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

  SUR.  Lady, you see into what hands you are fall’n;
’Mongst what a nest of villains! an how near
Your honour was t’have catch’d a certain clap,
Through your credulity, had I but been        4
So punctually forward, as place, time,
And other circumstances would ha’ made a man;
For you’re a handsome woman: would you were wise too!
I am a gentleman come here disguis’d,        8
Only to find the knaveries of this citadel;
And where I might have wrong’d your honour, and have not,
I claim some interest in your love. You are,
They say, a widow, rich; and I’m a bachelor,        12
Worth nought: your fortunes may make me a man,
As mine ha’ preserv’d you a woman. Think upon it,
And whether I have deserv’d you or no.
  DAME P.        I will, sir.        16
  SUR.  And for these household-rogues, let me alone
To treat with them.
[Enter SUBTLE.]

  SUB.        How doth my noble Diego,
And my dear madam countess? Hath the count        20
Been courteous, lady? liberal and open?
Donzel, 2 methinks you look melancholic,
I do not like the dulness of your eye;
It hath a heavy cast, ’tis upsee Dutch, 3        24
And says you are lumpish.
Be lighter, and I will make your pockets so.  He falls to picking of them.
  SUR.  [Throws open his cloak.]  Will you, don bawd and pickpurse?  [Strikes him down.]  How now! Reel you?
Stand up, sir, you shall find, since I am so heavy,        28
I’ll give you equal weight.
  SUB.        Help! murder!
  SUR.        No, Sir,
There’s no such thing intended. A good cart 4        32
And a clean whip shall ease you of that fear.
I am the Spanish don that should be cozened,
Do you see? Cozened? Where’s your Captain Face,
That parcel 5-broker, and whole-bawd, all rascal?        36
Referring to the punishment inflicted on bawds.
[Enter FACE in his uniform.]

  FACE.  How, Surly!
  SUR.        O, make your approach, good captain.
I have found from whence your copper rings and spoons        40
Come now, wherewith you cheat abroad in taverns.
’Twas here you learn’d t’anoint your boot with brimstone,
Then rub men’s gold on’t for a kind of touch,
And say ’twas naught, when you had changed the colour,        44
That you might ha’t for nothing. And this doctor,
Your sooty, smoky-bearded compeer, he
Will close you so much gold, in a bolt’s-head,
And, on a turn, convey i’ the stead another        48
With sublim’d mercury, that shall burst in the heat,
And fly out all in fumo! Then weeps Mammon;
Then swoons his worship  [FACE slips out.]  Or, he is the Faustus,
That casteth figures 6 and can conjure, cures        52
Plagues, piles, and pox, by the ephemerides, 7
And holds intelligence with all the bawds
And midwives of three shires: while you send in—
Captain!—what! is he gone?—damsels with child,        56
Wives that are barren, or the waiting-maid
With the green sickness.  [Seizes SUBTLE as he is retiring.]
—Nay, sir, you must tarry,
Though he be scap’d; and answer by the ears, sir.        60
Note 1. Another room in the same. [back]
Note 2. Diminutive of Don. [back]
Note 3. As if you had been drinking heavy Dutch beer. [back]
Note 4. Carriage. [back]
Note 5. Part. [back]
Note 6. Horoscopes. [back]
Note 7. Astrological almanacs. [back]


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