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VOLPONE, OR THE FOX.

BY

BEN JONSON.

PROLOGUE.

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Now luck yet send us, and a little wit

Yet, thus much I can give you as a tokci Will serve to make our play hit;

Of his plays worth, no eggs are broken; (According to the palates of the season) Nor quaking custards with fierce teeth affrightel, Here is rhime, not empty of reason :

Wherewith your rout are so delighted; This we were bid to credit, from our poet, Nor hales he in a gull, old ends reciting, Whose true scope, if you would know it, To stop gaps in his loose writing; In all his poems, still hath been this measure, With such a deal of monstrous and forc'd action, To mix profit with your pleasure ;

As might make Bet'lem a faction ; And not as some (whose throats their envy ail- Nor made he his play, for jests, stoln from each ing)

table, Cry hoarsely, all he writes is railing:

But makes jests to fit his fable. And when his plays come forth, think they can And so presents quick comedy refined, flout them,

As best critics have designed ; With saying he was a year about them.

The laws of time, place, persons he observeth, To these there needs no lie, but this his creature, From no needful rule he swerveth. Which was two months since no feature; All gall and copperas from his ink he draineth, And though he dares give them five lives to Only a little salt remaineth; mend it,

Wherewith he'll rub your cheeks, 'till (red with: 'Tis known five weeks fully pen'd it:

laughter) From his own hand, without a coadjutor, They shall look fresh a week after. Novice, journeyman, or tutor.

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DRAMATIS PERSONÆ.

VOLPONE, a Magnifico.
Mosca, his Parasite.
VOLTORE, an Advocate.
CORBaccio, an old Gentleman.
CORVINO, a Merchant.
1. dvocatori,
2. Avocatori,

Four Magistrates. 3. Avocatori, 4. drocatori, Notario, the Register. Nano, a Dwarf.

CASTRONE, an Eunuch.
Politick WOULD-BE, a Knight.
PEREGRINE, a Gentleman-lraveller.
BONARIO, a young Gentleman.
Madam WOULD-BE, the Knight's Wife.
CELIA, the Merchant's Wife.
COMMANDADORI, Officers.
MERCATORI, three Merchants.
ANDROGYNO, an Hermaphrodite.
SERVITORE, a Servant.

Women.

SCENE,–Venice.

ACT I.

SCENE I.

VOLPONE and Mosca. Vol. Good morning to the day; and, next,

my gold ; Open the shrine, that I may see my saint. 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, And I, to view thy splendour, dark’ning his : That lying here amongst my other hoards, Shewst 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 relic 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 transcend

ing All stile 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: That canst do naught, and yet mak’st men do all

things;

The price of souls; even hell, with thee to boot,
Is made worth Heav'n! 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 plow-shares, I fat no beasts To feed the shambles; have no mills for iron, Oil, corn, or men, to grind 'em into powder; I blow no subtle glass, expose no ships To threatnings 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 ha' some will swallow A melting heir, as glibly as your

Dutch Will pills of butter, and ne'er purge for't; 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 forthcoming, when the flesh is rotten : But your sweet nature doth abhor these courses ; You loath 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 loath it.
Mlos. And besides, sir,

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me.

You are not like a thresher that doth stand From thence it fled forth, and made quick trans-
With a huge flail, watching a heap of corn,

migration
And, hungry, dares not taste the smallest grain, To godly-lockt Euphorbus, who was kill'd in good
But feeds on mallows, and such bitter herbs;

fashion,
Nor like the merchant, who hath fill'd his vaults At the siege of old Troy, by the cuckold of Sparta.
With Romagnia, and rich Candian wines, Hermorimus was next (I find it in my charta)
Yet drinks the lees of Lombard's vinegar : To whom it did pass, where no sooner it was
You will not lie in straw, whilst moths and worms

missing,
Feed on your sumptuous hangings and soft beds. But with one Pyrrhus of Delos it learn'd to go
You know the use of richies, and dare give now

a-fishing :
From that bright heap, to me, your poor observer, And thence did it enter the sophist of Greece.
Or to your dwarf, or your hermaphrodite, From Pythagore she went into a beautiful piece,
Your eunuch, or what other household-trifle Hight Aspasia, the Meretrix; and the next toss
Your pleasure allows maint'nance.

of her Vol. Hold thee, Mosca,

Was, again of a whore she became a philosopher,
Take, of my hand; thou strik'st on truth, in all: Crates the Cynic: (as itself doth relate it)
And they are envious, term thee parasite. Since kings, knights, and beggars, knaves, lords
Call forth my dwarf, my eunuch, and my fool,

and fools gat it,
And let 'em make me sport. What should I do, Besides ox and ass, camel, mule, goat and brock,
But cocker up my genius, and live free

In all which it hath spoke, as in the cobler's cock. To all delights, my fortune calls me to?

But I come not here to discourse of that matter, I have no wife, no parent, child, ally,

Or his one, two or three, or his great oath, by To give my substance to; but whom I make,

quater,
Must be my heir : And this makes men observe His musics, his trigon, his golden thigh,

Or his telling how elements shift; but I
This draws new clients daily to my house, Would ask, how of late, thou hast suffer'd transe
Women and men of ev'ry sex and age,

lation,
That bring me presents, send me plate, coin, And shifted thy coat in these days of reformation !
jewels,

And. Like one of the reformed, a fool, as you With hope, that when I die, (wbich they expect

sce, Fach greedy minute) it shall then return Counting all old doctrine heresie. Tenfold upon them ; whilst some, covetous

Nan. But not on thine own forbid meats hast
Above the rest, seek to engross me whole,

thou ventured?
And counter-work the one unto the other, And. On fish, when first a Carthusian I enter'd.
Contend in gifts, as they would seem in love : Nun. Why, then thy dogmatical silence hath
All which I suffer, playing with their hopes,

left thee? And am content to coin them into profit,

And. Of that an obstreperous lawyer bereft me.
And look upon their kindness, and take more, Nan. O wonderful change! when sir lawyer
And look on that; still bearing them in hand,

forsook thee,
Letting the cherry knock against their lips, For Pythagore's sake, what body then took thee?
And draw it by their mouths, and back again. And. A good dull moyle.
How now!

Nan. And how! by that means,

Thou wert brought to allow of the eating of
SCENE II.

beans?

And. Yes. NANO, ANDROGYNO, CASTRONE, VOLPONE,

Nun. But, from the moyle, into whom did'st and Mosca

thou pass ? Nan. Now room for fresh gamesters, who do And. Into a very strange beast, by some wrie will you to know,

ters callà an ass; They do bring you neither play, nor university By others, a precise, pure, illuminate brother, show;

Of those devour flesh, and sometimes one anoAnd therefore do intreat you, that whatsoever

ther: they rehearse,

And will drop you forth a libel, or a sanctified lie, May not fare a whit the worse, for the false pace Betwixt every spoonful of a nativity-pie. of the verse.

Nun. Now quit thee, for heav'n, of that proIf you wonder at this, you will wonder at more,

fane nation;
e'er we pass,

And gently report thy next transmigration.
For know, here is inclosed the soul of Pythagoras, And. To the same that I am.
That juggler divine, as hereafter shall follow; Nan. A creature of delight?
Which soul (fast and loose, sir) came first from And(what is more than a fool) an hermaphrodite?
Apollo,

Now pri’thee, sweet soul, in all thy variation, And was breath'd into Æthalides, Mercurius his Which body would'st thou choose, to keep up thy son,

station ? Where it had the gift to remember all that ever And. Troth, this I am in, even here would I was done.

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Nan. 'Cause here the delight of each sex thou | What thoughts he has (without) now, as he walks, can'st vary?

That this might be the last gift he should give; And. Alas! those pleasures be stale, and for- That this would fetch you ; if you died to-day, saken;

And gave him all, what he should be to-morrow: No, 'tis your fool wherewith I am so taken, What large return would come of all his ventures; The only one creature that I can call blessed : How he should worshipped be, and reverenced; For all other forms I have proved most distressed. Ride, with his furs and foot-cloaths; waited on Nan. Spoke true, as thou wert in Pythagoras By herds of fools and clients; have clear way still.

Made for his moyle, as lettered as himself; This learned opinion we celebrate will, Be called the great and learned advocate: Fellow eunuch (as behoves us) with all our wit And then concludes, there's naught impossible. and art,

Volp. Yes, to be learned, Mosca. To dignify that, whereof ourselves are so great Mos. O, no: rich and special a part.

Implies it. Hood an ass with reverend purple, Vol. Now, very, very pretty: Mosca, this So you can hide his two-ambitious ears, Was thy invention?

And he shall pass for a cathedral doctor. Mos. If it please my patron, not else.

Volp. My caps, my caps, good Mosca: fetch Vol. It doth, good Mosca.

him in. Mos. Then it was, sir.

Mos. Stay, sir, your ointment for your eyes,

Volp. That's true;
SONG.

Dispatch, dispatch: I long to have possession

Of my new present.
Fools, they are the only nation

Mos. That, and thousands more,
Worth men's envy, or admiration ; I hope to see you lord of.
Free from care, or sorrow-taking,

Volp. Thanks, kind Mosca.
Selves and others merry-making :

Mos. And that, when I am lost in blended dust,
All they speak, or do, is sterling.

An hundred such as I am, in succession-
Your fool he is your great man's darling, Volp. Nay, that were too much, Mosca.
And your lady's sport and pleasure ; Mos. You shall live,
Tongue and bauble are his treasure. Still, to delude these harpies.
Er'n his face begetteth laughter,

Volp. Loving Mosca,
And he speaks iruth free from slaughter; 'Tis well; my pillow, now, and let him enter.
He's the grace of ev'ry feast,

Now, my feigned cough, my phthisie, and my gout.
And sometimes the chiefest guest : My apoplexy, palsy, and catarrhs,
Hath his trencher, and his stool,

Help, with your forced functions, this my posture,
When wit waits upon the fool.

Wherein, these three years, I have milked their 0, who would not be

hopes. He, he, he ?

He comes, I hear him, uh, uh, uh, uh, 0. Volp. Who's that? Away, look, Mosca.

SCENE III. (One knocks without. Mos. Fool, begone.

MOSCA, VOLTORE, and VOLPONE. Tis signior Voltore, the advocate,

Mos. You still are, what you were, sir. Only I know him by his knock.

you Volp. Fetch me my gown,

(Of all the rest) are he, commands his love: My fürs and night-caps ; say, my couch's chan. And you do wisely, to preserve it, thus, ging:

With early visitation, and kind notes And let him entertain himself awhile,

Of your good meaning to him, which I know Without, i' the gallery. Now, now, my clients Cannot but come most grateful. Patron, sir, Begin their visitation ! Vulture, kite,

Here's signior Voltore is come Raven, gor-crow, all my birds of prey,

Volp. What say you ? That think me turning carcase, now they come: Mos. Sir, signior Voltore is come this morning, I am not for 'em yet. How now? the news ? Mos . A piece of plate, sir.

l'olp. I thank him. Volp. Of what bigness?

Mos. And hath brought

A piece of antique plate, bought of St Mark, Massy and antique, with your name inscribed, With which he here presents you. And arms engraven.

Volp. He is welcome.
Volp. Good! and not a fox

Pray him to come more often
Stretched on the earth, with fine delusive sleights, Mos. Yes.
Mocking a gaping crow? ha, Mosca ?

Volt. What says he?
Mos. Sharp, sir.

Mos. He thanks you, and desires you to see Volp. Give me my furs. Why dost thou laugh

him often.

Volp. Mosca.
Mos. I cannot chuse, sir, when I apprehend Mos. My patron ?
VOL. III,

To visit you.

Mos. Huge,

so, man?

seen, sir.

Volp. Bring him near; where is he?

And return; make knots, and undo them ; I long to feel his hand.

Give forked counsel ; take provoking gold Mos. The plate is here, sir.

On either band, and put it up: These men, Volt. How fare you, sir?

He knew, would thrive with tseir humility. Volp. I thank you, signior Voltore.

And, for his part, he thought he should be blessed, Where is the plate? mine eyes are bad.

To have his heir of such a suffering spirit, Volt. I'm sorry

So wise, so grave, of so perplexed a tongue, To see you still thus weak.

And loud withal, that could not wag, nor scarce Mos. That he is not weaker.

Lie still, without a fee; when

every

word Volp. You are too munificent.

Your worship but lets fall, is a cecchine ! Volt. No, sir, would to Heaven,

Who's that? one knocks ; I would not have you I could as well give health to you, as that plate,

(Another knocks. Volp. You give, sir, what you can. I thank And yet-pretend you came, and went in haste ; you. Your love

I'll fashion an excuse. And, gentle sir,
Hath taste in this, and sball not be unanswered. When you do come to swim in golden lard,
I
pray you see me often.

Up to the arms in honey, that your chin
Volt. Yes, I shall, sir.

Is borne up stiff with fatness of the flood, Volp. Be not far from me.

Think on your vassal; but remember me: Mos. Do you observe that, sir ?

I ha' not been your worst of clients. Volp. Hearken unto me still: it will concern you. Volt. Mosca Mos. You are a happy man, sir, know your Mos. When will you have your inventory good.

brought, sir? Volp. I cannot now last long

Or see a copy of the will ? anon, Mos. You are his heir, sir.

I'll bring 'em to you, sir. Away, be gone, Volt. Am I?

Put business i’ your face.

(Exit VOLT. Volp. I feel me going, uh, uh, uh, uh.

Volp. Excellent Mosca ! I am sailing to my port, uh, uh, uh, uh,

Come hither, let me kiss thee. And I am glad I am so near my haven.

Mos. Keep you still, sir, Mos. Alas, kind gentleman; well, we must all Here is Corbaccio. go

Volp. Set the plate away, Volt. But Mosca

The vulture's gone, and the old raven's come.
Mos. Age will conquer.
Volt. Pr’ythee hear me.

SCENE IV.
Am I inscribed his heir for certain ?
Mos. Are you?

MOSCA, CORBACCIO, und VOLPONE.
I do beseech you, sir, you will vouchsafe

Mos. Betake you to your silence, and your To write me i' your family. All my hopes

sleep: Depend upon your worship. I am lost, Stand there, and multiply. Now shall we see Except the rising sun do shine on me.

A wretch, who is, indeed, more impotent Volt. It shall both shine and warm thee, Mosca. Than tiris can feign to be; yet hopes to hop Mos. Sir,

Over his grave. Signior Corbaccio!
I am a man that have not done your love You're very welcome, sir.
All the worst offices : Here I wear your keys, Corb. How does your patron?
See all your coffers and your caskets locked, Mos. Troth, as he did, sir; no amends.
Keep the poor inventory of your jewels,

Corb. What? mends he?
Your plate, and monies; I am your steward, sir, Mos. No, sir; he is rather worse.
Husband your goods are here.

Corb. That's well. Where is he?
Volt. But am I sole heir ?

Mos. Upon his couch, sir, newly fallen asleep. Mos. Without a partner, sir, confirmed this Corb. Does he sleep well? morning;

Mos. No wink, sir, all this night,
The wax is warm yet, and the ink scarce dry Nor yesterday ; but slumbers.
Upon the parchment.

Corb, Good! He should take
Volt. Happy, happy me!

Some counsel of physicians : I have brought him By what good chance, sweet Mosca ?

An opiate here from mine own doctorMos. Your desert, sir;

Mos. He will not hear of drugs. I know no second cause.

Corb. Why? I myself Volt. Thy modesty

Stood by, while 'twas made; saw all the ingrc. Is loth to know it; well, we shall requite it.

dients, Mos. He ever liked your course, sir; that first And know it cannot but most gently work. took him.

My life for his, 'tis but to make him sleep. I oft have heard him say, how he admired. Volp. Ay, his last sleep, if he would take it. Men of your large profession, that could speak Mos. Sir, he has no faith in physic. To every cause, and things mere contraries, Corb. Say you ? say you? 'Till they were hoarse again, yet all be law; Mos. He has no faith in physic: he does think That, with most quick agility, could turn, Most of your doctors are the greater danger,

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