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To one of our most artful courtezans,
Or some quick Negro, or cold Eussian;
And I will meet thee in as many shapes:
Where we may so transfuse our wandering souls
Oat at our lips, and score up sums of pleasures, [Sings.

That the curious shall not know
How to tell them as they flow;
And the envious, when they find
What their number is, be pined.

Cel. If you have ears that will be pierced or eyes
That can be open'd a heart that may be touch' d
Or any part that yet sounds man about you
If you have touch of holy saints or heaven
Do me the grace to let me 'scape if not,
Be bountiful and kill me. You do know,
I am a creature, hither ill betray' d,
By one, whose shame I would forget it were:
If you will deign me neither of these graces,
Yet feed your wrath, sir, rather than your lust,

The Fox 449

(It is a vice comes nearer manliness,)
And punish that unhappy crime of nature,
Which you miscall my beauty : flay my face,
Or poison it with ointments, for seducing
Your blood to this rebellion. Rub these hands,
With what may cause an eating leprosy,
E 'en to my bones and marrow : any thing,
That may disfavour me, save in my honour
And I will kneel to you, pray for you, pay down
A thousand hourly vows, sir, for your health;
Report, and think you virtuous

Volp. Think me cold,
Frozen and impotent, and so report me ?
That I had Nestor's hernia, thou wouldst think.
I do degenerate, and abuse my nation,
To play with opportunity thus long ;
I should have done the act, and then have parley'd.
Yield, or I'll force thee. [Seizes her.

Cel. O! just God!

Volp. In vain

Bon. [rushing in.] Forbear, foul ravisher, libidinous swine!
Free the forced lady, or thou diest, impostor.
But that I'm loth to snatch thy punishment
Out of the hand of justice, thou shouldst, yet,
Be made the timely sacrifice of vengeance,
Before this altar, and this dross, thy idol.
Lady, let's quit the place, it is the den
Of villainy; fear nought, you have a guard:
And he, ere long, shall meet his just reward.

[Exeunt Bon. and Cel.

Volp. Fall on me, roof, and bury me in ruin!
Become my grave, that wert my shelter ! O !
I am unmask'd, unspirited, undone,
Betray'd to beggary, to infamy

Enter MOSCA, wounded and bleeding.

Mos. Where shall I run, most wretched shame of men,
To beat out my unlucky brains ?

Volp. Here, here.
What ! dost thou bleed ?

Mos. O that his well-driv'n sword
Had been so courteous to have cleft me down
T'nto the navel, ere I lived to see
My life, my hopes, my spirits, my patron, all
Thus desperately engaged, by my error!

Volp. Woe on thy fortune!

Mos. And my follies, sir.

Volp. Thou hast made me miserable.

Mos. And myself, sir.

450 Ben Jonson's Plays

Who would have thought he would have hearken'd so ?

Volp. What shall we do?

Mos. I know not; if my heart
Could expiate the mischance, I'd pluck it out.
Will you be pleased to hang me, or cut my throat ?
And I'll requite you, sir. Let's die like Romans,
Since we have lived like Grecians. [Knocking within.

Volp. Hark ! who's there ?
I hear some footing; officers, the saffi,
Come to apprehend us! I do feel the brand
Hissing already at my forehead; now,
Mine ears are boring.

Mos. To your couch, sir, you,
Make that place good, however. [Volpone lies down, as before.']

Guilty men
Suspect what they deserve still.


Signior Corbaccio!

Corb. Why, how now, Mosca ?

Mos. O, undone, amazed, sir.
Your son, I know not by what accident,
Acquainted with your purpose to my patron,
Touching your Will, and making him your heir,
Enter'd our house with violence, his sword drawn
Sought for you, call'd you wretch, unnatural,
Vow'd he would kill you.

Corb. Me!

Mos. Yes, and my patron.

Corb. This act shall disinherit him indeed;
Here is the Will.

Mos. 'Tis well, sir.

Corb. Right and well:
Be you as careful now for me.

Enter VOLTORE, behind.

Mos. My life, sir,
Is not more tender'd ; I am only yours.

Corb. How does he ? will he die shortly, think' st thou ?

Mos. I fear
He'll outlast May.

Corb. To-day?

Mos. No, last out May, sir.

Corb. Could'st thou not give him a dram ?

Mos. O, by no means, sir.

Corb. Nay, I'll not bid you.

Volt, {coming forward.'] This is a knave, I see.

Mos. [seeing Voltore.] How ! signior Voltore ! did he hear me ?


The Fox 45 i

Volt. Parasite!

Mos. Who's that ? 0, sir, most timely welcome

Volt. Scarce,

To the discovery of your tricks, I fear.
You are his, only ? and mine also, are you not ?

Mos. Who ? I, sir ?

Volt. You, sir. What device is this
About a Will ?

Mos. A plot for you, sir.

Volt. Come,
Put not your foists upon me; I shall scent them.

Mos. Did you not hear it ?

Volt. Yes, I hear Corbaccio
Hath made your patron there his heir.

Mos. 'Tis true,

By my device, drawn to it by my plot,
With hope

Volt. Your patron should reciprocate?
And you have promised ?

Mos. For your good, I did, sir.
Nay, more, I told his son, brought, hid him h?re,
Where he might hear his father pass the deed:
Being persuaded to it by this thought, sir,
That the unnaturalness, first, of the act,
And then his father's oft disclaiming in him,
(Which I did mean t'help on,) would sure enrage him
To do some violence upon his parent,
On which the law should take sufficient hold,
And you be stated in a double hope:
Truth be my comfort, and my conscience,
My only aim was to dig you a fortune
Out of these two old rotten sepulchres

VoU. I cry thee mercy, Mosca.

M os. Worth your patience,
And your great merit, sir. And see the change !

Volt. Why, what success ?

Mos. Most hapless ! you must help, sir.
Whilst we expected the old raven, in comes
Corvino's wife, sent hither by her husband

VoU. What, with a present?

Mos. No, sir, on visitation;
(I'll tell you how anon;) and staying long,
The youth he grows impatient, rushes forth,
Seizeth the lady, wounds me, makes her swear
( Or he would murder her, that was his vow)
To affirm my patron to have done her rape:
Which how unlike it is, you see I and hence,
With that pretext he's gone, to accuse his father,
Defame my patron, defeat you

452 Ben Jonson's Plays

VoU. Where is her husband ?
Let him be sent for straight.

Mos. Sir, I'll go fetch him.

Volt. Bring him to the Scrutineo.

Mos. Sir, I will.

Volt. This must be stopt.

Mos. you do nobly, sir.
Alas, 'twas labour'd all, sir, for your good;
Nor was there want of counsel in the plot:
But fortune can, at any time, o'erthrow
The projects of a hundred learned clerks, sir.

Corb. [listening.] What's that?

VoU. Will't please you, sir, to go along?

[Exit Corbaccio, followed by Voltore.

Mos. Patron, go in, and pray for our success.

Volp. [rising from his couch.] Need makes devotion: heaven
your labour bless ! [Exeunt.


SCENE I. A Street.

Sir P. I told you, sir, it was a plot; you see
What observation is ! You mention' d me
For some instructions: I will tell you, sir,
(Since we are met here in this height of Venice,)
Some few particulars I have set down,
Only for this meridian, fit to be known
Of your crude traveller; and they are these.
I will not touch, sir, at your phrase, or clothes,
For they are old.

Per. Sir, I have better.

Sir P. Pardon,
I meant, as they are themes.

Per. O, sir, proceed:
I'll slander you no more of wit, good sir.

Sir P. First, for your garb, it must be grave and serious,
Verv reserv'd and lock'd; not tell a secret


On any terms, not to your father; scarce
A fable, but with caution: make sure choice
Both of your company, and discourse; beware
You never speak a truth

Per. How!

Sir P. Not to strangers,

For those be they you must converse with most;
Others I would not know, sir, but at distance,
So as I still misrht be a saver in them:

The Fox 45

You shall have tricks else past upon you hourlv.
And then, for your religion, profess none,
But wonder at the diversity, of all:
And, for your part, protest, were there no other
But simply the laws o' the land, you could content you,
Xic. Machiavel, and Monsieur Bodin, both
Were of this mind. Then must you learn the use
And handling of your silver fork at meals,
The metal of your glass; (these are main matters
With your Italian;) and to know the hour
When you must eat your melons, and your figs.
Per. Is that a point of state too ?
Sir P. Here it is:

For your Venetian, if he see a man
Preposterous in the least, he has him straight;
He has; he strips him. I'll acquaint you, sir,
I now have lived here, 'tis some fourteen months
Within the first week of my landing here,
All took me for a citizen of Venice,
I knew the forms so well

Per. And nothing else. [Aside.

Sir P. I had read Contarene, took me a house.
Dealt with my Jews to furnish it with moveables
Well, if I could but find one man, one man
To mine own heart, whom I durst trust, I would
Per. What, what, sir ?

Sir P. Make him rich; make him a fortune:
He should not think again. I would command it.
Per. As how?

Sir P. With certain projects that I have;
Which I may not discover.

Per. If I had

But one to wager with, I would lay odds now,
He tells me instantly. [Aside

Sir P. One is, and that

I care not greatly who knows, to serve the state
Of Venice with red herrings for three years,
And at a certain rate, from Rotterdam.
Where I have correspondence. There's a letter,

>t me from one o' the states, and to that purpose:
He cannot write his name, but that's his mark.
Per. He is a chandler?
x - P. Xo, a cheesemonger.
There are some others too with whom I treat
Al-mt the same negociati<m;
And I will undertake it: for. 'tis thus.
I'll do't with ease, I have oast it all: Four ':

ies but three men in her, and a U-v:
And she shall make me three retun. ir:

454 Ben Jonson's Plays

So, if there come but one of three, I save;
If two, I can defalk: but this is now,
If my main project fail.

Per. Then you have others ?

Sir P. I should be loth to draw the subtle air
Of such a place, without my thousand aims.
I'll not dissemble, sir: where'er I come,
I love to be considerative; and 'tis true,
I have at my free hours thought upon
Some certain goods unto the state of Venice,
Which I do call my Cautions; and, sir, which
I mean, in hope of pension, to propound
To the Great Council, then unto the Forty,
So to the Ten. My means are made already

Per. By whom ?

Sir P. Sir, one that, though his place be obscure,
Yet he can sway, and they will hear him. He's
A commandador.

Per. What ! a common serjeant ?

Sir P. Sir, such as they are, put it in their mouths,
What they should say, sometimes,; as well as greater:
1 think I have my notes to shew you [Searching his pockets.

Per. Good sir.

Sir P. But you shall swear unto me, on your gentry,
Not to anticipate

Per. I, sir!

Sir P. Nor reveal
A circumstance My paper is not with me.

Per. 0, but you can remember, sir.

Sir P. My first is

Concerning tinder-boxes. You must know,
No family is here without its box.
Now, sir, it being so portable a thing,
Put case, that you or I were ill affected
Unto the state, sir; with it in our pockets,
Might not I go into the Arsenal,
Or you, com s out again, and none the wiser ?

Per. Except yourself, sir.

Sir P. Go to, then. I therefore
Advertise to the state, how fit it were,
That none but such as were known patriots,
Sound lovers of their country, should be suffer' d
To enjoy them in their houses; and even those
Seal'd at some office, and at such a bigness
As might not lurk in pockets.

Per. Admirable!

Sir P. My next is, how to enquire, and be resolv'd,
By present demonstration, whether a ship,
Newly arrived from Soria, or from

The Fox I 455

Any suspected part of all the Levant,

Be guilty of the plague : and where they use

To lie out forty, fifty days, sometimes,

About the Lazaretto, for their trial ;

I'll save that charge and loss unto the merchant,

And in an hour clear the doubt.

Per. Indeed, sir!

Sir P. Or I will lose my labour.

Per. 'My faith, that's much.

Sir P. Nay, sir, conceive me. It will cost me in onions,
Some thirty livres

Per. Which is one pound sterling.

Sir P. Beside my water- works : for this I do, sir
First, I bring in your ship 'twixt two brick walls ;
But those the state shall venture : On the one
I strain me a fair tarpauling, and in that
I stick my onions, cut in halves : the other
Is full of loop-holes, out at which I thrust
The noses of my bellows; and those bellows
I keep, with water-works, in perpetual motion,
Which is the easiest matter of a hundred.
Now, sir, your onion, which doth naturally
Attract the infection, and your bellows blowing
The air upon him, will show, instantly,
By his changed colour, if there be contagion;
Or else remain as fair as at the first.
Now it is known, 'tis nothing.

Per. You are right, sir.

Sir P. I would I had my note.

Per. 'Faith, so would I:
But you have done well for once, sir.

Sir P. Were I false,

Or would be made so, I could shew you reasons
How I could sell this state now to the Turk,
Spite of their gallies, or their [Examining his papers.

Per. Pray you, sir Pol.

Sir P. I have them not about me.

Per. That I fear'd :
They are there, sir.

Sir P. No, this is my diary,
Wherein I note my actions of the day.

Per. Pray you, let's see, sir. What is here? Nolanditm, [Reads.
A rat had gn awn my spur-leathers; notwithstanding,
1 put on new, and did go forth: but first
1 threw three beans over the threshold. Item,
I went and bought two tooth-picks, whereof one
I burst immediately, in a discourse
With a Dutch merchant, 'bout ragion del stato.
From him I went and paid a moccinigo

456 Ben Jonson's Plays

For piecing my silk stockings; by the way

I cheapen' d sprats; and at St. Mark's I urined.

'Faith these are politic notes !

Sir P. Sir, I do slip
No action of nay life, but thus I quote it.

Per. Believe me, it is wise !

Sir P. Nay, sir, read forth.

Enter, at a distance, Lady POLITICK WOULD-BE, NANO, and

two Waiting-women.

Lady P. Where should this loose knight be, trow ? sure he's

Nan. Why, then he's fast.

Lady P. Ay, he plays both with me.
I pray you stay. This heat will do more harm
To my complexion, than his heart is worth.
(I do not care to hinder, but to take him.)
How it comes off ! [Rubbing her cheeks.

1 Worn. My master's yonder.
Lady P. Where ?

2 Worn. With a young gentleman.
Lady P. That same's the party;

In man's apparel! 'Pray you, sir, jog my knight:
I will be tender to his reputation,
However he demerit.

Sir P. [seeing her.] My ladyl

Per. Where?

Sir P. 'Tis she indeed, sir; you shall know her. She is,
Were she not mine, a lady of that merit,
For fashion and behaviour; and for beauty
I durst compare

Per. It seems you are not jealous,
That dare commend her.

Sir P. Nay, and for discourse

Per. Being your wife, she cannot miss that.

Sir P. [introducing Per.] Madam,
Here is a gentleman, pray you, use him fairly;
He seems a youth, but he is

Lady P. None.

Sir P. Yes, one
Has put his face as soon into the world

Lady P. You mean, as early ? but to-day ?

Sir P. How's this?

Lady P. Why, in this habit, sir; you apprehend me:
Well, master Would-be, this doth not become you ;
I had thought the odour, sir, of your good name
Had been more precious to you; that you would not
Have done this dire massacre on your honour;
One of your gravity and rank besides !

The Fox 457

"Rut knights, I see, care little for the oath
They make to ladies; chiefly, their own ladies.

Sir P. Now, by my spurs, the symbol of my knighthood,

Per. Lord, how his brain is humbled for an oath! [Aside.

Sir P. I reach you not.

Lady P. Right, sir, your policy

Ma}^ bear it through thus. Sir, a word with you. [To Per.
I would be loth to contest publicly
With any gentlewoman, or to seem
Fro ward, or violent, as the courtier says;
It comes too near rusticity in a lady,
Which I would shun by all means: and however
I may deserve from master Would-be, yet
Thave one fair gentlewoman thus be made
The unkind instrument to wrong another,
And one she knows not, ay, and to perse ver;
In my poor judgment, is not warranted
From being a solecism in our sex,
If not in manners.

Per. How is this !

Sir P. Sweet madam,
Come nearer to your aim.

Lady P. Marry, and will. sir.
Since you provoke me with your impudence,
And laughter of your light land-syren here,
Your Sporus, your hermaphrodite

Per. What's here ?
Poetic fury, and historic storms !

Sir P. The gentleman, believe it, is of worth,
And of our nation.

Lady P. Ay, your White-friars nation.
Come, I blush for you, master Would-be, I ;
And am asham'd you should have no more forehead,
Than thus to be the patron, or St. George,
To a lewd harlot, a base fricatrice,
A female devil, in a male outside.

Sir P. Nay,

An you be such a one, I must bid adien
To your delights. The case appears too liquid. [Exit.

Lady P. Ay, you may carry't clear, with your state-face!
But for your carnival concupiscence,
Who here is fled for liberty of conscience,
From furious persecution of the marshal,
Her will I d is'] tie.

Per. This is fine, i'faith !
And do you use this often ? Ts this part
Of your wit's exercise, 'gainst you have occasion?


P. Go to, sir.

458 Ben Jonson's Plays

Per. Do you hear me, lady ?
Why, if your knight have set you to beg shirts,
Or to invite me home, you might have done it
A nearer way, by far.

Lady P. This cannot work you
Out of my snare.

Per. Why, am I in it, then ?
Indeed your husband told me you were fair.
And so you are; only your nose inclines,
That side that's next the sun, to the queen-apple.

Lady P. This cannot be endur'd by any patience.

Enter MOSCA.

Mos, What is the matter, madam ?

Lady P. If the senate

Right not my quest in this, I will protest them
To all the world, no aristocracy.

3fo5. What is the injury, lady ?

Lady P. Why, the callet
You told me of, here I have ta'en disguised.

M os. Who ? this ! what means your ladyship ? the creature
I mention'd to you is apprehended now,
Before the senate; you shall see her

Lady P. Where?

Mos. I'll bring you to her. This young gentleman,
I saw him land this morning at the port.

Lady P. Is't possible! how has my judgment wander' cl?
Sir, I must, blushing, say to you, I have err'd;
And plead your pardon.

Per. What, more changes yet !

Lady P. I hope you have not the malice to remember
A gentlewoman's passion. If you stay
In Venice here, please you to use me, air

Mos. Will you go, madam ?

Lady P. 'Pray you, sir, use me; in faith,
The more you see me, the more I shall conceive
You have forgot our quarrel.

[Exeunt Lady Would-be, Mosca, Nano, and Waiting-women.

Per. This is rare!

Sir Politick Would-be ? no; sir Politick Bawd,
To bring me thus acquainted with his wife !
Well, wise sir Pol, since you have practised thna
Upon my fresh man -ship, I'll try your salt-head,
What proof it is against a counter-plot. [Exit.

SCENE II. The Scrutineo, or Senate-House.

Volt. Well, now you know the carriage of the business,
Your constancy is all that is required

The Fox 459

Unto the safety of it.

Mos. Is the lie

Safely convey'd amongst us ? is that sure ?
Knows every man his burden ?

Corv. Yes.

Mos. Then shrink not.

Corv. But knows the advocate the truth ?

Mos. O, sir,

By no means ; I devised a formal tale,
That salv'd your reputation. But be valiant, sir.

Corv. I fear no one but him, that this his pleading
Should make him stand for a co-heir

1(1 os. Co-halter!

Hang him ; we will but use his tongue, his noise,
As we do croakers here.

Corv. Ay, what shall he do ?

Mos. When we have done, you mean ?

Corv. Yes.

Mos. Why, we'll think:

Sell him for mummia; he's half dust already.
Do you not smile, [to Voltore.] to see this buffalo,
How he doth sport it with his head ? I should,
If all were well and past. [Aside.'] Sir, [to Corbaccio.'] only you
Are he that shall enjoy the crop of all,
And these not know for whom they toil.

Corb. Ay, peace.

Mos. [turning to Corvino.] But you shall eat it. Much ! [A side.']

Worshipful sir, [to Voltore.~\
Mercury sit upon your thundering tongue,
Or the French Hercules, and make your language
As conquering as his club, to beat along,
As with a tempest, flat, our adversaries;
But much more yours, sir.

Volt. Here they come, have done.

Mos. I have another witness, if you need, sir,
I can produce.

Volt. Who is it ?

Mos. Sir, I have her.

Enter Avocatori and take their seats, BONARIO, CELIA, Xotario,
Commandadori, Safii, and other Officers of justice.

1 A voc. The like of this the senate never heard of.

2 A voc. 'Twill come most strange to them when we report it.
4 A voc. The gentlewoman has been ever held

Of unreproved name.

3 A voc. So has the youth.

4 A voc. The more unnatural part that of his father.
'2 A voc. More of the husband.

1 A voc. I not know to give

460 Ben Jonson's Plays

His act a name, it is so monstrous !

4 Avoc. But the impostor, he's a thing created
To exceed example!

1 Avoc. And all after-times!

2 A voc. I never heard a true voluptuary
Described, but him.

3 A voc. Appear yet those were cited ?
Not. All but the old magnifico, Volpone.

1 A voc. Why is not he here ?
Mas. Please your fatherhoods,

Here is his advocate: himself 's so weak,
So feeble

4 A voc. What are you ?
Bon. His parasite,

His knave, his pandar : I beseech the court,
He may be forced to come, that your grave eyes
May bear strong witness of his strange impostures.

Volt. Upon my faith and credit with your virtues,
He is not able to endure the air.

2 Avoc. Bring him, however.

3 Avoc. We will see him.

4 Avoc. Fetch him.

Volt. Your fatherhoods' fit pleasures be obey'd;

[Exeunt Officers.

But sure, the sight will rather move your pities,
Than indignation. May it please the court,
In the mean time, he may be heard in me ;
I know this place most void of prejudice,
And therefore crave it, since we have no reason
To fear our truth should hurt our cause.

3 Avoc. Speak free.

Volt. Then know, most honour'd fathers, I must now
Discover to your strangely abused ears,
The most prodigious and most frontless piece
Of solid impudence, and treachery,
That ever vicious nature yet brought forth
To shame the state of Venice. This lewd woman,
That wants no artificial looks or tears
To help the vizor she has now put on,
Hath long been known a close adulteress
To that lascivious youth there; not suspected,
I say, but known, and taken in the act
With him; and by this man, the easy husband,
Pardon'd; whose timeless bounty makes him now
Stand here, the most unhappy, innocent person,
That ever man's own goodness made accused.
For these not knowing how to owe a gift
Of that dear grace, but with their shame; being placed
So above all powers of their gratitude,

The Fox 461

Began to hate the benefit; and, in place

Of thanks, devise to extirpe the memory

Of such an act : wherein I pray your fatherhoods

To observe the malice, yea, the rage of creatures

Discover'd in their evils; and what heart

Such take, even from their crimes : but that anon

\Yill more appear. This gentleman, the father,

Hearing of this foul fact, with many others,

Which daily struck at his too tender ears,

And grieved in nothing more than that he could not

Preserve himself a parent, (his son's ills

Growing to that strange flood,) at last decreed

To disinherit him.

1 Avoc. These be strange turns!

2 Avoc. The young man's fame was ever fair and honest.
Volt. So much more full of danger is his vice,

That can beguile so under shade of virtue.

But, as I said, my honour'd sires, his father

Having this settled purpose, by what means

To him betray'd, we know not, and this day

Appointed for the deed ; that parricide,

I cannot style him better, by confederacy

Preparing this his paramour to be there,

Enter'd Volpone's house, (who was the man,

Your fatherhoods must understand, design' d

For the inheritance,) there sought his father:

But with what purpose sought he him, my lords ?

I tremble to pronounce it, that a son

Unto a father, and to such a father,

Should have so foul, felonious intent!

It was to murder him : when being prevented

By his more happy absence, what then did he ?

Not check his wicked thoughts; no, now new deeds,

(Mischief doth never end where it begins)

An act of horror, fathers! he dragg'd forth

The aged gentleman that had there lain bed-rid

Three years and more, out of his innocent couch.

Naked upon the floor, there left him ; wounded

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