The Alchemist (Jonson)

Act 3, Scene 3.2



SUB. O, are you come? 'twas time. Your threescore minutes

Were at last thread, you see: and down had gone

Furnus acediae, turris circulatorius:

Lembec, bolt's-head, retort and pelican

Had all been cinders. -- Wicked Ananias!

Art thou return'd? nay then, it goes down yet.

TRI. Sir, be appeased; he is come to humble

Himself in spirit, and to ask your patience,

If too much zeal hath carried him aside

From the due path.

SUB. Why, this doth qualify!

TRI. The brethren had no purpose, verily,

To give you the least grievance; but are ready

To lend their willing hands to any project

The spirit and you direct.

SUB. This qualifies more!

TRI. And for the orphans' goods, let them be valued,

Or what is needful else to the holy work,

It shall be numbered; here, by me, the saints,

Throw down their purse before you.

SUB. This qualifies most!

Why, thus it should be, now you understand.

Have I discours'd so unto you of our stone,

And of the good that it shall bring your cause?

Shew'd you (beside the main of hiring forces

Abroad, drawing the Hollanders, your friends,

From the Indies, to serve you, with all their fleet)

That even the med'cinal use shall make you a faction,

And party in the realm? As, put the case,

That some great man in state, he have the gout,

Why, you but send three drops of your elixir,

You help him straight: there you have made a friend.

Another has the palsy or the dropsy,

He takes of your incombustible stuff,

He's young again: there you have made a friend,

A lady that is past the feat of body,

Though not of mind, and hath her face decay'd

Beyond all cure of paintings, you restore,

With the oil of talc: there you have made a friend;

And all her friends. A lord that is a leper,

A knight that has the bone-ache, or a squire

That hath both these, you make them smooth and sound,

With a bare fricace of your med'cine: still

You increase your friends.

TRI. Ay, it is very pregnant.

SUB. And then the turning of this lawyer's pewter

To plate at Christmas. --

ANA. Christ-tide, I pray you.

SUB. Yet, Ananias!

ANA. I have done.

SUB. Or changing

His parcel gilt to massy gold. You cannot

But raise you friends. Withal, to be of power

To pay an army in the field, to buy

The king of France out of his realms, or Spain

Out of his Indies. What can you not do

Against lords spiritual or temporal,

That shall oppone you?

TRI. Verily, 'tis true.

We may be temporal lords ourselves, I take it.

SUB. You may be any thing, and leave off to make

Long-winded exercises; or suck up

Your "ha!" and "hum!" in a tune. I not deny,

But such as are not graced in a state,

May, for their ends, be adverse in religion,

And get a tune to call the flock together:

For, to say sooth, a tune does much with women,

And other phlegmatic people; it is your bell.

ANA. Bells are profane; a tune may be religious.

SUB. No warning with you! then farewell my patience.

'Slight, it shall down: I will not be thus tortured.

TRI. I pray you, sir.

SUB. All shall perish. I have spoken it.

TRI. Let me find grace, sir, in your eyes; the man

He stands corrected: neither did his zeal,

But as your self, allow a tune somewhere.

Which now, being tow'rd the stone, we shall not need.

SUB. No, nor your holy vizard, to win widows

To give you legacies; or make zealous wives

To rob their husbands for the common cause:

Nor take the start of bonds broke but one day,

And say, they were forfeited by providence.

Nor shall you need o'er night to eat huge meals,

To celebrate your next day's fast the better;

The whilst the brethren and the sisters humbled,

Abate the stiffness of the flesh. Nor cast

Before your hungry hearers scrupulous bones;

As whether a Christian may hawk or hunt,

Or whether matrons of the holy assembly

May lay their hair out, or wear doublets,

Or have that idol starch about their linen.

ANA. It is indeed an idol.

TRI. Mind him not, sir.

I do command thee, spirit of zeal, but trouble,

To peace within him! Pray you, sir, go on.

SUB. Nor shall you need to libel 'gainst the prelates,

And shorten so your ears against the hearing

Of the next wire-drawn grace. Nor of necessity

Rail against plays, to please the alderman

Whose daily custard you devour; nor lie

With zealous rage till you are hoarse. Not one

Of these so singular arts. Nor call yourselves

By names of Tribulation, Persecution,

Restraint, Long-patience, and such-like, affected

By the whole family or wood of you,

Only for glory, and to catch the ear

Of the disciple.

TRI. Truly, sir, they are

Ways that the godly brethren have invented,

For propagation of the glorious cause,

As very notable means, and whereby also

Themselves grow soon, and profitably, famous.

SUB. O, but the stone, all's idle to it! nothing!

The art of angels' nature's miracle,

The divine secret that doth fly in clouds

From east to west: and whose tradition

Is not from men, but spirits.

ANA. I hate traditions;

I do not trust them --

TRI. Peace!

ANA. They are popish all.

I will not peace: I will not --

TRI. Ananias!

ANA. Please the profane, to grieve the godly; I may not.

SUB. Well, Ananias, thou shalt overcome.

TRI. It is an ignorant zeal that haunts him, sir;

But truly, else, a very faithful brother,

A botcher, and a man, by revelation,

That hath a competent knowledge of the truth.

SUB. Has he a competent sum there in the bag

To buy the goods within? I am made guardian,

And must, for charity, and conscience sake,

Now see the most be made for my poor orphan;

Though I desire the brethren too good gainers:

There they are within. When you have view'd and bought 'em,

And ta'en the inventory of what they are,

They are ready for projection; there's no more

To do: cast on the med'cine, so much silver

As there is tin there, so much gold as brass,

I'll give't you in by weight.

TRI. But how long time,

Sir, must the saints expect yet?

SUB. Let me see,

How's the moon now? Eight, nine, ten days hence,

He will be silver potate; then three days

Before he citronise: Some fifteen days,

The magisterium will be perfected.

ANA. About the second day of the third week,

In the ninth month?

SUB. Yes, my good Ananias.

TRI. What will the orphan's goods arise to, think you?

SUB. Some hundred marks, as much as fill'd three cars,

Unladed now: you'll make six millions of them. --

But I must have more coals laid in.

TRI. How?

SUB. Another load,

And then we have finish'd. We must now increase

Our fire to ignis ardens; we are past

Fimus equinus, balnei, cineris,

And all those lenter heats. If the holy purse

Should with this draught fall low, and that the saints

Do need a present sum, I have a trick

To melt the pewter, you shall buy now, instantly,

And with a tincture make you as good Dutch dollars

As any are in Holland.

TRI. Can you so?

SUB. Ay, and shall 'bide the third examination.

ANA. It will be joyful tidings to the brethren.

SUB. But you must carry it secret.

TRI. Ay; but stay,

This act of coining, is it lawful?

ANA. Lawful!

We know no magistrate; or, if we did,

This is foreign coin.

SUB. It is no coining, sir.

It is but casting.

TRI. Ha! you distinguish well:

Casting of money may be lawful.

ANA. 'Tis, sir.

TRI. Truly, I take it so.

SUB. There is no scruple,

Sir, to be made of it; believe Ananias:

This case of conscience he is studied in.

TRI. I'll make a question of it to the brethren.

ANA. The brethren shall approve it lawful, doubt not.

Where shall it be done?


SUB. For that we'll talk anon.

There's some to speak with me. Go in, I pray you,

And view the parcels. That's the inventory.

I'll come to you straight.


Who is it? -- Face! appear.


How now! good prize?

FACE. Good pox! yond' costive cheater

Never came on.

SUB. How then?

FACE. I have walk'd the round

Till now, and no such thing.

SUB. And have you quit him?

FACE. Quit him! an hell would quit him too, he were happy.

'Slight! would you have me stalk like a mill-jade,

All day, for one that will not yield us grains?

I know him of old.

SUB. O, but to have gull'd him,

Had been a mastery.

FACE. Let him go, black boy!

And turn thee, that some fresh news may possess thee.

A noble count, a don of Spain, my dear

Delicious compeer, and my party-bawd,

Who is come hither private for his conscience,

And brought munition with him, six great slops,

Bigger than three Dutch hoys, beside round trunks,

Furnished with pistolets, and pieces of eight,

Will straight be here, my rogue, to have thy bath,

(That is the colour,) and to make his battery

Upon our Dol, our castle, our cinque-port,

Our Dover pier, our what thou wilt. Where is she?

She must prepare perfumes, delicate linen,

The bath in chief, a banquet, and her wit,

For she must milk his epididimis.

Where is the doxy?

SUB. I'll send her to thee:

And but despatch my brace of little John Leydens,

And come again my self.

FACE. Are they within then?

SUB. Numbering the sum.

FACE. How much?

SUB. A hundred marks, boy.


FACE. Why, this is a lucky day. Ten pounds of Mammon!

Three of my clerk! A portague of my grocer!

This of the brethren! beside reversions,

And states to come in the widow, and my count!

My share to-day will not be bought for forty --


DOL. What?

FACE. Pounds, dainty Dorothy! art thou so near?

DOL. Yes; say, lord general, how fares our camp?

FACE. As with the few that had entrench'd themselves

Safe, by their discipline, against a world, Dol,

And laugh'd within those trenches, and grew fat

With thinking on the booties, Dol, brought in

Daily by their small parties. This dear hour,

A doughty don is taken with my Dol;

And thou mayst make his ransom what thou wilt,

My Dousabel; he shall be brought here fetter'd

With thy fair looks, before he sees thee; and thrown

In a down-bed, as dark as any dungeon;

Where thou shalt keep him waking with thy drum;

Thy drum, my Dol, thy drum; till he be tame

As the poor black-birds were in the great frost,

Or bees are with a bason; and so hive him

In the swan-skin coverlid, and cambric sheets,

Till he work honey and wax, my little God's-gift.

DOL. What is he, general?

FACE. An adalantado,

A grandee, girl. Was not my Dapper here yet?

DOL. No.

FACE. Nor my Drugger?

DOL. Neither.

FACE. A pox on 'em,

They are so long a furnishing! such stinkards

Would not be seen upon these festival days. --


How now! have you done?

SUB. Done. They are gone: the sum

Is here in bank, my Face. I would we knew

Another chapman now would buy 'em outright.

FACE. 'Slid, Nab shall do't against he have the widow,

To furnish household.

SUB. Excellent, well thought on:

Pray God he come!

FACE. I pray he keep away

Till our new business be o'erpast.

SUB. But, Face,

How cam'st thou by this secret don?

FACE. A spirit

Brought me th' intelligence in a paper here,

As I was conjuring yonder in my circle

For Surly; I have my flies abroad. Your bath

Is famous, Subtle, by my means. Sweet Dol,

You must go tune your virginal, no losing

O' the least time: and, do you hear? good action.

Firk, like a flounder; kiss, like a scallop, close;

And tickle him with thy mother tongue. His great

Verdugoship has not a jot of language;

So much the easier to be cozen'd, my Dolly.

He will come here in a hired coach, obscure,

And our own coachman, whom I have sent as guide,

No creature else.


Who's that?


SUB. It is not he?

FACE. O no, not yet this hour.


SUB. Who is't?

DOL. Dapper,

Your clerk.

FACE. God's will then, queen of Fairy,

On with your tire;


and, doctor, with your robes.

Let's dispatch him for God's sake.

SUB. 'Twill be long.

FACE. I warrant you, take but the cues I give you,

It shall be brief enough.


'Slight, here are more!

Abel, and I think the angry boy, the heir,

That fain would quarrel.

SUB. And the widow?


Not that I see. Away!



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 of the dice:

He never heard her highness dote till now.

Your aunt has given you the most gracious words

That can be thought on.

DAP. Shall I see her grace?

FACE. See her, and kiss her too. --


What, honest Nab!

Hast brought the damask?

NAB. No, sir; here's tobacco.

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?

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. Where is the doctor?

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,

Upon fit terms.

FACE. It seems, sir, you are but young

About the town, that can make that a question.

KAS. Sir, not so young, but I have heard some speech

Of the angry boys, and seen them take tobacco;

And in his shop; and I can take it too.

And I would fain be one of 'em, and go down

And practise in the country.

FACE. Sir, for the duello,

The doctor, I assure you, shall inform you,

To the least shadow of a hair; and shew you

An instrument he has of his own making,

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.

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

To give and take the lie by.

KAS. How! to take it?

FACE. Yes, in oblique he'll shew you, or in circle;

But never in diameter. The whole town

Study his theorems, and dispute them ordinarily

At the eating academies.

KAS. But does he teach

Living by the wits too?

FACE. Anything whatever.

You cannot think that subtlety, but he reads it.

He made me a captain. I was a stark pimp,

Just of your standing, 'fore I met with him;

It is 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?

KAS. There's gaming there, and tricks.

FACE. Why, would you be

A gallant, and not game?

KAS. Ay, 'twill spend a man.

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!

FACE. Ay, forty thousand.

KAS. Are there such?

FACE. Ay, sir,

And gallants yet. Here's a young gentleman

Is born to nothing, --


forty marks a year,

Which I count nothing: -- he is to be initiated,

And have a fly of the doctor. He will win you,

By unresistible luck, within this fortnight,

Enough to buy a barony. They will set him

Upmost, at the groom porter's, all the Christmas:

And for the whole year through, at every place,

Where there is play, present him with the chair;

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

The dainty bed, in private, with the dainty.

You shall have your ordinaries bid for him,

As play-houses for a poet; and the master

Pray him aloud to name what dish he affects,

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?

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,)

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 admired for't.

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, when small money is stirring,

And ordinaries suspended till the term,

He'll shew a perspective, where on one side

You shall behold the faces and the persons

Of all sufficient young heirs in town,

Whose bonds are current for commodity;

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:

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.

All which you may so handle, to enjoy

To your own use, and never stand obliged.

KAS. I'faith! is he such a fellow?

FACE. Why, Nab here knows him.

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.

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,

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.

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,

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 of the fidlers,

And care of his shop, for he dares keep no servants --

DRUG. My head did so ach --

FACE. And he was fain to be brought home,

The doctor told me: and then a good old woman --

DRUG. Yes, faith, she dwells in Sea-coal-lane, -- did cure me,

With sodden ale, and pellitory of the wall;

Cost me but two-pence. I had another sickness

Was worse than that.

FACE. Ay, that was with the grief

Thou took'st for being cess'd at eighteen-pence,

For the water-work.

DRUG. In truth, and it was like

T' have cost me almost my life.

FACE. Thy hair went off?

DRUG. Yes, sir; 'twas done for spight.

FACE. Nay, so says the doctor.

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:

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.


FACE. Drugger, she's thine: the damask! --


Subtle and I

Must wrestle for her.


-- Come on, master Dapper,

You see how I turn clients here away,

To give your cause dispatch; have you perform'd

The ceremonies were enjoin'd you?

DAP. Yes, of the vinegar,

And the clean shirt.

FACE. 'Tis well: that shirt may do you

More worship than you think. Your aunt's a-fire,

But that she will not shew it, t' have a sight of you.

Have you provided for her grace's servants?

DAP. Yes, here are six score Edward shillings.

FACE. Good!

DAP. And an old Harry's sovereign.

FACE. Very good!

DAP. And three James shillings, and an Elizabeth groat,

Just twenty nobles.

FACE. O, you are too just.

I would you had had the other noble in Maries.

DAP. I have some Philip and Maries.

FACE. Ay, those same

Are best of all: where are they? Hark, the doctor.



SUB [IN A FEIGNED VOICE]. Is yet her grace's cousin come?

FACE. He is come.

SUB. And is he fasting?

FACE. Yes.

SUB. And hath cried hum?

FACE. Thrice, you must answer.

DAP. Thrice.

SUB. And as oft buz?

FACE. If you have, say.

DAP. I have.

SUB. Then, to her cuz,

Hoping that he hath vinegar'd his senses,

As he was bid, the Fairy queen dispenses,

By me, this robe, the petticoat of fortune;

Which that he straight put on, she doth importune.

And though to fortune near be her petticoat,

Yet nearer is her smock, the queen doth note:

And therefore, ev'n of that a piece she hath sent

Which, being a child, to wrap him in was rent;

And prays him for a scarf he now will wear it,

With as much love as then her grace did tear it,

About his eyes,


to shew he is fortunate.

And, trusting unto her to make his state,

He'll throw away all worldly pelf about him;

Which that he will perform, she doth not doubt him.

FACE. She need not doubt him, sir. Alas, he has nothing,

But what he will part withal as willingly,

Upon her grace's word -- throw away your purse --

As she would ask it; -- handkerchiefs and all --


She cannot bid that thing, but he'll obey. --

If you have a ring about you, cast it off,

Or a silver seal at your wrist; her grace will send

Her fairies here to search you, therefore deal

Directly with her highness: if they find

That you conceal a mite, you are undone.

DAP. Truly, there's all.

FACE. All what?

DAP. My money; truly.

FACE. Keep nothing that is transitory about you.


Bid Dol play music. --


Look, the elves are come.

To pinch you, if you tell not truth. Advise you.


DAP. O! I have a paper with a spur-ryal in't.

FACE. Ti, ti.

They knew't, they say.

SUB. Ti, ti, ti, ti. He has more yet.

FACE. Ti, ti-ti-ti.


In the other pocket.

SUB. Titi, titi, titi, titi, titi.

They must pinch him or he will never confess, they say.


DAP. O, O!

FACE. Nay, pray you, hold: he is her grace's nephew,

Ti, ti, ti? What care you? good faith, you shall care. --

Deal plainly, sir, and shame the fairies. Shew

You are innocent.

DAP. By this good light, I have nothing.

SUB. Ti, ti, ti, ti, to, ta. He does equivocate she says:

Ti, ti do ti, ti ti do, ti da;

and swears by the LIGHT when he is blinded.

DAP. By this good DARK, I have nothing but a half-crown

Of gold about my wrist, that my love gave me;

And a leaden heart I wore since she forsook me.

FACE. I thought 'twas something. And would you incur

Your aunt's displeasure for these trifles? Come,

I had rather you had thrown away twenty half-crowns.


You may wear your leaden heart still. --


How now!

SUB. What news, Dol?

DOL. Yonder's your knight, sir Mammon.

FACE. 'Ods lid, we never thought of him till now!

Where is he?

DOL. Here hard by: he is at the door.

SUB. And you are not ready now! Dol, get his suit.


He must not be sent back.

FACE. O, by no means.

What shall we do with this same puffin here,

Now he's on the spit?

SUB. Why, lay him back awhile,

With some device.


-- Ti, ti, ti, ti, ti, ti, Would her grace speak with me?

I come. -- Help, Dol!


FACE [SPEAKS THROUGH THE KEYHOLE]. Who's there? sir Epicure,

My master's in the way. Please you to walk

Three or four turns, but till his back be turned,

And I am for you. -- Quickly, Dol!

SUB. Her grace

Commends her kindly to you, master Dapper.

DAP. I long to see her grace.

SUB. She now is set

At dinner in her bed, and she has sent you

From her own private trencher, a dead mouse,

And a piece of gingerbread, to be merry withal,

And stay your stomach, lest you faint with fasting:

Yet if you could hold out till she saw you, she says,

It would be better for you.

FACE. Sir, he shall

Hold out, an 'twere this two hours, for her highness;

I can assure you that. We will not lose

All we have done. --

SUB. He must not see, nor speak

To any body, till then.

FACE. For that we'll put, sir,

A stay in's mouth.

SUB. Of what?

FACE. Of gingerbread.

Make you it fit. He that hath pleas'd her grace

Thus far, shall not now crincle for a little. --

Gape, sir, and let him fit you.


SUB. Where shall we now

Bestow him?

DOL. In the privy.

SUB. Come along, sir,

I now must shew you Fortune's privy lodgings.

FACE. Are they perfumed, and his bath ready?

SUB. All:

Only the fumigation's somewhat strong.


Sir Epicure, I am yours, sir, by and by.