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

  FACE.        O, sir, you are welcome.
The doctor is within a moving for you;
I have had the most ado to win him to it!—
He swears you’ll be the darling o’ the dice:        4
He never heard her highness dote till now. 2
Your aunt has giv’n you the most gracious words
That can be thought on.
  DAP.        Shall I see her grace?        8
  FACE.  See her, and kiss her too.—
[Enter ABEL, followed by KASTRIL]

        What, honest Nab!
Hast brought the damask?
  NAB.        No, sir; here’s tobacco.        12
  FACE.  ’Tis well done, Nab; thou’lt bring the damask too?
  DRUG.  Yes. Here’s the gentleman, captain, Master Kastril,
I have brought to see the doctor.
  FACE.        Where’s the widow?        16
  DRUG.  Sir, as he likes, his sister, he says, shall come.
  FACE.  O, is it so? Good time. Is your name Kastril, sir?
  KAS.  Ay, and the best of the Kastrils, I’d be sorry else,
By fifteen hundred a year. 3 Where is this doctor?        20
My mad tobacco-boy here tells me of one
That can do things. Has he any skill?
  FACE.        Wherein, sir?
  KAS.  To carry a business, manage a quarrel fairly,        24
Upon fit terms.
  FACE.        It seems, sir, you’re but young
About the town, that can make that a question.
  KAS.  Sir, not so young but I have heard some speech        28
Of the angry boys, 4 and seen ’em take tobacco;
And in his shop; and I can take it too.
And I would fain be one of ’em, and go down
And practice i’ the country.        32
  FACE.        Sir, for the duello,
The doctor, I assure you, shall inform you,
To the least shadow of a hair; and show you
An instrument he has of his own making,        36
Wherewith, no sooner shall you make report
Of any quarrel, but he will take the height on’t
Most instantly, and tell in what degree
Of safety it lies, in or mortality.        40
And how it may be borne, whether in a right line,
Or a half circle; or may else be cast
Into an angle blunt, if not acute:
And this he will demonstrate. And then, rules        44
To give and take the lie by.
  KAS.        How! to take it?
  FACE.  Yes, in oblique he’ll show you, or in circle; 5
But never in diameter. 6 The whole town        48
Study his theorems, and dispute them ordinarily
At the eating academies.
  KAS.        But does he teach
Living by the wits too?        52
  FACE.        Anything whatever.
You cannot think that subtlety but he reads it.
He made me a captain. I was a stark pimp,
Just o’ your standing, ’fore I met with him;        56
It’s not two months since. I’ll tell you his method:
First, he will enter you at some ordinary.
  KAS.  No, I’ll not come there: you shall pardon me.
  FACE.  For why, sir?        60
  KAS.        There’s gaming there, and tricks.
  FACE.  Why, would you be
A gallant, and not game?
  KAS.        Ay, ’twill spend a man.        64
  FACE.  Spend you! It will repair you when you are spent.
How do they live by their wits there, that have vented
Six times your fortunes?
  KAS.        What, three thousand a year!        68
  FACE.  Ay, forty thousand.
  KAS.        Are there such?
  FACE.        Ay, sir,
And gallants yet. Here’s a young gentleman        72
Is born to nothing,—[Points to DAPPER.] forty marks a year
Which I count nothing:—he is to be initiated,
And have a fly o’ the doctor. He will win you
By unresistible luck, within this fortnight,        76
Enough to buy a barony. They will set him
Upmost, at the groom porter’s, 7 all the Christmas:
And for the whole year through at every place
Where there is play, present him with the chair,        80
The best attendance, the best drink, sometimes
Two glasses of Canary, and pay nothing;
The purest linen and the sharpest knife,
The partridge next his trencher: and somewhere        84
The dainty bed, in private, with the dainty.
You shall ha’ your ordinaries bid for him,
As playhouses for a poet; and the master
Pray him aloud to name what dish he affects,        88
Which must be butter’d shrimps: and those that drink
To no mouth else, will drink to his, as being
The goodly president mouth of all the board.
  KAS.  Do you not gull one?        92
  FACE.        ’Ods my life! Do you think it?
You shall have a cast commander, (can but get
In credit with a glover, or a spurrier,
For some two pair of either’s ware aforehand,)        96
Will, by most swift posts, dealing  [but] with him,
Arrive at competent means to keep himself,
His punk, and naked boy, in excellent fashion,
And be admir’d for’t.        100
  KAS.        Will the doctor teach this?
  FACE.  He will do more, sir: when your land is gone,
(As men of spirit hate to keep earth long),
In a vacation, 8 when small money is stirring,        104
And ordinaries suspended till the term,
He’ll show a perspective, 9 where on one side
You shall behold the faces and the persons
Of all sufficient young heirs in town,        108
Whose bonds are current for commodity; 10
On th’ other side, the merchants’ forms, and others,
That without help of any second broker,
Who would expect a share, will trust such parcels:        112
In the third square, the very street and sign
Where the commodity dwells, and does but wait
To be deliver’d, be it pepper, soap,
Hops, or tobacco, oatmeal, woad, or cheeses.        116
All which you may so handle, to enjoy
To your own use, and never stand oblig’d.
  KAS.  I’ faith! is he such a fellow?
  FACE.        Why, Nab here knows him.        120
And then for making matches for rich widows,
Young gentlewomen, heirs, the fortunat’st man!
He’s sent to, far and near, all over England,
To have his counsel, and to know their fortunes.        124
  KAS.  God’s will, my suster shall see him.
  FACE.        I’ll tell you, sir,
What he did tell me of Nab. It’s a strange thing—
(By the way, you must eat no cheese, Nab, it breeds melancholy,        128
And that same melancholy breeds worms) but pass it:—
He told me, honest Nab here was ne’er at tavern
But once in’s life.
  DRUG.        Truth, and no more I was not.        132
  FACE.  And then he was so sick——
  DRUG.        Could he tell you that too?
  FACE.  How should I know it?
  DRUG.        In troth, we had been a shooting,        136
And had a piece of fat ram-mutton to supper,
That lay so heavy o’ my stomach——
  FACE.        And he has no head
To bear any wine; for what with the noise o’ the fiddlers,        140
And care of his shop, for he dares keep no servants——
  DRUG.  My head did so ache——
  FACE.        And he was fain to be brought home,
The doctor told me: and then a good old woman——        144
  DRUG.  Yes, faith, she dwells in Seacol-lane,—did cure me,
With sodden ale, and pellitory 11 o’ the wall;
Cost me but twopence. I had another sickness
Was worse than that.        148
  FACE.        Ay, that was with the grief
Thou took’st for being cess’d 12 at eighteenpence,
For the waterwork.
  DRUG.        In truth, and it was like        152
T’ have cost me almost my life.
  FACE.        Thy hair went off?
  DRUG.  Yes, sir; ’twas done for spite.
  FACE.        Nay, so says the doctor.        156
  KAS.  Pray thee, tobacco-boy, go fetch my suster;
I’ll see this learned boy before I go;
And so shall she.
  FACE.        Sir, he is busy now:        160
But if you have a sister to fetch hither,
Perhaps your own pains may command her sooner;
And he by that time will be free.
  KAS.        I go.  [Exit.]        164
  FACE.  Drugger, she’s thine: the damask!—[Exit ABEL.] Subtle and I
Must wrastle for her.  [Aside.]  Come on, Master Dapper,
You see how I turn clients here away,
To give your cause dispatch; ha’ you perform’d        168
The ceremonies were enjoin’d you?
  DAP.        Yes, o’ the vinegar,
And the clean shirt.
  FACE.        ’Tis well: that shirt may do you        172
More worship than you think. Your aunt’s a-fire,
But that she will not show it, t’ have a sight of you.
Ha’ you provided for her grace’s servants?
  DAP.  Yes, here are six score Edward shillings.        176
  FACE.        Good!
  DAP.  And an old Harry’s sovereign.
  FACE.        Very good!
  DAP.  And three James shillings, and an Elizabeth groat,        180
Just twenty nobles. 13
  FACE.        O, you are too just.
I would you had had the other noble in Maries.
  DAP.  I have some Philip and Maries.        184
  FACE.        Ay, those same
Are best of all: where are they? Hark, the doctor.
Note 1. The same. [back]
Note 2. Folio adds (he says). [back]
Note 3. I. e., he is £1,500 a year richer than any other of the Kastrils. [back]
Note 4. Roysterers, young bloods. [back]
Note 5. The lie circumstantial. [back]
Note 6. The lie direct. [back]
Note 7. An officer of the royal household, having charge of the cards, dice, etc. He had the privilege of keeping open table at Christmas. [back]
Note 8. Of the law-courts. [back]
Note 9. A magic glass. [back]
Note 10. The reference is to the “commodity” fraud, in which a borrower was obliged to take part of a loan in merchandise, which the lender frequently bought back by agents for much less than it represented in the loan. [back]
Note 11. A herb. [back]
Note 12. Assessed, taxed. [back]
Note 13. A noble was worth 6sh. 8d. [back]


Shakespeare · Bible · Strunk · Anatomy · Nonfiction · Quotations · Reference · Fiction · Poetry
© 1993–2015 · [Top 150] · Subjects · Titles · Authors · World Lit.