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And all the lusty younkers, in a rout,
With merry lasses danced the rod about,
Then friendship to their banquets bid the guests,
And poor men fared the better for their feasts.
The lords of castles, manors, towns, and towers,
Rejoiced when they beheld the farmers flourish,
And would come down unto the summer bowers
To see the country gallants dance the morrice.
75.-SCENES FROM THE ALCHEMIST.
BEN JONSON. F" O RARE BEN JONSON!”—the inscription on his tomb-stone in Westminster Abbey, which a mason cut for eighteen pence to please a looker on when the grave was covering—is a familiar phrase to many who have not ever opened the works of this celebrated man. Jonson was born in 1574, and died in 1637. He was a ripe scholar—a most vigorous thinker. There are passages and delineations of character in his plays, which are matchless of their kind; but he is the dramatist of peculiarities, then called “humours ;”-he is the converse of what he described Shakspere to be-he is “for an age,'' and not " for all time."]
SCENE I. Lovewit, a housekeeper in London, has fled to the country during & season when the plague was raging. His servant, Face, abusing his opportunities, admits an impostor, Subtle, and his female confederate, Dol, into the house; and there the three worthies carry on a profitable trade by pretending to tell fortunes, and transmute metals into gold The first Scene exhibits the Alchemist and the Servant in high quarrel:
Dol. Will you have
The neighbours hear you? Will you betray all?
Hark! I hear somebody.
Subtle. I shall mar
All that the tailor has made if you approach.
Face. You most notorious whelp, you insolent slave,
Dare you do this ?
Sub. Yes, faith; yes, faith.
Face. Why, who
Am I, you mongrel ? Who am I?
Sub. I'll tell you,
Since you know not yourself.
Face. Speak lower, rogue.
Sub. Yes, you were once (time 's not long past) the good,
Honest, plain, livery-three-pound-thrum, that kept
Your master's worship's house here in the Friars,
For the vacations
Face. Will you be so loud ?
Sub. Since, by my means, translated suburb-captain.
Face. By your means, doctor dog ?
Sub. Within man's memory, · All this I speak of.
Face, Why, I pray you, have I
Been countenanced by you, or you by me?
Do but collect, Sir, where I met you first,
Sub. I do not hear well.
Face. Not of this, I think it.
But I shall put you in mind, Sir; at Pie-corner,
Taking your meal of steam in, from cooks' stalls,
Where, like the father of hunger, you did walk
Piteously costive, with your pinch'd-horn-nose,
And your complexion of the Roman wash,
Stuck full of black and melancholie worms,
Like powder-corns shot at the artillery yard.
Sub. I wish you could advance your voice a little.
Face. When you went pinn'd up in the several rags
You had raked and pick'd from dúnghills, before day;
Your feet in mouldy slippers, for your kibes;
A felt of rug, and a thin threaden cloak,
That scarce would cover your no buttocks -
Sub, So, Sir!
Face. When all your alchemy, and your algebra,
Your minerals, vegetals, and animals,
Your conjuring, cozening, and your dozen of trades,
Could not relieve your corps with so much linen
Would make you tipder, but to see a fire ;
I gave you countenance, credit for your coals,
Your stills, your glasses, your materials ;
Built you a furnace, drew you customers,
Advanced all your black arts; lent you, beside,
A house to practise in-
Sub. Yes, in your master's house,
You and the rats here kept possession.
Make it not strange. I know you were one could keep
The buttery-hatch still lock'd, and save the chippings,
Sell the dole beer to aqua vitæ men,
The which, together with your Christmas vails
At post-and-pair, your letting out of counters,
Made you a pretty stock, some twenty marks,
And gave you credit to converse with cobwebs,
Here, since your mistress' death hath broke up house.
Face. You might talk softlier, rascal.
Sub. No, you scarab,
I'll thunder you in pieces : I will teach you
How to beware to tempt a Fury again,
That carries tempest in his hand and voice.
Face. The place has made you valiant.
Sub. No, your clothes-Thou vermin, have I ta’en thee out of dung, So poor, so wretched, when no living thing Would keep thee company, but a spider, or worse? Rais'd thee from brooms, and dust, and watering-pots, Sublimed thee, and exalted thee, and fix'd thee In the third region, call'd our state of grace ? Wrought thee to spirit, to quintessence, with pains Would twice have won me the philosopher's work ? Put thee in words and fashion, made thee fit For more than ordinary fellowships? Giv'n thee thy oaths, thy quarrelling dimensions, Thy rules to cheat at horse-race, cock-pit, cards, Dice, or whatever gallant tincture else? Made thee a second in mine own great art ? And have I this for thanks! Do you rebel,
Do you fly out in the projection? (Bell rings without.
Who's that? one rings. To the window,
Dol.—[Exit Dol.]—Pray Heaven,
The master do not trouble us this quarter.
Face. O fear not him. While there dies one a week
O'the plague, he's safe from thinking toward London:
Beside, he's busy at his hop-yards now;
I had a letter from him. If he do,
He 'll send such word, for airing of the house,
As you shall have sufficient time to quit it:
Though we break up a fortnight, 'tis no matter.
SCENE II. A principal figure in the Alchemist' is Abel Drugger, a tobaccodealer, who wants to learn a quick way to be rich :
Sub. What is your name, say you, Abel Drugger ?
Drug. Yes, Sir.
Sub. A seller of tobacco ?
Drug. Yes, Sir.
Free of the grocers?
Drug. Ay, an't please you.
Your business, Abel ?
Drug. This, an't please your worship;
I am a young beginner, and am building
Of a new shop, and, like your worship, just
At corner of a street :—Here 's the plot on't-
And I would know by art, Sir, of your worship,
Which way I should make my door, by necromancy,
And where my shelves; and which should be for boxes,
And which for pots. I would be glad to thrive, Sir:
And I was wish'd to your worship by a gentleman,
One Captain Face, that says you know men's planets,
And their good angels, and their bad.
Sub. I do,
If I do see them.
Face. What! My honest Abel ?
Thou art well met here.
Drug. Troth, Sir, I was speaking,
Just as your worship came here, of your worship:
I pray you speak for me to master doctor.
Face. He shall do any thing. Doctor, do you hear ?
This is my friend, Abel, an honest fellow;
He lets me have good tobacco, and he does not
Sophisticate it with sack-lees or oil,
Nor washes it in muscadel and grains.
Nor buries it in gravel under ground,
But keeps it in fine lily-pots, that, open'd,
Smell like conserve of roses or French beans.
He has his maple block, his silver tongs,
Winchester pipes, and fire of juniper:
A neat, spruce, honest fellow, and no goldsmith.
Sub. He is a fortunate fellow, that I am sure on.
Face. Already Sir, have you found it? Lo thee, Abel!
Sub. And in right way toward riches
Sub. This summer
He will be of the clothing of his company,
And next spring call'd to the scarlet; spend what he can.
Face. What! and so little beard ?
Sub. Sir, you must think,
He may have a receipt to make hair come ;
But he 'll be wise, preserve his youth, and fine for 't;
His fortune looks for him another way.
Face. 'Slid, Doctor, how canst thou know this so soon? . I am amused at that!
Sub. By a rule, Captain
In metoposcopy, which I do work by;
A certain star in the forehead, which you see not.
Your chestnut or your olive-colour'd face
Does never fail: and your long ear doth promise.
I knew 't, by certain spots, too, in his teeth,
And on the nail of his mercurial finger,