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ARGUMENT

THE sickness hot, 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,
L eaving their narrow practice, were become
C 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, false putting of the stone,
Till it, and they, and all in fume are gone.

PROLOGUE

FORTUNE, that favours fools, these two short hours
We wish away, both for your sakes and ours,
Judging Spectators; and desire, in place,
To the author justice, to ourselves but grace.
Our scene is London, 'cause we would make known
No country's mirth is better than our own :
No clime breeds better matter, for your bore,
Shark, squire, impostor, many persons more,
Whose manners, now called humours, feed the stage;
And which have still been subject for the rage
Or spleen of comic writers. Though this pen
Did never aim to grieve, but better, men;
Howe'er the age he lives in doth endure
The vices that she breeds, above their cure.
But when the wholesome remedies are sweet,
And in their working gain and profit meet,
He hopes to find no spirit so much diseased
But will with such fair correctives be pleased :
For here he doth not fear who can apply.
If there be any that will sit so nigh
Unto the stream, to look what it doth run,
They shall find things they'd think or wish were done;
They are so natural follies, but so shown
As even the doers may see, and yet not own.

78

THE ALCHEMIST

ACT I

SCENE 1.-A ROOM IN LOVEWIT'S HOUSE

F

Enter Face, in a captain's uniform, with his sword drawn, and
SUBTLE with a vial, quarrelling, and followed by DoL COMMON.

ACE. Believe't, I will.
Sub. Thy worst.

I spit at thee.
Dol. Have you your wits? Why, gentlemen, for

love
Face. Sirrah, I'll strip you
Sub. What to do?
Face. Rogue, rogue ! - out of all your sleights.
Dol. Nay, look ye, sovereign, general, are you madmen?

Sub. Oh, 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 traitor 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 mongrel? 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 cloak

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 cozening 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 aquavitæ 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, cockpit, 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. Oh, this will o'erthrow all.

Face. Write thee up bawd in Paul's, have all thy tricks Of cozening with a hollow coal, dust, scrapings, Searching for things lost, with a sieve and shears, 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 log-leech !
The vomit of all prisons

Dol. Will you be
Your own destructions, gentlemen?

Face. Still spewed out
For lying too heavy on the basket.

Sub. Cheater!
Face. Bawd !
Sub. Cowherd !
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. [Snatches FACE's sword.] You'll bring your head within

a cockscomb, will you? And you, sir, with your menstrue. [Dashes SUBTLE's vial out

of his hand.] 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

[TO FACE
Within the statute? Who shall take your word?
A rascal, upstart, apocryphal captain,
Whom not a Puritan in Blackfriars will trust
So much as for a feather; and you, too,

[TO SUBTLE.

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