The Alchemist (Jonson)

Act 4, Scene 4.1



FACE. O sir, you're come in the only finest time. --

MAM. Where's master?

FACE. Now preparing for projection, sir.

Your stuff will be all changed shortly.

MAM. Into gold?

FACE. To gold and silver, sir.

MAM. Silver I care not for.

FACE. Yes, sir, a little to give beggars.

MAM. Where's the lady?

FACE. At hand here. I have told her such brave things of you,

Touching your bounty, and your noble spirit --

MAM. Hast thou?

FACE. As she is almost in her fit to see you.

But, good sir, no divinity in your conference,

For fear of putting her in rage. --

MAM. I warrant thee.

FACE. Six men [sir] will not hold her down: and then,

If the old man should hear or see you --

MAM. Fear not.

FACE. The very house, sir, would run mad. You know it,

How scrupulous he is, and violent,

'Gainst the least act of sin. Physic, or mathematics,

Poetry, state, or bawdry, as I told you,

She will endure, and never startle; but

No word of controversy.

MAM. I am school'd, good Ulen.

FACE. And you must praise her house, remember that,

And her nobility.

MAM. Let me alone:

No herald, no, nor antiquary, Lungs,

Shall do it better. Go.

FACE [ASIDE]. Why, this is yet

A kind of modern happiness, to have

Dol Common for a great lady.


MAM. Now, Epicure,

Heighten thyself, talk to her all in gold;

Rain her as many showers as Jove did drops

Unto his Danae; shew the god a miser,

Compared with Mammon. What! the stone will do't.

She shall feel gold, taste gold, hear gold, sleep gold;

Nay, we will concumbere gold: I will be puissant,

And mighty in my talk to her. --


Here she comes.

FACE. To him, Dol, suckle him. -- This is the noble knight,

I told your ladyship --

MAM. Madam, with your pardon,

I kiss your vesture.

DOL. Sir, I were uncivil

If I would suffer that; my lip to you, sir.

MAM. I hope my lord your brother be in health, lady.

DOL. My lord, my brother is, though I no lady, sir.

FACE [ASIDE]. Well said, my Guinea bird.

MAM. Right noble madam --

FACE [ASIDE]. O, we shall have most fierce idolatry.

MAM. 'Tis your prerogative.

DOL. Rather your courtesy.

MAM. Were there nought else to enlarge your virtues to me,

These answers speak your breeding and your blood.

DOL. Blood we boast none, sir, a poor baron's daughter.

MAM. Poor! and gat you? profane not. Had your father

Slept all the happy remnant of his life

After that act, lien but there still, and panted,

He had done enough to make himself, his issue,

And his posterity noble.

DOL. Sir, although

We may be said to want the gilt and trappings,

The dress of honour, yet we strive to keep

The seeds and the materials.

MAM. I do see

The old ingredient, virtue, was not lost,

Nor the drug money used to make your compound.

There is a strange nobility in your eye,

This lip, that chin! methinks you do resemble

One of the Austriac princes.

FACE. Very like!


Her father was an Irish costermonger.

MAM. The house of Valois just had such a nose,

And such a forehead yet the Medici

Of Florence boast.

DOL. Troth, and I have been liken'd

To all these princes.

FACE [ASIDE]. I'll be sworn, I heard it.

MAM. I know not how! it is not any one,

But e'en the very choice of all their features.

FACE [ASIDE]. I'll in, and laugh.


MAM. A certain touch, or air,

That sparkles a divinity, beyond

An earthly beauty!

DOL. O, you play the courtier.

MAM. Good lady, give me leave --

DOL. In faith, I may not,

To mock me, sir.

MAM. To burn in this sweet flame;

The phoenix never knew a nobler death.

DOL. Nay, now you court the courtier, and destroy

What you would build. This art, sir, in your words,

Calls your whole faith in question.

MAM. By my soul --

DOL. Nay, oaths are made of the same air, sir.

MAM. Nature

Never bestow'd upon mortality

A more unblamed, a more harmonious feature;

She play'd the step-dame in all faces else:

Sweet Madam, let me be particular --

DOL. Particular, sir! I pray you know your distance.

MAM. In no ill sense, sweet lady; but to ask

How your fair graces pass the hours? I see

You are lodged here, in the house of a rare man,

An excellent artist; but what's that to you?

DOL. Yes, sir; I study here the mathematics,

And distillation.

MAM. O, I cry your pardon.

He's a divine instructor! can extract

The souls of all things by his art; call all

The virtues, and the miracles of the sun,

Into a temperate furnace; teach dull nature

What her own forces are. A man, the emperor

Has courted above Kelly; sent his medals

And chains, to invite him.

DOL. Ay, and for his physic, sir --

MAM. Above the art of Aesculapius,

That drew the envy of the thunderer!

I know all this, and more.

DOL. Troth, I am taken, sir,

Whole with these studies, that contemplate nature.

MAM. It is a noble humour; but this form

Was not intended to so dark a use.

Had you been crooked, foul, of some coarse mould

A cloister had done well; but such a feature

That might stand up the glory of a kingdom,

To live recluse! is a mere soloecism,

Though in a nunnery. It must not be.

I muse, my lord your brother will permit it:

You should spend half my land first, were I he.

Does not this diamond better on my finger,

Than in the quarry?

DOL. Yes.

MAM. Why, you are like it.

You were created, lady, for the light.

Here, you shall wear it; take it, the first pledge

Of what I speak, to bind you to believe me.

DOL. In chains of adamant?

MAM. Yes, the strongest bands.

And take a secret too -- here, by your side,

Doth stand this hour, the happiest man in Europe.

DOL. You are contended, sir!

MAM. Nay, in true being,

The envy of princes and the fear of states.

DOL. Say you so, sir Epicure?

MAM. Yes, and thou shalt prove it,

Daughter of honour. I have cast mine eye

Upon thy form, and I will rear this beauty

Above all styles.

DOL. You mean no treason, sir?

MAM. No, I will take away that jealousy.

I am the lord of the philosopher's stone,

And thou the lady.

DOL. How, sir! have you that?

MAM. I am the master of the mystery.

This day the good old wretch here o' the house

Has made it for us: now he's at projection.

Think therefore thy first wish now, let me hear it;

And it shall rain into thy lap, no shower,

But floods of gold, whole cataracts, a deluge,

To get a nation on thee.

DOL. You are pleased, sir,

To work on the ambition of our sex.

MAM. I am pleased the glory of her sex should know,

This nook, here, of the Friars is no climate

For her to live obscurely in, to learn

Physic and surgery, for the constable's wife

Of some odd hundred in Essex; but come forth,

And taste the air of palaces; eat, drink

The toils of empirics, and their boasted practice;

Tincture of pearl, and coral, gold, and amber;

Be seen at feasts and triumphs; have it ask'd,

What miracle she is; set all the eyes

Of court a-fire, like a burning glass,

And work them into cinders, when the jewels

Of twenty states adorn thee, and the light

Strikes out the stars! that when thy name is mention'd,

Queens may look pale; and we but shewing our love,

Nero's Poppaea may be lost in story!

Thus will we have it.

DOL. I could well consent, sir.

But, in a monarchy, how will this be?

The prince will soon take notice, and both seize

You and your stone, it being a wealth unfit

For any private subject.

MAM. If he knew it.

DOL. Yourself do boast it, sir.

MAM. To thee, my life.

DOL. O, but beware, sir! You may come to end

The remnants of your days in a loth'd prison,

By speaking of it.

MAM. 'Tis no idle fear.

We'll therefore go withal, my girl, and live

In a free state, where we will eat our mullets,

Soused in high-country wines, sup pheasants' eggs,

And have our cockles boil'd in silver shells;

Our shrimps to swim again, as when they liv'd,

In a rare butter made of dolphins' milk,

Whose cream does look like opals; and with these

Delicate meats set ourselves high for pleasure,

And take us down again, and then renew

Our youth and strength with drinking the elixir,

And so enjoy a perpetuity

Of life and lust! And thou shalt have thy wardrobe

Richer than nature's, still to change thy self,

And vary oftener, for thy pride, than she,

Or art, her wise and almost-equal servant.


FACE. Sir, you are too loud. I hear you every word

Into the laboratory. Some fitter place;

The garden, or great chamber above. How like you her?

MAM. Excellent! Lungs. There's for thee.


FACE. But do you hear?

Good sir, beware, no mention of the rabbins.

MAM. We think not on 'em.


FACE. O, it is well, sir. -- Subtle!


Dost thou not laugh?

SUB. Yes; are they gone?

FACE. All's clear.

SUB. The widow is come.

FACE. And your quarrelling disciple?

SUB. Ay.

FACE. I must to my captainship again then.

SUB. Stay, bring them in first.

FACE. So I meant. What is she?

A bonnibel?

SUB. I know not.

FACE. We'll draw lots:

You'll stand to that?

SUB. What else?

FACE. O, for a suit,

To fall now like a curtain, flap!

SUB. To the door, man.

FACE. You'll have the first kiss, 'cause I am not ready.


SUB. Yes, and perhaps hit you through both the nostrils.

FACE [WITHIN]. Who would you speak with?

KAS [WITHIN]. Where's the captain?

FACE [WITHIN]. Gone, sir,

About some business.


FACE [WITHIN]. He'll return straight.

But master doctor, his lieutenant, is here.


SUB. Come near, my worshipful boy, my terrae fili,

That is, my boy of land; make thy approaches:

Welcome; I know thy lusts, and thy desires,

And I will serve and satisfy them. Begin,

Charge me from thence, or thence, or in this line;

Here is my centre: ground thy quarrel.

KAS. You lie.

SUB. How, child of wrath and anger! the loud lie?

For what, my sudden boy?

KAS. Nay, that look you to,

I am afore-hand.

SUB. O, this is no true grammar,

And as ill logic! You must render causes, child,

Your first and second intentions, know your canons

And your divisions, moods, degrees, and differences,

Your predicaments, substance, and accident,

Series, extern and intern, with their causes,

Efficient, material, formal, final,

And have your elements perfect.

KAS [ASIDE]. What is this?

The angry tongue he talks in?

SUB. That false precept,

Of being afore-hand, has deceived a number,

And made them enter quarrels, often-times,

Before they were aware; and afterward,

Against their wills.

KAS. How must I do then, sir?

SUB. I cry this lady mercy: she should first

Have been saluted.


I do call you lady,

Because you are to be one, ere't be long,

My soft and buxom widow.

KAS. Is she, i'faith?

SUB. Yes, or my art is an egregious liar.

KAS. How know you?

SUB. By inspection on her forehead,

And subtlety of her lip, which must be tasted

Often to make a judgment.


'Slight, she melts

Like a myrobolane: -- here is yet a line,

In rivo frontis, tells me he is no knight.

DAME P. What is he then, sir?

SUB. Let me see your hand.

O, your linea fortunae makes it plain;

And stella here in monte Veneris.

But, most of all, junctura annularis.

He is a soldier, or a man of art, lady,

But shall have some great honour shortly.

DAME P. Brother,

He's a rare man, believe me!


KAS. Hold your peace.

Here comes the t'other rare man. -- 'Save you, captain.

FACE. Good master Kastril! Is this your sister?

KAS. Ay, sir.

Please you to kuss her, and be proud to know her.

FACE. I shall be proud to know you, lady.


DAME P. Brother,

He calls me lady too.

KAS. Ay, peace: I heard it.


FACE. The count is come.

SUB. Where is he?

FACE. At the door.

SUB. Why, you must entertain him.

FACE. What will you do

With these the while?

SUB. Why, have them up, and shew them

Some fustian book, or the dark glass.

FACE. 'Fore God,

She is a delicate dab-chick! I must have her.


SUB. Must you! ay, if your fortune will, you must. --

Come, sir, the captain will come to us presently:

I'll have you to my chamber of demonstrations,

Where I will shew you both the grammar and logic,

And rhetoric of quarrelling; my whole method

Drawn out in tables; and my instrument,

That hath the several scales upon't, shall make you

Able to quarrel at a straw's-breadth by moon-light.

And, lady, I'll have you look in a glass,

Some half an hour, but to clear your eye-sight,

Against you see your fortune; which is greater,

Than I may judge upon the sudden, trust me.



FACE. Where are you, doctor?

SUB [WITHIN]. I'll come to you presently.

FACE. I will have this same widow, now I have seen her,

On any composition.


SUB. What do you say?

FACE. Have you disposed of them?

SUB. I have sent them up.

FACE. Subtle, in troth, I needs must have this widow.

SUB. Is that the matter?

FACE. Nay, but hear me.

SUB. Go to.

If you rebel once, Dol shall know it all:

Therefore be quiet, and obey your chance.

FACE. Nay, thou art so violent now -- Do but conceive,

Thou art old, and canst not serve --

SUB. Who cannot? I?

'Slight, I will serve her with thee, for a --

FACE. Nay,

But understand: I'll give you composition.

SUB. I will not treat with thee; what! sell my fortune?

'Tis better than my birth-right. Do not murmur:

Win her, and carry her. If you grumble, Dol

Knows it directly.

FACE. Well, sir, I am silent.

Will you go help to fetch in Don in state?


SUB. I follow you, sir. We must keep Face in awe,

Or he will over-look us like a tyrant.


Brain of a tailor! who comes here? Don John!

SUR. Senores, beso las manos a vuestras mercedes.

SUB. Would you had stoop'd a little, and kist our anos!

FACE. Peace, Subtle.

SUB. Stab me; I shall never hold, man.

He looks in that deep ruff like a head in a platter,

Serv'd in by a short cloke upon two trestles.

FACE. Or, what do you say to a collar of brawn, cut down

Beneath the souse, and wriggled with a knife?

SUB. 'Slud, he does look too fat to be a Spaniard.

FACE. Perhaps some Fleming or some Hollander got him

In d'Alva's time; count Egmont's bastard.

SUB. Don,

Your scurvy, yellow, Madrid face is welcome.

SUR. Gratia.

SUB. He speaks out of a fortification.

Pray God he have no squibs in those deep sets.

SUR. Por dios, senores, muy linda casa!

SUB. What says he?

FACE. Praises the house, I think;

I know no more but's action.

SUB. Yes, the casa,

My precious Diego, will prove fair enough

To cozen you in. Do you mark? you shall

Be cozen'd, Diego.

FACE. Cozen'd, do you see,

My worthy Donzel, cozen'd.

SUR. Entiendo.

SUB. Do you intend it? so do we, dear Don.

Have you brought pistolets, or portagues,

My solemn Don? -- Dost thou feel any?


SUB. You shall be emptied, Don, pumped and drawn

Dry, as they say.

FACE. Milked, in troth, sweet Don.

SUB. See all the monsters; the great lion of all, Don.

SUR. Con licencia, se puede ver a esta senora?

SUB. What talks he now?

FACE. Of the sennora.

SUB. O, Don,

This is the lioness, which you shall see

Also, my Don.

FACE. 'Slid, Subtle, how shall we do?

SUB. For what?

FACE. Why Dol's employ'd, you know.

SUB. That's true.

'Fore heaven, I know not: he must stay, that's all.

FACE. Stay! that he must not by no means.

SUB. No! why?

FACE. Unless you'll mar all. 'Slight, he will suspect it:

And then he will not pay, not half so well.

This is a travelled punk-master, and does know

All the delays; a notable hot rascal,

And looks already rampant.

SUB. 'Sdeath, and Mammon

Must not be troubled.

FACE. Mammon! in no case.

SUB. What shall we do then?

FACE. Think: you must be sudden.

SUR. Entiendo que la senora es tan hermosa, que codicio tan

verla, como la bien aventuranza de mi vida.

FACE. Mi vida! 'Slid, Subtle, he puts me in mind of the widow.

What dost thou say to draw her to it, ha!

And tell her 'tis her fortune? all our venture

Now lies upon't. It is but one man more,

Which of us chance to have her: and beside,

There is no maidenhead to be fear'd or lost.

What dost thou think on't, Subtle?

SUB. Who. I? why --

FACE. The credit of our house too is engaged.

SUB. You made me an offer for my share erewhile.

What wilt thou give me, i'faith?

FACE. O, by that light

I'll not buy now: You know your doom to me.

E'en take your lot, obey your chance, sir; win her,

And wear her out, for me.

SUB. 'Slight, I'll not work her then.

FACE. It is the common cause; therefore bethink you.

Dol else must know it, as you said.

SUB. I care not.

SUR. Senores, porque se tarda tanto?

SUB. Faith, I am not fit, I am old.

FACE. That's now no reason, sir.

SUR. Puede ser de hazer burla de mi amor?

FACE. You hear the Don too? by this air, I call,

And loose the hinges: Dol!

SUB. A plague of hell --

FACE. Will you then do?

SUB. You are a terrible rogue!

I'll think of this: will you, sir, call the widow?

FACE. Yes, and I'll take her too with all her faults,

Now I do think on't better.

SUB. With all my heart, sir;

Am I discharged o' the lot?

FACE. As you please.

SUB. Hands.


FACE. Remember now, that upon any change,

You never claim her.

SUB. Much good joy, and health to you, sir,

Marry a whore! fate, let me wed a witch first.

SUR. Por estas honradas barbas --

SUB. He swears by his beard.

Dispatch, and call the brother too.


SUR. Tengo duda, senores, que no me hagan alguna traycion.

SUB. How, issue on? yes, praesto, sennor. Please you

Enthratha the chambrata, worthy don:

Where if you please the fates, in your bathada,

You shall be soked, and stroked, and tubb'd and rubb'd,

And scrubb'd, and fubb'd, dear don, before you go.

You shall in faith, my scurvy baboon don,

Be curried, claw'd, and flaw'd, and taw'd, indeed.

I will the heartlier go about it now,

And make the widow a punk so much the sooner,

To be revenged on this impetuous Face:

The quickly doing of it is the grace.