Benjamin [Ben] Jonson

C. H. Herford and Percy Simpson (eds), Ben Jonson, Vol. 5: Volpone; Epicoene; The Alchemist; Catiline

Find Location in text

Main Text

Act ii. Scene ii.


Mammon, Face, Svrly. DOe wee succeed? Is our day come? and hold's it?

Editor’s Note2

Fac. The euening will set red, vpon you, sir;

Critical Apparatus3You haue colour for it, crimson: the red ferment

Critical Apparatus4Has done his office. Three houres hence, prepare you

5To see proiection.

Mam. Pertinax, my Svrly,

6Againe, I sav to thee, aloud: be rich.

pg 318Editor’s Note

7This day, thou shalt haue ingots: and, to morrow,

Editor’s Note8Giue lords th'affront. Is it, my Zephyrvs, right?

9Blushes the bolts-head?

Fac. Like a wench with child, sir,

10That were, but now, discouer'd to her master.


Mam. Excellent wittie Lungs! My onely care is,

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus12Where to get stuffe, inough now, to proiect on,

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus13This towne will not halfe serue me:

Fac. No, sir? Buy The couering of o' churches.

Critical Apparatus14

Mam. That's true.

Fac. Yes.

Critical Apparatus15Let 'hem stand bare, as doe their auditorie.

Critical Apparatus16Or cap 'hem, new, with shingles.

Mam. No, good thatch:

17Thatch will lie light vpo' the rafters, Lungs.

18Lungs, I will manumit thee, from the fornace;

19I will restore thee thy complexion, Puffe,

20Lost in the embers; and repaire this braine,

Critical Apparatus21Hurt wi' the fume o'the mettalls.

Fac. I haue blowne, sir,

22Hard, for your worship; throwne by many a coale,

Editor’s Note23When 'twas not beech; weigh'd those I put in, iust,

Critical Apparatus24To keepe your heat, still euen; These bleard-eyes

25Haue wak'd, to reade your seuerall colours, sir,

26Of the pale citron, the greene lyon, the crow,

Editor’s Note27The peacocks taile, the plumed swan.

Mam. And, lastly,

Editor’s Note28Thou hast descryed the flower, the sanguis agni?

Mam. Where's master?

Fac. At's praiers, sir, he,

30Good man, hee's doing his deuotions,

31For the successe.

Mam. Lungs, I will set a period,

Critical Apparatus32To all thy labours : Thou shalt be the master

Critical Apparatus33Of my seraglio.

Fac. Good, sir.

Mam. But doe you heare?

Critical Apparatus34I'll geld you, Lungs.

Fac. Yes, sir.

Mam. For I doe meane

35To haue a list of wiues, and concubines,

pg 319

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus36Equall with Salomon; who had the stone

37Alike, with me: and I will make me, a back

38With the elixir, that shall be as tough

39As Hercvles, to encounter fiftie a night.

Critical Apparatus40Th'art sure, thou saw'st it bloud?

Fac. Both bloud, and spirit, sir.


Mam. I will haue all my beds, blowne vp; not stuft:

42Downe is too hard. And then, mine oual roome,

43Fill'd with such pictures, as Tiberivs tooke

44From Elephantis: and duli Aretine

Editor’s Note45But coldly imitated. Then, my glasses,

46Cut in more subtill angles, to disperse,

Editor’s Note47And multiply the figures, as I walke

Editor’s Note48Naked betweene my succubœ. My mists

Editor’s Note49I'le haue of perfume, vapor'd 'bout the roome,

50To loose our selues in; and my baths, like pits

51To fall into : from whence, we will come forth,

Editor’s Note52And rowle vs drie in gossamour, and roses.

Critical Apparatus53(Is it arriu'd at ruby ?)—— Where I spie

Critical Apparatus54A wealthy citizen, or rich lawyer,

55Haue a sublim'd pure wife, vnto that fellow

Editor’s Note56I'll send a thousand pound, to be my cuckold.

Editor’s Note57

Fac. And I shall carry it?

Mam. No. I'll ha' no bawds,

Critical Apparatus58But fathers, and mothers. They will doe it best.

Critical Apparatus59Best of all others. And, my flatterers

Critical Apparatus60Shall be the pure, and grauest of Diuines,

61That I can get for money. My mere fooles,

Critical Apparatus62Eloquent burgesses, and then my poets,

Editor’s Note63The same that writ so subtly of the fart,

Editor’s Note64Whom I will entertaine, still, for that subiect.

65The few, that would giue out themselues, to be

Critical Apparatus66Court, and towne-stallions, and, each where, belye

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus67Ladies, who' are knowne most innocent, for them;

pg 320

68Those will I begge, to make me eunuchs of:

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus69And they shall fan me with ten estrich tailes

70A piece, made in a plume, to gather wind.

71We will be braue, Puffe, now we ha' the med'cine.

Editor’s Note72My meat, shall all come in, in Indian shells,

73Dishes of agate, set in gold, and studded,

74With emeralds, saphyres, hiacynths, and rubies.

75The tongues of carpes, dormise, and camels heeles,

76Boil'd i' the spirit of Sol, and dissolu'd pearle,

77(Apicivs diet, 'gainst the epilepsie)

78And I will eate these broaths, with spoones of amber,

Editor’s Note79Headed with diamant, and carbuncle,

Editor’s Note80My foot-boy shall eate phesants, caluerd salmons,

Editor’s Note81Knots, godwits, lamprey's: I my selfe will haue

82The beards of barbels, seru'd, in stead of sallades;

Editor’s Note83Oild mushromes; and the swelling vnctuous paps

Editor’s Note84Of a fat pregnant sow, newly cut off,

Editor’s Note85Drest with an exquisite, and poynant sauce;

Editor’s Note86For which, Ile say vnto my cooke, there's gold,

Editor’s Note87Goe forth, and be a knight.

Fac. Sir, I'll goe looke

Critical Apparatus88A little, how it heightens.

Mam. Doe. My shirts

89I'll haue of taffata-sarsnet, soft, and light

90As cob-webs; and for all my other rayment

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus91It shall be such, as might prouoke the Persian;

Critical Apparatus92Were he to teach the world riot, a new.

Editor’s Note93My gloues of fishes, and birds-skins, perfum'd

94With gummes of paradise, and easterne aire——

Critical Apparatus95

Svr. And do you thinke to haue the stone, with this?


Mam. No, I doe thinke, t'haue all this, with the stone.

Editor’s Note97

Svr. Why, I haue heard, he must be homo frugi,

98A pious, holy, and religious man,

99One free from mortall sinne, a very virgin.


Mam. That makes it, sir, he is so. But I buy it.

Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus101My venter brings it me. He, honest wretch,

pg 321

102A notable, superstitious, good soule,

103Has worne his knees bare, and his slippers bald,

104With prayer, and fasting for it: and, sir, let him

Critical Apparatus105Do it alone, for me, still. Here he comes,

106Not a prophane word, afore him: 'Tis poyson.

Notes Settings


Critical Apparatus
ii. ii. Enter Face, as a servant. G, continuing the scene
Editor’s Note
101–4. From Robertus Vallensis, De Veritate et Antiquitate Artis Chemiœ, Paris, 1561: 'Nam fabulas de dracone quem Cadmus interfecit, qui postea admonitu Palladis interfecti dentes sevit, vnde extiterunt illi terrigenæ fratres. … De Medea, quæ Æsonem filium Iasonis (sic) in iuuentutem restituisse fingitur. … De Ioue qui sese convertit in pluuiam auream. … De oculis Argi in pauonis caudam conuersis. … De Mida, qui annuente Baccho, quicquid tangeret, in aurum conuertebat. … De Demogorgone, vt scribit Boccatius, abauo omnium deorum gentilium & ab omni parte circumdato tenebris, nebulis, caligine, habitante in medijs terræ visceribus, qui ubi natus fuerit, vestitur quodam viridi pallio, humiditate quadam aspersus, et non prognatus ab aliquo, sed æternus, et parens omnium rerum … & similia poëtarum & philosophorum antiquorum figmenta, et ænigmata, Eustathius, Suidas, et alij auctores grauissimi, ad Chemicam artem referenda esse interpretantur' (Th. Chem., 1602, i, pp. 16, 17).
Editor’s Note
103. Boccace in the first book of his Genealogia Deorum makes Demogorgon exist from eternity and describes him as the father of Strife (Homer's Ate), Pan, the Fates, Heaven, Earth, and Night.
Critical Apparatus
3 crimson:] crimson, Q
Critical Apparatus
4 houres] howers Q
Editor’s Note
ii. ii. 3. crimson. Cf. ii. i. 48.
Editor’s Note
5. proiection, the twelfth and last process in alchemy.
Critical Apparatus
ii. ii. 12 stuffe, inough Q, F1: stufte enough F2: query, stuff e inough,
on,] on Q
Editor’s Note
8. give lords the affront, look them boldly in the face: for the idea cf. Cat. i. 470–1.
Critical Apparatus
13 Buy] Take Q
Editor’s Note
9. bolts-head, 'a globular flask with a long cylindrical neck' (O.E.D.).
Critical Apparatus
14 of] off F3
Critical Apparatus
15 auditorie.] Auditorie, Q
Critical Apparatus
16 thatch:] Thatch. Q
Critical Apparatus
21 wi' the] with the Q
Editor’s Note
19. restorethy complexion. There are several references in Chaucer's The Canon's Yeoman's Tale to the effect of the furnace on the complexion, as when the Host asks the Yeoman in the prologue, iii,
  • Why artow so discoloured of thy face?
  • Peter, quod he, god yeve it harde grace,
  • I am so used in the fyr to blowe
  • That it hath chaunged my colour, I trowe.
Critical Apparatus
24 bleard-eyes] bleard eyes Q
Editor’s Note
23. not beech. A crucial point in alchemy. When the Canon's Yeoman's 'pot to-breketh', various defects are suggested: one is 'Bycause our fyr ne was nat maad of beech' (l. 375). So in the Alcumista of Erasmus, explaining initial failure: 'Caussabatur erratum in emendis carbonibus: quernos enim emerat cum abiegnis esset opus aut colurnis.'
Editor’s Note
24. to keep your heat, still euen. Bacon, Sylva Sylvarum, 1626, § 326, 'We conceiue indeed, that a perfect good Concoction, or Digestion, or Maturation of some Metalls, will produce Gold'. The chief secret of the matter is a 'Heat, that doth not rise and fall, but continue as Equall as may be'.
bleard-eyes. Chaucer's Yeoman again says (l. 177), 'And of my swink yet blered is myn ye', which means 'I am hookwinked', but Jonson probably took it literally of the effect on the eyes, especially as the context just before was
  • And wher my colour was bothe fresh and reed,
  • Now is it wan and of a leden hewe.
Critical Apparatus
29 At's] At his G
Editor’s Note
25–8. The seuerall colours show various degrees of fermentation. Martin Ruland, Progymnasmata Alchemiæ, 1607, p. 225, 'Tres sunt colores, albus, niger, & rubeus, cui interdum adiungitur citrinus, sicut cinereus albo affinis, & plumbeus nigro suo apparet ordine. Nominatur & cæruleus seu cælestis in hydrargyri apparatu, & viridis in leone viridi. … Ita cum conspicitur cauda pavonis, in fermentatione scilicet, quanquam colores sunt finiti, tamen infiniti appellantur, quod numerari nequeant, & subinde alter in alterum mutetur.' Paracelsus in Manuale de Lapide Philosophorum (Opera, 1603–5, part vi, p. 319) describes the shifting colours in the process of fixation, beginning with black: 'Hoc atramentum est Auis, quæ noctu volat sine alis, quam & primus Ros cælestis perpetua coctione & ascensione descensione in nigredinem capitis coruini transmutauit, quæ caudam pauonis assumit, & deinceps pennas cygni acquirit, & postremo summam rubedinem totius mundi accipit, …' Full instructions for the green lion are given in Paracelsus's tract De Leone Viridi (Opera, ibid., p. 295). 'Per leonem viridem solem intelligit philosophus, qui per vim suam attractivam virescere facit, & totum mundum gubernat' (Ripley, quoted in J. S. Weidenfeld's De Secretis Adeptorum, 1684, p. 172).
Critical Apparatus
32 be] be, Q originally
Critical Apparatus
33 seraglia] Seraglio F3
Critical Apparatus
34 you,] you' Q
Critical Apparatus
ii. ii. 36 Equall] Æquall Q
Salomon] Solomon F3
Editor’s Note
33. seraglia. A seventeenth-century form side by side with 'seraglio'.
Critical Apparatus
40 and F2: & Q: and F1
Editor’s Note
41. beds, blowne vp. Lampridius, Heliogabalus, 25, 'Multis vilioribus amicis folles pro accubitis sternebat'. Ibid. 19, 'Nec cubuit in accubitis facile nisi iis quae pilum leporinum haberent aut plumas perdicum subalares, saepe culcitas mutans.'
Editor’s Note
43–4. TiberiusFrom Elephantis . Suetonius, Tiberius, 43, 'Cubicula plurifariam disposita tabellis ac sigillis lascivissimarum picturarum et figurarum adornavit librisque Elephantidis instruxit, ne cui in opera edenda exemplar imperatae schemae deesset.' Elephantis was an amatory writer known only from the references in Suetonius and Martial ('molles Elephantidos libelli', Ep. xii. xliii. 4).
Editor’s Note
44. Aretine. Volp. iii. iv. 96.
Editor’s Note
45. glasses. From Seneca's account of the impurities of Hostius Quadra, Naturales Quaestiones, i. xvi, 'cum illi specula ab omni parte opponerentur, ut ipse flagitiorum suorum spectator esset'.
Editor’s Note
48. succubæ. N.I. iv. iii. 81.
mists. In the Golden Palace of Nero the dining-rooms were lined with movable ivory plates, which concealed silver pipes to rain perfumes on the guests (Suetonius, Nero, xxxi).
Critical Apparatus
53 (Is … ruby?) ] Is … Ruby? Q
Critical Apparatus
54 rich] a rich G
Editor’s Note
52. gossamour and roses. Massinger, The Maid of Honour, iii. i (1632, F3), 'Quilts fill'd high With gossamire and roses'.
Editor’s Note
58. fathers, and mothers. Juvenal, Sat. x. 304–6:
  • Prodiga corruptoris
  • improbitas ipsos audet temptare parentes:
  • tanta in muneribus fiducia.
Critical Apparatus
58–9 They… others. Not in Q
Critical Apparatus
59 And,] And Q
Critical Apparatus
60 pure] best Q
Critical Apparatus
62 poets,] poets F1: Poets Q, F2
Editor’s Note
59. Best of all others. A Greek idiom also copied by Milton, Paradise Lost, iv. 323–4:
  • Adam the goodliest man of men since born
  • His sons, the fairest of her daughters Eve.
Editor’s Note
60. the pure, and gravest, purest and gravest. Cat. i. 338, 'this great, and goodliest action': so Hadd. Masque 313, Love Freed 77, For. xi. 50. It was a colloquial Latin idiom: Plautus, Captivi, 278, 'Quod genus illist unum pollens atque honoratissimum'.
Critical Apparatus
66 each, where] each-where F2
Critical Apparatus
67 who' are Q: who are Ff
Editor’s Note
63. writ so subtly. Ep. cxxxiii. 108. In Ashmole MS. 36–7, f. 131, it is headed 'A discussion in the House of Commons on the peculiar manner in which Henry Ludlow said "noe" to a message brought by the Serjeant from the Lords'; it is dated 1607 in Harleian MS. 5191, f. 17. Printed by Sir John Mennis and James Smith in Musarum Deliciae, 1656.
Critical Apparatus
ii. ii. 69 me] me, Q
Editor’s Note
66. belye Ladies, like La Foole and Daw in the dénouement of Epicoene.
Editor’s Note
68. begge, as was done with fools or lunatics.
Editor’s Note
75. tongues of carpes. C.R. v. iv. 96 n.
dormise. The glis esculentus was a delicacy in Roman times (Varro, de Re Rustica, iii. 15; Pliny, N.H. viii. 223).
camels heeles. Lampridius, Heliogabalus, 20: 'Comedit saepius ad imitationem Apicii calcanea camelorum et cristas vivis gallinaceis dem-ptas, linguas pavonum et lusciniarum, quod qui ederet a pestilentia tutus diceretur.'
Editor’s Note
76. dissolu'd pearle, as Cleopatra did, and before her Clodius: Pliny, N.H. ix. 122, 'Prior id fecerat Romae in unionibus magnae taxationis Clodius, tragoedi Aesopi filius, relictus ab eo in amplis opibus heres … ut experiretur in gloria palati quidnam saperent margaritae; atque, ut mire placuere, ne solus hoc sciret, singulos uniones convivis quoque absorbendos dedit.' Volp. iii. vii. 191–3 (Cleopatra).
Editor’s Note
77. Apicius. Marcus Gavius Apicius, a gourmand of the early empire, who, for fear of starving, killed himself when his fortune was reduced by his excesses to a paltry £75,000. The collection of recipes in ten books entitled De Re Culinaria dates from about the third century A.D.; Jonson probably accepted it as genuine: see S. of N. iv. iv. 89. The author was an Apicius Caelius.
Editor’s Note
79. Headed. 'The spoons of Jonson's time (and I have seen many of them) had frequently ornamented heads; usually small figures of amber, pearl, or silver washed with gold. Sir Epicure improves on this fashionable luxury' (Gifford).
Editor’s Note
80. caluerd salmons. Apparently salmon cut into slices while it was still alive. It was a fashionable luxury: Massinger, The Maid of Honour, iii. i (1632, F2v):
  • Did I ever thinke …
  • That my too curious appetite, that turn'd
  • At the sight of godwits, pheasant, partridge, quales,
  • Larkes, wood-cocks, caluerd sammon, as course diet,
  • Would leape at a mouldy crust?—
and The Guardian, iv. ii (1655, p. 67):
  • Great Lords sometimes
  • For change leave calvert Sammon, and eat Sprats.
Editor’s Note
81. knots, 'rather larger than a Snipe, but with a short bill and legs' (Sir T. Browne, Works, ed. Wilkin, iv, p. 319, 'Gnatts or Knots'). Esteemed a great delicacy: Newton quotes the entries in the Northumberland and Le Strange Household Books, and a British Museum MS. (Sloane 1592), 'The maner of kepyng of knotts, after Sir William Askew & my Lady, given to my Lord Darcy, 25 Hery VIII'.
godwits. S.W. i. iv. 48.
Editor’s Note
82. The beards of barbels. The 'barbel' was a fish of the carp tribe, named from the fleshly filaments which hang from its mouth. Heliogabalus used to eat it: 'Barbas sane mullorum tantas iubebat exhiberi ut pro nasturtiis, apiasteris, et faselaribus, et foenograeco exhiberet plenis fabatariis et discis' (Lampridius, Heliogabalus, 20).
Editor’s Note
83–4. paps Of apregnant sow. Holland's Pliny, 1601, xi. xxxvii, p. 344, says sows were killed 'euen vpon the point of their farrowing, and being readie to Pig [as our monstrous gluttons doe nowadaies, because they would haue the teats soft, tender, and full of milke]'. Cf. Juvenal, Sat. xi. 81, 'qui meminit, calidae sapiat quid vulva popinae'.
Critical Apparatus
88 After 'heightens.' Exit. G
Critical Apparatus
91 Persian;] Persian: Q
Editor’s Note
87. be a knight. A sneer at the indiscriminate creation of knights by James I: cf. E.H. iv. i. 178, and Sharpham, The Fleire, 1607, D4v, 'He it was, was knighted, when so few scapt the sword.'
Critical Apparatus
92 a new] anew F2
Editor’s Note
89. taffeta-sarsnet. 'Sarcenet, a fine, thin, soft silk fabric of taffeta weave, was originally made by the Saracens. … Sarcenet was made in both "single" and "double" quality, that is, thin, and heavy. … The softness and semi-transparency of single sarcenet is shown by Mammon, … who plans a wardrobe having shirts of taffeta-sarcenet as soft and light as cobwebs' (Linthicum, Costume in the Drama, pp. 121–2).
Critical Apparatus
95 do you] do'you Q, Ff
Editor’s Note
93. gloues of fishes, and birds-skins. A flight of Sir Epicure's imagination: cheverel or silk gloves would be too hard for his sensitive hands.
Critical Apparatus
101 venter] venture F3
Editor’s Note
97–8. The need of piety in the seeker after gold was much insisted upon by the teachers of alchemy: see the opening chapter of Theobald de Hoghelande's De Alchemiae Difficultatibus, 'De Impedimentis artificem remorantibus' (Theatrum Chemicum, 1601, i, p. 136), 'Fili moneo ante omnia te Deum timere, in quo dispositionis tuæ nisus est. Animum præterea contritum habeas et a peccatis abhorrentem.' Thomas Norton, The Ordinall of Alchimy, ed. Ashmole, 1652, p. 94: an alchemist working on a good scale should have eight servants; four work while four sleep or go to church:
  • And while thei worke thei must needes eschewe
  • All Ribaudry, els thei shall finde this trewe,
  • That such mishap shall them befall,
  • Thei shall destroy part of their Works or all.
Critical Apparatus
ii. ii. 105 Do it] Do'it Q, Ff
logo-footer Copyright © 2019. All rights reserved.
Access is brought to you by Log out