The Alchemist (Jonson)

Act 4, Scene 4.4



SUR. Lady, you see into what hands you are fall'n;

'Mongst what a nest of villains! and how near

Your honour was t' have catch'd a certain clap,

Through your credulity, had I but been

So punctually forward, as place, time,

And other circumstances would have made a man;

For you're a handsome woman: would you were wise too!

I am a gentleman come here disguised,

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 batchelor,

Worth nought: your fortunes may make me a man,

As mine have preserv'd you a woman. Think upon it,

And whether I have deserv'd you or no.

DAME P. I will, sir.

SUR. And for these household-rogues, let me alone

To treat with them.


SUB. How doth my noble Diego,

And my dear madam countess? hath the count

Been courteous, lady? liberal, and open?

Donzel, methinks you look melancholic,

After your coitum, and scurvy: truly,

I do not like the dulness of your eye;

It hath a heavy cast, 'tis upsee Dutch,

And says you are a lumpish whore-master.

Be lighter, and I will make your pockets so.


SUR [THROWS OPEN HIS CLOAK]. Will you, don bawd and



how now! reel you?

Stand up, sir, you shall find, since I am so heavy,

I'll give you equal weight.

SUB. Help! murder!

SUR. No, sir,

There's no such thing intended: a good cart,

And a clean whip shall ease you of that fear.

I am the Spanish don "that should be cozen'd,

Do you see, cozen'd?" Where's your Captain Face,

That parcel broker, and whole-bawd, all rascal!


FACE. How, Surly!

SUR. O, make your approach, good captain.

I have found from whence your copper rings and spoons

Come, now, wherewith you cheat abroad in taverns.

'Twas here you learned 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,

That you might have'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 in the stead another

With sublimed mercury, that shall burst in the heat,

And fly out all in fumo! Then weeps Mammon;

Then swoons his worship.


Or, he is the Faustus,

That casteth figures and can conjure, cures

Plagues, piles, and pox, by the ephemerides,

And holds intelligence with all the bawds

And midwives of three shires: while you send in --

Captain! -- what! is he gone? -- damsels with child,

Wives that are barren, or the waiting-maid

With the green sickness.


-- Nay, sir, you must tarry,

Though he be scaped; and answer by the ears, sir.


FACE. Why, now's the time, if ever you will quarrel

Well, as they say, and be a true-born child:

The doctor and your sister both are abused.

KAS. Where is he? which is he? he is a slave,

Whate'er he is, and the son of a whore. -- Are you

The man, sir, I would know?

SUR. I should be loth, sir,

To confess so much.

KAS. Then you lie in your throat.

SUR. How!

FACE [TO KASTRIL]. A very errant rogue, sir, and a cheater,

Employ'd here by another conjurer

That does not love the doctor, and would cross him,

If he knew how.

SUR. Sir, you are abused.

KAS. You lie:

And 'tis no matter.

FACE. Well said, sir! He is

The impudent'st rascal --

SUR. You are indeed: Will you hear me, sir?

FACE. By no means: bid him be gone.

KAS. Begone, sir, quickly.

SUR. This 's strange! -- Lady, do you inform your brother.

FACE. There is not such a foist in all the town,

The doctor had him presently; and finds yet,

The Spanish count will come here.


-- Bear up, Subtle.

SUB. Yes, sir, he must appear within this hour.

FACE. And yet this rogue would come in a disguise,

By the temptation of another spirit,

To trouble our art, though he could not hurt it!

KAS. Ay,

I know -- Away,


you talk like a foolish mauther.

SUR. Sir, all is truth she says.

FACE. Do not believe him, sir.

He is the lying'st swabber! Come your ways, sir.

SUR. You are valiant out of company!

KAS. Yes, how then, sir?


FACE. Nay, here's an honest fellow, too, that knows him,

And all his tricks. Make good what I say, Abel,

This cheater would have cozen'd thee o' the widow. --


He owes this honest Drugger here, seven pound,

He has had on him, in two-penny'orths of tobacco.

DRUG. Yes, sir.

And he has damn'd himself three terms to pay me.

FACE. And what does he owe for lotium?

DRUG. Thirty shillings, sir;

And for six syringes.

SUR. Hydra of villainy!

FACE. Nay, sir, you must quarrel him out o' the house.

KAS. I will:

- Sir, if you get not out of doors, you lie;

And you are a pimp.

SUR. Why, this is madness, sir,

Not valour in you; I must laugh at this.

KAS. It is my humour: you are a pimp and a trig,

And an Amadis de Gaul, or a Don Quixote.

DRUG. Or a knight o' the curious coxcomb, do you see?


ANA. Peace to the household!

KAS. I'll keep peace for no man.

ANA. Casting of dollars is concluded lawful.

KAS. Is he the constable?

SUB. Peace, Ananias.

FACE. No, sir.

KAS. Then you are an otter, and a shad, a whit,

A very tim.

SUR. You'll hear me, sir?

KAS. I will not.

ANA. What is the motive?

SUB. Zeal in the young gentleman,

Against his Spanish slops.

ANA. They are profane,

Lewd, superstitious, and idolatrous breeches.

SUR. New rascals!

KAS. Will you begone, sir?

ANA. Avoid, Sathan!

Thou art not of the light: That ruff of pride

About thy neck, betrays thee; and is the same

With that which the unclean birds, in seventy-seven,

Were seen to prank it with on divers coasts:

Thou look'st like antichrist, in that lewd hat.

SUR. I must give way.

KAS. Be gone, sir.

SUR. But I'll take

A course with you --

ANA. Depart, proud Spanish fiend!

SUR. Captain and doctor.

ANA. Child of perdition!

KAS. Hence, sir! --


Did I not quarrel bravely?

FACE. Yes, indeed, sir.

KAS. Nay, an I give my mind to't, I shall do't.

FACE. O, you must follow, sir, and threaten him tame:

He'll turn again else.

KAS. I'll re-turn him then.



FACE. Drugger, this rogue prevented us for thee:

We had determin'd that thou should'st have come

In a Spanish suit, and have carried her so; and he,

A brokerly slave! goes, puts it on himself.

Hast brought the damask?

DRUG. Yes, sir.

FACE. Thou must borrow

A Spanish suit. Hast thou no credit with the players?

DRUG. Yes, sir; did you never see me play the Fool?

FACE. I know not, Nab: -- Thou shalt, if I can help it. --


Hieronimo's old cloak, ruff, and hat will serve;

I'll tell thee more when thou bring'st 'em.


ANA. Sir, I know

The Spaniard hates the brethren, and hath spies

Upon their actions: and that this was one

I make no scruple. -- But the holy synod

Have been in prayer and meditation for it;

And 'tis revealed no less to them than me,

That casting of money is most lawful.

SUB. True.

But here I cannot do it: if the house

Shou'd chance to be suspected, all would out,

And we be locked up in the Tower for ever,

To make gold there for the state, never come out;

And then are you defeated.

ANA. I will tell

This to the elders and the weaker brethren,

That the whole company of the separation

May join in humble prayer again.

SUB. And fasting.

ANA. Yea, for some fitter place. The peace of mind

Rest with these walls!


SUB. Thanks, courteous Ananias.

FACE. What did he come for?

SUB. About casting dollars,

Presently out of hand. And so I told him,

A Spanish minister came here to spy,

Against the faithful --

FACE. I conceive. Come, Subtle,

Thou art so down upon the least disaster!

How wouldst thou ha' done, if I had not help't thee out?

SUB. I thank thee, Face, for the angry boy, i'faith.

FACE. Who would have look'd it should have been that rascal,

Surly? he had dyed his beard and all. Well, sir.

Here's damask come to make you a suit.

SUB. Where's Drugger?

FACE. He is gone to borrow me a Spanish habit;

I'll be the count, now.

SUB. But where's the widow?

FACE. Within, with my lord's sister; madam Dol

Is entertaining her.

SUB. By your favour, Face,

Now she is honest, I will stand again.

FACE. You will not offer it.

SUB. Why?

FACE. Stand to your word,

Or -- here comes Dol, she knows --

SUB. You are tyrannous still.


FACE. Strict for my right. -- How now, Dol!

Hast [thou] told her,

The Spanish count will come?

DOL. Yes; but another is come,

You little look'd for!

FACE. Who's that?

DOL. Your master;

The master of the house.

SUB. How, Dol!

FACE. She lies,

This is some trick. Come, leave your quiblins, Dorothy.

DOL. Look out, and see.


SUB. Art thou in earnest?

DOL. 'Slight,

Forty of the neighbours are about him, talking.

FACE. 'Tis he, by this good day.

DOL. 'Twill prove ill day

For some on us.

FACE. We are undone, and taken.

DOL. Lost, I'm afraid.

SUB. You said he would not come,

While there died one a week within the liberties.

FACE. No: 'twas within the walls.

SUB. Was't so! cry you mercy.

I thought the liberties. What shall we do now, Face?

FACE. Be silent: not a word, if he call or knock.

I'll into mine old shape again and meet him,

Of Jeremy, the butler. In the mean time,

Do you two pack up all the goods and purchase,

That we can carry in the two trunks. I'll keep him

Off for to-day, if I cannot longer: and then

At night, I'll ship you both away to Ratcliff,

Where we will meet to-morrow, and there we'll share.

Let Mammon's brass and pewter keep the cellar;

We'll have another time for that. But, Dol,

'Prythee go heat a little water quickly;

Subtle must shave me: all my captain's beard

Must off, to make me appear smooth Jeremy.

You'll do it?

SUB. Yes, I'll shave you, as well as I can.

FACE. And not cut my throat, but trim me?

SUB. You shall see, sir.