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were his next most important works: Volpone, or the Fox, appearing in 1605, Epicéne, or the Silent Woman, in 1609, and The Alchemist in 1610. Between 1605 and 1609 Jonson produced, sometimes for the court, sometimes for the civic bodies, a number of the representations known as pageants or masques, so popular in his time. In 1611 appeared his second classical tragedy Catiline; and in 1612 he went abroad, but how long he remained is not known. He was in London again in 1614, in which year appeared his Bartholomew Fair, and in 1616 his comedy of The Devil is an Ass. Either in this year or in 1619, Jonson was created poet-laureate, with a salary of 100 merks. In 1618 he made a journey to Scotland on foot, and appears to have been well received by the Scottish gentry. The last visit he paid was to the poet Drummond of Hawthornden, who took copious notes of the conversations he had with Jonson, which were afterwards given to the world. How far these notes can be depended on for faithfulness it is difficult to say: one would fain hope that Drummond was guilty of considerable exaggeration, as he presents Jonson in no very agreeable light, as full of bitterness and spite towards his brother authors. The following is Drummond's character of Ben :

Ben Jonson was a great lover and praiser of himself, a contemner and scorner of others, given rather to lose a friend than a jest, jealous of every word and action of those about him, especially after drink, which is one of the elements in which he lived: a dissembler of the parts which reign in him ; a bragger of some good that he wanted ; thinketh nothing well done but what either he himself or some of his friends have said or done. He is passionately kind and angry, careless either to gain or keep ; vindictive, but if he be well answered at himself; interprets best sayings and deeds often to the worst. He was for any religion, as being versed in both ; oppressed with fancy which hath overmastered his reason, a general disease in many poets : his inventions are smooth and easy, but above all he excelleth in a translation.'

* This character,' says one of Jonson's biographers, “it must be confessed, is far from being a flattering one; and probably it was, unconsciously, overcharged, owing to the recluse habits and staid demeanour of Drummond. We believe it, however, to be substantially correct. Inured to hardships and to a free boisterous life in his early days, Jonson seems to have contracted a roughness of manner and habits of intemperance which never wholly left him. Priding himself immoderately on his classical acquirements, he was apt to slight and condemn his less learned associates; while the conflict between his limited means and his love of social pleasures rendered him too often severe and saturnine in his temper. Whatever he did was done with labour, and hence was highly prized. His contemporaries seemed fond of mortifying his pride, and he was often at war with actors and anthors. When his better nature prevailed, and exorcised the demon of envy or spleen, Jonson was capable of a generous warmth of friendship, and of just discrimination of genius and character. His literary reputation, his love of conviviality, and his high colloquial powers, rendered his society much courted, and he became the centre of a band of wits and revellers. Sir Walter Raleigh founded a club, known to all posterity as the Mermaid Club, at which Jonson, Shakespeare, Beaumont, Fletcher, and other poets exercised themselves with “wit combats," more bright and genial than their wine. One of the favourite haunts of these bright-minded men was the Falcon Tavern, near the theatre in Bankside.' After his return to London in 1619, Jonson continued writing, producing a few inferior dramas, a great many masques, and one or two prose works, including an English Grammar and a translation of Aristotle's Poetics. His best days were however past, his pen had lost much of its vigour and cunning; but as his extravagant living kept him very poor, he was compelled to write hurriedly what would pay best. In 1625 he was attacked by palsy, which enfeebled both his body and mind. In 1630, nevertheless, he produced the comedy of The New Inn, which shows a lamentable falling off from his earlier productions, and which proved unsuccessful on the stage. King Charles, however, sent him a present of £100, and raised his salary as laureate to the same sum, adding a yearly tierce of canary wine. Even this, however, did not suffice to supply his necessities, as we find him shortly after begging assistance from the Lord Chancellor. In 1632 he produced The Magnetic Lady, and, the year after, The Tale of a Tub. His last work, which he left unfinished, was the Sad Shepherd, which is much superior to anything he wrote for years before. He died in 1637, and was buried in West

minster Abbey, a plain stone being placed over his remains, with the short inscription, O Rare Ben Jonson.'

To quote again the biographer above referred to : 'Jonson founded a style of regular English comedy, passive, well compacted, and fitted to endure, yet not very attractive in its materials. His Roman tragedies may be considered literal impersonations of classical antiquity, “robust and richly graced,” yet stiff and unnatural in style and construction. They seem to bear about the same relation to Shakespeare's classic dramas that sculpture does to actual life. The strong delineation of character is the most striking feature in Jonson's comedies. Generally his portraits of eccentric characters--men in whom some peculiarity has grown to an egregious excess—are ludicrous and impressive. His scenes and character show the labour of the artist, but still an artist possessing rich resources ; an acute and vigorous intellect; great knowledge of life, down to its lowest descents ; wit, lofty declamation, and a power of dramatising his knowledge and observation with singular skill and effect. His pedantry is often misplaced and ridiculous. . . . His comic theatre is a gallery of strange, clever, original portraits, powerfully drawn, and skilfully disposed, but many of them repulsive in expression, or so exaggerated as to look like caricatures or libels on humanity. We have little deep passion, or winning tenderness, to link the beings of his drama with those we love or admire, or to make us sympathize with them as with existing mortals. The charm of reality is generally wanting, or, when found, it is not a pleasing reality. When the great artist escapes entirely from his elaborate wit and personified humours into the region of fancy, we are struck with the contrast it exhibits to his ordinary

He thus presents two natures — one hard, rugged, gross, and sarcastic, “a mountain belly and a rocky face," as he describes his own person ; the other airy, fanciful, and graceful, as if its possessor had never combated with the world and its bad passions, but nursed his understanding and his fancy to poetical seclusion and observation.'

The selections we have made are two of his three best comedies, The Alchemist, and Epicene, or The Silent Woman, with neither of which have we deemed it necessary to take much liberty in the way of emasculation ; also Every Man in his Humour, not only on account of its intrinsic excellence as a comedy, but as serving to illustrate the use of the word humour so common in Jonson's time, and as containing one of his most celebrated creations, Captain Bobadill.]

manner.

THE ALCHEMIST:1

A COMEDY.
ACTED IN THE YEAR 1610 BY THE KING'S MAJESTY'S SERVANTS.

THE AUTHOR B. J.

London : Printed by William Stansby, 1616.

TO THE LADY MOST DESERVING HER NAME AND BLOOD,

LADY MARY WROT H. MADAM,—In the age of sacrifices, the truth of was kindled. Otherwise, as the times are, there religion was not in the greatness and fat of the comes rarely forth that thing so full of authority offerings, but in the devotion and zeal of the

or examplo, but by assiduity and custom grows sacrificers: else what could a handful of gums less, and loses. This, yet, safe in your judgment have done in the sight of a hecatomb? or how (which is a SIDNEY's) is forbidden to speak more, might I appear at this altar, except with those lest it talk or look like one of the ambitious faces affections that no less love the light and witness, of the time, who, the more they paint, are the than they have the conscience of your virtue ? less themselves, If what I offer bear an acceptable odour, and

Your ladyship's true honourer, hold the first strength, it is your value of it, which remembers where, when, and to whom it

BEN JOxsox.

1 By this expression, says Whalley, is meant one who for the age was then extremely addicted to the pursuit pretends to the knowledge of what is called the philo of alchemy, and favourable to the professors of it. The sopher's stone, which was supposed to have the faculty following comedy was therefore no unseasonable satire oftransmuting baser metals into gold. Alchemy bears the upon the reigning foible, since, among the few real same relation to chemistry that astrology does to astro artists, there was undoubtedly a far greater number of nomy. Our poet in the choice of his subject was happy; | impostors.

TO THE READER.

If thou beest more, thou art an understander, times their own rudeness is the cause of their and then I trust thee. If thou art one that takest | disgrace, and a littlo touch of their adversary up, and but a pretender, beware of what hands gives all that boisterous force the foil. I deny thou receivest thy commodity; for thou wert not, but that these men, who always seek to do never more fair in the way to be cozened, than more than enough, may some time happen on in this age, in poetry, especially in plays: wherein, some thing that is good, and great; but very now the concupiscence of dances and of antics seldom; and when it comes it doth not recomso reigneth, as to run away from nature, and be pense the rest of their ill. It sticks out, perhaps, afraid of her, is the only point of art that tickles and is more eminent, because all is sordid and the spectators. But how out of purpose, and vile about it: as lights are more discerned in a place, do I name art ? When the professors are thick darkness, than a faint shadow. I speak grown so obstinate contemners of it, and pre- not this, out of a hope to do good to any man sumers on their own naturals, as they are against his will; for I know, if it were put to deriders of all diligence that way, and, by simple the question of theirs and mine, the worse would mocking at the terms, when they understand not find more suffrages: because the most favour the things, think to get off wittily with their common errors. But I give thee this warning, ignorance. Nay, they are esteemed the more that there is a great difference between those learned and sufficient for this, by the many, that, to gain the opinion of copy,” utter all they through their excellent vice of judgment. For can, however unfitly; and those that use electhey commend writers, as they do fencers or tions and a mean. For it is only the disease of wrestlers; who, if they come in robustuously, the unskilful, to think rude things greater than and put for it with a great deal of violence, are polished; or scattered more numerous than comreceived for the braver fellows: when many posed.

1

Dramatis Personæ.
SUBTLE, the Alchemist.

TRIBULATION WHOLESOME, a Pastor of Am-
Face, the Housekeeper.

ANANIAS, a Deacon there

[sterdam. DOL Common, their colleague.

KASTRILL, the Angry Boy.
DAPPER, a Lawyer's Clerk.
DRUGGER, a Tobacco Man.

DAME PLIANT, his Sister, a Widow.
LOVEWIT, Master of the House.

Neighbours.
SIR EPICURE MAMMON, a Knight.
PERTINAX SURLY, a Gamester.

Officers, Attendants, &c.
SCENE-London.

ARGUMENT.

he sickness hot,4 a master quit, for fear,
H is house in town, and left one servant there;
E ase him corrupted, and gave means to know

A Cheater, and his punk; who now brought low,

eaving their narrow practice, were become

ozeners at large; and only wanting some
House to set up, with him they here contract,
E ach for a share, and all begin to act.
Much company they draw, and much abuse,
I n casting figures, telling fortunes, news,
Selling of flies, flat bawdry with the stone,
Till it, and they, and all in fume are gone.

i naturals native dispositions, natural gifts.
. election-choice, discrimination.
flies-familiar spirits.

2

copy-copiousness, plenty.
* The sickness hot--the plague.

PROLOGUE.

Fortune, that favours fools, these two short hours, Howe'er the age he loves in doth endure

We wish away both for your sakes and ours, The vices that she breeds, above their cure. Judging spectators; and desire, in place,

But when the wholesome remedies are sweet, To the author justice, to ourselves but grace. And in their working gain and profit meet, Our scene is London, 'cause we would make He hopes to find no spirit so much diseased, known,

But will with such fair correctives be pleased: No country's mirth is better than our own : For here he doth not fear who can apply. No clime breeds better matter for your whore, If there be any that will sit so nigh

Bawd, squire, impostor, many persons more, Unto the stream, to look what it doth run, Whose manners, now call’d humours, feed the They shall find things, they'd think or wish stage;

were done; And which have still been subject for the rage They are so natural follies, but so shown, Or spleen of comic writers. Though this pen As even the doers may see, and yet not own.

Did never aim to grieve but better men;

I'll gum

your silks

ACT I.--SCENE I.

Face. Why, I pray you, have I

Been countenanced by you, or you by me ?
A Room in LOVEWIT's House.

Do but collect, sir, where I met you first.

Sub. I do not hear well. Enter FACE, in a captain's uniform, with his sword

Face. Not of this, I think it. drawn, and SUBTLE with a vial, quarrelling, and

But I shall put you in mind, sir;-at Pie-corner, followed by Dol Common.

Taking your meal of steam in, from cooks' stalls, Face. Believe't, I will.

Where, like the father of hunger, you did walk Sub. Thy worst. I fart at thee.

Piteously costive, with your pinch'd-horn-nose, Dol. Have you your wits? Why, gentlemen! And your complexion of the Roman wash, for love

Stuck full of black and melancholic worms, Face. Sirrah, I'll strip you

Like powder corns shot at the artillery-yard. Sub. What to do? Lick figs

Sub. I wish you could advance your voice a Out at my

little.3 Face. Řogue, rogue !-out of all your sleights. Face. When you went pinn'd up in the several Dol. Nay, look ye, sovereign, general, are you rags madmen?

You had raked and pick'd from duoghills, before Sub. Oh, let the wild sheep loose.

day;

Your feet in mouldy slippers, for your kibes;' With good strong water, an you come.

A felt of rug, and a thin threaden cloke, Dol. Will you have

That scarce would cover your no buttocksThe neighbours hear you? Will you betray all ? Sub. So, sir! Hark! I hear somebody.

Face. When all your alchemy, and your algebra, Face. Sirrah

Your minerals, vegetals, and animals, Sub. I shall mar

Your conjuring, cozening, and your dozen of All that the tailor has made, if you approach.

trades Face. You most notorious whelp, you insolent Could not relieve your corps with so much linen Dare you do this?

(slave, Would make you tinder, but to see a fire; Sub. Yes, faith; yes, faith.

I gave you countenance, credit for your coals, Face. Why, who

Your stills, your glasses, your materials; Am I, my mongrel ? Who am I?

Built you a furnace, drew you customers, Sub. I'll tell you,

Advanced all your black arts; lent you, beside, Since you know not yourself.

A house to practise in Face, Speak lower, rogue.

Sub. Your master's house! Sub. Yes, you were once (time's not long past) Face. Where you have studied the more thristhe good,

ing skill Honest, plain, livery-three-pound-thrum,i that Of bawdry since. kept

Sub. Yes, in your master's house. Your master's worship's house here in the Friars,

You and the rais here kept possession. For the vacations

Make it not strange. I know you were one could Face. Will you be so loud ?

keep Sub. Since, by my means, translated suburb- | The buttery-hatch still lock’d, and save the chipcaptain.

pings, Face. By your means, doctor dog!

Sell the dole beers to aqua-vitæ men; &
Sub. Within man's memory,
All this I speak of.

1 collect-recollect.

2 costire-dried-up, pinched. I three-pound-thrum-one whose livery was made of 3 advance your voice-speak londer. the ends of a weaver's warp (thruins) or course yarn, of 4 kibes-chaps or broken chilblains, especially in the which three pounds were sufficient to make him a suit. heel. --WHALLEY. Gifford thinks it may mean that his livery 5 dole beer-beer to be doled, or dealt out to the poor. cost him but three pounds,

6 aqua-vitæ men-sellers of aqua-vitæ, or spirits.

The which, together with your Christmas vails Told in red letters;' and a face cut for thee,
At post-and-pair, your letting out of counters, Worse than Gamaliel Ratsey's.
Made you a pretty stock, some twenty marks, Dol. Are you sound?
And gave you credit to converse with cobwebs, Have you your senses, masters ?
Here, since your mistress' death hath broken up Face. I will have
house.

A book, but barely reckoning thy impostures, Face. You might talk softlier, rascal.

Shall prove a true philosopher's stone to printers. Sub. No, you scarab,?

Sub. Away, you trencher-rascal! I'll thunder you in pieces: I will teach you

Face. Out, you dog-leach! How to beware to tempt a Fury again,

The vomit of all prisonsThat carries tempest in his hand and voice.

Dol. Will you be Face. The place has made you valiant.

Your own destructions, gentlemen ?
Sub. No, your clothes.-

Face. Still spew'd out
Thou vermin, have I ta'en thee out of dung, For lying too heavy on the basket.3
So poor, so wretched, when no living thing

Sub. Cheater!
Would keep thee company, but a spider, or worse ? Face. Bawd!
Rais'd thee from brooms, and dust, and watering Sub. Cow-herd !
pots,

Face. Conjurer! Sublimed thee, and exalted thee, and fix'd thee Sub. Cut-purse! In the third region, call'd our state of grace ? Face. Witch ! Wrought thee to spirit, to quintessence, with pains Dol. Oh me! Would twice bave won me the philosopher's work? We are ruin'd, lost! have you no more regard Put thee in words and fashion, made thee fit To your reputations? Where's your judgment ? For more than ordinary fellowships ?

'slight, Giv'n thee thy oaths, thy quarrelling dimensions, Have yet some caro of me, of your republicThy rules to cheat at hörse-race, cock-pit, cards, Face. Away, this brach!' I'll bring thee, rogue, Dice, or whatever gallant tincture else?

within Made thee a second in mine own great art ? The statute of sorcery,s tricesimo tertio And have I this for thanks! Do you rebel ? Of Harry the Eighth: ay, and perhaps, thy neck Do you fly out in the projection?

Within a noose, for laundring gold and barbWould you be gone now?

ing it. Dol. Gentlemen, what mean you ?

Dol. [Snatches FACE's sword.] You'll bring your Will you mar all ?

head within a cockscomb, will you ? Sub. Sla ve, thou hadst had no name

And you, sir, with your menstrue? –
Dol. Will you undo yourselves with civil war?
Sub. Ne ver been known, past equi clibanum, 3

[Dashes SUBTLE's vial out of his hand. The heat of horse-dung, under ground, in cellars,

Gather it up.Or an ale-house darker than deaf John's; been 'Sdeath, you abominable pair of stinkards, lost

Leave off your barking, and grow one again, To all mankind, but laundresses and tapsters,

Or, by the light that shines, I'll cut your throats. Had not I been.

I'll not be made a prey unto the marshal, Dol. Do you know who hears you, sovereign? For ne'er a snarling dog-bolt 8 of you both. Face. Sirrah

Have you together cozen'd all this while, Dol. Nay, general, I thought you were civil. And all the world, and shall it now be said, Face. I shall turn desperate, if you grow thus | You've made most courteous shift to cozen yourloud.

selves? Sub. And hang thyself, I care not.

You will accuse him! you will bring him in Face. Hang thee, collier,

[To FACE. And all thy pots, and pans, in picture, I will,

Within the statute! Who shall take your word ? Since thou hast moved me

A whoreson, upstart, apocryphal captain, Dol. Oh, this will o'erthrow all.

Whom not a Puritan in Blackfriars will trust Face. Write thee up bawd in Paul's, have all

So much as for a feather: and you too, thy tricks

[To SUBTLE. Of cozening with a hollow cole, dust, scrapings, 4 Will give the cause, forsooth! you will insult, Searching for things lost, with a sieve and sheers, Erecting figures in your rows of houses,5 And taking in of shadows with a glass, 6

which the angels Gabriel, Uriel, &c., entered and gave responses, as Lilly says, 'in a voice, like the Irisli,

much in the throat.' This was one of the most artful 1 rails at post-and-pair, &c.— Vails was money given and impudent modes of imposture, and was usually to servants.

Post-and-pair was a card game played conducted by confederacy. with three cards each, wherein much depended on

I Told in red letters-i.e. all these tricks were to be ruing or betting on the goodness of your own band; printed in red letters, and hung up by Face in St. somewhat like brag. The servants received a small Paul's. gratuity for the letting out of counters' to count with 2 Gamaliel Ratscy was a notorious highwayman, wlio

always robbed in a mask, no doubt, as hideous as possarabbeetle; Lat. scarabeus.

sible. equi chibanum-horses oven,' whatever that may 3 For lying, &c.i.e. for eating more than his share

of the broken provisions, collected and sent in for the cozening with a hollow cole, &c.—cheating the simple prisoners.-- Gifford. by pretending to conjure with a bit of charcoal having 4 brach-any fine-nosed hound ; here used as '& a hole in it, in which was put the dust and scrapings'

mannerly name for a bitch.' of gold and silver. Searching for things lost, &c.—this 5 By this statute all witchcraft and sorcery were demethod of divination, says Gifford, of remote antiquity,

clared to be felony without benefit of clergy. yet retains its credit among the vulgar.

6 laundring-washing: bence laundry, from the same Erecting figures, &c.-delineating schemes of the root as lare; barbing--clipping. different positions of the planets, with respect to the

7 menstrué, or menstruum-solvent. several constellations. Ilouse, in astrology, is the twelfth

& dog-bolt-see p. 45, note 5, col. 1. part of the zodiac.-GIFFORD.

9 Blackfriars was the favourite residence of Puritans laking in, &c.--this was a common mode of divina at the time; the principal dealers in feathers and other tion. The glass was a globular crystal, or beryl, into vanitics of the age.

at play.

3

mean.

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