Fiction > Harvard Classics > Ben Jonson > The Alchemist
Ben Jonson (1572–1637).  The Alchemist.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
Act I
Scene IV
  FACE.  SUBTLE.  [Enter] DOL 1
  SUB.  What says my dainty Dolkin?
  DOL.        Yonder fish-wife
Will not away. And there’s your giantess,
The bawd of Lambeth.        4
  SUB.        Heart, I cannot speak with ’em.
  DOL.  Not afore night, I have told ’em in a voice,
Thorough the trunk, like one of your familiars.
But I have spied Sir Epicure Mammon——        8
  SUB.        Where?
  DOL.  Coming along, at far end of the lane,
Slow of his feet, but earnest of his tongue
To one that’s with him.        12
  SUB.        Face, go you and shift.
  Dol, you must presently make ready too.  [Exit FACE]
  DOL.  Why, what’s the matter?
  SUB.        O, I did look for him        16
With the sun’s rising: marvel he could sleep.
This is the day I am to perfect for him
The magisterium, our great work, the stone;
And yield it, made, into his hands: of which        20
He has, this month, talk’d as he were possess’d.
And now he’s dealing pieces on’t away.
Methinks I see him ent’ring ordinaries,
Dispensing for the pox, and plaguy houses,        24
Reaching his dose, walking Moorfields for lepers,
And off’ring citizens’ wives pomander 2—bracelets,
As his preservative, made of the elixir;
Searching the spittle, to make old bawds young;        28
And the highways, for beggars, to make rich.
I see no end of his labours. He will make
Nature asham’d of her long sleep: when art,
Who’s but a step-dame, shall do more than she,        32
In her best love to mankind, ever could.
If his dream last, he’ll turn the age to gold.  [Exeunt.]
Note 1. The same. [back]
Note 2. A ball of perfume carried against infection. [back]


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