A ROOM IN VOLPONE'S HOUSE.
VOLP: Well, I am here, and all this brunt is past.
I ne'er was in dislike with my disguise
Till this fled moment; here 'twas good, in private;
But in your public, - cave whilst I breathe.
'Fore God, my left leg began to have the cramp,
And I apprehended straight some power had struck me
With a dead palsy: Well! I must be merry,
And shake it off. A many of these fears
Would put me into some villanous disease,
Should they come thick upon me: I'll prevent 'em.
Give me a bowl of lusty wine, to fright
This humour from my heart.
Hum, hum, hum!
'Tis almost gone already; I shall conquer.
Any device, now, of rare ingenious knavery,
That would possess me with a violent laughter,
Would make me up again.
So, so, so, so!
This heat is life; 'tis blood by this time: - Mosca!
MOS: How now, sir? does the day look clear again?
Are we recover'd, and wrought out of error,
Into our way, to see our path before us?
Is our trade free once more?
VOLP: Exquisite Mosca!
MOS: Was it not carried learnedly?
VOLP: And stoutly:
Good wits are greatest in extremities.
MOS: It were a folly beyond thought, to trust
Any grand act unto a cowardly spirit:
You are not taken with it enough, methinks?
VOLP: O, more than if I had enjoy'd the wench:
The pleasure of all woman-kind's not like it.
MOS: Why now you speak, sir. We must here be fix'd;
Here we must rest; this is our master-peice;
We cannot think to go beyond this.
Thou hast play'd thy prize, my precious Mosca.
MOS: Nay, sir,
To gull the court -
VOLP: And quite divert the torrent
Upon the innocent.
MOS: Yes, and to make
So rare a music out of discords -
That yet to me's the strangest, how thou hast borne it!
That these, being so divided 'mongst themselves,
Should not scent somewhat, or in me or thee,
Or doubt their own side.
MOS: True, they will not see't.
Too much light blinds them, I think. Each of them
Is so possest and stuft with his own hopes,
That any thing unto the contrary,
Never so true, or never so apparent,
Never so palpable, they will resist it -
VOLP: Like a temptation of the devil.
MOS: Right, sir.
Merchants may talk of trade, and your great signiors
Of land that yields well; but if Italy
Have any glebe more fruitful than these fellows,
I am deceiv'd. Did not your advocate rare?
VOLP: O - "My most honour'd fathers, my grave fathers,
Under correction of your fatherhoods,
What face of truth is here? If these strange deeds
May pass, most honour'd fathers" - I had much ado
To forbear laughing.
MOS: It seem'd to me, you sweat, sir.
VOLP: In troth, I did a little.
MOS: But confess, sir,
Were you not daunted?
VOLP: In good faith, I was
A little in a mist, but not dejected;
Never, but still my self.
MOS: I think it, sir.
Now, so truth help me, I must needs say this, sir,
And out of conscience for your advocate:
He has taken pains, in faith, sir, and deserv'd,
In my poor judgment, I speak it under favour,
Not to contrary you, sir, very richly -
Well - to be cozen'd.
VOLP: Troth, and I think so too,
By that I heard him, in the latter end.
MOS: O, but before, sir: had you heard him first
Draw it to certain heads, then aggravate,
Then use his vehement figures - I look'd still
When he would shift a shirt: and, doing this
Out of pure love, no hope of gain -
VOLP: 'Tis right.
I cannot answer him, Mosca, as I would,
Not yet; but for thy sake, at thy entreaty,
I will begin, even now - to vex them all,
This very instant.
MOS: Good sir.
VOLP: Call the dwarf
And eunuch forth.
MOS: Castrone, Nano!
[ENTER CASTRONE AND NANO.]
VOLP: Shall we have a jig now?
MOS: What you please, sir.
Straight give out about the streets, you two,
That I am dead; do it with constancy,
Sadly, do you hear? impute it to the grief
Of this late slander.
[EXEUNT CAST. AND NANO.]
MOS: What do you mean, sir?
I shall have instantly my Vulture, Crow,
Raven, come flying hither, on the news,
To peck for carrion, my she-wolfe, and all,
Greedy, and full of expectation -
MOS: And then to have it ravish'd from their mouths!
VOLP: 'Tis true. I will have thee put on a gown,
And take upon thee, as thou wert mine heir:
Shew them a will; Open that chest, and reach
Forth one of those that has the blanks; I'll straight
Put in thy name.
MOS [GIVES HIM A PAPER.]: It will be rare, sir.
When they ev'n gape, and find themselves deluded -
VOLP: And thou use them scurvily!
Dispatch, get on thy gown.
MOS [PUTTING ON A GOWN.]: But, what, sir, if they ask
After the body?
VOLP: Say, it was corrupted.
MOS: I'll say it stunk, sir; and was fain to have it
Coffin'd up instantly, and sent away.
VOLP: Any thing; what thou wilt. Hold, here's my will.
Get thee a cap, a count-book, pen and ink,
Papers afore thee; sit as thou wert taking
An inventory of parcels: I'll get up
Behind the curtain, on a stool, and hearken;
Sometime peep over, see how they do look,
With what degrees their blood doth leave their faces,
O, 'twill afford me a rare meal of laughter!
MOS [PUTTING ON A CAP, AND SETTING OUT THE TABLE, ETC.]:
Your advocate will turn stark dull upon it.
VOLP: It will take off his oratory's edge.
MOS: But your clarissimo, old round-back, he
Will crump you like a hog-louse, with the touch.
VOLP: And what Corvino?
MOS: O, sir, look for him,
To-morrow morning, with a rope and dagger,
To visit all the streets; he must run mad.
My lady too, that came into the court,
To bear false witness for your worship -
And kist me 'fore the fathers; when my face
Flow'd all with oils.
MOS: And sweat, sir. Why, your gold
Is such another med'cine, it dries up
All those offensive savours: it transforms
The most deformed, and restores them lovely,
As 'twere the strange poetical girdle. Jove
Could not invent t' himself a shroud more subtle
To pass Acrisius' guards. It is the thing
Makes all the world her grace, her youth, her beauty.
VOLP: I think she loves me.
MOS: Who? the lady, sir?
She's jealous of you.
VOLP: Dost thou say so?
There's some already.
MOS: It is the Vulture:
He has the quickest scent.
VOLP: I'll to my place,
Thou to thy posture.
[GOES BEHIND THE CURTAIN.]
MOS: I am set.
VOLP: But, Mosca,
Play the artificer now, torture them rarely.
VOLT: How now, my Mosca?
MOS [WRITING.]: "Turkey carpets, nine" -
VOLT: Taking an inventory! that is well.
MOS: "Two suits of bedding, tissue" -
VOLT: Where's the Will?
Let me read that the while.
[ENTER SERVANTS, WITH CORBACCIO IN A CHAIR.]
CORB: So, set me down:
And get you home.
VOLT: Is he come now, to trouble us!
MOS: "Of cloth of gold, two more" -
CORB: Is it done, Mosca?
MOS: "Of several velvets, eight" -
VOLT: I like his care.
CORB: Dost thou not hear?
CORB: Ha! is the hour come, Mosca?
VOLP [PEEPING OVER THE CURTAIN.]: Ay, now, they muster.
CORV: What does the advocate here,
Or this Corbaccio?
CORB: What do these here?
[ENTER LADY POL. WOULD-BE.]
LADY P: Mosca!
Is his thread spun?
MOS: "Eight chests of linen" -
My fine dame Would-be, too!
CORV: Mosca, the Will,
That I may shew it these, and rid them hence.
MOS: "Six chests of diaper, four of damask." - There.
[GIVES THEM THE WILL CARELESSLY, OVER HIS SHOULDER.]
CORB: Is that the will?
MOS: "Down-beds, and bolsters" -
Be busy still. Now they begin to flutter:
They never think of me. Look, see, see, see!
How their swift eyes run over the long deed,
Unto the name, and to the legacies,
What is bequeath'd them there -
MOS: "Ten suits of hangings" -
VOLP: Ay, in their garters, Mosca. Now their hopes
Are at the gasp.
VOLT: Mosca the heir?
CORB: What's that?
VOLP: My advocate is dumb; look to my merchant,
He has heard of some strange storm, a ship is lost,
He faints; my lady will swoon. Old glazen eyes,
He hath not reach'd his despair yet.
CORB [TAKES THE WILL.]: All these
Are out of hope: I am sure, the man.
CORV: But, Mosca -
MOS: "Two cabinets."
CORV: Is this in earnest?
Of ebony" -
CORV: Or do you but delude me?
MOS: The other, mother of pearl - I am very busy.
Good faith, it is a fortune thrown upon me -
"Item, one salt of agate" - not my seeking.
LADY P: Do you hear, sir?
MOS: "A perfum'd box" - 'Pray you forbear,
You see I'm troubled - "made of an onyx" -
LADY P: How!
MOS: To-morrow or next day, I shall be at leisure
To talk with you all.
CORV: Is this my large hope's issue?
LADY P: Sir, I must have a fairer answer.
Marry, and shall: 'pray you, fairly quit my house.
Nay, raise no tempest with your looks; but hark you,
Remember what your ladyship offer'd me,
To put you in an heir; go to, think on it:
And what you said e'en your best madams did
For maintenance, and why not you? Enough.
Go home, and use the poor sir Pol, your knight, well,
For fear I tell some riddles; go, be melancholy.
[EXIT LADY WOULD-BE.]
VOLP: O, my fine devil!
CORV: Mosca, 'pray you a word.
MOS: Lord! will you not take your dispatch hence yet?
Methinks, of all, you should have been the example.
Why should you stay here? with what thought? what promise?
Hear you; do not you know, I know you an ass,
And that you would most fain have been a wittol,
If fortune would have let you? that you are
A declared cuckold, on good terms? This pearl,
You'll say, was yours? right: this diamond?
I'll not deny't, but thank you. Much here else?
It may be so. Why, think that these good works
May help to hide your bad. I'll not betray you;
Although you be but extraordinary,
And have it only in title, it sufficeth:
Go home, be melancholy too, or mad.
VOLP: Rare Mosca! how his villany becomes him!
VOLT: Certain he doth delude all these for me.
CORB: Mosca the heir!
VOLP: O, his four eyes have found it.
CORB: I am cozen'd, cheated, by a parasite slave;
Harlot, thou hast gull'd me.
MOS: Yes, sir. Stop your mouth,
Or I shall draw the only tooth is left.
Are not you he, that filthy covetous wretch,
With the three legs, that, here, in hope of prey,
Have, any time this three years, snuff'd about,
With your most grovelling nose; and would have hired
Me to the poisoning of my patron, sir?
Are not you he that have to-day in court
Profess'd the disinheriting of your son?
Perjured yourself? Go home, and die, and stink.
If you but croak a syllable, all comes out:
Away, and call your porters!
Go, go, stink.
VOLP: Excellent varlet!
VOLT: Now, my faithful Mosca,
I find thy constancy.
MOS [WRITING.]: "A table
Of porphyry" - I marle, you'll be thus troublesome.
VOLP: Nay, leave off now, they are gone.
MOS: Why? who are you?
What! who did send for you? O, cry you mercy,
Reverend sir! Good faith, I am grieved for you,
That any chance of mine should thus defeat
Your (I must needs say) most deserving travails:
But I protest, sir, it was cast upon me,
And I could almost wish to be without it,
But that the will o' the dead must be observ'd,
Marry, my joy is that you need it not,
You have a gift, sir, (thank your education,)
Will never let you want, while there are men,
And malice, to breed causes. Would I had
But half the like, for all my fortune, sir!
If I have any suits, as I do hope,
Things being so easy and direct, I shall not,
I will make bold with your obstreperous aid,
Conceive me, - for your fee, sir. In mean time,
You that have so much law, I know have the conscience,
Not to be covetous of what is mine.
Good sir, I thank you for my plate; 'twill help
To set up a young man. Good faith, you look
As you were costive; best go home and purge, sir.
VOLP [COMES FROM BEHIND THE CURTAIN.]:
Bid him eat lettuce well.
My witty mischief,
Let me embrace thee. O that I could now
Transform thee to a Venus! - Mosca, go,
Straight take my habit of clarissimo,
And walk the streets; be seen, torment them more:
We must pursue, as well as plot. Who would
Have lost this feast?
MOS: I doubt it will lose them.
VOLP: O, my recovery shall recover all.
That I could now but think on some disguise
To meet them in, and ask them questions:
How I would vex them still at every turn!
MOS: Sir, I can fit you.
VOLP: Canst thou?
MOS: Yes, I know
One o' the commandadori, sir, so like you;
Him will I straight make drunk, and bring you his habit.
VOLP: A rare disguise, and answering thy brain!
O, I will be a sharp disease unto them.
MOS: Sir, you must look for curses -
VOLP: Till they burst;
The Fox fares ever best when he is curst.
A HALL IN SIR POLITICK'S HOUSE.
ENTER PEREGRINE DISGUISED, AND THREE MERCHANTS.
PER: Am I enough disguised?
1 MER: I warrant you.
PER: All my ambition is to fright him only.
2 MER: If you could ship him away, 'twere excellent.
3 MER: To Zant, or to Aleppo?
PER: Yes, and have his
Adventures put i' the Book of Voyages.
And his gull'd story register'd for truth.
Well, gentlemen, when I am in a while,
And that you think us warm in our discourse,
Know your approaches.
1 MER: Trust it to our care.
PER: Save you, fair lady! Is sir Pol within?
WOM: I do not know, sir.
PER: Pray you say unto him,
Here is a merchant, upon earnest business,
Desires to speak with him.
WOM: I will see, sir.
PER: Pray you. -
I see the family is all female here.
WOM: He says, sir, he has weighty affairs of state,
That now require him whole; some other time
You may possess him.
PER: Pray you say again,
If those require him whole, these will exact him,
Whereof I bring him tidings.
- What might be
His grave affair of state now! how to make
Bolognian sausages here in Venice, sparing
One o' the ingredients?
WOM: Sir, he says, he knows
By your word "tidings," that you are no statesman,
And therefore wills you stay.
PER: Sweet, pray you return him;
I have not read so many proclamations,
And studied them for words, as he has done -
But - here he deigns to come.
[ENTER SIR POLITICK.]
SIR P: Sir, I must crave
Your courteous pardon. There hath chanced to-day,
Unkind disaster 'twixt my lady and me;
And I was penning my apology,
To give her satisfaction, as you came now.
PER: Sir, I am grieved I bring you worse disaster:
The gentleman you met at the port to-day,
That told you, he was newly arrived -
SIR P: Ay, was
A fugitive punk?
PER: No, sir, a spy set on you;
And he has made relation to the senate,
That you profest to him to have a plot
To sell the State of Venice to the Turk.
SIR P: O me!
PER: For which, warrants are sign'd by this time,
To apprehend you, and to search your study
For papers -
SIR P: Alas, sir, I have none, but notes
Drawn out of play-books -
PER: All the better, sir.
SIR P: And some essays. What shall I do?
PER: Sir, best
Convey yourself into a sugar-chest;
Or, if you could lie round, a frail were rare:
And I could send you aboard.
SIR P: Sir, I but talk'd so,
For discourse sake merely.
PER: Hark! they are there.
SIR P: I am a wretch, a wretch!
PER: What will you do, sir?
Have you ne'er a currant-butt to leap into?
They'll put you to the rack, you must be sudden.
SIR P: Sir, I have an ingine -
3 MER [WITHIN.]: Sir Politick Would-be?
2 MER [WITHIN.]: Where is he?
SIR P: That I have thought upon before time.
PER: What is it?
SIR P: I shall ne'er endure the torture.
Marry, it is, sir, of a tortoise-shell,
Fitted for these extremities: pray you, sir, help me.
Here I've a place, sir, to put back my legs,
Please you to lay it on, sir,
[LIES DOWN WHILE PEREGRINE PLACES THE SHELL UPON HIM.]
- with this cap,
And my black gloves. I'll lie, sir, like a tortoise,
'Till they are gone.
PER: And call you this an ingine?
SIR P: Mine own device - Good sir, bid my wife's women
To burn my papers.
[THE THREE MERCHANTS RUSH IN.]
1 MER: Where is he hid?
3 MER: We must,
And will sure find him.
2 MER: Which is his study?
1 MER: What
Are you, sir?
PER: I am a merchant, that came here
To look upon this tortoise.
3 MER: How!
1 MER: St. Mark!
What beast is this!
PER: It is a fish.
2 MER: Come out here!
PER: Nay, you may strike him, sir, and tread upon him;
He'll bear a cart.
1 MER: What, to run over him?
PER: Yes, sir.
3 MER: Let's jump upon him.
2 MER: Can he not go?
PER: He creeps, sir.
1 MER: Let's see him creep.
PER: No, good sir, you will hurt him.
2 MER: Heart, I will see him creep, or prick his guts.
3 MER: Come out here!
PER: Pray you, sir!
[ASIDE TO SIR POLITICK.]
- Creep a little.
1 MER: Forth.
2 MER: Yet farther.
PER: Good sir! - Creep.
2 MER: We'll see his legs.
[THEY PULL OFF THE SHELL AND DISCOVER HIM.]
3 MER: Ods so, he has garters!
1 MER: Ay, and gloves!
2 MER: Is this
Your fearful tortoise?
PER [DISCOVERING HIMSELF.]: Now, sir Pol, we are even;
For your next project I shall be prepared:
I am sorry for the funeral of your notes, sir.
1 MER: 'Twere a rare motion to be seen in Fleet-street.
2 MER: Ay, in the Term.
1 MER: Or Smithfield, in the fair.
3 MER: Methinks 'tis but a melancholy sight.
PER: Farewell, most politic tortoise!
[EXEUNT PER. AND MERCHANTS.]
SIR P: Where's my lady?
Knows she of this?
WOM: I know not, sir.
SIR P: Enquire. -
O, I shall be the fable of all feasts,
The freight of the gazetti; ship-boy's tale;
And, which is worst, even talk for ordinaries.
WOM: My lady's come most melancholy home,
And says, sir, she will straight to sea, for physic.
SIR P: And I to shun this place and clime for ever;
Creeping with house on back: and think it well,
To shrink my poor head in my politic shell.
A ROOM IN VOLPONE'S HOUSE.
ENTER MOSCA IN THE HABIT OF A CLARISSIMO;
AND VOLPONE IN THAT OF A COMMANDADORE.
VOLP: Am I then like him?
MOS: O, sir, you are he;
No man can sever you.
MOS: But what am I?
VOLP: 'Fore heaven, a brave clarissimo, thou becom'st it!
Pity thou wert not born one.
MOS [ASIDE.]: If I hold
My made one, 'twill be well.
VOLP: I'll go and see
What news first at the court.
MOS: Do so. My Fox
Is out of his hole, and ere he shall re-enter,
I'll make him languish in his borrow'd case,
Except he come to composition with me. -
Androgyno, Castrone, Nano!
[ENTER ANDROGYNO, CASTRONE AND NANO.]
MOS: Go, recreate yourselves abroad; go sport. -
So, now I have the keys, and am possest.
Since he will needs be dead afore his time,
I'll bury him, or gain by him: I am his heir,
And so will keep me, till he share at least.
To cozen him of all, were but a cheat
Well placed; no man would construe it a sin:
Let his sport pay for it, this is call'd the Fox-trap.
ENTER CORBACCIO AND CORVINO.
CORB: They say, the court is set.
CORV: We must maintain
Our first tale good, for both our reputations.
CORB: Why, mine's no tale: my son would there have kill'd me.
CORV: That's true, I had forgot: -
[ASIDE.] - mine is, I am sure.
But for your Will, sir.
CORB: Ay, I'll come upon him
For that hereafter; now his patron's dead.
VOLP: Signior Corvino! and Corbaccio! sir,
Much joy unto you.
CORV: Of what?
VOLP: The sudden good,
Dropt down upon you -
VOLP: And, none knows how,
From old Volpone, sir.
CORB: Out, arrant knave!
VOLP: Let not your too much wealth, sir, make you furious.
CORB: Away, thou varlet!
VOLP: Why, sir?
CORB: Dost thou mock me?
VOLP: You mock the world, sir; did you not change Wills?
CORB: Out, harlot!
VOLP: O! belike you are the man,
Signior Corvino? 'faith, you carry it well;
You grow not mad withal: I love your spirit:
You are not over-leaven'd with your fortune.
You should have some would swell now, like a wine-fat,
With such an autumn - Did he give you all, sir?
CORB: Avoid, you rascal!
VOLP: Troth, your wife has shewn
Herself a very woman; but you are well,
You need not care, you have a good estate,
To bear it out sir, better by this chance:
Except Corbaccio have a share.
CORV: Hence, varlet.
VOLP: You will not be acknown, sir; why, 'tis wise.
Thus do all gamesters, at all games, dissemble:
No man will seem to win.
[exeunt corvino and corbaccio.]
- Here comes my vulture,
Heaving his beak up in the air, and snuffing.
VOLT: Outstript thus, by a parasite! a slave,
Would run on errands, and make legs for crumbs?
Well, what I'll do -
VOLP: The court stays for your worship.
I e'en rejoice, sir, at your worship's happiness,
And that it fell into so learned hands,
That understand the fingering -
VOLT: What do you mean?
VOLP: I mean to be a suitor to your worship,
For the small tenement, out of reparations,
That, to the end of your long row of houses,
By the Piscaria: it was, in Volpone's time,
Your predecessor, ere he grew diseased,
A handsome, pretty, custom'd bawdy-house,
As any was in Venice, none dispraised;
But fell with him; his body and that house
VOLT: Come sir, leave your prating.
VOLP: Why, if your worship give me but your hand,
That I may have the refusal, I have done.
'Tis a mere toy to you, sir; candle-rents;
As your learn'd worship knows -
VOLT: What do I know?
VOLP: Marry, no end of your wealth, sir, God decrease it!
VOLT: Mistaking knave! what, mockst thou my misfortune?
VOLP: His blessing on your heart, sir; would 'twere more! -
Now to my first again, at the next corner.
ANOTHER PART OF THE STREET.
ENTER CORBACCIO AND CORVINO; -
MOSCA PASSES OVER THE STAGE, BEFORE THEM.
CORB: See, in our habit! see the impudent varlet!
CORV: That I could shoot mine eyes at him like gun-stones.
VOLP: But is this true, sir, of the parasite?
CORB: Again, to afflict us! monster!
VOLP: In good faith, sir,
I'm heartily grieved, a beard of your grave length
Should be so over-reach'd. I never brook'd
That parasite's hair; methought his nose should cozen:
There still was somewhat in his look, did promise
The bane of a clarissimo.
CORB: Knave -
Yet you, that are so traded in the world,
A witty merchant, the fine bird, Corvino,
That have such moral emblems on your name,
Should not have sung your shame; and dropt your cheese,
To let the Fox laugh at your emptiness.
CORV: Sirrah, you think the privilege of the place,
And your red saucy cap, that seems to me
Nail'd to your jolt-head with those two chequines,
Can warrant your abuses; come you hither:
You shall perceive, sir, I dare beat you; approach.
VOLP: No haste, sir, I do know your valour well,
Since you durst publish what you are, sir.
I'd speak with you.
VOLP: Sir, sir, another time -
CORV: Nay, now.
VOLP: O lord, sir! I were a wise man,
Would stand the fury of a distracted cuckold.
[AS HE IS RUNNING OFF, RE-ENTER MOSCA.]
CORB: What, come again!
VOLP: Upon 'em, Mosca; save me.
CORB: The air's infected where he breathes.
CORV: Let's fly him.
[EXEUNT CORV. AND CORB.]
VOLP: Excellent basilisk! turn upon the vulture.
VOLT: Well, flesh-fly, it is summer with you now;
Your winter will come on.
MOS: Good advocate,
Prithee not rail, nor threaten out of place thus;
Thou'lt make a solecism, as madam says.
Get you a biggin more, your brain breaks loose.
VOLT: Well, sir.
VOLP: Would you have me beat the insolent slave,
Throw dirt upon his first good clothes?
VOLT: This same
Is doubtless some familiar.
VOLP: Sir, the court,
In troth, stays for you. I am mad, a mule
That never read Justinian, should get up,
And ride an advocate. Had you no quirk
To avoid gullage, sir, by such a creature?
I hope you do but jest; he has not done it:
'Tis but confederacy, to blind the rest.
You are the heir.
VOLT: A strange, officious,
Troublesome knave! thou dost torment me.
VOLP: I know -
It cannot be, sir, that you should be cozen'd;
'Tis not within the wit of man to do it;
You are so wise, so prudent; and 'tis fit
That wealth and wisdom still should go together.
THE SCRUTINEO OR SENATE-HOUSE.
ENTER AVOCATORI, NOTARIO, BONARIO, CELIA,
CORBACCIO, CORVINO, COMMANDADORI, SAFFI, ETC.
1 AVOC: Are all the parties here?
NOT: All but the advocate.
2 AVOC: And here he comes.
[ENTER VOLTORE AND VOLPONE.]
1 AVOC: Then bring them forth to sentence.
VOLT: O, my most honour'd fathers, let your mercy
Once win upon your justice, to forgive -
I am distracted -
VOLP [ASIDE.]: What will he do now?
I know not which to address myself to first;
Whether your fatherhoods, or these innocents -
CORV [ASIDE.]: Will he betray himself?
VOLT: Whom equally
I have abused, out of most covetous ends -
CORV: The man is mad!
CORB: What's that?
CORV: He is possest.
VOLT: For which, now struck in conscience, here, I prostate
Myself at your offended feet, for pardon.
1, 2 AVOC: Arise.
CEL: O heaven, how just thou art!
VOLP [ASIDE.]: I am caught
In mine own noose -
CORV [TO CORBACCIO.]: Be constant, sir: nought now
Can help, but impudence.
1 AVOC: Speak forward.
VOLT: It is not passion in me, reverend fathers,
But only conscience, conscience, my good sires,
That makes me now tell trueth. That parasite,
That knave, hath been the instrument of all.
1 AVOC: Where is that knave? fetch him.
VOLP: I go.
CORV: Grave fathers,
This man's distracted; he confest it now:
For, hoping to be old Volpone's heir,
Who now is dead -
3 AVOC: How?
2 AVOC: Is Volpone dead?
CORV: Dead since, grave fathers -
BON: O sure vengeance!
1 AVOC: Stay,
Then he was no deceiver?
VOLT: O no, none:
The parasite, grave fathers.
CORV: He does speak
Out of mere envy, 'cause the servant's made
The thing he gaped for: please your fatherhoods,
This is the truth, though I'll not justify
The other, but he may be some-deal faulty.
VOLT: Ay, to your hopes, as well as mine, Corvino:
But I'll use modesty. Pleaseth your wisdoms,
To view these certain notes, and but confer them;
As I hope favour, they shall speak clear truth.
CORV: The devil has enter'd him!
BON: Or bides in you.
4 AVOC: We have done ill, by a public officer,
To send for him, if he be heir.
2 AVOC: For whom?
4 AVOC: Him that they call the parasite.
3 AVOC: 'Tis true,
He is a man of great estate, now left.
4 AVOC: Go you, and learn his name, and say, the court
Entreats his presence here, but to the clearing
Of some few doubts.
2 AVOC: This same's a labyrinth!
1 AVOC: Stand you unto your first report?
CORV: My state,
My life, my fame -
BON: Where is it?
CORV: Are at the stake
1 AVOC: Is yours so too?
CORB: The advocate's a knave,
And has a forked tongue -
2 AVOC: Speak to the point.
CORB: So is the parasite too.
1 AVOC: This is confusion.
VOLT: I do beseech your fatherhoods, read but those -
[GIVING THEM THE PAPERS.]
CORV: And credit nothing the false spirit hath writ:
It cannot be, but he's possest grave fathers.
[THE SCENE CLOSES.]
VOLP: To make a snare for mine own neck! and run
My head into it, wilfully! with laughter!
When I had newly 'scaped, was free, and clear,
Out of mere wantonness! O, the dull devil
Was in this brain of mine, when I devised it,
And Mosca gave it second; he must now
Help to sear up this vein, or we bleed dead. -
[ENTER NANO, ANDROGYNO, AND CASTRONE.]
How now! who let you loose? whither go you now?
What, to buy gingerbread? or to drown kitlings?
NAN: Sir, master Mosca call'd us out of doors,
And bid us all go play, and took the keys.
VOLP: Did master Mosca take the keys? why so!
I'm farther in. These are my fine conceits!
I must be merry, with a mischief to me!
What a vile wretch was I, that could not bear
My fortune soberly? I must have my crotchets,
And my conundrums! Well, go you, and seek him:
His meaning may be truer than my fear.
Bid him, he straight come to me to the court;
Thither will I, and, if't be possible,
Unscrew my advocate, upon new hopes:
When I provoked him, then I lost myself.
THE SCRUTINEO, OR SENATE-HOUSE.
AVOCATORI, BONARIO, CELIA, CORBACCIO, CORVINO,
COMMANDADORI, SAFFI, ETC., AS BEFORE.
1 AVOC: These things can ne'er be reconciled. He, here,
[SHEWING THE PAPERS.]
Professeth, that the gentleman was wrong'd,
And that the gentlewoman was brought thither,
Forced by her husband, and there left.
VOLT: Most true.
CEL: How ready is heaven to those that pray!
1 AVOC: But that
Volpone would have ravish'd her, he holds
Utterly false; knowing his impotence.
CORV: Grave fathers, he's possest; again, I say,
Possest: nay, if there be possession, and
Obsession, he has both.
3 AVOC: Here comes our officer.
VOLP: The parasite will straight be here, grave fathers.
4 AVOC: You might invent some other name, sir varlet.
3 AVOC: Did not the notary meet him?
VOLP: Not that I know.
4 AVOC: His coming will clear all.
2 AVOC: Yet, it is misty.
VOLT: May't please your fatherhoods -
VOLP [whispers volt.]: Sir, the parasite
Will'd me to tell you, that his master lives;
That you are still the man; your hopes the same;
And this was only a jest -
VOLP: Sir, to try
If you were firm, and how you stood affected.
VOLT: Art sure he lives?
VOLP: Do I live, sir?
VOLT: O me!
I was too violent.
VOLP: Sir, you may redeem it,
They said, you were possest; fall down, and seem so:
I'll help to make it good.
- God bless the man! -
Stop your wind hard, and swell: See, see, see, see!
He vomits crooked pins! his eyes are set,
Like a dead hare's hung in a poulter's shop!
His mouth's running away! Do you see, signior?
Now it is in his belly!
CORV: Ay, the devil!
VOLP: Now in his throat.
CORV: Ay, I perceive it plain.
VOLP: 'Twill out, 'twill out! stand clear.
See, where it flies,
In shape of a blue toad, with a bat's wings!
Do you not see it, sir?
CORB: What? I think I do.
CORV: 'Tis too manifest.
VOLP: Look! he comes to himself!
VOLT: Where am I?
VOLP: Take good heart, the worst is past, sir.
You are dispossest.
1 AVOC: What accident is this!
2 AVOC: Sudden, and full of wonder!
3 AVOC: If he were
Possest, as it appears, all this is nothing.
CORV: He has been often subject to these fits.
1 AVOC: Shew him that writing: - do you know it, sir?
VOLP [WHISPERS VOLT.]: Deny it, sir, forswear it; know it not.
VOLT: Yes, I do know it well, it is my hand;
But all that it contains is false.
BON: O practice!
2 AVOC: What maze is this!
1 AVOC: Is he not guilty then,
Whom you there name the parasite?
VOLT: Grave fathers,
No more than his good patron, old Volpone.
4 AVOC: Why, he is dead.
VOLT: O no, my honour'd fathers,
He lives -
1 AVOC: How! lives?
2 AVOC: This is subtler yet!
3 AVOC: You said he was dead.
3 AVOC: You said so.
CORV: I heard so.
4 AVOC: Here comes the gentleman; make him way.
3 AVOC: A stool.
4 AVOC [ASIDE.]: A proper man; and, were Volpone dead,
A fit match for my daughter.
3 AVOC: Give him way.
VOLP [ASIDE TO MOSCA.]: Mosca, I was almost lost, the advocate
Had betrayed all; but now it is recovered;
All's on the hinge again - Say, I am living.
MOS: What busy knave is this! - Most reverend fathers,
I sooner had attended your grave pleasures,
But that my order for the funeral
Of my dear patron, did require me -
VOLP [ASIDE.]: Mosca!
MOS: Whom I intend to bury like a gentleman.
VOLP [ASIDE.]: Ay, quick, and cozen me of all.
2 AVOC: Still stranger!
1 AVOC: And come about again!
4 AVOC [ASIDE.]: It is a match, my daughter is bestow'd.
MOS [ASIDE TO VOLP.]: Will you give me half?
VOLP: First, I'll be hang'd.
MOS: I know,
Your voice is good, cry not so loud.
1 AVOC: Demand
The advocate. - Sir, did not you affirm,
Volpone was alive?
VOLP: Yes, and he is;
This gentleman told me so.
[ASIDE TO VOLP.]
- Thou shalt have half. -
MOS: Whose drunkard is this same? speak, some that know him:
I never saw his face.
[ASIDE TO VOLP.]
- I cannot now
Afford it you so cheap.
1 AVOC: What say you?
VOLT: The officer told me.
VOLP: I did, grave fathers,
And will maintain he lives, with mine own life.
And that this creature [POINTS TO MOSCA.] told me.
- I was born,
With all good stars my enemies.
MOS: Most grave fathers,
If such an insolence as this must pass
Upon me, I am silent: 'twas not this
For which you sent, I hope.
2 AVOC: Take him away.
3 AVOC: Let him be whipt.
VOLP: Wilt thou betray me?
3 AVOC: And taught to bear himself
Toward a person of his rank.
4 AVOC: Away.
[THE OFFICERS SEIZE VOLPONE.]
MOS: I humbly thank your fatherhoods.
VOLP [ASIDE.]: Soft, soft: Whipt!
And lose all that I have! If I confess,
It cannot be much more.
4 AVOC: Sir, are you married?
VOLP: They will be allied anon; I must be resolute:
The Fox shall here uncase.
[THROWS OFF HIS DISGUISE.]
VOLP: Nay, now,
My ruins shall not come alone; your match
I'll hinder sure: my substance shall not glue you,
Nor screw you into a family.
MOS: Why, patron!
VOLP: I am Volpone, and this is my knave;
[POINTING TO MOSCA.]
This [TO VOLT.], his own knave; This [TO CORB.], avarice's fool;
This [TO CORV.], a chimera of wittol, fool, and knave:
And, reverend fathers, since we all can hope
Nought but a sentence, let's not now dispair it.
You hear me brief.
CORV: May it please your fatherhoods -
1 AVOC: The knot is now undone by miracle.
2 AVOC: Nothing can be more clear.
3 AVOC: Or can more prove
1 AVOC: Give them their liberty.
BON: Heaven could not long let such gross crimes be hid.
2 AVOC: If this be held the high-way to get riches,
May I be poor!
3 AVOC: This is not the gain, but torment.
1 AVOC: These possess wealth, as sick men possess fevers,
Which trulier may be said to possess them.
2 AVOC: Disrobe that parasite.
CORV, MOS: Most honour'd fathers! -
1 AVOC: Can you plead aught to stay the course of justice?
If you can, speak.
CORV, VOLT: We beg favour,
CEL: And mercy.
1 AVOC: You hurt your innocence, suing for the guilty.
Stand forth; and first the parasite: You appear
T'have been the chiefest minister, if not plotter,
In all these lewd impostures; and now, lastly,
Have with your impudence abused the court,
And habit of a gentleman of Venice,
Being a fellow of no birth or blood:
For which our sentence is, first, thou be whipt;
Then live perpetual prisoner in our gallies.
VOLT: I thank you for him.
MOS: Bane to thy wolvish nature!
1 AVOC: Deliver him to the saffi.
[MOSCA IS CARRIED OUT.]
- Thou, Volpone,
By blood and rank a gentleman, canst not fall
Under like censure; but our judgment on thee
Is, that thy substance all be straight confiscate
To the hospital of the Incurabili:
And, since the most was gotten by imposture,
By feigning lame, gout, palsy, and such diseases,
Thou art to lie in prison, cramp'd with irons,
Till thou be'st sick, and lame indeed. - Remove him.
[HE IS TAKEN FROM THE BAR.]
VOLP: This is call'd mortifying of a Fox.
1 AVOC: Thou, Voltore, to take away the scandal
Thou hast given all worthy men of thy profession,
Art banish'd from their fellowship, and our state.
Corbaccio! - bring him near - We here possess
Thy son of all thy state, and confine thee
To the monastery of San Spirito;
Where, since thou knewest not how to live well here,
Thou shalt be learn'd to die well.
CORB: Ah! what said he?
AND: You shall know anon, sir.
1 AVOC: Thou, Corvino, shalt
Be straight embark'd from thine own house, and row'd
Round about Venice, through the grand canale,
Wearing a cap, with fair long asses' ears,
Instead of horns; and so to mount, a paper
Pinn'd on thy breast, to the Berlina -
And have mine eyes beat out with stinking fish,
Bruised fruit and rotten eggs - 'Tis well. I am glad
I shall not see my shame yet.
1 AVOC: And to expiate
Thy wrongs done to thy wife, thou art to send her
Home to her father, with her dowry trebled:
And these are all your judgments.
ALL: Honour'd fathers. -
1 AVOC: Which may not be revoked. Now you begin,
When crimes are done, and past, and to be punish'd,
To think what your crimes are: away with them.
Let all that see these vices thus rewarded,
Take heart and love to study 'em! Mischiefs feed
Like beasts, till they be fat, and then they bleed.
[VOLPONE COMES FORWARD.]
VOLPONE: The seasoning of a play, is the applause.
Now, though the Fox be punish'd by the laws,
He yet doth hope, there is no suffering due,
For any fact which he hath done 'gainst you;
If there be, censure him; here he doubtful stands:
If not, fare jovially, and clap your hands.