Fiction > Harvard Classics > Ben Jonson > The Alchemist
Ben Jonson (1572–1637).  The Alchemist.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
Act IV
Scene IV
[Enter] FACE, KASTRIL, and Dame PLIANT 1

  FACE.  Come, lady: I knew the doctor would not leave
Till he had found the very nick of her fortune.
  KAS.  To be a countess, say you?
  [Face.] 2 A Spanish countess, sir.        4
  DAME P.  Why, is that better than an English countess?
  FACE.  Better! ’Slight, make you that a question, lady?
  KAS.  Nay, she is a fool, captain, you must pardon her.
  FACE.  Ask from your courtier to your inns-of-court-man,        8
To your mere milliner; they will tell you all,
Your Spanish jennet is the best horse; your Spanish
Stoop is the best garb; 3 your Spanish beard
Is the best cut; your Spanish ruffs are the best        12
Wear; your Spanish pavin the best dance;
Your Spanish titillation in a glove
The best perfume: and for your Spanish pike,
And Spanish blade, let your poor captain speak.—        16
Here comes the doctor.
[Enter SUBTLE with a paper]

  SUB.        My most honour’d lady,
For so I am now to style you, having found
By this my scheme, 4 you are to undergo        20
An honourable fortune very shortly,
What will you say now, if some——
  FACE.        I ha’ told her all, sir,
And her right worshipful brother here, that she shall be        24
A countess; do not delay ’em, sir; a Spanish countess.
  SUB.  Still, my scarce-worshipful captain, you can keep
No secret! Well, since he has told you, madam,
Do you forgive him, and I do.        28
  KAS.        She shall do that, sir;
I’ll look to it, ’tis my charge.
  SUB.        Well then: nought rests
But that she fit her love now to her fortune.        32
  DAME P.  Truly I shall never brook a Spaniard.
  SUB.        No?
  DAME P.  Never sin’ eighty-eight 5 could I abide ’em,
And that was some three years afore I was born, in truth.        36
  SUB.  Come, you must love him, or be miserable;
Choose which you will.
  FACE.        By this good rush, persuade her,
She will cry 6 strawberries else within this twelve month.        40
  SUB.  Nay, shads and mackerel, which is worse.
  FACE.        Indeed, sir!
  KAS.  God’s lid, you shall love him, or I’ll kick you.
  DAME P.        Why,        44
I’ll do as you will ha’ me, brother.
  KAS.        Do,
Or by this hand I’ll maul you.
  FACE.        Nay, good sir,        48
Be not so fierce.
  SUB.        No, my enraged child;
She will be rul’d. What, when she comes to taste
The pleasures of a countess! to be courted——        52
  FACE.  And kiss’d, and ruffled!
  SUB.        Ay, behind the hangings.
  FACE.  And then come forth in pomp!
  SUB.        And know her state!        56
  FACE.  Of keeping all th’ idolaters of the chamber
Barer to her, than at their prayers!
  SUB.        Is served
Upon the knee!        60
  FACE.        And has her pages, ushers,
Footmen, and coaches——
  SUB.        Her six mares——
  FACE.        Nay, eight!        64
  SUB.  To hurry her through London, to th’ Exchange, 7
Bethlem, 8 the China-houses 9——
  FACE.        Yes, and have
The citizens gape at her, and praise her tires, 10        68
And my lord’s goose-turd 11 bands, that rides with her!
  KAS.  Most brave! By this hand, you are not my suster
If you refuse.
  DAME P.        I will not refuse, brother.        72
[Enter SURLY]

  SUR.  Que es esto, senores, que non se venga?
Esta tardanza me mata! 12
  FACE.        It is the count come:
The doctor knew he would be here, by his art.        76
  SUB.  En gallanta madama, Don! gallantissima!
  SUR.  Por todos los dioses, la mas acabada hermosura, que he visto en ma vida! 13
  FACE.  Is’t not a gallant language that they speak?
  KAS.  An admirable language! Is’t not French?        80
  FACE.  No, Spanish, sir.
  KAS.        It goes like law French,
And that, they say, is the court-liest language.
  FACE.        List, sir.        84
  SUR.  El sol ha perdido su lumbre, con el resplandor que trae esta dama! Valgame dios! 14
  FACE.  H’ admires your sister.
  KAS.        Must not she make curt’sy.
  SUB.  ’Ods will, she must go to him, man, and kiss him!        88
It is the Spanish fashion, for the women
To make first court.
  FACE.        ’Tis true he tells you, sir:
His art knows all.        92
  SUR.        Porque no se acude? 15
  KAS.  He speaks to her, I think.
  FACE.        That he does, sir.
  SUR.  Por el amor de dios, que es esto que se tarda? 16        96
  KAS.  Nay, see: she will not understand him! Gull,
  DAME P.  What say you, brother?
  KAS.        Ass, my suster,        100
Go kuss him, as the cunning man would have you;
I’ll thrust a pin in your buttocks else.
  FACE.        O no, sir.
  SUR.  Senora mia, mi persona muy indigna esta allegar a tanta hermosura. 17        104
  FACE.  Does he not use her bravely?
  KAS.        Bravely, i’ faith!
  FACE.  Nay, he will use her better.
  KAS.        Do you think so?        108
  SUR.  Senora, si sera servida, entremos. 18  [Exit with Dame PLIANT.]
  KAS.  Where does he carry her?
  FACE.        Into the garden, sir;
Take you no thought: I must interpret for her.        112
  SUB.  Give Dol the word.  [Aside to FACE who goes out.]
        —Come, my fierce child, advance,
We’ll to our quarrelling lesson again.
  KAS.        Agreed.        116
I love a Spanish boy with all my heart.
  SUB.  Nay, and by this means, sir, you shall be brother
To a great count.
  KAS.        Ay, I knew that at first,        120
This match will advance the house of the Kastrils.
  SUB.  ’Pray God your sister prove but pliant!
  KAS.        Why,
Her name is so, by her other husband.        124
  SUB.        How!
  KAS.  The Widow Pliant. Knew you not that?
  SUB.        No, faith, sir;
Yet, by erection of her figure, 19 I guess’d it.        128
Come, let’s go practise.
  KAS.        Yes, but do you think, doctor,
I e’er shall quarrel well?
  SUB.        I warrant you.  [Exeunt.]        132
Note 1. Another room in the same. [back]
Note 2. Folio gives this line also to Kastril. [back]
Note 3. Bodily carriage. [back]
Note 4. Horoscope. [back]
Note 5. I. e., since 1588, the year of the “Invincible Armada.” [back]
Note 6. Sell on the street. [back]
Note 7. There were shops in the Royal Exchange. [back]
Note 8. The madhouse was often visited for entertainment. [back]
Note 9. Shops with merchandise from China. [back]
Note 10. Head-dresses. [back]
Note 11. In greenish-yellow liveries. [back]
Note 12. “Why doesn’t she come, sirs? This delay is killing me.” [back]
Note 13. “By all the gods, the most perfect beauty I have seen in my life!” [back]
Note 14. “The sun has lost his light with the splendor this lady brings, so help me God.” [back]
Note 15. “Why don’t you draw near?” [back]
Note 16. “For the love of God, why this delay?” [back]
Note 17. “Madam, my person is unworthy to approach such beauty.” [back]
Note 18. “Madam, at your service, let us go in.” [back]
Note 19. By her horoscope, with a pun on her bearing. [back]


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