A ROOM IN VOLPONE'S HOUSE.
ENTER VOLPONE AND MOSCA.
VOLP: Good morning to the day; and next, my gold:
Open the shrine, that I may see my Saint.
[MOSCA WITHDRAWS THE CURTAIN, AND DISCOVERS PILES OF GOLD,
PLATE, JEWELS, ETC.]
Hail the world's soul, and mine! more glad than is
The teeming earth to see the long'd-for sun
Peep through the horns of the celestial Ram,
Am I, to view thy splendour darkening his;
That lying here, amongst my other hoards,
Shew'st like a flame by night; or like the day
Struck out of chaos, when all darkness fled
Unto the centre. O thou son of Sol,
But brighter than thy father, let me kiss,
With adoration, thee, and every relick
Of sacred treasure, in this blessed room.
Well did wise poets, by thy glorious name,
Title that age which they would have the best;
Thou being the best of things: and far transcending
All style of joy, in children, parents, friends,
Or any other waking dream on earth:
Thy looks when they to Venus did ascribe,
They should have given her twenty thousand Cupids;
Such are thy beauties and our loves! Dear saint,
Riches, the dumb God, that giv'st all men tongues;
That canst do nought, and yet mak'st men do all things;
The price of souls; even hell, with thee to boot,
Is made worth heaven. Thou art virtue, fame,
Honour, and all things else. Who can get thee,
He shall be noble, valiant, honest, wise, -
MOS: And what he will, sir. Riches are in fortune
A greater good than wisdom is in nature.
VOLP: True, my beloved Mosca. Yet I glory
More in the cunning purchase of my wealth,
Than in the glad possession; since I gain
No common way; I use no trade, no venture;
I wound no earth with plough-shares; fat no beasts,
To feed the shambles; have no mills for iron,
Oil, corn, or men, to grind them into powder:
I blow no subtle glass; expose no ships
To threat'nings of the furrow-faced sea;
I turn no monies in the public bank,
Nor usure private.
MOS: No sir, nor devour
Soft prodigals. You shall have some will swallow
A melting heir as glibly as your Dutch
Will pills of butter, and ne'er purge for it;
Tear forth the fathers of poor families
Out of their beds, and coffin them alive
In some kind clasping prison, where their bones
May be forth-coming, when the flesh is rotten:
But your sweet nature doth abhor these courses;
You lothe the widdow's or the orphan's tears
Should wash your pavements, or their piteous cries
Ring in your roofs, and beat the air for vengeance.
VOLP: Right, Mosca; I do lothe it.
MOS: And besides, sir,
You are not like a thresher that doth stand
With a huge flail, watching a heap of corn,
And, hungry, dares not taste the smallest grain,
But feeds on mallows, and such bitter herbs;
Nor like the merchant, who hath fill'd his vaults
With Romagnia, and rich Candian wines,
Yet drinks the lees of Lombard's vinegar:
You will not lie in straw, whilst moths and worms
Feed on your sumptuous hangings and soft beds;
You know the use of riches, and dare give now
From that bright heap, to me, your poor observer,
Or to your dwarf, or your hermaphrodite,
Your eunuch, or what other household-trifle
Your pleasure allows maintenance.
VOLP: Hold thee, Mosca,
[GIVES HIM MONEY.]
Take of my hand; thou strik'st on truth in all,
And they are envious term thee parasite.
Call forth my dwarf, my eunuch, and my fool,
And let them make me sport.
What should I do,
But cocker up my genius, and live free
To all delights my fortune calls me to?
I have no wife, no parent, child, ally,
To give my substance to; but whom I make
Must be my heir: and this makes men observe me:
This draws new clients daily, to my house,
Women and men of every sex and age,
That bring me presents, send me plate, coin, jewels,
With hope that when I die (which they expect
Each greedy minute) it shall then return
Ten-fold upon them; whilst some, covetous
Above the rest, seek to engross me whole,
And counter-work the one unto the other,
Contend in gifts, as they would seem in love:
All which I suffer, playing with their hopes,
And am content to coin them into profit,
To look upon their kindness, and take more,
And look on that; still bearing them in hand,
Letting the cherry knock against their lips,
And draw it by their mouths, and back again. -
[RE-ENTER MOSCA WITH NANO, ANDROGYNO, AND CASTRONE.]
NAN: Now, room for fresh gamesters, who do will you to know,
They do bring you neither play, nor university show;
And therefore do entreat you, that whatsoever they rehearse,
May not fare a whit the worse, for the false pace of the verse.
If you wonder at this, you will wonder more ere we pass,
For know, here is inclosed the soul of Pythagoras,
That juggler divine, as hereafter shall follow;
Which soul, fast and loose, sir, came first from Apollo,
And was breath'd into Aethalides; Mercurius his son,
Where it had the gift to remember all that ever was done.
From thence it fled forth, and made quick transmigration
To goldy-lock'd Euphorbus, who was killed in good fashion,
At the siege of old Troy, by the cuckold of Sparta.
Hermotimus was next (I find it in my charta)
To whom it did pass, where no sooner it was missing
But with one Pyrrhus of Delos it learn'd to go a fishing;
And thence did it enter the sophist of Greece.
From Pythagore, she went into a beautiful piece,
Hight Aspasia, the meretrix; and the next toss of her
Was again of a whore, she became a philosopher,
Crates the cynick, as it self doth relate it:
Since kings, knights, and beggars, knaves, lords and fools gat it,
Besides, ox and ass, camel, mule, goat, and brock,
In all which it hath spoke, as in the cobler's cock.
But I come not here to discourse of that matter,
Or his one, two, or three, or his greath oath, BY QUATER!
His musics, his trigon, his golden thigh,
Or his telling how elements shift, but I
Would ask, how of late thou best suffered translation,
And shifted thy coat in these days of reformation.
AND: Like one of the reformed, a fool, as you see,
Counting all old doctrine heresy.
NAN: But not on thine own forbid meats hast thou ventured?
AND: On fish, when first a Carthusian I enter'd.
NAN: Why, then thy dogmatical silence hath left thee?
AND: Of that an obstreperous lawyer bereft me.
NAN: O wonderful change, when sir lawyer forsook thee!
For Pythagore's sake, what body then took thee?
AND: A good dull mule.
NAN: And how! by that means
Thou wert brought to allow of the eating of beans?
NAN: But from the mule into whom didst thou pass?
AND: Into a very strange beast, by some writers call'd an ass;
By others, a precise, pure, illuminate brother,
Of those devour flesh, and sometimes one another;
And will drop you forth a libel, or a sanctified lie,
Betwixt every spoonful of a nativity pie.
NAN: Now quit thee, for heaven, of that profane nation;
And gently report thy next transmigration.
AND: To the same that I am.
NAN: A creature of delight,
And, what is more than a fool, an hermaphrodite!
Now, prithee, sweet soul, in all thy variation,
Which body would'st thou choose, to keep up thy station?
AND: Troth, this I am in: even here would I tarry.
NAN: 'Cause here the delight of each sex thou canst vary?
AND: Alas, those pleasures be stale and forsaken;
No, 'tis your fool wherewith I am so taken,
The only one creature that I can call blessed:
For all other forms I have proved most distressed.
NAN: Spoke true, as thou wert in Pythagoras still.
This learned opinion we celebrate will,
Fellow eunuch, as behoves us, with all our wit and art,
To dignify that whereof ourselves are so great and special a part.
VOLP: Now, very, very pretty! Mosca, this
Was thy invention?
MOS: If it please my patron,
VOLP: It doth, good Mosca.
MOS: Then it was, sir.
NANO AND CASTRONE [SING.]: Fools, they are the only nation
Worth men's envy, or admiration:
Free from care or sorrow-taking,
Selves and others merry making:
All they speak or do is sterling.
Your fool he is your great man's darling,
And your ladies' sport and pleasure;
Tongue and bauble are his treasure.
E'en his face begetteth laughter,
And he speaks truth free from slaughter;
He's the grace of every feast,
And sometimes the chiefest guest;
Hath his trencher and his stool,
When wit waits upon the fool:
O, who would not be
He, he, he?
VOLP: Who's that? Away!
[EXEUNT NANO AND CASTRONE.]
Look, Mosca. Fool, begone!
MOS: 'Tis Signior Voltore, the advocate;
I know him by his knock.
VOLP: Fetch me my gown,
My furs and night-caps; say, my couch is changing,
And let him entertain himself awhile
Without i' the gallery.
Now, now, my clients
Begin their visitation! Vulture, kite,
Raven, and gorcrow, all my birds of prey,
That think me turning carcase, now they come;
I am not for them yet -
[RE-ENTER MOSCA, WITH THE GOWN, ETC.]
How now! the news?
MOS: A piece of plate, sir.
VOLP: Of what bigness?
Massy, and antique, with your name inscribed,
And arms engraven.
VOLP: Good! and not a fox
Stretch'd on the earth, with fine delusive sleights,
Mocking a gaping crow? ha, Mosca?
MOS: Sharp, sir.
VOLP: Give me my furs.
[PUTS ON HIS SICK DRESS.]
Why dost thou laugh so, man?
MOS: I cannot choose, sir, when I apprehend
What thoughts he has without now, as he walks:
That this might be the last gift he should give;
That this would fetch you; if you died to-day,
And gave him all, what he should be to-morrow;
What large return would come of all his ventures;
How he should worship'd be, and reverenced;
Ride with his furs, and foot-cloths; waited on
By herds of fools, and clients; have clear way
Made for his mule, as letter'd as himself;
Be call'd the great and learned advocate:
And then concludes, there's nought impossible.
VOLP: Yes, to be learned, Mosca.
MOS: O no: rich
Implies it. Hood an ass with reverend purple,
So you can hide his two ambitious ears,
And he shall pass for a cathedral doctor.
VOLP: My caps, my caps, good Mosca. Fetch him in.
MOS: Stay, sir, your ointment for your eyes.
VOLP: That's true;
Dispatch, dispatch: I long to have possession
Of my new present.
MOS: That, and thousands more,
I hope, to see you lord of.
VOLP: Thanks, kind Mosca.
MOS: And that, when I am lost in blended dust,
And hundred such as I am, in succession -
VOLP: Nay, that were too much, Mosca.
MOS: You shall live,
Still, to delude these harpies.
VOLP: Loving Mosca!
'Tis well: my pillow now, and let him enter.
Now, my fain'd cough, my pthisic, and my gout,
My apoplexy, palsy, and catarrhs,
Help, with your forced functions, this my posture,
Wherein, this three year, I have milk'd their hopes.
He comes; I hear him - Uh! [COUGHING.] uh! uh! uh! O -
[RE-ENTER MOSCA, INTRODUCING VOLTORE, WITH A PIECE OF PLATE.]
MOS: You still are what you were, sir. Only you,
Of all the rest, are he commands his love,
And you do wisely to preserve it thus,
With early visitation, and kind notes
Of your good meaning to him, which, I know,
Cannot but come most grateful. Patron! sir!
Here's signior Voltore is come -
VOLP [FAINTLY.]: What say you?
MOS: Sir, signior Voltore is come this morning
To visit you.
VOLP: I thank him.
MOS: And hath brought
A piece of antique plate, bought of St Mark,
With which he here presents you.
VOLP: He is welcome.
Pray him to come more often.
VOLT: What says he?
MOS: He thanks you, and desires you see him often.
MOS: My patron!
VOLP: Bring him near, where is he?
I long to feel his hand.
MOS: The plate is here, sir.
VOLT: How fare you, sir?
VOLP: I thank you, signior Voltore;
Where is the plate? mine eyes are bad.
VOLT [PUTTING IT INTO HIS HANDS.]: I'm sorry,
To see you still thus weak.
MOS [ASIDE.]: That he's not weaker.
VOLP: You are too munificent.
VOLT: No sir; would to heaven,
I could as well give health to you, as that plate!
VOLP: You give, sir, what you can: I thank you. Your love
Hath taste in this, and shall not be unanswer'd:
I pray you see me often.
VOLT: Yes, I shall sir.
VOLP: Be not far from me.
MOS: Do you observe that, sir?
VOLP: Hearken unto me still; it will concern you.
MOS: You are a happy man, sir; know your good.
VOLP: I cannot now last long -
MOS: You are his heir, sir.
VOLT: Am I?
VOLP: I feel me going; Uh! uh! uh! uh!
I'm sailing to my port, Uh! uh! uh! uh!
And I am glad I am so near my haven.
MOS: Alas, kind gentleman! Well, we must all go -
VOLT: But, Mosca -
MOS: Age will conquer.
VOLT: 'Pray thee hear me:
Am I inscribed his heir for certain?
MOS: Are you!
I do beseech you, sir, you will vouchsafe
To write me in your family. All my hopes
Depend upon your worship: I am lost,
Except the rising sun do shine on me.
VOLT: It shall both shine, and warm thee, Mosca.
I am a man, that hath not done your love
All the worst offices: here I wear your keys,
See all your coffers and your caskets lock'd,
Keep the poor inventory of your jewels,
Your plate and monies; am your steward, sir.
Husband your goods here.
VOLT: But am I sole heir?
MOS: Without a partner, sir; confirm'd this morning:
The wax is warm yet, and the ink scarce dry
Upon the parchment.
VOLT: Happy, happy, me!
By what good chance, sweet Mosca?
MOS: Your desert, sir;
I know no second cause.
VOLT: Thy modesty
Is not to know it; well, we shall requite it.
MOS: He ever liked your course sir; that first took him.
I oft have heard him say, how he admired
Men of your large profession, that could speak
To every cause, and things mere contraries,
Till they were hoarse again, yet all be law;
That, with most quick agility, could turn,
And [re-] return; [could] make knots, and undo them;
Give forked counsel; take provoking gold
On either hand, and put it up: these men,
He knew, would thrive with their humility.
And, for his part, he thought he should be blest
To have his heir of such a suffering spirit,
So wise, so grave, of so perplex'd a tongue,
And loud withal, that would not wag, nor scarce
Lie still, without a fee; when every word
Your worship but lets fall, is a chequin! -
[LOUD KNOCKING WITHOUT.]
Who's that? one knocks; I would not have you seen, sir.
And yet - pretend you came, and went in haste:
I'll fashion an excuse. - and, gentle sir,
When you do come to swim in golden lard,
Up to the arms in honey, that your chin
Is born up stiff, with fatness of the flood,
Think on your vassal; but remember me:
I have not been your worst of clients.
VOLT: Mosca! -
MOS: When will you have your inventory brought, sir?
Or see a coppy of the will? - Anon! -
I will bring them to you, sir. Away, be gone,
Put business in your face.
VOLP [SPRINGING UP.]: Excellent Mosca!
Come hither, let me kiss thee.
MOS: Keep you still, sir.
Here is Corbaccio.
VOLP: Set the plate away:
The vulture's gone, and the old raven's come!
MOS: Betake you to your silence, and your sleep:
Stand there and multiply.
[PUTTING THE PLATE TO THE REST.]
Now, shall we see
A wretch who is indeed more impotent
Than this can feign to be; yet hopes to hop
Over his grave. -
You're very welcome, sir.
CORB: How does your patron?
MOS: Troth, as he did, sir; no amends.
CORB: What! mends he?
MOS: No, sir: he's rather worse.
CORB: That's well. Where is he?
MOS: Upon his couch sir, newly fall'n asleep.
CORB: Does he sleep well?
MOS: No wink, sir, all this night.
Nor yesterday; but slumbers.
CORB: Good! he should take
Some counsel of physicians: I have brought him
An opiate here, from mine own doctor.
MOS: He will not hear of drugs.
CORB: Why? I myself
Stood by while it was made; saw all the ingredients:
And know, it cannot but most gently work:
My life for his, 'tis but to make him sleep.
VOLP [ASIDE.]: Ay, his last sleep, if he would take it.
He has no faith in physic.
CORB: 'Say you? 'say you?
MOS: He has no faith in physic: he does think
Most of your doctors are the greater danger,
And worse disease, to escape. I often have
Heard him protest, that your physician
Should never be his heir.
CORB: Not I his heir?
MOS: Not your physician, sir.
CORB: O, no, no, no,
I do not mean it.
MOS: No, sir, nor their fees
He cannot brook: he says, they flay a man,
Before they kill him.
CORB: Right, I do conceive you.
MOS: And then they do it by experiment;
For which the law not only doth absolve them,
But gives them great reward: and he is loth
To hire his death, so.
CORB: It is true, they kill,
With as much license as a judge.
MOS: Nay, more;
For he but kills, sir, where the law condemns,
And these can kill him too.
CORB: Ay, or me;
Or any man. How does his apoplex?
Is that strong on him still?
MOS: Most violent.
His speech is broken, and his eyes are set,
His face drawn longer than 'twas wont -
CORB: How! how!
Stronger then he was wont?
MOS: No, sir: his face
Drawn longer than 'twas wont.
CORB: O, good!
MOS: His mouth
Is ever gaping, and his eyelids hang.
MOS: A freezing numbness stiffens all his joints,
And makes the colour of his flesh like lead.
CORB: 'Tis good.
MOS: His pulse beats slow, and dull.
CORB: Good symptoms, still.
MOS: And from his brain -
CORB: I conceive you; good.
MOS: Flows a cold sweat, with a continual rheum,
Forth the resolved corners of his eyes.
CORB: Is't possible? yet I am better, ha!
How does he, with the swimming of his head?
B: O, sir, 'tis past the scotomy; he now
Hath lost his feeling, and hath left to snort:
You hardly can perceive him, that he breathes.
CORB: Excellent, excellent! sure I shall outlast him:
This makes me young again, a score of years.
MOS: I was a coming for you, sir.
CORB: Has he made his will?
What has he given me?
MOS: No, sir.
CORB: Nothing! ha?
MOS: He has not made his will, sir.
CORB: Oh, oh, oh!
But what did Voltore, the Lawyer, here?
MOS: He smelt a carcase, sir, when he but heard
My master was about his testament;
As I did urge him to it for your good -
CORB: He came unto him, did he? I thought so.
MOS: Yes, and presented him this piece of plate.
CORB: To be his heir?
MOS: I do not know, sir.
I know it too.
MOS [ASIDE.]: By your own scale, sir.
I shall prevent him, yet. See, Mosca, look,
Here, I have brought a bag of bright chequines,
Will quite weigh down his plate.
MOS [TAKING THE BAG.]: Yea, marry, sir.
This is true physic, this your sacred medicine,
No talk of opiates, to this great elixir!
CORB: 'Tis aurum palpabile, if not potabile.
MOS: It shall be minister'd to him, in his bowl.
CORB: Ay, do, do, do.
MOS: Most blessed cordial!
This will recover him.
CORB: Yes, do, do, do.
MOS: I think it were not best, sir.
MOS: To recover him.
CORB: O, no, no, no; by no means.
MOS: Why, sir, this
Will work some strange effect, if he but feel it.
CORB: 'Tis true, therefore forbear; I'll take my venture:
Give me it again.
MOS: At no hand; pardon me:
You shall not do yourself that wrong, sir. I
Will so advise you, you shall have it all.
MOS: All, sir; 'tis your right, your own; no man
Can claim a part: 'tis yours, without a rival,
Decreed by destiny.
CORB: How, how, good Mosca?
MOS: I'll tell you sir. This fit he shall recover.
CORB: I do conceive you.
MOS: And, on first advantage
Of his gain'd sense, will I re-importune him
Unto the making of his testament:
And shew him this.
[POINTING TO THE MONEY.]
CORB: Good, good.
MOS: 'Tis better yet,
If you will hear, sir.
CORB: Yes, with all my heart.
MOS: Now, would I counsel you, make home with speed;
There, frame a will; whereto you shall inscribe
My master your sole heir.
CORB: And disinherit
MOS: O, sir, the better: for that colour
Shall make it much more taking.
CORB: O, but colour?
MOS: This will sir, you shall send it unto me.
Now, when I come to inforce, as I will do,
Your cares, your watchings, and your many prayers,
Your more than many gifts, your this day's present,
And last, produce your will; where, without thought,
Or least regard, unto your proper issue,
A son so brave, and highly meriting,
The stream of your diverted love hath thrown you
Upon my master, and made him your heir:
He cannot be so stupid, or stone-dead,
But out of conscience, and mere gratitude -
CORB: He must pronounce me his?
MOS: 'Tis true.
CORB: This plot
Did I think on before.
MOS: I do believe it.
CORB: Do you not believe it?
MOS: Yes, sir.
CORB: Mine own project.
MOS: Which, when he hath done, sir.
CORB: Publish'd me his heir?
MOS: And you so certain to survive him -
MOS: Being so lusty a man -
CORB: 'Tis true.
MOS: Yes, sir -
CORB: I thought on that too. See, how he should be
The very organ to express my thoughts!
MOS: You have not only done yourself a good -
CORB: But multiplied it on my son.
MOS: 'Tis right, sir.
CORB: Still, my invention.
MOS: 'Las, sir! heaven knows,
It hath been all my study, all my care,
(I e'en grow gray withal,) how to work things -
CORB: I do conceive, sweet Mosca.
MOS: You are he,
For whom I labour here.
CORB: Ay, do, do, do:
I'll straight about it.
MOS: Rook go with you, raven!
CORB: I know thee honest.
MOS [ASIDE.]: You do lie, sir!
CORB: And -
MOS: Your knowledge is no better than your ears, sir.
CORB: I do not doubt, to be a father to thee.
MOS: Nor I to gull my brother of his blessing.
CORB: I may have my youth restored to me, why not?
MOS: Your worship is a precious ass!
CORB: What say'st thou?
MOS: I do desire your worship to make haste, sir.
CORB: 'Tis done, 'tis done, I go.
VOLP [LEAPING FROM HIS COUCH.]: O, I shall burst!
Let out my sides, let out my sides -
Your flux of laughter, sir: you know this hope
Is such a bait, it covers any hook.
VOLP: O, but thy working, and thy placing it!
I cannot hold; good rascal, let me kiss thee:
I never knew thee in so rare a humour.
MOS: Alas sir, I but do as I am taught;
Follow your grave instructions; give them words;
Pour oil into their ears, and send them hence.
VOLP: 'Tis true, 'tis true. What a rare punishment
Is avarice to itself!
MOS: Ay, with our help, sir.
VOLP: So many cares, so many maladies,
So many fears attending on old age,
Yea, death so often call'd on, as no wish
Can be more frequent with them, their limbs faint,
Their senses dull, their seeing, hearing, going,
All dead before them; yea, their very teeth,
Their instruments of eating, failing them:
Yet this is reckon'd life! nay, here was one;
Is now gone home, that wishes to live longer!
Feels not his gout, nor palsy; feigns himself
Younger by scores of years, flatters his age
With confident belying it, hopes he may,
With charms, like Aeson, have his youth restored:
And with these thoughts so battens, as if fate
Would be as easily cheated on, as he,
And all turns air!
Who's that there, now? a third?
MOS: Close, to your couch again; I hear his voice:
It is Corvino, our spruce merchant.
VOLP [LIES DOWN AS BEFORE.]: Dead.
MOS: Another bout, sir, with your eyes.
- Who's there?
Signior Corvino! come most wish'd for! O,
How happy were you, if you knew it, now!
CORV: Why? what? wherein?
MOS: The tardy hour is come, sir.
CORV: He is not dead?
MOS: Not dead, sir, but as good;
He knows no man.
CORV: How shall I do then?
MOS: Why, sir?
CORV: I have brought him here a pearl.
MOS: Perhaps he has
So much remembrance left, as to know you, sir:
He still calls on you; nothing but your name
Is in his mouth: Is your pearl orient, sir?
CORV: Venice was never owner of the like.
VOLP [FAINTLY.]: Signior Corvino.
VOLP: Signior Corvino!
MOS: He calls you; step and give it him. - He's here, sir,
And he has brought you a rich pearl.
CORV: How do you, sir?
Tell him, it doubles the twelfth caract.
He cannot understand, his hearing's gone;
And yet it comforts him to see you -
I have a diamond for him, too.
MOS: Best shew it, sir;
Put it into his hand; 'tis only there
He apprehends: he has his feeling, yet.
See how he grasps it!
CORV: 'Las, good gentleman!
How pitiful the sight is!
MOS: Tut! forget, sir.
The weeping of an heir should still be laughter
Under a visor.
CORV: Why, am I his heir?
MOS: Sir, I am sworn, I may not shew the will,
Till he be dead; but, here has been Corbaccio,
Here has been Voltore, here were others too,
I cannot number 'em, they were so many;
All gaping here for legacies: but I,
Taking the vantage of his naming you,
"Signior Corvino, Signior Corvino," took
Paper, and pen, and ink, and there I asked him,
Whom he would have his heir? "Corvino." Who
Should be executor? "Corvino." And,
To any question he was silent too,
I still interpreted the nods he made,
Through weakness, for consent: and sent home th' others,
Nothing bequeath'd them, but to cry and curse.
CORV: O, my dear Mosca!
Does he not perceive us?
MOS: No more than a blind harper. He knows no man,
No face of friend, nor name of any servant,
Who 'twas that fed him last, or gave him drink:
Not those he hath begotten, or brought up,
Can he remember.
CORV: Has he children?
Some dozen, or more, that he begot on beggars,
Gipsies, and Jews, and black-moors, when he was drunk.
Knew you not that, sir? 'tis the common fable.
The dwarf, the fool, the eunuch, are all his;
He's the true father of his family,
In all, save me: - but he has giv'n them nothing.
CORV: That's well, that's well. Art sure he does not hear us?
MOS: Sure, sir! why, look you, credit your own sense.
[SHOUTS IN VOL.'S EAR.]
The pox approach, and add to your diseases,
If it would send you hence the sooner, sir,
For your incontinence, it hath deserv'd it
Thoroughly, and thoroughly, and the plague to boot! -
You may come near, sir. - Would you would once close
Those filthy eyes of yours, that flow with slime,
Like two frog-pits; and those same hanging cheeks,
Cover'd with hide, instead of skin - Nay help, sir -
That look like frozen dish-clouts, set on end!
CORV [ALOUD.]: Or like an old smoked wall, on which the rain
Ran down in streaks!
MOS: Excellent! sir, speak out:
You may be louder yet: A culverin
Discharged in his ear would hardly bore it.
CORV: His nose is like a common sewer, still running.
MOS: 'Tis good! And what his mouth?
CORV: A very draught.
MOS: O, stop it up -
CORV: By no means.
MOS: 'Pray you, let me.
Faith I could stifle him, rarely with a pillow,
As well as any woman that should keep him.
CORV: Do as you will: but I'll begone.
MOS: Be so:
It is your presence makes him last so long.
CORV: I pray you, use no violence.
MOS: No, sir! why?
Why should you be thus scrupulous, pray you, sir?
CORV: Nay, at your discretion.
MOS: Well, good sir, begone.
CORV: I will not trouble him now, to take my pearl.
MOS: Puh! nor your diamond. What a needless care
Is this afflicts you? Is not all here yours?
Am not I here, whom you have made your creature?
That owe my being to you?
CORV: Grateful Mosca!
Thou art my friend, my fellow, my companion,
My partner, and shalt share in all my fortunes.
MOS: Excepting one.
CORV: What's that?
MOS: Your gallant wife, sir, -
Now is he gone: we had no other means
To shoot him hence, but this.
VOLP: My divine Mosca!
Thou hast to-day outgone thyself.
- Who's there?
I will be troubled with no more. Prepare
Me music, dances, banquets, all delights;
The Turk is not more sensual in his pleasures,
Than will Volpone.
Let me see; a pearl!
A diamond! plate! chequines! Good morning's purchase,
Why, this is better than rob churches, yet;
Or fat, by eating, once a month, a man.
MOS: The beauteous lady Would-be, sir.
Wife to the English knight, Sir Politick Would-be,
(This is the style, sir, is directed me,)
Hath sent to know how you have slept to-night,
And if you would be visited?
VOLP: Not now:
Some three hours hence -
MOS: I told the squire so much.
VOLP: When I am high with mirth and wine; then, then:
'Fore heaven, I wonder at the desperate valour
Of the bold English, that they dare let loose
Their wives to all encounters!
MOS: Sir, this knight
Had not his name for nothing, he is politick,
And knows, howe'er his wife affect strange airs,
She hath not yet the face to be dishonest:
But had she signior Corvino's wife's face -
VOLP: Has she so rare a face?
MOS: O, sir, the wonder,
The blazing star of Italy! a wench
Of the first year! a beauty ripe as harvest!
Whose skin is whiter than a swan all over,
Than silver, snow, or lilies! a soft lip,
Would tempt you to eternity of kissing!
And flesh that melteth in the touch to blood!
Bright as your gold, and lovely as your gold!
VOLP: Why had not I known this before?
MOS: Alas, sir,
Myself but yesterday discover'd it.
VOLP: How might I see her?
MOS: O, not possible;
She's kept as warily as is your gold;
Never does come abroad, never takes air,
But at a window. All her looks are sweet,
As the first grapes or cherries, and are watch'd
As near as they are.
VOLP: I must see her.
There is a guard of spies ten thick upon her,
All his whole household; each of which is set
Upon his fellow, and have all their charge,
When he goes out, when he comes in, examined.
VOLP: I will go see her, though but at her window.
MOS: In some disguise, then.
VOLP: That is true; I must
Maintain mine own shape still the same: we'll think.