Fiction > Harvard Classics > Ben Jonson > The Alchemist
Ben Jonson (1572–1637).  The Alchemist.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
Act II
Scene II
MAMMON, SURLY.  [Enter] FACE, [as a Servant] 1

  MAM.  Do we succeed? Is our day come? And holds it?
  FACE.  The evening will set red upon you, sir;
You have colour for it, crimson: the red ferment
Has done his office; three hours hence prepare you        4
To see projection.
  MAM.        Pertinax, my Surly.
Again I say to thee, aloud, BE RICH.
This day thou shalt have ingots; and to-morrow        8
Give lords th’ affront.—Is it, my Zephyrus, right?
Blushes the bolt’s-head? 2
  FACE.        Like a wench with child, sir,
That were but now discover’d to her master.        12
  MAM.  Excellent witty Lungs!—My only care is
Where to get stuff enough now, to project on; 3
This town will not half serve me.
  FACE.        No, sir! buy        16
The covering off o’ churches.
  MAM.        That’s true.
  FACE.        Yes.
Let ’em stand bare, as do their auditory; 4        20
Or cap ’em new with shingles.
  MAM.        No, good thatch:
Thatch will lie light upo’ the rafters, Lungs.—
Lungs, I will manumit thee from the furnace;        24
I will restore thee thy complexion, Puff,
Lost in the embers; and repair this brain,
Hurt with the fume o’ the metals.
  FACE.        I have blown, sir,        28
Hard, for your worship; thrown by many a coal,
When ’twas not beech; weigh’d those I put in, just,
To keep your heat still even. These blear’d eyes
Have wak’d to read your several colours, sir,        32
Of the pale citron, the green lion, the crow,
The peacock’s tail, the plumed swan.
  MAM.        And lastly,
Thou hast descried the flower, the sanguis agni?        36
  FACE.  Yes, sir.
  MAM.        Where’s master?
  FACE.        At’s prayers, sir, he;
Good man, he’s doing his devotions        40
For the success.
  MAM.        Lungs, I will set a period
To all thy labours; thou shalt be the master
Of my seraglio.        44
  FACE.        Good, sir.
  MAM.        But do you hear?
I’ll geld you, Lungs.
  FACE.        Yes, sir.        48
  MAM.        For I do mean
To have a list of wives and concubines
Equal with Solomon, who had the stone
Alike with me; and I will make me a back        52
With the elixir that shall be as tough
As Hercules, to encounter fifty a night.—
Thou’rt sure thou saw’st it blood?
  FACE.        Both blood and spirit, sir.        56
  MAM.  I will have all my beds blown up, not stuft;
Down is too hard: and then, mine oval room
Fill’d with such pictures as Tiberius took
From Elephantis, and dull Aretine        60
But coldly imitated. Then, my glasses
Cut in more subtle angles, to disperse
And multiply the figures, as I walk
Naked between my succubæ. My mists        64
I’ll have of perfume, vapour’d ’bout the room,
To lose our selves in; and my baths, like pits
To fall into; from whence we will come forth
And roll us dry in gossamer and roses.—        68
Is it arrived at ruby?——Where I spy
A wealthy citizen, or [a] rich lawyer,
Have a sublim’d pure wife, unto that fellow
I’ll send a thousand pound to be my cuckold.        72
  FACE.  And I shall carry it?
  MAM.        No. I’ll ha’ no bawds
But fathers and mothers: they will do it best,
Best of all others. And my flatterers        76
Shall be the pure and gravest of divines,
That I can get for money. My mere fools,
Eloquent burgesses, and then my poets
The same that writ so subtly of the fart,        80
Whom I will entertain still for that subject.
The few that would give out themselves to be
Court and town-stallions, and, each-where, bely
Ladies who are known most innocent, for them,        84
Those will I beg, to make me eunuchs of:
And they shall fan me with ten estrich tails
A-piece, made in a plume to gather wind.
We will be brave, Puff, now we ha’ the med’cine.        88
My meat shall all come in, in Indian shells,
Dishes of agate set in gold, and studded
With emeralds, sapphires, hyacinths, and rubies.
The tongues of carps, dormice, and camels’ heels,        92
Boil’d i’ the spirit of sol, and dissolv’d pearl
(Apicius’ diet, ’gainst the epilepsy):
And I will eat these broths with spoons of amber,
Headed with diamond and carbuncle.        96
My foot-boy shall eat pheasants, calver’d salmons, 5
Knots, 6 godwits, lampreys: I myself will have
The beards of barbel 7 serv’d, instead of salads;
Oiled mushrooms; and the swelling unctuous paps        100
Of a fat pregnant sow, newly cut off,
Drest with an exquisite and poignant sauce;
For which, I’ll say unto my cook, There’s gold,
Go forth, and be a knight.        104
  FACE.        Sir, I’ll go look
A little, how it heightens.  [Exit.]
  MAM.        Do.—My shirts
I’ll have of taffeta-sarsnet, 8 soft and light        108
As cobwebs; and for all my other raiment,
It shall be such as might provoke the Persian,
Were he to teach the world riot anew.
My gloves of fishes and birds’ skins, perfum’d        112
With gums of paradise, and Eastern air——
  SUR.  And do you think to have the stone with this?
  MAM.  No, I do think t’ have all this with the stone.
  SUR.  Why, I have heard he must be homo frugi, 9        116
A pious, holy, and religious man,
One free from mortal sin, a very virgin.
  MAM.  That makes it, sir; he is so: but I buy it;
My venture brings it me. He, honest wretch,        120
A notable, superstitious, good soul,
Has worn his knees bare, and his slippers bald,
With prayer and fasting for it: and, sir, let him
Do it alone, for me, still. Here he comes.        124
Not a profane word afore him; ’tis poison.—
Note 1. The same. [back]
Note 2. A kind of flask. [back]
Note 3. Transmute. [back]
Note 4. Congregation. [back]
Note 5. Salmon elaborately prepared. [back]
Note 6. Robin-snipes. [back]
Note 7. A fish. [back]
Note 8. Soft silk. [back]
Note 9. A virtuous man. [back]


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