir, which I mean, in hope of pension, to propound To the Great Council, then unto the Forty, So to the Ten. My means are made already—

PER: By whom?

SIR P: Sir, one that, though his place be obscure, Yet he can sway, and they will hear him. He's A commandador.

PER: What! a common serjeant?

SIR P: Sir, such as they are, put it in their mouths, What they should say, sometimes; as well as greater: I think I have my notes to shew you— [SEARCHING HIS POCKETS.]

PER: Good sir.

SIR P: But you shall swear unto me, on your gentry, Not to anticipate—

PER: I, sir!

SIR P: Nor reveal A circumstance—My paper is not with me.

PER: O, but you can remember, sir.

SIR P: My first is Concerning tinder-boxes. You must know, No family is here, without its box. 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 Arsenal, Or you, come out again, and none the wiser?

PER: Except yourself, sir.

SIR P: Go to, then. I therefore Advertise to the state, how fit it were, That none but such as were known patriots, Sound lovers of their country, should be suffer'd To enjoy them in their houses; and even those Seal'd at some office, and at such a bigness As might not lurk in pockets.

PER: Admirable!

SIR P: My next is, how to enquire, and be resolv'd, By present demonstration, whether a ship, Newly arrived from Soria, or from Any suspected part of all the Levant, Be guilty of the plague: and where they use To lie out forty, fifty days, sometimes, About the Lazaretto, for their trial; I'll save that charge and loss unto the merchant, And in an hour clear the doubt.

PER: Indeed, sir!

SIR P: Or—I will lose my labour.

PER: 'My faith, that's much.

SIR P: Nay, sir, conceive me. It will cost me in onions, Some thirty livres—

PER: Which is one pound sterling.

SIR P: Beside my water-works: for this I do, sir. First, I bring in your ship 'twixt two brick walls; But those the state shall venture: On the one I strain me a fair tarpauling, and in that I stick my onions, cut in halves: the other Is full of loop-holes, out at which I thrust The noses of my bellows; and those bellows I keep, with water-works, in perpetual motion, Which is the easiest matter of a hundred. Now, sir, your onion, which doth naturally Attract the infection, and your bellows blowing The air upon him, will show, instantly, By his changed colour, if there be contagion; Or else remain as fair as at the first. —Now it is known, 'tis nothing.

PER: You are right, sir.

SIR P: I would I had my note.

PER: 'Faith, so would I: But you have done well for once, sir.

SIR P: Were I false, Or would be made so, I could shew you reasons How I could sell this state now, to the Turk; Spite of their galleys, or their— [EXAMINING HIS PAPERS.]

PER: Pray you, sir Pol.

SIR P: I have them not about me.

PER: That I fear'd. They are there, sir.

SIR P: No. This is my diary, Wherein I note my actions of the day.

PER: Pray you let's see, sir. What is here? [READS.] "Notandum, A rat had gnawn my spur-leathers; notwithstanding, I put on new, and did go forth: but first I threw three beans over the threshold. Item, I went and bought two tooth-picks, whereof one I burst immediatly, in a discourse With a Dutch merchant, 'bout ragion del stato. From him I went and paid a moccinigo, For piecing my silk stockings; by the way I cheapen'd sprats; and at St. Mark's I urined." 'Faith, these are politic notes!

SIR P: Sir, I do slip No action of my life, but thus I quote it.

PER: Believe me, it is wise!

SIR P: Nay, sir, read forth.

[ENTER, AT A DISTANCE, LADY POLITICK-WOULD BE, NANO, AND TWO WAITING-WOMEN.]

LADY P: Where should this loose knight be, trow? sure he's housed.

NAN: Why, then he's fast.

LADY P: Ay, he plays both with me. I pray you, stay. This heat will do more harm To my complexion, than his heart is worth; (I do not care to hinder, but to take him.) [RUBBING HER CHEEKS.] How it comes off!

1 WOM: My master's yonder.

LADY P: Where?

1 WOM: With a young gentleman.

LADY P: That same's the party; In man's apparel! 'Pray you, sir, jog my knight: I'll be tender to his reputation, However he demerit.

SIR P [SEEING HER]: My lady!

PER: Where?

SIR P: 'Tis she indeed, sir; you shall know her. She is, Were she not mine, a lady of that merit, For fashion and behaviour; and, for beauty I durst compare—

PER: It seems you are not jealous, That dare commend her.

SIR P: Nay, and for discourse—

PER: Being your wife, she cannot miss that.

SIR P [INTRODUCING PER.]: Madam, Here is a gentleman, pray you, use him fairly; He seems a youth, but he is—

LADY P: None.

SIR P: Yes, one Has put his face as soon into the world—

LADY P: You mean, as early? but to-day?

SIR P: How's this?

LADY P: Why, in this habit, sir; you apprehend me:— Well, master Would-be, this doth not become you; I had thought the odour, sir, of your good name, Had been more precious to you; that you would not Have done this dire massacre on your honour; One of your gravity and rank besides! But knights, I see, care little for the oath They make to ladies; chiefly, their own ladies.

SIR P: Now by my spurs, the symbol of my knighthood,—

PER [ASIDE.]: Lord, how his brain is humbled for an oath!

SIR P: I reach you not.

LADY P: Right, sir, your policy May bear it through, thus. [TO PER.] sir, a word with you. I would be loth to contest publicly With any gentlewoman, or to seem Froward, or violent, as the courtier says; It comes too near rusticity in a lady, Which I would shun by all means: and however I may deserve from master Would-be, yet T'have one fair gentlewoman thus be made The unkind instrument to wrong another, And one she knows not, ay, and to persever; In my poor judgment, is not warranted From being a solecism in our sex, If not in manners.

PER: How is this!

SIR P: Sweet madam, Come nearer to your aim.

LADY P: Marry, and will, sir. Since you provoke me with your impudence, And laughter of your light land-syren here, Your Sporus, your hermaphrodite—

PER: What's here? Poetic fury, and historic storms?

SIR P: The gentleman, believe it, is of worth, And of our nation.

LADY P: Ay, your White-friars nation. Come, I blush for you, master Would-be, I; And am asham'd you should have no more forehead, Than thus to be the patron, or St. George, To a lewd harlot, a base fricatrice, A female devil, in a male outside.

SIR P: Nay, And you be such a one, I must bid adieu To your delights. The case appears too liquid.

[EXIT.]

LADY P: Ay, you may carry't clear, with your state-face!— But for your carnival concupiscence, Who here is fled for liberty of conscience, From furious persecution of the marshal, Her will I dis'ple.

PER: This is fine, i'faith! And do you use this often? Is this part Of your wit's exercise, 'gainst you have occasion? Madam—

LADY P: Go to, sir.

PER: Do you hear me, lady? Why, if your knight have set you to beg shirts, Or to invite me home, you might have done it A nearer way, by far:

LADY P: This cannot work you Out of my snare.

PER: Why, am I in it, then? Indeed your husband told me you were fair, And so you are; only your nose inclines, That side that's next the sun, to the queen-apple.

LADY P: This cannot be endur'd by any patience.

[ENTER MOSCA.]

MOS: What is the matter, madam?

LADY P: If the Senate Right not my quest in this; I'll protest them To all the world, no aristocracy.

MOS: What is the injury, lady?

LADY P: Why, the callet You told me of, here I have ta'en disguised.

MOS: Who? this! what means your ladyship? the creature I mention'd to you is apprehended now, Before the senate; you shall see her—

LADY P: Where?

MOS: I'll bring you to her. This young gentleman, I saw him land this morning at the port.

LADY P: Is't possible! how has my judgment wander'd? Sir, I must, blushing, say to you, I have err'd; And plead your pardon.

PER: What, more changes yet!

LADY P: I hope you have not the malice to remember A gentlewoman's passion. If you stay In Venice here, please you to use me, sir—

MOS: Will you go, madam?

LADY P: 'Pray you, sir, use me. In faith, The more you see me, the more I shall conceive You have forgot our quarrel.

[EXEUNT LADY WOULD-BE, MOSCA, NANO, AND WAITING-WOMEN.]

PER: This is rare! Sir Politick Would-be? no; sir Politick Bawd. To bring me thus acquainted with his wife! Well, wise sir Pol, since you have practised thus Upon my freshman-ship, I'll try your salt-head, What proof it is against a counter-plot.

[EXIT.]

SCENE 4.2.

THE SCRUTINEO, OR SENATE-HOUSE.

ENTER VOLTORE, CORBACCIO, CORVINO, AND MOSCA.

VOLT: Well, now you know the carriage of the business, Your constancy is all that is required Unto the safety of it.

MOS: Is the lie Safely convey'd amongst us? is that sure? Knows every man his burden?

CORV: Yes.

MOS: Then shrink not.

CORV: But knows the advocate the truth?

MOS: O, sir, By no means; I devised a formal tale, That salv'd your reputation. But be valiant, sir.

CORV: I fear no one but him, that this his pleading Should make him stand for a co-heir—

MOS: Co-halter! Hang him; we will but use his tongue, his noise, As we do croakers here.

CORV: Ay, what shall he do?

MOS: When we have done, you mean?

CORV: Yes.

MOS: Why, we'll think: Sell him for mummia; he's half dust already. [TO VOLTORE.] Do not you smile, to see this buffalo, How he does sport it with his head? [ASIDE.] —I should, If all were well and past. [TO CORBACCIO.] —Sir, only you Are he that shall enjoy the crop of all, And these not know for whom they toil.

CORB: Ay, peace.

MOS [TURNING TO CORVINO.]: But you shall eat it. Much! [ASIDE.] [TO VOLTORE.] —Worshipful sir, Mercury sit upon your thundering tongue, Or the French Hercules, and make your language As conquering as his club, to beat along, As with a tempest, flat, our adversaries; But much more yours, sir.

VOLT: Here they come, have done.

MOS: I have another witness, if you need, sir, I can produce.

VOLT: Who is it?

MOS: Sir, I have her.

[ENTER AVOCATORI AND TAKE THEIR SEATS, BONARIO, CELIA, NOTARIO, COMMANDADORI, SAFFI, AND OTHER OFFICERS OF JUSTICE.]

1 AVOC: The like of this the senate never heard of.

2 AVOC: 'Twill come most strange to them when we report it.

4 AVOC: The gentlewoman has been ever held Of unreproved name.

3 AVOC: So has the youth.

4 AVOC: The more unnatural part that of his father.

2 AVOC: More of the husband.

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

4 AVOC: But the impostor, he's a thing created To exceed example!

1 AVOC: And all after-times!

2 AVOC: I never heard a true voluptuary Discribed, but him.

3 AVOC: Appear yet those were cited?

NOT: All, but the old magnifico, Volpone.

1 AVOC: Why is not he here?

MOS: Please your fatherhoods, Here is his advocate: himself's so weak, So feeble—

4 AVOC: What are you?

BON: His parasite, His knave, his pandar—I beseech the court, He may be forced to come, that your grave eyes May bear strong witness of his strange impostures.

VOLT: Upon my faith and credit with your virtues, He is not able to endure the air.

2 AVOC: Bring him, however.

3 AVOC: We will see him.

4 AVOC: Fetch him.

VOLT: Your fatherhoods fit pleasures be obey'd; [EXEUNT OFFICERS.] But sure, the sight will rather move your pities, Than indignation. May it please the court, In the mean time, he may be heard in me; I know this place most void of prejudice, And therefore crave it, since we have no reason To fear our truth should hurt our cause.

3 AVOC: Speak free.

VOLT: Then know, most honour'd fathers, I must now Discover to your strangely abused ears, The most prodigious and most frontless piece Of solid impudence, and treachery, That ever vicious nature yet brought forth To shame the state of Venice. This lewd woman, That wants no artificial looks or tears To help the vizor she has now put on, Hath long been known a close adulteress, To that lascivious youth there; not suspected, I say, but known, and taken in the act With him; and by this man, the easy husband, Pardon'd: whose timeless bounty makes him now Stand here, the most unhappy, innocent person, That ever man's own goodness made accused. For these not knowing how to owe a gift Of that dear grace, but with their shame; being placed So above all powers of their gratitude, Began to hate the benefit; and, in place Of thanks, devise to extirpe the memory Of such an act: wherein I pray your fatherhoods To observe the malice, yea, the rage of creatures Discover'd in their evils; and what heart Such take, even from their crimes:—but that anon Will more appear.—This gentleman, the father, Hearing of this foul fact, with many others, Which daily struck at his too tender ears, And grieved in nothing more than that he could not Preserve himself a parent, (his son's ills Growing to that strange flood,) at last decreed To disinherit him.

1 AVOC: These be strange turns!

2 AVOC: The young man's fame was ever fair and honest.

VOLT: So much more full of danger is his vice, That can beguile so under shade of virtue. But, as I said, my honour'd sires, his father Having this settled purpose, by what means To him betray'd, we know not, and this day Appointed for the deed; that parricide, I cannot style him better, by confederacy Preparing this his paramour to be there, Enter'd Volpone's house, (who was the man, Your fatherhoods must understand, design'd For the inheritance,) there sought his father:— But with what purpose sought he him, my lords? I tremble to pronounce it, that a son Unto a father, and to such a father, Should have so foul, felonious intent! It was to murder him: when being prevented By his more happy absence, what then did he? Not check his wicked thoughts; no, now new deeds, (Mischief doth ever end where it begins) An act of horror, fathers! he dragg'd forth The aged gentleman that had there lain bed-rid Three years and more, out of his innocent couch, Naked upon the floor, there left him; wounded His servant in the face: and, with this strumpet The stale to his forged practice, who was glad To be so active,—(I shall here desire Your fatherhoods to note but my collections, As most remarkable,—) thought at once to stop His father's ends; discredit his free choice In the old gentleman, redeem themselves, By laying infamy upon this man, To whom, with blushing, they should owe their lives.

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