The Alchemist (Jonson)




T he sickness hot, a master quit, for fear, H is house in town, and left one servant there; E ase him corrupted, and gave means to know

A Cheater, and his punk; who now brought low, L eaving their narrow practice, were become C ozeners at large; and only wanting some H ouse to set up, with him they here contract, E ach for a share, and all begin to act. M uch company they draw, and much abuse, I n casting figures, telling fortunes, news, S elling of flies, flat bawdry with the stone, T ill it, and they, and all in fume are gone.


Fortune, that favours fools, these two short hours, We wish away, both for your sakes and ours, Judging spectators; and desire, in place, To the author justice, to ourselves but grace. Our scene is London, 'cause we would make known, No country's mirth is better than our own: No clime breeds better matter for your whore, Bawd, squire, impostor, many persons more, Whose manners, now call'd humours, feed the stage; And which have still been subject for the rage Or spleen of comic writers. Though this pen Did never aim to grieve, but better men; Howe'er the age he lives in doth endure The vices that she breeds, above their cure. But when the wholesome remedies are sweet, And in their working gain and profit meet, He hopes to find no spirit so much diseased, But will with such fair correctives be pleased: For here he doth not fear who can apply. If there be any that will sit so nigh Unto the stream, to look what it doth run, They shall find things, they'd think or wish were done; They are so natural follies, but so shewn, As even the doers may see, and yet not own.