Fiction > Harvard Classics > Ben Jonson > The Alchemist
Ben Jonson (1572–1637).  The Alchemist.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
Act IV
Scene II
FACE.  [Enter] SUBTLE 1

Dost thou not laugh?
  SUB.        Yes; are they gone?
  FACE.        All’s clear.
  SUB.  The widow is come.        4
  FACE.        And your quarrelling disciple?
  SUB.  Ay.
  FACE.        I must to my captainship again then.
  SUB.  Stay, bring ’em in first.        8
  FACE.        So I meant. What is she?
A bonnibel?
  SUB.        I know not.
  FACE.        We’ll draw lots:        12
You’ll stand to that?
  SUB.        What else?
  FACE.        O, for a suit,
To fall now like a curtain, flap!        16
  SUB.        To th’ door, man.
  FACE.  You’ll ha’ the first kiss, ’cause I am not ready.  [Exit.]
  SUB.  Yes, and perhaps hit you through both the nostrils. 2
  FACE.  [Within.]  Who would you speak with?        20
  KAS.        [within.]  Where’s the captain?
  FACE.        [within.]  Gone, sir,
About some business.
  KAS.        [within.]  Gone!        24
  FACE.        [within.]  He’ll return straight.
But, master doctor, his lieutenant, is here.
[Enter KASTRIL, followed by Dame PLIANT]

  SUB.  Come near, my worshipful boy, my terræ fili.
That is, my boy of land; make thy approaches:        28
Welcome; I know thy lusts, and thy desires,
And I will serve and satisfy ’em. Begin,
Charge me from thence, or thence, or in this line;
Here is my centre: ground thy quarrel.        32
  KAS.        You lie.
  SUB.  How, child of wrath and anger! the loud lie?
For what, my sudden boy?
  KAS.        Nay, that look you to,        36
I am aforehand.
  SUB.        O, this is no true grammar,
And as ill logic! You must render causes, child,
Your first and second intentions, know your canons        40
And your divisions, moods, degrees, and differences,
Your predicaments, substance, and accident,
Series extern and intern, with their causes,
Efficient, material, formal, final,        44
And ha’ your elements perfect?
  KAS.        What is this?
The angry 3 tongue he talks in?
  SUB.        That false precept,        48
Of being aforehand, has deceiv’d a number,
And made ’em enter quarrels oftentimes
Before they were aware; and afterward,
Against their wills.        52
  KAS.        How must I do then, sir?
  SUB.  I cry this lady mercy; she should first
Have been saluted. (Kisses her.) I do call you lady,
Because you are to be one ere’t be long,        56
My soft and buxom widow.
  KAS.        Is she, i’ faith?
  SUB.  Yes, or my art is an egregious liar.
  KAS.  How know you?        60
  SUB.        By inspection on her forehead,
And subtlety of her lip, which must be tasted
Often to make a judgment.  Kisses her again.  ’Slight, she melts
Like a myrobolane. 4 Here is yet a line,        64
In rivo frontis, 5 tells me he is no knight.
  DAME P.  What is he then, sir?
  SUB.        Let me see your hand.
O, your linea fortunæ makes it plain;        68
And stella here in monte Veneris.
But, most of all, junctura annularis. 6
He is a soldier, or a man of art, lady,
But shall have some great honour shortly.        72
  DAME P.        Brother,
He’s a rare man, believe me!
[Re-enter FACE, in his uniform]

  KAS.        Hold your peace.
Here comes the t’ other rare man.—’Save you, captain.        76
  FACE.  Good Master Kastril! Is this your sister?
  KAS.        Ay, sir.
Please you to kiss her, and be proud to know her.
  FACE.  I shall be proud to know you, lady.  [Kisses her.]        80
  DAME P.        Brother,
He calls me lady too.
  KAS.        Ay, peace: I heard it.  [Takes her aside.]
  FACE.  The count is come.        84
  SUB.        Where is he?
  FACE.        At the door.
  SUB.  Why, you must entertain him.
  FACE.        What will you do        88
With these the while?
  SUB.        Why, have ’em up, and show ’em
Some fustian book, or the dark glass.
  FACE.        ’Fore God,        92
She is a delicate dabchick! I must have her.  [Exit.]
  SUB.  [Aside.]  Must you! Ay, if your fortune will, you must.—
Come, sir, the captain will come to us presently:
I’ll ha’ you to my chamber of demonstrations,        96
Where I’ll show you both the grammar and logic,
And rhetoric of quarrelling; my whole method
Drawn out in tables; and my instrument,
That hath the several scales upon’t, shall make you        100
Able to quarrel at a straw’s-breadth by moonlight.
And, lady, I’ll have you look in a glass,
Some half an hour, but to clear your eyesight,
Against you see 7 your fortune; which is greater        104
Than I may judge upon the sudden, trust me.  [Exeunt.]
Note 1. The same. [back]
Note 2. “Put your nose out of joint.” [back]
Note 3. Swaggering. [back]
Note 4. A kind of dried plum, esteemed as a sweetmeat. [back]
Note 5. Frontal vein. [back]
Note 6. These are the cant phrases of palmistry. [back]
Note 7. In preparation for seeing. [back]


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