Famine and Dearth

The Alchemist

The Alchemist

PUBLISHED BY Project Gutenberg.org
PUBLISHED BY Amy E Zelmer, Robert Prince, Sue Asscher, and David Widger
January 7, 2010

1. ACT I. SCENE 1.1

A ROOM IN LOVEWIT'S HOUSE. ENTER FACE, IN A CAPTAIN'S UNIFORM, WITH HIS SWORD DRAWN, AND SUBTLE WITH A VIAL, QUARRELLING, AND FOLLOWED BY DOL COMMON.
FACE

Believe 't, I will.

DOL.

Have you your wits? why, gentlemen! for love—

FACE

Sirrah, I'll strip you—

SUB.

What to do? lick figs Out at my—

FACE.

Rogue, rogue!—out of all your sleights.

DOL.

Nay, look ye, sovereign, general, are you madmen?

SUB.

O, let the wild sheep loose. I'll gum your silks With good strong water, an you come.

DOL.

Will you have The neighbours hear you? will you betray all? Hark! I hear somebody.

FACE.

Sirrah

SUB.

I shall mar All that the tailor has made, if you approach.

FACE.

You most notorious whelp, you insolent slave, Dare you do this?

SUB.

Yes, faith; yes, faith.

FACE.

Why, who Am I, my mungrel? who am I?

SUB.

I'll tell you., Since you know not yourself.

FACE.

Speak lower, rogue.

SUB.

Yes, you were once (time's not long past) the good, Honest, plain, livery-three-pound-thrum, that kept Your master's worship's house here in the Friars, For the vacations—

FACE.

Will you be so loud?

SUB

Since, by my means, translated suburb-captain.

FACE.

By your means, doctor dog!

SUB.

Within man's memory, All this I speak of.

FACE.

Why, I pray you, have I Been countenanced by you, or you by me? Do but collect, sir, where I met you first.

SUB.

I do not hear well.

FACE.

Not of this, I think it. But I shall put you in mind, sir;—at Pie-corner, Taking your meal of steam in, from cooks' stalls, Where, like the father of hunger, you did walk Piteously costive, with your pinch'd-horn-nose, And your complexion of the Roman wash, Stuck full of black and melancholic worms, Like powder corns shot at the artillery-yard.

SUB.

I wish you could advance your voice a little.

FACE.

When you went pinn'd up in the several rags You had raked and pick'd from dunghills, before day; Your feet in mouldy slippers, for your kibes; A felt of rug, and a thin threaden cloke, That scarce would cover your no buttocks—

SUB.

So, sir!

FACE

When all your alchemy, and your algebra, Your minerals, vegetals, and animals, Your conjuring, cozening, and your dozen of trades, Could not relieve your corps with so much linen Would make you tinder, but to see a fire; I gave you countenance, credit for your coals, Your stills, your glasses, your materials; Built you a furnace, drew you customers, Advanced all your black arts; lent you, beside, A house to practise in—

SUB.

Your master's house!

FACE.

Where you have studied the more thriving skill Of bawdry since.

SUB.

Yes, in your master's house. You and the rats here kept possession. Make it not strange. I know you were one could keep The buttery-hatch still lock'd, and save the chippings, Sell the dole beer to aqua-vitae men, The which, together with your Christmas vails At post-and-pair, your letting out of counters, Made you a pretty stock, some twenty marks, And gave you credit to converse with cobwebs, Here, since your mistress' death hath broke up house.

FACE

You might talk softlier, rascal.

SUB.

No, you scarab, I'll thunder you in pieces: I will teach you How to beware to tempt a Fury again, That carries tempest in his hand and voice.

FACE.

The place has made you valiant.

SUB.

No, your clothes.— Thou vermin, have I ta'en thee out of dung, So poor, so wretched, when no living thing Would keep thee company, but a spider, or worse? Rais'd thee from brooms, and dust, and watering-pots, Sublimed thee, and exalted thee, and fix'd thee In the third region, call'd our state of grace? Wrought thee to spirit, to quintessence, with pains Would twice have won me the philosopher's work? Put thee in words and fashion, made thee fit For more than ordinary fellowships? Giv'n thee thy oaths, thy quarrelling dimensions, Thy rules to cheat at horse-race, cock-pit, cards, Dice, or whatever gallant tincture else? Made thee a second in mine own great art? And have I this for thanks! Do you rebel, Do you fly out in the projection? Would you be gone now?

DOL

Gentlemen, what mean you? Will you mar all?

SUB.

Slave, thou hadst had no name—

DOL.

Will you undo yourselves with civil war?

SUB.

Never been known, past equi clibanum, The heat of horse-dung, under ground, in cellars, Or an ale-house darker than deaf John's; been lost To all mankind, but laundresses and tapsters, Had not I been.

DOL.

Do you know who hears you, sovereign?

FACE

Sirrah

DOL.

Nay, general, I thought you were civil.

FACE.

I shall turn desperate, if you grow thus loud.

SUB.

And hang thyself, I care not.

FACE

Hang thee, collier, And all thy pots, and pans, in picture, I will, Since thou hast moved me—

DOL.

O, this will o'erthrow all.

FACE.

Write thee up bawd in Paul's, have all thy tricks Of cozening with a hollow cole, dust, scrapings, Searching for things lost, with a sieve and sheers, Erecting figures in your rows of houses, And taking in of shadows with a glass, Told in red letters; and a face cut for thee, Worse than Gamaliel Ratsey's.

DOL.

Are you sound? Have you your senses, masters?

FACE.

I will have A book, but barely reckoning thy impostures, Shall prove a true philosopher's stone to printers.

SUB.

Away, you trencher-rascal!

FACE

Out, you dog-leech! The vomit of all prisons—

DOL.

Will you be Your own destructions, gentlemen?

FACE.

Still spew'd out For lying too heavy on the basket.

SUB.

Cheater!

FACE

Bawd!

SUB.

Cow-herd!

FACE.

Conjurer!

SUB.

Cut-purse!

FACE.

Witch!

DOL

O me! We are ruin'd, lost! have you no more regard To your reputations? where's your judgment? 'slight, Have yet some care of me, of your republic—

FACE.

Away, this brach! I'll bring thee, rogue, within The statute of sorcery, tricesimo tertio Of Harry the Eighth: ay, and perhaps thy neck Within a noose, for laundring gold and barbing it.

DOL .

You'll bring your head within a cockscomb, will you? And you, sir, with your menstrue— Gather it up.— 'Sdeath, you abominable pair of stinkards, Leave off your barking, and grow one again, Or, by the light that shines, I'll cut your throats. I'll not be made a prey unto the marshal, For ne'er a snarling dog-bolt of you both. Have you together cozen'd all this while, And all the world, and shall it now be said, You've made most courteous shift to cozen yourselves? You will accuse him! you will "bring him in Within the statute!" Who shall take your word? A whoreson, upstart, apocryphal captain, Whom not a Puritan in Blackfriars will trust So much as for a feather: and you, too, Will give the cause, forsooth! you will insult, And claim a primacy in the divisions! You must be chief! as if you only had The powder to project with, and the work Were not begun out of equality? The venture tripartite? all things in common? Without priority? 'Sdeath! you perpetual curs, Fall to your couples again, and cozen kindly, And heartily, and lovingly, as you should, And lose not the beginning of a term, Or, by this hand, I shall grow factious too, And take my part, and quit you.

2. 1.2

[Enter] Dapper
DAP

aptain, I am here.

FACE

Who's that?—He's come, I think, doctor. Good faith, sir, I was going away.

DAP.

In truth I am very sorry, captain.

FACE.

But I thought Sure I should meet you.

DAP.

Ay, I am very glad. I had a scurvy writ or two to make, And I had lent my watch last night to one That dines to-day at the sheriff's, and so was robb'd Of my past-time. Is this the cunning-man?

FACE

This is his worship.

DAP.

Is he a doctor?

FACE

Yes

DAP.

And have you broke with him, captain?

FACE

Ay

3. 2.1

ENTER SIR EPICURE MAMMON AND SURLY.
MAM.

Come on, sir. Now, you set your foot on shore In Novo Orbe; here's the rich Peru: And there within, sir, are the golden mines, Great Solomon's Ophir! he was sailing to't, Three years, but we have reached it in ten months. This is the day, wherein, to all my friends, I will pronounce the happy word, BE RICH; THIS DAY YOU SHALL BE SPECTATISSIMI. You shall no more deal with the hollow dye, Or the frail card. No more be at charge of keeping The livery-punk for the young heir, that must Seal, at all hours, in his shirt: no more, If he deny, have him beaten to't, as he is That brings him the commodity. No more Shall thirst of satin, or the covetous hunger Of velvet entrails for a rude-spun cloke, To be display'd at madam Augusta's, make The sons of Sword and Hazard fall before The golden calf, and on their knees, whole nights Commit idolatry with wine and trumpets: Or go a feasting after drum and ensign. No more of this. You shall start up young viceroys, And have your punks, and punketees, my Surly. And unto thee I speak it first, BE RICH. Where is my Subtle, there? Within, ho!

FACE

Sir, he'll come to you by and by.

MAM.

That is his fire-drake, His Lungs, his Zephyrus, he that puffs his coals, Till he firk nature up, in her own centre. You are not faithful, sir. This night, I'll change All that is metal, in my house, to gold: And, early in the morning, will I send To all the plumbers and the pewterers, And by their tin and lead up; and to Lothbury For all the copper.

SUR.

What, and turn that too?

MAM.

Yes, and I'll purchase Devonshire and Cornwall, And make them perfect Indies! you admire now?

SUR.

No, faith.

MAM

But when you see th' effects of the Great Medicine, Of which one part projected on a hundred Of Mercury, or Venus, or the moon, Shall turn it to as many of the sun; Nay, to a thousand, so ad infinitum: You will believe me

SUR.

Yes, when I see't, I will. But if my eyes do cozen me so, and I Giving them no occasion, sure I'll have A whore, shall piss them out next day.

MAM

Ha! why? Do you think I fable with you? I assure you, He that has once the flower of the sun, The perfect ruby, which we call elixir, Not only can do that, but, by its virtue, Can confer honour, love, respect, long life; Give safety, valour, yea, and victory, To whom he will. In eight and twenty days, I'll make an old man of fourscore, a child.

SUR.

No doubt; he's that already.

MAM.

Nay, I mean, Restore his years, renew him, like an eagle, To the fifth age; make him get sons and daughters, Young giants; as our philosophers have done, The ancient patriarchs, afore the flood, But taking, once a week, on a knife's point, The quantity of a grain of mustard of it; Become stout Marses, and beget young Cupids.

SUR.

The decay'd vestals of Pict-hatch would thank you, That keep the fire alive, there.

MAM

'Tis the secret Of nature naturis'd 'gainst all infections, Cures all diseases coming of all causes; A month's grief in a day, a year's in twelve; And, of what age soever, in a month: Past all the doses of your drugging doctors. I'll undertake, withal, to fright the plague Out of the kingdom in three months.

SUR.

And I'll Be bound, the players shall sing your praises, then, Without their poets.

MAM.

Sir, I'll do't. Mean time, I'll give away so much unto my man, Shall serve the whole city, with preservative Weekly; each house his dose, and at the rate—

SUR.

As he that built the Water-work, does with water?

MAM.

You are incredulous.

SUR.

Faith I have a humour, I would not willingly be gull'd. Your stone Cannot transmute me.

MAM.

Pertinax, [my] Surly, Will you believe antiquity? records? I'll shew you a book where Moses and his sister, And Solomon have written of the art; Ay, and a treatise penn'd by Adam—

SUR.

How!

MAM.

Of the philosopher's stone, and in High Dutch.

SUR.

Did Adam write, sir, in High Dutch?

MAM.

He did; Which proves it was the primitive tongue.

SUR.

What paper?

MAM.

On cedar board.

SUR.

O that, indeed, they say, Will last 'gainst worms.

MAM.

'Tis like your Irish wood, 'Gainst cob-webs. I have a piece of Jason's fleece, too, Which was no other than a book of alchemy, Writ in large sheep-skin, a good fat ram-vellum. Such was Pythagoras' thigh, Pandora's tub, And, all that fable of Medea's charms, The manner of our work; the bulls, our furnace, Still breathing fire; our argent-vive, the dragon: The dragon's teeth, mercury sublimate, That keeps the whiteness, hardness, and the biting; And they are gathered into Jason's helm, The alembic, and then sow'd in Mars his field, And thence sublimed so often, till they're fixed. Both this, the Hesperian garden, Cadmus' story, Jove's shower, the boon of Midas, Argus' eyes, Boccace his Demogorgon, thousands more, All abstract riddles of our stone. How now!

This is a selection from the original text

Keywords

coal, customer, fire, hunger, linen, trade

Source text

Title: The Alchemist

Author: Ben Jonson

Publisher: Project Gutenberg

Publication date: 2010

Original compiled c.1610

Provenance/location: This text was transcribed from images available at Project Gutenberg: http://www.gutenberg.org/ Original compiled c.1610

Digital edition

Original author(s): Ben Jonson

Language: English

Selection used:

  • 1 ) A section of Act I. Scene 1.1 and 1.2, 2.1

Responsibility:

Texts collected by: Ayesha Mukherjee, Amlan Das Gupta, Azarmi Dukht Safavi

Texts transcribed by: Muhammad Irshad Alam, Bonisha Bhattacharya, Arshdeep Singh Brar, Muhammad Ehteshamuddin, Kahkashan Khalil, Sarbajit Mitra

Texts encoded by: Bonisha Bhattacharya, Shreya Bose, Lucy Corley, Kinshuk Das, Bedbyas Datta, Arshdeep Singh Brar, Sarbajit Mitra, Josh Monk, Reesoom Pal

Encoding checking by: Hannah Petrie, Gary Stringer, Charlotte Tupman

Genre: Britain > plays

For more information about the project, contact Dr Ayesha Mukherjee at the University of Exeter.

Acknowledgements