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TO THE MOST NOBLE AND MOST EQUAL SISTERS,

THE TWO FAMOUS UNIVERSITIES,

FOR THEIR LOVE AND ACCEPTANCE SHEWN TO HIS POEM IN THE PRESENTATION
BEN JONSON,

THE GRATEFUL ACKNOWLEDGER,

DEDICATES BOTH IT AND HIMSELF.

NEVER, most equal Sisters, had any man a wit so presently excellent, as that it could raise itself; but th come both matter, occasion, commenders, and favourers to it. If this be true, and that the fortune of all wri daily prove it, it behoves the careful to provide well towards these accidents; and, having acquired them, to that part of reputation most tenderly, wherein the benefit of a friend is also defended. Hence is it, that I no myself grateful, and am studious to justify the bounty of your act; to which, though your mere authority wer ing, yet it being an age wherein poetry and the professors of it hear so ill on all sides, there will a reason be 1 in the subject. It is certain, nor can it with any forehead be opposed, that the too much license of poetaster time, hath much deformed their mistress; that, every day, their manifold and manifest ignorance doth stick reproaches upon her: but for their petulancy, it were an act of the greatest injustice, either to let the learne so divine a skill (which indeed should not be attempted with unclean hands) to fall under the least contem men will impartially, and not asquint, look toward the offices and function of a poet, they will easily concl selves the impossibility of any man's being the good poet, without first being a good man. He that is said inform young men to all good disciplines, inflame grown men to all great virtues, keep old men in their best a Was they decline to childhood, recover them to their first strength; that comes forth the interpreter eacher of things divine no less than human, a master in manners; and can alone, or with a few busin of mankind: this, I take him, is no subject for pride and ignorance to exercise their railing rhe But it will here be hastily answered, that the writers of these days are other things; that not only their ma their natures, are inverted, and nothing remaining with them of the dignity of poet, but the abused name, wl ribe surps; that now, especially in dramatic, or, as they term it, stage-poetry, nothing but ribaldry, pro my, all license of offence to God and man is practised. I dare not deny a great part of this, and am so not, because in some men's abortive features (and would they had never boasted the light) it is over true bu are embarked in this bold adventure for hell, is a most uncharitable thought, and, uttered, a more maliciou For my particular, I can, and from a most clear conscience, affirm, that I have ever trembled to think toward profaneness have loathed the use of such foul and unwashed bawdry, as is now made the food of the scene: a Boever I cannot escape from some, the imputation of sharpness, but that they will say, I have taken a pride, or 】 bitter, and not my youngest infant but hath come into the world with all his teeth; I would ask of these su politics, what nation, society, or general order or state, I have provoked? What public person? Wheth not in all these preserved their dignity, as mine own person, safe? My works are read, allowed, (I speak are intirely mine,) look into them, what broad reproofs have I used? where have I been particular? wher except to a mimic, cheater, bawd, or buffoon, creatures, for their insolencies, worthy to be taxed? yet to whi so pointingly, as he might not either ingenuously have confest, or wisely dissembled his disease? But it is not ri make men guilty, much less entitle me to other men's crimes. I know, that nothing can be so innocently writ o but may be made obnoxious to construction; marry, whilst I bear mine innocence about me, I fear it not. Ap is now grown a trade with many; and there are that profess to have a key for the decyphering of every th let wise and noble persons take heed how they be too credulous, or give leave to these invading interpreters 1 familiar with their fames, who cunningly, and often, utter their own virulent malice, under other m

As for those that will (by faults which charity hath raked up, or common honesty concealed name with the multitude, or, to draw their rude and beastly claps, care not whose living faces with their petulant styles, may they do it without a rival, for me! I choose rather to live grayed in o share with them in so preposterous a fame. Nor can I blame the wishes of those severe and wise pat viding the hurts these licentious spirits may do in a state, desire rather to see fools and devils, and thos of barbarism retrieved, with all other ridiculous and exploded follies, than behold the wounds of private and nations: for, as Horace makes Trebatius speak among these,

"Sibi quisque timet, quanquam est intactus, et odit."

And then may justly impute such rages, if continued, to the writer, as his sports. The increase of which ether with the present trade of the stage, in all their miscelline interludes, what learned or libera already abhor? where nothing but the filth of the time is uttered, and with such impropriety of rhra

tisms, such dearth of sense, so bold prolepses, so racked metaphors, with brothelry, able to viol pagan, and blasphemy, to turn the blood of a christian to water. I cannot but be serious in a cause in my fame, and the reputation of divers honest and learned are the question; when a name so antiquity, and all great mark, is, through their insolence, become the lowest scorn of the age; and t to the petulancy of every vernaculous orator, that were wont to be the care of kings and happiest m ls that hath not only rapt me to present indignation, but made me studious heretofore, and by all my off from them; which may most appear in this my latest work, which you, most learned Arbitresses, 1 and to my crown, approved; wherein I have laboured for their instruction and amendment, to rec

TH

ent forms, but manners of the scene, the easiness, the propriety, the innocence, and last, the doctrine, which le principal end of poesie, to inform men in the best reason of living. And though my catastrophe may, in the strict ir of comic law, meet with censure, as turning back to my promise; I desire the learned and charitable critic, to so much faith in me, to think it was done of industry: for, with what ease I could have varied it nearer his scale that I fear to boast my own faculty) I could here insert. But my special aim being to put the snaffle in their ths, that cry out, We never punish vice in our interludes, &c., I took the more liberty; though not without lines of example, drawn even in the ancients themselves, the goings out of whose comedies are not always joyful, oft times the bawds, the servants, the rivals, yea, and the masters are mulcted; and fitly, it being the office of nic poet to imitate justice, and instruct to life, as well as purity of language, or stir up gentle affections; to which all take the occasion elsewhere to speak.

For the present, most reverenced Sisters, as I have cared to be thankful for your affections past, and here made understanding acquainted with some ground of your favours; let me not despair their continuance, to the maturing me worthier fruits; wherein, if my muses be true to me, I shall raise the despised head of poetry again, and ping her out of those rotten and base rags wherewith the times have adulterated her form, restore her to her itive habit, feature, and majesty, and render her worthy to be embraced and kist of all the great and masterts of our world. As for the vile and slothful, who never affected an act worthy of celebration, or are so inward their own vicious natures, as they worthily fear her, and think it an high point of policy to keep her in contempt, their declamatory and windy invectives; she shall out of just rage incite her servants (who are genus irritabile) out ink in their faces, that shall eat farther than their marrow into their fames; and not Cinnamus the barber, his art, shall be able to take out the brands; but they shall live, and be read, till the wretches die, as things t deserving of themselves in chief, and then of all mankind.

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Servitori, Servants, tico Waiting-women, c

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yet send us, and a little wit
e to make our play hit;
to the palates of the season)
ime, not empty of reason.

bid to credit from our poet,
escope, if you would know it,
ms still hath been this measure,
fit with your pleasure;

PROLOGUE.

one, whose throats their envy fuiling,
ely, All he writes is railing:

is plays come forth, think they can
them,

g, he was a year about them.
needs no lie, but this his creature,
two months since no feature;

dares give them five lives to mend it,
five weeks fully penn'd it,
hand, without a co-adjutor,
ey-man, or tutor.

Yet thus much I can give you as a token
Of his play's worth, no eggs are broken,
Nor quaking custards with fierce teeth affrighted,
Wherewith your rout are so delighted;

Nor hales he in a gull old ends reciting,
To stop gaps in his loose writing;

With such a deal of monstrous and forced action,
As might make Bethlem a faction:

Nor made he his play for jests stolen from each
But makes jests to fit his fable;

And so presents quick comedy refined,
As best critics have designed;

The laws of time, place, persons he observeth,
From no needful rule he swerveth.

All gall and copperas from his ink he draineth,
Only a little salt remaineth,

Wherewith he'll rub your cheeks, till red, with

laughter,

They shall look fresh a week afler.

Men's

mal

they

Oscur

riots, se antic

men,

SCENE 1.

THE FOX.

175

ACT I.

SCENE I.-A Room in VOLPONE'S House.

Enter VOLPONE and Mosca.

Velp. 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, &c. 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 splendor 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, Thou 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 widow'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 the 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 lie not 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 moncy.
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. [Exit Mos.] 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,
And 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.—
How now!

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 intreat 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 soulof Pythagoras, That juggler divine, as hereafter shall follow; Which soul, fast and loose, sir, came first from

Apollo,

And was breath'd into thalides, Mercurius his

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ITight 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 or 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 great oath, Br QUATER!

His musics, his trigon, his golden thigh,

Or his telling how elements shift, but I Would ask, how of late thou hast 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 heresie.

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 !

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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

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Free froin 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?

ACT 1.

[Knocking without.

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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-

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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.

him in.

Fetch

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.

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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.
Mos. Sir,

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
Give forked counsel; take provoking gold [them;
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!-
[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 borne 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 copy of the will?.
I'll bring them to you, sir.
Put business in your face.

-Anon !

Away, be gone,

[Exit VOLTORE.

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

Enter CORBACCIO.
Signior Corbaccio!

You're very welcome, sir.

N

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