The Alchemist (Jonson)

Act 5, Scene 5.1



LOVE. Has there been such resort, say you?

1 NEI. Daily, sir.

2 NEI. And nightly, too.

3 NEI. Ay, some as brave as lords.

4 NEI. Ladies and gentlewomen.

5 NEI. Citizens' wives.

1 NEI. And knights.

6 NEI. In coaches.

2 NEI. Yes, and oyster women.

1 NEI. Beside other gallants.

3 NEI. Sailors' wives.

4 NEI. Tobacco men.

5 NEI. Another Pimlico!

LOVE. What should my knave advance,

To draw this company? he hung out no banners

Of a strange calf with five legs to be seen,

Or a huge lobster with six claws?

6 NEI. No, sir.

3 NEI. We had gone in then, sir.

LOVE. He has no gift

Of teaching in the nose that e'er I knew of.

You saw no bills set up that promised cure

Of agues, or the tooth-ach?

2 NEI. No such thing, sir!

LOVE. Nor heard a drum struck for baboons or puppets?

5 NEI. Neither, sir.

LOVE. What device should he bring forth now?

I love a teeming wit as I love my nourishment:

'Pray God he have not kept such open house,

That he hath sold my hangings, and my bedding!

I left him nothing else. If he have eat them,

A plague o' the moth, say I! Sure he has got

Some bawdy pictures to call all this ging!

The friar and the nun; or the new motion

Of the knight's courser covering the parson's mare;

Or 't may be, he has the fleas that run at tilt

Upon a table, or some dog to dance.

When saw you him?

1 NEI. Who, sir, Jeremy?

2 NEI. Jeremy butler?

We saw him not this month.

LOVE. How!

4 NEI. Not these five weeks, sir.

6 NEI. These six weeks at the least.

LOVE. You amaze me, neighbours!

5 NEI. Sure, if your worship know not where he is,

He's slipt away.

6 NEI. Pray God, he be not made away.

LOVE. Ha! it's no time to question, then.


6 NEI. About

Some three weeks since, I heard a doleful cry,

As I sat up a mending my wife's stockings.

LOVE. 'Tis strange that none will answer! Didst thou hear

A cry, sayst thou?

6 NEI. Yes, sir, like unto a man

That had been strangled an hour, and could not speak.

2 NEI. I heard it too, just this day three weeks, at two o'clock

Next morning.

LOVE. These be miracles, or you make them so!

A man an hour strangled, and could not speak,

And both you heard him cry?

3 NEI. Yes, downward, sir.

Love, Thou art a wise fellow. Give me thy hand, I pray thee.

What trade art thou on?

3 NEI. A smith, an't please your worship.

LOVE. A smith! then lend me thy help to get this door open.

3 NEI. That I will presently, sir, but fetch my tools --


1 NEI. Sir, best to knock again, afore you break it.



FACE. What mean you, sir?

1, 2, 4 NEI. O, here's Jeremy!

FACE. Good sir, come from the door.

LOVE. Why, what's the matter?

FACE. Yet farther, you are too near yet.

LOVE. In the name of wonder,

What means the fellow!

FACE. The house, sir, has been visited.

LOVE. What, with the plague? stand thou then farther.

FACE. No, sir,

I had it not.

LOVE. Who had it then? I left

None else but thee in the house.

FACE. Yes, sir, my fellow,

The cat that kept the buttery, had it on her

A week before I spied it; but I got her

Convey'd away in the night: and so I shut

The house up for a month --

LOVE. How!

FACE. Purposing then, sir,

To have burnt rose-vinegar, treacle, and tar,

And have made it sweet, that you shou'd ne'er have known it;

Because I knew the news would but afflict you, sir.

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!

LOVE. Gallants, men and women,

And of all sorts, tag-rag, been seen to flock here

In threaves, these ten weeks, as to a second Hogsden,

In days of Pimlico and Eye-bright.

FACE. Sir,

Their wisdoms will not say so.

LOVE. To-day they speak

Of coaches and gallants; one in a French hood

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,

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.

But that 'tis yet not deep in the afternoon,

I should believe my neighbours had seen double

Through the black pot, and made these apparitions!

For, on my faith to your worship, for these three weeks

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,

I'd have been sworn.

LOVE. Do you but think it now?

And but one coach?

4 NEI. We cannot tell, sir: Jeremy

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.

LOVE. Fine rogues to have your testimonies built on!


3 NEI. Is Jeremy come!

1 NEI. O yes; you may leave your tools;

We were deceived, he says.

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.


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.

SUR. No, sir, he was a great physician. This,

It was no bawdy-house, but a mere chancel!

You knew the lord and his sister.

MAM. Nay, good Surly. --

SUR. The happy word, BE RICH --

MAM. Play not the tyrant. --

SUR. "Should be to-day pronounced to all your friends."

And where be your andirons now? and your brass pots,

That should have been golden flagons, and great wedges?

MAM. Let me but breathe. What, they have shut their doors,


SUR. Ay, now 'tis holiday with them.

MAM. Rogues,


Cozeners, impostors, bawds!

FACE. What mean you, sir?

MAM. To enter if we can.

FACE. Another man's house!

Here is the owner, sir: turn you to him,

And speak your business.

MAM. Are you, sir, the owner?

LOVE. Yes, sir.

MAM. And are those knaves within your cheaters!

LOVE. What knaves, what cheaters?

MAM. Subtle and his Lungs.

FACE. The gentleman is distracted, sir! No lungs,

Nor lights have been seen here these three weeks, sir,

Within these doors, upon my word.

SUR. Your word,

Groom arrogant!

FACE. Yes, sir, I am the housekeeper,

And know the keys have not been out of my hands.

SUR. This is a new Face.

FACE. You do mistake the house, sir:

What sign was't at?

SUR. You rascal! this is one

Of the confederacy. Come, let's get officers,

And force the door.

LOVE. 'Pray you stay, gentlemen.

SUR. No, sir, we'll come with warrant.

MAM. Ay, and then

We shall have your doors open.


LOVE. What means this?

FACE. I cannot tell, sir.

I NEI. These are two of the gallants

That we do think we saw.

FACE. Two of the fools!

Your talk as idly as they. Good faith, sir,

I think the moon has crazed 'em all. --


O me,


The angry boy come too! He'll make a noise,

And ne'er away till he have betray'd us all.

KAS [KNOCKING]. What rogues, bawds, slaves,

you'll open the door, anon!

Punk, cockatrice, my suster! By this light

I'll fetch the marshal to you. You are a whore

To keep your castle --

FACE. Who would you speak with, sir?

KAS. The bawdy doctor, and the cozening captain,

And puss my suster.

LOVE. This is something, sure.

FACE. Upon my trust, the doors were never open, sir.

KAS. I have heard all their tricks told me twice over,

By the fat knight and the lean gentleman.

LOVE. Here comes another.


FACE. Ananias too!

And his pastor!

TRI [BEATING AT THE DOOR]. The doors are shut against us.

ANA. Come forth, you seed of sulphur, sons of fire!

Your stench it is broke forth; abomination

Is in the house.

KAS. Ay, my suster's there.

ANA. The place,

It is become a cage of unclean birds.

KAS. Yes, I will fetch the scavenger, and the constable.

TRI. You shall do well.

ANA. We'll join to weed them out.

KAS. You will not come then, punk devise, my sister!

ANA. Call her not sister; she's a harlot verily.

KAS. I'll raise the street.

LOVE. Good gentlemen, a word.

ANA. Satan avoid, and hinder not our zeal!


LOVE. The world's turn'd Bethlem.

FACE. These are all broke loose,

Out of St. Katherine's, where they use to keep

The better sort of mad-folks.

1 NEI. All these persons

We saw go in and out here.

2 NEI. Yes, indeed, sir.

3 NEI. These were the parties.

FACE. Peace, you drunkards! Sir,

I wonder at it: please you to give me leave

To touch the door, I'll try an the lock be chang'd.

LOVE. It mazes me!

FACE [GOES TO THE DOOR]. Good faith, sir, I believe

There's no such thing: 'tis all deceptio visus. --


Would I could get him away.

DAP [WITHIN]. Master captain! master doctor!

LOVE. Who's that?

FACE. Our clerk within, that I forgot!


I know not, sir.

DAP [WITHIN]. For God's sake, when will her grace be at leisure?


Illusions, some spirit o' the air --


His gag is melted,

And now he sets out the throat.

DAP [WITHIN]. I am almost stifled --

FACE [ASIDE]. Would you were altogether.

LOVE. 'Tis in the house.

Ha! list.

FACE. Believe it, sir, in the air.

LOVE. Peace, you.

DAP [WITHIN]. Mine aunt's grace does not use me well.

SUB [WITHIN]. You fool,

Peace, you'll mar all.



Or you will else, you rogue.

LOVE. O, is it so? Then you converse with spirits! --

Come, sir. No more of your tricks, good Jeremy.

The truth, the shortest way.

FACE. Dismiss this rabble, sir. --


What shall I do? I am catch'd.

LOVE. Good neighbours,

I thank you all. You may depart.


-- Come, sir,

You know that I am an indulgent master;

And therefore conceal nothing. What's your medicine,

To draw so many several sorts of wild fowl?

FACE. Sir, you were wont to affect mirth and wit --

But here's no place to talk on't in the street.

Give me but leave to make the best of my fortune,

And only pardon me the abuse of your house:

It's all I beg. I'll help you to a widow,

In recompence, that you shall give me thanks for,

Will make you seven years younger, and a rich one.

'Tis but your putting on a Spanish cloak:

I have her within. You need not fear the house;

It was not visited.

LOVE. But by me, who came

Sooner than you expected.

FACE. It is true, sir.

'Pray you forgive me.

LOVE. Well: let's see your widow.