Fiction > Harvard Classics > Ben Jonson > The Alchemist
Ben Jonson (1572–1637).  The Alchemist.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
Act II
Scene V

Where is my drudge?  [Aloud.]
[Enter]  FACE

  FACE.        Sir!
  SUB.        Take away the recipient,
And rectify your menstrue from the phlegma.        4
Then pour it on the Sol, in the cucurbite,
And let them macerate together.
  FACE.        Yes, sir.
And save the ground?        8
  SUB.        No: terra damnata
Must not have entrance in the work.—Who are you?
  ANA.  A faithful brother, 2 if it please you.
  SUB.        What’s that?        12
A Lullianist? a Ripley? 3 Filius artis?
Can you sublime and dulcify? Calcine?
Know you the sapor pontic? Sapor stiptic?
Or what is homogene, or heterogene?        16
  ANA.  I understand no heathen language, truly.
  SUB.  Heathen! You Knipper-doling? 4 Is Ars sacra,
Or chrysopœia, or spagyrica,
Or the pamphysic, or panarchic knowledge,        20
A heathen language?
  ANA.        Heathen Greek, I take it.
  SUB.  How! Heathen Greek?
  ANA.        All’s heathen but the Hebrew.        24
  SUB.  Sirrah my varlet, stand you forth and speak to him
Like a philosopher: answer i’ the language.
Name the vexations, and the martyrizations
Of metals in the work.        28
  FACE.        Sir, putrefaction,
Solution, ablution, sublimation,
Cohobation, calcination, ceration, and
Fixation.        32
  SUB.        This is heathen Greek, to you, now!—
And when comes vivification?
  FACE.        After mortification.
  SUB.  What’s cohobation?        36
  FACE.        ’Tis the pouring on
Your aqua regis, and then drawing him off,
To the trine circle of the seven spheres.
  SUB.  What’s the proper passion of metals?        40
  FACE.        Malleation.
  SUB.  What’s your ultimum supplicium auri?
  FACE.        Antimonium.
  SUB.  This is heathen Greek to you!—And what’s your mercury?        44
  FACE.  A very fugitive, he will be gone, sir.
  SUB.  How know you him?
  FACE.        By his viscosity,
His oleosity, and his suscitability.        48
  SUB.  How do you sublime him?
  FACE.        With the calce of egg-shells,
White marble, talc.
  SUB.        Your magisterium now,        52
What’s that?
  FACE.        Shifting, sir, your elements,
Dry into cold, cold into moist, moist into hot,
Hot into dry.        56
  SUB.        This is heathen Greek to you still!
Your lapis philosophicus?
  FACE.        ’Tis a stone,
And not a stone; a spirit, a soul, and a body:        60
Which if you do dissolve, it is dissolv’d;
If you coagulate, it is coagulated;
If you make it to fly, it flieth.
  SUB.        Enough.  [Exit FACE.]        64
This is heathen Greek to you! What are you, sir?
  ANA.  Please you, a servant of the exil’d brethren,
That deal with widows’ and with orphans’ goods,
And make a just account unto the saints:        68
A deacon.
  SUB.  O, you are sent from Master Wholesome,
Your teacher?
  ANA.        From Tribulation Wholesome,        72
Our very zealous pastor.
  SUB.        Good! I have
Some orphans’ goods to come here.
  ANA.        Of what kind, sir?        76
  SUB.  Pewter and brass, andirons and kitchen-ware.
Metals, that we must use our med’cine on:
Wherein the brethren may have a penn’orth
For ready money.        80
  ANA.        Were the orphans’ parents
Sincere professors?
  SUB.        Why do you ask?
  ANA.        Because        84
We then are to deal justly, and give, in truth,
Their utmost value.
  SUB.        ’Slid, you’d cozen else,
An if their parents were not of the faithful!—        88
I will not trust you, now I think on it,
Till I ha’ talk’d with your pastor. Ha’ you brought money
To buy more coals?
  ANA.        No, surely.        92
  SUB.        No? How so?
  ANA.  The brethren bid me say unto you, sir,
Surely, they will not venture any more
Till they may see projection.        96
  SUB.        How!
  ANA.        You’ve had
For the instruments, as bricks, and lome, and glasses,
Already thirty pound; and for materials,        100
They say, some ninety more: and they have heard since,
That one, at Heidelberg, made it of an egg,
And a small paper of pin-dust.
  SUB.        What’s your name?        104
  ANA.  My name is Ananias.
  SUB.        Out, the varlet
That cozen’d the apostles! Hence, away!
Flee, mischief! had your holy consistory        108
No name to send me, of another sound,
Than wicked Ananias? Send your elders
Hither, to make atonement for you, quickly,
And give me satisfaction; or out goes        112
The fire; and down th’ alembecs, and the furnace,
Piger Henricus, or what not. Thou wretch!
Both sericon and bufo shall be lost,
Tell them. All hope of rooting out the bishops,        116
Or th’ anti-Christian hierarchy shall perish,
If they stay threescore minutes: the aqueity,
Terreity, and sulphureity
Shall run together again, and all be annull’d,        120
Thou wicked Ananias!  [Exit ANANIAS.] This will fetch ’em,
And make ’em haste towards their gulling more.
A man must deal like a rough nurse, and fright
Those that are froward, to an appetite.        124
Note 1. The same. [back]
Note 2. A Puritan. Subtle wilfully misunderstands. [back]
Note 3. A follower of Raymond Lully (1235–1315) or George Ripley (d. c. 1490), well-known alchemical writers. [back]
Note 4. An Anabaptist leader. [back]


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