Fiction > Harvard Classics > Ben Jonson > The Alchemist
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Ben Jonson (1572–1637).  The Alchemist.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
 
Act IV
 
Scene V
 
 
Enter DOL [in her fit of raving, followed by] MAMMON 1

  DOL.  For after Alexander’s death 2——
  MAM.        Good lady——
  DOL.  That Perdiccas and Antigonus were slain,
The two that stood, Seleuc’ and Ptolomy——        4
  MAM.        Madam——
  DOL.  Make up the two legs, and the fourth beast,
That was Gog-north and Egypt-south: which after
Was call’d Gog-iron-leg and South-iron-leg——        8
  MAM.        Lady——
  DOL.  And then Gog-horned. So was Egypt, too:
Then Egypt-clay-leg, and Gog-clay-leg——
  MAM.        Sweet madam——        12
  DOL.  And last Gog-dust, and Egypt-dust, which fall
In the last link of the fourth chain. And these
Be stars in story, which none see, or look at——
  MAM.  What shall I do?        16
  DOL.        For, as he says, except
We call the rabbins, and the heathen Greeks——
  MAM.  Dear lady——
  DOL.        To come from Salem, and from Athens,        20
And teach the people of Great Britain——
 
[Enter FACE hastily, in his servant’s dress]

  FACE.        What’s the matter, sir?
  DOL.  To speak the tongue of Eber and Javan——
  MAM.        O,        24
She’s in her fit.
  DOL.        We shall know nothing——
  FACE.        Death, sir,
We are undone!        28
  DOL.        Where then a learned linguist
Shall see the ancient us’d communion
Of vowels and consonants——
  FACE.        My master will hear!        32
  DOL.  A wisdom, which Pythagoras held most high——
  MAM.  Sweet honourable lady!
  DOL.        To comprise
All sounds of voices, in few marks of letters.        36
  FACE.  Nay, you must never hope to lay her now.  They all speak together.
  DOL.  And so we may arrive by Talmud skill, 3
And profane Greek, to raise the building up
Of Helen’s house against the Ismaelite,        40
King of Thogarma, and his habergions
Brimstony, blue, and fiery; and the force
Of king Abaddon, and the beast of Cittim;
Which rabbi David Kimchi, Onkelos,        44
And Aben Ezra do interpret Rome.
  FACE.  How did you put her into’t?
  MAM.        Alas, I talked
Of a fifth monarchy I would erect        48
With the philosopher’s stone, by chance, and she
Falls on the other four straight.
  FACE.        Out of Broughton!
I told you so. ’Slid, stop her mouth.        52
  MAM.        Is’t best?
  FACE.  She’ll never leave else. If the old man hear her,
We are but faeces, ashes.
  SUB.  [Within.]  What’s to do there?        56
  FACE.  O, we are lost! Now she hears him, she is quiet.
 
[Enter SUBTLE;] they run different ways

  MAM.  Where shall I hide me!
  SUB.        How! what sight is here?
Close 4 deeds of darkness, and that shun the light!        60
Bring him again. Who is she? What, my son!
O, I have liv’d too long.
  MAM.        Nay, good, dear father,
There was no unchaste purpose.        64
  SUB.        Not? and flee me
When I come in?
  MAM.        That was my error.
  SUB.        Error?        68
Guilt, guilt, my son; give it the right name. No marvel
If I found check in our great work within,
When such affairs as these were managing!
  MAM.  Why, have you so?        72
  SUB.        It has stood still this half hour:
And all the rest of our less works gone back.
Where is the instrument of wickedness,
My lewd false drudge?        76
  MAM.        Nay, good sir, blame not him;
Believe me, ’twas against his will or knowledge:
I saw her by chance.
  SUB.        Will you commit more sin,        80
To excuse a varlet?
  MAM.        By my hope, ’tis true, sir.
  SUB.  Nay, then I wonder less, if you, for whom
The blessing was prepar’d, would so tempt heaven,        84
And lose your fortunes.
  MAM.        Why, sir?
  SUB.        This will retard
The work a month at least.        88
  MAM.        Why, if it do,
What remedy? But think it not, good father:
Our purposes were honest. 5
  SUB.        As they were,        92
So the reward will prove.  A great crack and noise within.
    —How now! ay me!
God and all saints be good to us.——
 
[Re-enter FACE]

        What’s that?
        96
  FACE.  O, sir, we are defeated! all the works
Are flown in fumo, 6 every glass is burst;
Furnace and all rent down, as if a bolt
Of thunder had been driven through the house.        100
Retorts, receivers, pelicans, 7 bolt-heads, 8
All struck in shivers!  SUBTLE falls down as in a swoon.)
        Help, good sir! alas,
Coldness and death invades him. Nay, Sir Mammon,        104
Do the fair offices of a man! You stand,
As you were readier to depart than he.  One knocks.
Who’s there? My lord her brother is come.
  MAM.        Ha, Lungs!        108
  FACE.  His coach is at the door. Avoid his sight,
For he’s as furious as his sister’s mad.
  MAM.  Alas!
  FACE.        My brain is quite undone with the fume, sir,        112
I ne’er must hope to be mine own man again.
  MAM.  Is all lost, Lungs? Will nothing be preserv’d
Of all our cost?
  FACE.        Faith, very little, sir;        116
A peck of coals or so, which is cold comfort, sir.
  MAM.  O, my voluptuous mind! I am justly punish’d.
  FACE.  And so am I, sir.
  MAM.        Cast from all my hopes——        120
  FACE.  Nay, certainties, sir.
  MAM.        By mine own base affections.
  SUB.  seeming to come to himself.  O, the curst fruits of vice and lust!
  MAM.        Good father,        124
It was my sin. Forgive it.
  SUB.        Hangs my roof
Over us still, and will not fall, O justice,
Upon us, for this wicked man!        128
  FACE.        Nay, look, sir,
You grieve him now with staying in his sight.
Good sir, the nobleman will come too, and take you,
And that may breed a tragedy.        132
  MAM.        I’ll go.
  FACE.  Ay, and repent at home, sir. It may be,
For some good penance you may ha’ it yet;
A hundred pound to the box at Bethlem 9——        136
  MAM.        Yes.
  FACE.  For the restoring such as—ha’ their wits.
  MAM.        I’ll do’t.
  FACE.  I’ll send one to you to receive it.        140
  MAM.        Do.
Is no projection left?
  FACE.        All flown, or stinks, sir.
  MAM.  Will nought be sav’d that’s good for med’cine, think’st thou?        144
  FACE.  I cannot tell, sir. There will be perhaps
Something about the scraping of the shards,
Will cure the itch, though not your itch of mind, sir.  [Aside.]
It shall be saved for you, and sent home. Good sir,        148
This way for fear the lord should meet you.  [Exit MAMMON.]
  SUB.        [raising his head.]  Face!
  FACE.  Ay.
  SUB.        Is he gone?        152
  FACE.        Yes, and as heavily
As all the gold he hop’d for were in’s blood.
Let us be light though.
  SUB.  [leaping up.]  Ay, as balls, and bound        156
And hit our heads against the roof for joy:
There’s so much of our care now cast away.
  FACE.  Now to our don.
  SUB.        Yes, your young widow by this time        160
Is made a countess, Face; she’s been in travail
Of a young heir for you.
  FACE.        Good, sir.
  SUB.        Off with your case, 10        164
And greet her kindly, as a bridegroom should,
After these common hazards.
  FACE.        Very well, sir.
Will you go fetch Don Diego off the while?        168
  SUB.  And fetch him over too, if you’ll be pleas’d, sir.
Would Dol were in her place, to pick his pockets now!
  FACE.  Why, you can do’t as well, if you would set to’t.
I pray you prove your virtue. 11        172
  SUB.        For your sake sir.  [Exeunt.]
 
Note 1. Another room in the same. [back]
Note 2. Doll’s ravings are taken almost at random from the headings of columns, preface, etc., of the “Concent of Scripture,” by Hugh Broughton. [back]
Note 3. In the early editions this speech is printed in parallel columns with the dialogue immediately following, to indicate simultaneous utterance. [back]
Note 4. Secret. [back]
Note 5. Chaste. [back]
Note 6. Into smoke. [back]
Note 7. An alembic of a particular shape. [back]
Note 8. A globular flask. [back]
Note 9. The lunatic asylum. [back]
Note 10. His costume as Lungs. [back]
Note 11. Capacity. [back]
 

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