G. A. Wilkes (ed.), The Complete Plays of Ben Jonson, Vol. 2

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pg 72 ACT V, Scene i

[A gallery at Court] Enter Mercury, Crites

Mer. It is resolved on, Crites, you must do it.


Cri. The grace divinest Mercury hath done me

3In this vouchsafed discovery of himself

4Binds my observance in the utmost term

5Of satisfaction to his godly will:

6Though I profess, without the affectation

7Of an enforced and formed austerity,

8I could be willing to enjoy no place

9With so unequal natures.

Mer. We believe it.

10But for our sake, and to inflict just pains

11On their prodigious follies, aid us now:

Editor’s Note12No man is presently made bad with ill.

13And good men, like the sea, should still maintain

14Their noble taste, in midst of all fresh humours

15That flow about them to corrupt their streams,

16Bearing no season, much less salt of goodness.

17It is our purpose, Crites, to correct

18And punish, with our laughter, this night's sport

Editor’s Note19Which our court-dors so heartily intend:

20And by that worthy scorn, to make them know

21How far beneath the dignity of man

22Their serious and most practised actions are.


Cri. Aye, but though Mercury can warrant out

24His undertakings, and make all things good,

25Out of the powers of his divinity,

26The offence will be returned with weight on me,

27That am a creature so despised and poor;

28When the whole Court shall take itself abused

29By our ironical confederacy.

pg 73 Editor’s Note30

Mer. You are deceived. The better race in Court

Editor’s Note31That have the true nobility, called virtue,

32Will apprehend it as a grateful right

33Done to their separate merit: and approve

34The fit rebuke of so ridiculous heads,

35Who with their apish customs and forced garbs

36Would bring the name of courtier in contempt,

37Did it not live unblemished in some few

Editor’s Note38Whom equal Jove hath loved, and Phoebus formed

39Of better metal, and in better mould.


Cri. Well, since my leader on is Mercury,

41I shall not fear to follow. If I fall,

42My proper virtue shall be my relief,

43That followed such a cause, and such a chief.


Notes Settings


Editor’s Note
12 Juvenal, Sat. ii. 83 (presently = immediately)
Editor’s Note
30 race: stock
Editor’s Note
31 Juvenal, Sat. viii. 20
Editor’s Note
38–9 Virgil, Aeneid, vi. 129–30. Juvenal, Sat. xiv. 34–5
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