Fiction > Harvard Classics > Ben Jonson > The Alchemist
Ben Jonson (1572–1637).  The Alchemist.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
Act V
Scene II
LOVEWIT, Neighbours 1

  LOVE.  [Knocks again.]  I will.
[Enter FACE in his butler’s livery]

  FACE.        What mean you, sir?
  1, 2, 4 NEI.        O, here’s Jeremy!
  FACE.  Good sir, come from the door.        4
  LOVE.        Why, what’s the matter?
  FACE.  Yet farther, you are too near yet.
  LOVE.        In the name of wonder,
What means the fellow!        8
  FACE.        The house, sir, has been visited.
  LOVE.  What, with the plague? Stand thou then farther.
  FACE.        No, sir,
I had it not.        12
  LOVE.        Who had it then? I left
None else but thee i’ the house.
  FACE.        Yes, sir, my fellow,
The cat that kept the buttery, had it on her        16
A week before I spied it; but I got her
Convey’d away i’ the night: and so I shut
The house up for a month——
  LOVE.        How!        20
  FACE.        Purposing then, sir,
To have burnt rose-vinegar, treacle, and tar,
And have made it sweet, that you should ne’er ha’ known it;
Because I knew the news would but afflict you, sir.        24
  LOVE.  Breathe less, and farther off! Why this is stranger:
The neighbours tell me all here that the doors
Have still been open——
  FACE.        How, sir!        28
  LOVE.        Gallants, men and women,
And of all sorts, tag-rag, been seen to flock here
In threaves, 2 these ten weeks, as to a second Hogsden,
In days of Pimlico and Eye-bright. 3        32
  FACE.        Sir,
Their wisdoms will not say so.
  LOVE.        To-day they speak
Of coaches and gallants; one in a French hood        36
Went in, they tell me; and another was seen
In a velvet gown at the window: divers more
Pass in and out.
  FACE.        They did pass through the doors then,        40
Or walls, I assure their eye-sights, and their spectacles;
For here, sir, are the keys, and here have been,
In this my pocket, now above twenty days!
And for before, I kept the fort alone there.        44
But that ’tis yet not deep i’ the afternoon,
I should believe my neighbours had seen double
Through the black pot, 4 and made these apparitions!
For, on my faith to your worship, for these three weeks        48
And upwards, the door has not been open’d.
  LOVE.        Strange!
  1 NEI.  Good faith, I think I saw a coach.
  2 NEI.        And I too,        52
I’d ha’ been sworn.
  LOVE.        Do you but think it now?
And but one coach?
  4 NEI.        We cannot tell, sir: Jeremy        56
Is a very honest fellow.
  FACE.        Did you see me at all?
  1 NEI.  No; that we are sure on.
  2 NEI.        I’ll be sworn o’ that.        60
  LOVE.  Fine rogues to have your testimonies built on!
[Re-enter third Neighbour, with his tools]

  3 NEI.  Is Jeremy come!
  1 NEI.        O yes; you may leave your tools;
We were deceiv’d, he says.        64
  2 NEI.        He has had the keys;
And the door has been shut these three weeks.
  3 NEI.        Like enough.
  LOVE.  Peace, and get hence, you changelings.        68
[Enter SURLY and MAMMON]

  FACE.        [Aside.]  Surly come!
And Mammon made acquainted! They’ll tell all.
How shall I beat them off? What shall I do?
Nothing’s more wretched than a guilty conscience.        72
Note 1. The same. [back]
Note 2. Literally, two dozen sheaves; droves. [back]
Note 3. A suburban tavern, eclipsed as a resort by Pimlico. [back]
Note 4. With drinking. [back]


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