Volpone - Act 1

SCENE 1

VOLPONE 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 longed-for sun
Peep through the horns of the celestial ram,
Am I, to view thy splendor darkening his;
That lying here, amongst my other hoards,
Show'st like a flame by night, or like the day
Struck out of chaos, when all darkness fled
Unto the center 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 transcending
All style 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 givest all men tongues,
That canst do nought, and yet mak'st men do all things;
The price of soul; even hell, with thee to boot,
Is made worth heaven. Thou art virtue, fame,
Honor and all things else. Who can get thee,
He shall be noble, valiant, honest, wise
MOSCA And what he will, sir Riches are in fortune
A greater good than wisdom is in nature
VOLPONE 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 plowshares, fat no beasts
To feed the shambles; have no mills for iron,
Oil, corn, or men, to grind them into powder;
I blow no subtle glass, expose no ships
To threat'nings of the furrow-faced sea;
I turn no moneys in the public bank,
Nor usure private —
MOSCA No, sir, nor devour
Soft prodigals. You shall have some will swallow
A melting heir as glibly as your Dutch
Will pills of butter, and ne'er purge for it;
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 forth-coming when the flesh is rotten.
But your sweet nature doth abhor these courses;
You loathe 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
VOLPONE Right, Mosca; I do loathe it
MOSCA And besides, sir,
You are not like the thresher that doth stand
With a huge flail, watching a heap of corn,
And, hungry, dares not taste the smallest grain,
But feeds on mallows and such bitter herbs;
Nor like the merchant who hath filled his vaults
With Romagnia and rich Candian wines,
Yet drinks the lees of Lombard's vinegar
You will not lie in straw, whilst moths and worms
Feed on your sumptuous hangings and soft beds.
You know the use of riches, and dare give now
From that bright heap, to me, your poor observer,
Or to your dwarf, or your hermaphrodite,
Your eunuch, or what other household trifle
Your pleasure allows maintenance —
VOLPONE Hold thee, Mosca,
Take of my hand; thou strik'st on truth in all,
And they are envious term thee parasite
Call forth my dwarf, my eunuch, and my fool,
And let them make me sport. What should I do,
But cocker up my genius and live free
To all delights my fortune calls me to?
I have no wife, no parent, child, ally,
To give my substance to, but whom I make
Must be my heir; and this makes men observe me
This draws new clients daily to my house,
Women and men of every sex and age,
That bring me presents, send me plate, coin, jewels,
With hope that when I die (which they expect
Each greedy minute) it shall then return
Tenfold upon them; whilst some, covetous
Above the rest, seek to engross me whole,
And counter-work the one unto the other,
Contend in gifts, as they would seem in love
All which I suffer, playing with their hopes,
And am content to coin them into profit,
And look upon their kindness, and take more,
And look on that; still bearing them in hand,
Letting the cherry knock against their lips,
And draw it by their mouths, and back again — How now!

SCENE 2

NANO Now, room for fresh gamesters, who do will you to know ,
They do bring you neither play nor university show;
And therefore do entreat you, that whatsoever they rehearse,
May not fare a whit the worse, for the false pace of the verse
If you wonder at this, you will wonder more ere we pass,
For know, here is enclosed the soul of Pythagoras,
That juggler divine, as hereafter shall follow;
Which soul, fast and loose, sir, came first from Apollo,
And was breathed into Aethalides, Mercurius his son,
Where it had the gift to remember all that ever was done,
From thence it fled forth, and made quick transmigration
To goldy-locked Euphorbus, who was killed in good fashion
At the siege of old Troy by the cuckold of Sparta.
Hermotimus was next (I find it in my charta)
To whom it did pass, where no sooner it was missing,
But with one Pyrrhus of Delos it learned to go a-fishing;
And thence did it enter the sophist of Greece.
From Pythagore, she went into a beautiful piece
Hight Aspasia, the meretrix; and the next toss of her
Was again of a whore she became a philosopher,
Crates the cynic, as itself doth relate it;
Since, kings, knights, and beggars, knaves, lords, and fools gat it,
Besides ox and ass, camel, mule, goat, and brock,
In all which it hath spoke, as in the cobbler's cock
But I come not here to discourse of that matter,
Or his one, two, or three, or his great oath, B Y QUATER !
His musics, his trigon, his golden thigh,
Or his telling how elements shift; but I
Would ask how of late thou hast suffered translation,
And shifted thy coat in these days of reformation?
ANDROGYNO Like one of the reformed, a fool, as you see ,
Counting all old doctrine heresy.
NANO But not on thine own forbid meats hast thou ventured?
ANDROGYNO On fish, when first a Carthusian I entered .
NANO Why, then thy dogmatical silence hath left thee?
ANDROGYNO Of that an obstreperous lawyer bereft me
NANO O wonderful change! When Sir Lawyer forsook thee ,
For Pythagore's sake, what body then took thee?
ANDROGYNO A good dull mule
NANO And how! by that means
Thou wert brought to allow of the eating of beans?
ANDROGYNO Yes
NANO But from the mule into whom didst thou pass?
ANDROGYNO Into a very strange beast, by some writers called an ass ;
By others, a precise, pure, illuminate brother,
Of those devour flesh, and sometimes one another,
And will drop you forth a libel, or a sanctified lie,
Betwixt every spoonful of a nativity-pie.
NANO Now quit thee, for heaven, of that profane nation ,
And gently report thy next transmigration
ANDROGYNO To the same that I am
NANO A creature of delight ,
And, what is more than a fool, an hermaphrodite!
Now, prithee, sweet soul, in all thy variation,
Which body wouldst thou choose, to take up thy station?
ANDROGYNO Troth, this I am in, even here would I tarry
NANO Cause here the delight of each sex thou canst vary?
ANDROGYNO Alas, those pleasures be stale and forsaken ;
No, 'tis your fool wherewith I am so taken,
The only one creature that I can call blessed;
For all other forms I have proved most distressed.
NANO Spoke true, as thou wert in Pythagoras still .
This learned opinion we celebrate will,
Fellow eunuch, as behooves us with all our wit and art,
To dignify that whereof ourselves are so great and special a part
VOLPONE Now, very, very pretty! Mosca, this
Was thy invention?
MOSCA If it please my patron,
Not else.
VOLPONE It doth, good Mosca
MOSCA Then it was, sir.

Fools, they are the only nation
Worth men's envy or admiration;
Free from care or sorrow-taking,
Selves and others merry making,
All they speak or do is sterling,
Your fool he is your great man's darling,
And your ladies' sport and pleasure;
Tongue and bauble are his treasure
E'en his face begetteth laughter,
And he speaks truth free from slaughter;
He's the grace of every feast,
And sometimes the chiefest guest;
Hath his trencher and his stool
When wit waits upon the fool,
O, who would not be
He, he, he?
VOLPONE Who's that? Away!
Look, Mosca
MOSCA Fool, begone!
'Tis Signor Voltore, the advocate;
I know him by his knock
VOLPONE Fetch me my gown,
My furs, and night-caps; say my couch is changing,
And let him entertain himself awhile
Without i' the gallery. Now, now my clients
Begin their visitation! Vulture, kite,
Raven, and gor-crow, all my birds of prey
That think me turning carcass, now they come;
I am not for them yet

How now? The news?
MOSCA A piece of plate, sir.
VOLPONE Of what bigness?
MOSCA Huge;
Massy, and antique, with your name inscribed,
And arms engraven
VOLPONE Good! and not a fox
Stretched on the earth, with fine delusive sleights
Mocking a gaping crow? ha, Mosca!
MOSCA Sharp, sir
VOLPONE Give me my furs
Why dost thou laugh so, man?
MOSCA I cannot choose, sir, when I apprehend
What thoughts he has without now, as he walks:
That this might be the last gift he should give;
That this would fetch you; if you died today,
And gave him all, what he should be tomorrow;
What large return would come of all his ventures;
How he should worshipped be, and reverenced;
Ride with his furs and foot-cloths waited on
By herds of fools and clients; have clear way
Made for his mule, as lettered as himself;
Be called the great and learned advocate:
And then concludes, there's nought impossible.
VOLPONE Yes, to be learned, Mosca
MOSCA O, no; rich
Implies it. Hood an ass with reverend purple,
So you can hide his two ambitious ears,
And he shall pass for a cathedral doctor.
VOLPONE My caps, my caps, good Mosca. Fetch him in
MOSCA Stay, sir; your ointment for your eyes
VOLPONE That's true;
Dispatch, dispatch! I long to have possession
Of my new present
MOSCA That, and thousands more,
I hope to see you lord of
VOLPONE Thanks, kind Mosca.
MOSCA And that, when I am lost in blended dust,
And hundred such as I am, in succession —
VOLPONE Nay, that were too much, Mosca.
MOSCA You shall live,
Still, to delude these harpies
VOLPONE Loving Mosca!
'Tis well. My pillow now, and let him enter.
Now, my feigned cough, my phthisic, and my gout,
My apoplexy, palsy, and catarrhs,
Help, with your forced functions, this my posture,
Wherein, this three year, I have milked their hopes
He comes; I hear him — Uh! uh! uh! uh! O —

SCENE 3

MOSCA You still are what you were, sir. Only you,
Of all the rest, are he commands his love,
And you do wisely to preserve it thus,
With early visitation, and kind notes
Of your good meaning to him, which, I know,
Cannot but come most grateful. Patron! Sir!
Here's Signor Voltore is come —
VOLPONE What say you?
MOSCA Sir, Signor Voltore is come this morning
To visit you.
VOLPONE I thank him
MOSCA And hath brought
A piece of antique plate, bought of St. Mark,
With which he here presents you.
VOLPONE He is welcome.
Pray him to come more often.
MOSCA Yes
VOLTORE What says he?
MOSCA He thanks you, and desires you see him often.
VOLPONE Mosca.
MOSCA My patron?
VOLPONE Bring him near; where is he?
I long to feel his hand
MOSCA The plate is here, sir
VOLTORE How fare you, sir?
VOLPONE I thank you, Signor Voltore
Where is the plate? mine eyes are bad
VOLTORE I'm sorry
To see you still thus weak.
MOSCA That he's not weaker.
VOLPONE You are too munificent
VOLTORE No, sir; would to heaven
I could as well give health to you, as that plate!
VOLPONE You give, sir, what you can; I thank you Your love
Hath taste in this, and shall not be unanswered;
I pray you see me often
VOLTORE Yes, I shall, sir
VOLPONE Be not far from me
MOSCA Do you observe that, sir?
VOLPONE Hearken unto me still; it will concern you.
MOSCA You are a happy man, sir; know your good
VOLPONE I cannot now last long —
MOSCA You are his heir, sir.
VOLTORE Am I?
VOLPONE I feel me going; Uh! uh! uh! uh!
I'm sailing to my port, Uh! uh! uh! uh!
And I am glad I am so near my haven
MOSCA Alas, kind gentleman! Well, we must all go —
VOLTORE But, Mosca —
MOSCA Age will conquer
VOLTORE Pray thee, hear me:
Am I inscribed his heir for certain?
MOSCA Are you!
I do beseech you, sir, you will vouchsafe
To write me in your family. All my hopes
Depend upon your worship. I am lost,
Except the rising sun do shine on me,
VOLTORE It shall both shine and warm thee, Mosca
MOSCA Sir,
I am a man that have not done your love
All the worst offices. Here I wear your keys,
See all your coffers and your caskets locked,
Keep the poor inventory of your jewels,
Your plate and moneys; am your steward, sir,
Husband your goods here
VOLTORE But am I sole heir?
MOSCA Without a partner, sir; confirmed this morning:
The wax is warm yet, and the ink scarce dry
Upon the parchment
VOLTORE Happy, happy me!
By what good chance, sweet Mosca?
MOSCA Your desert, sir;
I know no second cause
VOLTORE Thy modesty
Is loath to know it; well, we shall requite it.
MOSCA He ever liked your course, sir; that first took him
I oft have heard him say how he admired
Men of your large profession, that could speak
To every cause, and things mere contraries,
Till they were hoarse again, yet all be law;
That with most quick agility could turn
And return; make knots, and undo them;
Give forked counsel; take provoking gold
On either hand, and put it up. These men,
He knew, would thrive with their humility
And, for his part, he thought he should be blessed
To have his heir of such a suffering spirit,
So wise, so grave, of so perplexed a tongue,
And loud withal, that would not wag, nor scarce
Lie still, without a fee; when every word
Your worship but lets fall is a sequin!
Who's that? One knocks; I would not have you seen, sir
And yet — pretend you came and went in haste;
I'll fashion an excuse — and, gentle sir,
When you do come to swim in golden lard,
Up to the arms in honey, that your chin
Is born up stiff with fatness of the flood,
Think on your vassal; but remember me:
I have not been your worst of clients.
VOLTORE Mosca —
MOSCA When will you have your inventory brought, sir?
Or see a copy of the will? Anon!
I'll bring them to you, sir. Away, be gone;
Put business in your face.
VOLPONE Excellent Mosca!
Come hither, let me kiss thee
MOSCA Keep you still, sir
Here is Corbaccio.
VOLPONE Set the plate away
The vulture's gone, and the old raven's come.

SCENE 4

MOSCA Betake you to your silence and your sleep.
Stand there and multiply. Now shall we see
A wretch who is indeed more impotent
Than this can feign to be; yet hopes to hop
Over his grave.

Signor Corbaccio!
You're very welcome, sir
CORBACCIO How does your patron?
MOSCA Troth, as he did, sir; no amends
CORBACCIO What! mends he?
MOSCA No, sir, he's rather worse.
CORBACCIO That's well. Where is he?
MOSCA Upon his couch, sir, newly fallen asleep.
CORBACCIO Does he sleep well?
MOSCA No wink, sir, all this night,
Nor yesterday; but slumbers
CORBACCIO Good! He should take
Some counsel of physicians. I have brought him
An opiate here, from mine own doctor.
MOSCA He will not hear of drugs
CORBACCIO Why? I myself.
Stood by while it was made, saw all the ingredients,
And know it cannot but most gently work.
My life for his, 'tis but to make him sleep
VOLPONE Ay, his last sleep, if he would take it.
MOSCA Sir,
He has no faith in physic
CORBACCIO Say you, say you?
MOSCA He has no faith in physic. He does think
Most of your doctors are the greater danger,
And worse disease, t' escape. I often have
Heard him protest that your physician
Should never be his heir.
CORBACCIO Not I his heir?
MOSCA Not your physician, sir.
CORBACCIO O, no, no, no,
I do not mean it.
MOSCA No, sir, nor their fees
He cannot brook; he says, they flay a man,
Before they kill him.
CORBACCIO Right, I do conceive you
MOSCA And then they do it by experiment;
For which the law not only doth absolve them,
But gives them great reward; and he is loath.
To hire his death so.
CORBACCIO It is true, they kill.
With as much license as a judge
MOSCA Nay, more;
For he but kills, sir, where the law condemns,
And these can kill him too.
CORBACCIO Ay, or me,
Or any man. How does his apoplex?
Is that strong on him still?
MOSCA Most violent.
His speech is broken, and his eyes are set,
His face drawn longer than 'twas wont —
CORBACCIO How? How?
Stronger than he was wont?
MOSCA No, sir: his face
Drawn longer than 'twas wont.
CORBACCIO O, good!
MOSCA His mouth
Is ever gaping, and his eyelids hang.
CORBACCIO Good.
MOSCA A freezing numbness stiffens all his joints,
And makes the color of his flesh like lead.
CORBACCIO 'Tis good.
MOSCA His pulse beats slow and dull
CORBACCIO Good symptoms still.
MOSCA And from his brain —
CORBACCIO Ha? How? Not from his brain?
MOSCA Yes, sir, and from his brain —
CORBACCIO I conceive you, good
MOSCA Flows a cold sweat, with a continual rheum,
Forth the resolved corners of his eyes
CORBACCIO Is't possible? Yet I am better, ha!
How does he with the swimming of his head?
MOSCA O, sir, 'tis past the scotomy; he now
Hath lost his feeling, and hath left to snort.
You hardly can perceive him, that he breathes
CORBACCIO Excellent, excellent! Sure I shall outlast him!
This makes me young again, a score of years.
MOSCA I was a-coming for you, sir.
CORBACCIO Has he made his will?
What has he given me?
MOSCA No, sir
CORBACCIO Nothing? ha!
MOSCA He has not made his will, sir
CORBACCIO Oh, oh, oh!
What then did Voltore, the lawyer, here?
MOSCA He smelt a carcass, sir, when he but heard
My master was about his testament,
As I did urge him to it for your good
CORBACCIO He came unto him, did he? I thought so
MOSCA Yes, and presented him this piece of plate
CORBACCIO To be his heir?
MOSCA I do not know, sir
CORBACCIO True,
I know it too
MOSCA By your own scale, sir
CORBACCIO Well,
I shall prevent him yet. See, Mosca, look:
Here I have brought a bag of bright sequins,
Will quite weigh down his plate.
MOSCA Yea, marry, sir.
This is true physic, this your sacred medicine;
No talk of opiates, to this great elixir!
CORBACCIO 'Tis aurum palpabile , if not potabile
MOSCA It shall be ministered to him, in his bowl
CORBACCIO Ay, do, do, do.
MOSCA Most blessed cordial!
This will recover him
CORBACCIO Yes, do, do, do.
MOSCA I think it were not best, sir
CORBACCIO What?
MOSCA To recover him
CORBACCIO O, no, no, no; by no means
MOSCA Why, sir, this
Will work some strange effect, if he but feel it.
CORBACCIO 'Tis true, therefore forbear; I'll take my venture.
Give me it again.
MOSCA At no hand; pardon me.
You shall not do yourself that wrong, sir. I
Will so advise you, you shall have it all.
CORBACCIO How?
MOSCA All, sir; 'tis your right, your own, no man
Can claim a part; 'tis yours without a rival,
Decreed by destiny
CORBACCIO How, how, good Mosca?
MOSCA I'll tell you, sir. This fit he shall recover —
CORBACCIO I do conceive you.
MOSCA And, on first advantage
Of his gained sense, will I re-importune him
Unto the making of his testament,
And show him this
CORBACCIO Good, good
MOSCA 'Tis better yet,
If you will hear, sir.
CORBACCIO Yes, with all my heart.
MOSCA Now, would I counsel you, make home with speed;
There, frame a will, whereto you shall inscribe.
My master your sole heir.
CORBACCIO And disinherit.
My son?
MOSCA O, sir, the better for that color?
Shall make it much more taking
CORBACCIO O, but color?
MOSCA This will, sir, you shall send it unto me
Now, when I come to enforce, as I will do,
Your cares, your watchings, and your many prayers,
Your more than many gifts, your this day's present,
And last, produce your will; where, without thought
Or least regard unto your proper issue,
A son so brave and highly meriting,
The stream of your diverted love hath thrown you
Upon my master, and made him your heir:
He cannot be so stupid, or stone dead,
But out of conscience and mere gratitude —
CORBACCIO He must pronounce me his?
MOSCA 'Tis true.
CORBACCIO This plot
Did I think on before
MOSCA I do believe it
CORBACCIO Do you not believe it?
MOSCA Yes, sir.
CORBACCIO Mine own project
MOSCA Which, when he hath done, sir —
CORBACCIO Published me his heir?
MOSCA And you so certain to survive him —
CORBACCIO Ay.
MOSCA Being so lusty a man —
CORBACCIO 'Tis true
MOSCA Yes, sir —
CORBACCIO I thought on that too See, how he should be
The very organ to express my thoughts!
MOSCA You have not only done yourself a good —
CORBACCIO But multiplied it on my son?
MOSCA 'Tis right, sir
CORBACCIO Still my invention
MOSCA Las, sir! heaven knows
It hath been all my study, all my care
(I e'en grow gray withal), how to work things —
CORBACCIO I do conceive, sweet Mosca
MOSCA You are he
For whom I labor here
CORBACCIO Ay, do, do, do:
I'll straight about it.
MOSCA Rook go with you, raven!
CORBACCIO I know thee honest
MOSCA You do lie, sir!
CORBACCIO And —
MOSCA Your knowledge is no better than your ears, sir
CORBACCIO I do not doubt to be a father to thee.
MOSCA Nor I to gull my brother of his blessing
CORBACCIO I may have my youth restored to me, why not?
MOSCA Your worship is a precious ass!
CORBACCIO What sayest thou?
MOSCA I do desire your worship to make haste, sir.
CORBACCIO 'Tis done, 'tis done; I go
VOLPONE O, I shall burst!
Let out my sides, let out my sides —
MOSCA Contain
Your flux of laughter, sir; you know this hope
Is such a bait it covers any hook.
VOLPONE O, but thy working, and thy placing it!
I cannot hold; good rascal, let me kiss thee:
I never knew thee in so rare a humor.
MOSCA Alas, sir, I but do as I am taught;
Follow your grave instructions; give them words;
Pour oil into their ears, and send them hence
VOLPONE . 'Tis true, 'tis true. What a rare punishment
Is avarice to itself!
MOSCA Ay, with our help, sir.
VOLPONE So many cares, so many maladies,
So many fears attending on old age,
Yea, death so often called on, as no wish
Can be more frequent with them, their limbs faint,
Their senses dull, their seeing, hearing, going,
All dead before them; yea, their very teeth,
Their instruments of eating, failing them:
Yet this is reckoned life! Nay, here was one,
Is now gone home, that wishes to live longer!
Feels not his gout, nor palsy; feigns himself
Younger by scores of years, flatters his age
With confident belying it, hopes he may,
With charms, like Aeson, have his youth restored;
And with these thoughts so battens, as if fate
Would be as easily cheated on, as he,
And all turns air! Who's that there, now? a third?
MOSCA Close, to your couch again; I hear his voice:
It is Corvino, our spruce merchant.
VOLPONE Dead.
MOSCA Another bout, sir, with your eyes — Who's there?

SCENE 5

Signor Corvino! come most wished for! O,
How happy were you, if you knew it, now!
CORVINO Why? What? Wherein?
MOSCA The tardy hour is come, sir.
CORVINO He is not dead?
MOSCA Not dead, sir, but as good;
He knows no man
CORVINO How shall I do then?
MOSCA Why, sir?
CORVINO I have brought him here a pearl
MOSCA Perhaps he has
So much remembrance left as to know you, sir
He still calls on you; nothing but your name.
Is in his mouth. Is your pearl orient, sir?
CORVINO Venice was never owner of the like.
VOLPONE Signor Corvino!
MOSCA Hark.
VOLPONE Signor Corvino!
MOSCA He calls you; step and give it him. — He's here, sir,
And he has brought you a rich pearl
CORVINO How do you, sir?
Tell him it doubles the twelfth carat
MOSCA Sir,
He cannot understand, his hearing's gone;
And yet it comforts him to see you
CORVINO Say
I have a diamond for him, too.
MOSCA Best show it, sir;
Put it into his hand; 'tis only there
He apprehends: he has his feeling, yet
See how he grasps it!
CORVINO 'Las, good gentleman!
How pitiful the sight is!
MOSCA Tut! forget, sir
The weeping of an heir should still be laughter
Under a visor
CORVINO Why, am I his heir?
MOSCA Sir, I am sworn, I may not show the will
Till he be dead: but here has been Corbaccio,
Here has been Voltore, here were others too,
I cannot number 'em, they were so many,
All gaping here for legacies; but I,
Taking the vantage of his naming you,
Signor Corvino, Signor Corvino , took
Paper and pen and ink, and there I asked him
Whom he would have his heir? Corvino Who
Should be executor? Corvino And
To any question he was silent to,
I still interpreted the nods he made,
Through weakness, for consent, and sent home th' others,
Nothing bequeathed them but to cry and curse
CORVINO O, my dear Mosca! Does he not perceive us?
MOSCA No more than a blind harper? He knows no man,
No face of friend, nor name of any servant,
Who 'twas that fed him last, or gave him drink;
Not those he hath begotten, or brought up,
Can he remember.
CORVINO Has he children?
MOSCA Bastards,
Some dozen or more, that he begot on beggars,
Gypsies, and Jews, and black-moors, when he was drunk
Knew you not that, sir? 'Tis the common fable,
The dwarf, the fool, the eunuch, are all his;
He's the true father of his family,
In all save me; but he has given them nothing
CORVINO That's well, that's well! Art sure he does not hear us?
MOSCA Sure, sir! Why, look you, credit your own sense.
The pox approach and add to your diseases,
If it would send you hence the sooner, sir
For your incontinence, it hath deserved it
Throughly and throughly, and the plague to boot! —
You may come near, sir — Would you would once close
Those filthy eyes of yours, that flow with slime
Like two frog-pits; and those same hanging cheeks,
Covered with hide instead of skin — Nay, help, sir —
That look like frozen dish-clouts set on end!
CORVINO Or like an old smoked wall, on which the rain
Ran down in streaks!
MOSCA Excellent, sir! Speak out
You may be louder yet; a culverin
Discharged in his ear would hardly bore it
CORVINO His nose is like a common sewer, still running
MOSCA 'Tis good! And what his mouth?
CORVINO A very draught
MOSCA O, stop it up —
CORVINO By no means
MOSCA Pray you, let me:
Faith, I could stifle him rarely with a pillow,
As well as any woman that should keep him
CORVINO Do as you will; but I'll be gone
MOSCA Be so;
It is your presence makes him last so long
CORVINO I pray you, use no violence
MOSCA No, sir? Why?
Why should you be thus scrupulous, pray you, sir?
CORVINO Nay, at your discretion.
MOSCA Well, good sir, begone
CORVINO I will not trouble him now, to take my pearl?
MOSCA Puh! nor your diamond. What a needless care
Is this afflicts you? Is not all here yours?
Am not I here? whom you have made? your creature?
That owe my being to you?
CORVINO Grateful Mosca!
Thou art my friend, my fellow, my companion,
My partner, and shalt share in all my fortunes
MOSCA Excepting one
CORVINO What's that?
MOSCA Your gallant wife, sir —
Now is he gone: we had no other means
To shoot him hence, but this.
VOLPONE My divine Mosca!
Thou hast today outgone thyself Who's there?
I will be troubled with no more Prepare
Me music, dances, banquets, all delights;
The Turk is not more sensual in his pleasures
Than will Volpone. Let me see; a pearl!
A diamond! plate! sequins! Good morning's purchase
Why, this is better than rob churches, yet;
Or fat by eating, once a month, a man —
Who is 't?
MOSCA The beauteous Lady Would-be, sir,
Wife to the English knight, Sir Politic Would-be
(This is the style, sir, is directed me),
Hath sent to know how you have slept tonight,
And if you would be visited?
VOLPONE Not now:
Some three hours hence —
MOSCA I told the squire so much.
VOLPONE When I am high with mirth and wine, then, then.
Fore heaven, I wonder at the desperate valor
Of the bold English, that they dare let loose
Their wives to all encounters!
MOSCA Sir, this knight
Had not his name for nothing: he is politic ,
And knows, howe'er his wife affect strange airs,
She hath not yet the face to be dishonest.
But had she Signor Corvino's wife's face —
VOLPONE Has she so rare a face?
MOSCA O, sir, the wonder,
The blazing star of Italy! a wench
O' the first year! a beauty ripe as harvest!
Whose skin is whiter than a swan all over,
Than silver, snow, or lilies! a soft lip,
Would tempt you to eternity of kissing!
And flesh that melteth in the touch to blood!
Bright as your gold, and lovely as your gold!
VOLPONE Why had not I known this before?
MOSCA Alas, sir;
Myself but yesterday discovered it.
VOLPONE How might I see her?
MOSCA O, not possible;
She's kept as warily as is your gold;
Never does come abroad, never takes air,
But at a window. All her looks are sweet
As the first grapes or cherries, and are watched
As near as they are
VOLPONE I must see her
MOSCA Sir,
There is a guard of ten spies thick upon her,
All his whole household; each of which is set
Upon his fellow, and have all their charge;
When he goes out, when he comes in, examined
VOLPONE I will go see her, though but at her window
MOSCA In some disguise, then.
VOLPONE That is true; I must
Maintain mine own shape still the same; we'll think.
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