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

  TRI.  These chastisements are common to the saints,
And such rebukes we of the separation
Must bear with willing shoulders, as the trials
Sent forth to tempt our frailties.        4
  ANA.        In pure zeal,
I do not like the man; he is a then,
And speaks the language of Canaan, truly.
  TRI.  I think him a profane person indeed.        8
  ANA.        He bears
The visible mark of the beast in his forehead.
And for his stone, it is a work of darkness,
And with philosophy blinds the eyes of man.        12
  TRI.  Good brother, we must bend unto all means,
That may give furtherance to the holy cause.
  ANA.  Which his cannot: the sanctified cause
Should have a sanctified course.        16
  TRI.        Not always necessary:
The children of perdition are oft times
Made instruments even of the greatest works.
Beside, we should give somewhat to man’s nature,        20
The place he lives in, still about the fire,
And fume of metals, that intoxicate
The brain of man, and make him prone to passion.
Where have you greater atheists than your cooks?        24
Or more profane, or choleric, than your glass-men?
More anti-Christian than your bell-founders?
What makes the devil so devilish, I would ask you,
Sathan, our common enemy, but his being        28
Perpetually about the fire, and boiling
Brimstone and arsenic? We must give, I say,
Unto the motives, and the stirrers up
Of humours in the blood. It may be so,        32
When as the work is done, the stone is made,
This heat of his may turn into a zeal,
And stand up for the beauteous discipline
Against the menstruous cloth and rag of Rome.        36
We must await his calling, and the coming
Of the good spirit. You did fault, t’ upbraid him
With the brethren’s blessing of Heidelberg, weighing
What need we have to hasten on the work,        40
For the restoring of the silenc’d saints, 2
Which ne’er will be but by the philosopher’s stone.
And so a learned elder, one of Scotland,
Assur’d me; aurum potabile being        44
The only med’cine for the civil magistrate,
T’ incline him to a feeling of the cause;
And must be daily us’d in the disease.
  ANA.  I have not edified more, truly, by man;        48
Not since the beautiful light first shone on me:
And I am sad my zeal hath so offended.
  TRI.  Let us call on him then.
  ANA.        The motion’s good,        52
And of the spirit; I will knock first.  [Knocks.]  Peace be within!  [The door is opened, and they enter.]
Note 1. The lane before Lovewit’s house. [back]
Note 2. Non-conformist ministers not allowed to preach. [back]


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