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Far above singing. After you were gone, I grew acquainted with my heart, and
search'd What stirr'd it so: alas, I found it love! Yet far from lust; for, could I but have
liv'd In presence of you,
I had had my end. For this I did delude my noble father With a feign'd pilgrimage, and drest my
self In habit of a boy; and, for I knew My birth no match for you, I was past
hope Of having you; and, understanding well That when I made discovery of my sex I could not stay with you, I made a vow, By all the most religious things a maid Could call together, never to be known, Whilst there was hope to hide me from
For other than I seem'd, that I might
Phi. I grieve such virtue should be laid in
earth Without an heir.—Hear me, my royal
father: Wrong not the freedom of our souls so
much, To think to take revenge of that base
woman; Her malice cannot hurt us. Set her free As she was born, saving from shame and
sin. King. Set her at liberty.—But leave the
court; This is no place for such.-You, Phiara
mond, Shall have free passage, and a conduct
home Worthy so great a prince. When you
come there, Remember 't was your faults that lost
you her, And not my purpos’d will. Pla.
I do confess, Renowned sir. King. Last, join your hands in one. En
joy, Philaster, This kingdom, which is yours, and, after
me, Whatever I call mine. My blessing on
you! All happy hours be at your marriage
joys, That you may grow yourselves over all
lands, And live to see your plenteous branches
spring Wherever there is sun! Let princes
learn By this to rule the passions of their
Abide with you. Then sat I by the fount,
Where first you took me up. King.
Search out a match Within our kingdom, where and wlien
thou wilt, And I will pay thy dowry; and thyself
Wilt well deserve him. Bel.
Never, sir, will I Marry; it is a thing within my vow: But, if I may have leave to serve the
princess, To see the virtues of her lord and her,
I shall have hope to live. Are.
I, Philaster, Cannot be jealous, though you had a lady Drest like a page to serve you; nor will I Suspect her living here.—Come, live with
never be withstood.
me; Live free as I do. She that loves my
lord, Curst be the wife that hates her!
Benjamin or Ben Jonson, as he has always themselves in degree, he stands apart in kind. been called (1573-1637), the stepson of a The foundation of Jonson's literary ideals bricklayer, gained the beginnings of his was an admiration for the classics, their consolid classical learning in Westminster School scientious finish, their temperance and firmunder the celebrated Camden, but went to no ness, their reality. In the prologue to his university. After working as a bricklayer, first known comedy he cut loose from the fighting in Flanders, and being imprisoned for extravagances of romantic drama in favor of killing a man in a duel, he produced his first extant play, Every Man in His Humor, in deeds, and language, such as men do use, 1598. In 1598-1602 he was concerned in a
And persons such as comedy would choose,
When she would show an image of the times, vigorous literary quarrel, especially with Dek
And sport with human follies, not with crimes. ker and Marston, during which they were fertile in dramas satirical of each other. His Jonson was the real founder and first worthy tragedies, Sejanus and Catiline, were pro- exponent of classicism in English literature. duced in 1603 and 1611, and his greatest But he was fortunate in living in a romantic comedies, those of his middle period, Volpone, age, so that the bonds of the classic were Epicene, The Alchemist and Bartholomew never tight upon him. The conventionality Fair, from 1605 to 1614. Though his later which lay heavy as frost and deep almost plays were less meritorious, and though his as life on so much of the literature of the lack of popular success often left him poor, to- eighteenth century and earlier is not to be ward the end of his life he held a station of seen in his work. In a word, he was free, commanding literary influence.
and wrote as he did because it pleased
him. Jonson is the most vivid literary person- The Alchemist (first performed in 1610, and ality of the whole Elizabethan epoch; indeed, printed in 1612) has usually been recognized he is the first English writer whom we know as his masterpiece. It was played till the intimately as a man. We know him through theaters closed in 1642, and was one of the the self-expression in his candid, pugnacious first comedies revived after the Restoration; prologues and epilogues, and in certain prose Pepys the diarist thought incomparable; works; and we know him through one of the indeed at this time Jonson was if anything most delightful of seventeenth-century books, preferred to Shakespeare, and Restoration the Conrersations with him recorded by Wil- comedy shows much of his influence. The liam Drummond, whom he fascinated but re- play remained popular in the eighteenth cenpelled. With Jonson's classical sympathies tury, when Garrick played both Face and and literary good-taste, his gifts as a talker, Abel Drugger. Coleridge deemed the plots of his trenchant humor and biting tongue, his Sophocles' (Edipus, The Alchemist, and Fieldinfluence over younger men, his solidity, his ing's Tom Jones the three most perfect ever downright good-sense, he reminds us to an devised, and Swinburne called the play a extraordinary degree of his namesake Samuel, faultless work of art. It is too hard and cold a century and a half later, to whose biography in its realism to be beloved or widely popuby Boswell the Conversations by Drummond lar; Jonson wrote from and appeals to the are like a sort of unflattering first sketch. head and not the heart; the play has been Jonson, however, was no less inferior to John- appreciated best in satirical times and by son as a Christian soul than he was superior those who respond most to supreme technical in both the importance and variety of his skill. literary work, which shows most remarkable The Alchemist is thoroughly typical of Jonversatility. The most vigorous and pene- son's plays. In his preface he censures the trating of early literary critics, author of an unrestrained extravagance of most of the English grammar, yet also of some of the dramatists, who he admits however will win most limpid of songs, of strict and learned more general favor than they who “ use elecclassical tragedy, of mordant realistic tion and a
(selection and moderacomedy, of highly poetic masques, he was the tion). The play is a satirical picture of conmost weighty and versatile man of letters, temporary life, written with something of real though of course not the greatest poet or moral purpose; his pen did never aim to dramatist, in the entire Elizabethan period. grieve, but better men ”; a salutary effect While the other dramatists differ among is even said to have been produced by his
exposure of the folly of those who trust
fluence, such as Lyly's Mother Bombie. The charlatans. It contains little or nothing fan- play is a comedy of manners, exhibiting the tastic or improbable (save for the heightening society of the day, or a part of it, in firmly essential to poetry). It follows classical but broadly sketched persons. In Jonson's precedent in its observance of the three uni- satirical and moral realism, and his vividly ties; in The Alchemist the plot is single typical personages, we feel almost equally the (though far from simple), and the action traits of the ancient comedy and the medieval occurs in a single place and within one day. morality. So vigorous yet so general is the Though the plot, as usual with Jonson, is in characterization that we recognize much of general original, it shows much influence of it as permanently true of human nature, Plautus, especially of the Mostellaria, or though the forms of embodiment may vary. Haunted House. Both poets, like R. L. The satire is mainly on gullibility and PuriStevenson, felt the fascinating possibilities, tan hypocrisy. The most imposing creation even the romance, of an empty house. In the is Sir Epicure Mammon, in whom avarice and Mostellaria, Philolaches in his father's ab- lust, without being made attractive, have sence introduces a disorderly crew into his become impressive through the force of his house and holds high revel. A scene of lively imagination. The two Puritans are dis. quarreling at the opening of each play tells tinguished from cach other, Ananias narrow us the situation, but with such skill in The and more or less sincere, Tribulation intelli. Alchemist that we hardly realize we are be- gent but more of a hypocrite, of the Jesuit. ing informied; the peace-making Doll is soon type which is to be found in all religions. It as irate as the other two. Lovewit's re- of much interest to see this unflattering turn at the end of act four, and the complica- old English picture of the Puritans exiled in tions which follow, reflect a similar situation Amsterdam, who were to sail from Holland toward the middle of the Jostellaria. These for New England a few years later, and be form the chief of Jonson's literary debts. canonized among their descendants as the The characters and most of the intrigue and Pilgrim Fathers. There is also similar situations, all that gives the play its vitality, satire in Bartholomew Fair. It must be reare his own. Of a surety there is no anemic membered, of course, that Jonson and other classicism in Sir Epicure Mammon, Face, and literary men, apostles of pagan culture and Tribulation Wholesome, in the
of the drama, naturally were prejudiced against bustling quackery, or in the deliciously human foes of the drama and apostles of a someending, where Lovewit, who cannot belie his times bigoted piety and asceticism. A figure name, smiles to himself so much over Face's of more temporary significance is that of cleverness that he must needs forgive him. " the angry boy," who would learn the etiJonson did not understand his literary theory quette of quarreling, much as Touchstone so narrowly as his successors in regard to would have taught it (.18 You Like It, V. moral teaching, poetic justice, and the like; iv). The personage most suggestive of
has even been censured by critics of our modern counterparts is Subtle, whose arts own day for letting off his rogues scot-free. and methods are those of the quacks and But such critics miss the point of the play, confidence-men of all times, whether they capiand of Jonson's whole moral attitude. He talize a false science or a feigning religion; would sport with human follies, not with he has their dust-in-the-eyes methods, their crinies.” The real villains of the piece are skill in using decoys like Face, their prethe hypocritical and superstitious, who allow tense of personal sanctity and austerity. themselves to be duped through their avarice A word should be said as to the pseudoand self-seeking, and get the kind of punish- science which he exploits. Alchemy had long ment which they always get in life. But been studied in the Middle Ages, but the there was no more need of condemning the teaching of Paracelsus (1493–1541 ) had decriminals, Subtle and Doll, than of organizing prived it of much of its supposed basis, and a crusade against the damned in the bottom- it had always been in disrepute among the less pit. Jonson could not have made their sensible. Chaucer had attacked it in the rascality alluring if he had wished, though Canon's Yeoman's Tale, Lyly in Gallathea, he does leave us in a good humor with the Reginald Scot in his Discovery of Witchcraft rascals. They are the instruments with which (1584), and Jonson himself in Eastward Ho: he scourges his real villains.
he told Drummond that he had once fooled It is in his refusal to dole out trivial poetic a woman by disguising himself as an astrolojustice that Jonson shows himself most
ger. There is reason to believe that alchemy laudably free from the narrower classic- and other Occult studies with which it was ism. The play shows classical spirit closely allied, astrology, magic, and forms of vitally animating a native English body. The spiritualism, were particularly a pest about personages are types, as is announced by the time of this plav. As is well known, the their names, of the significant sort to be used chief desire of the alchemists was to discover so largely in later comedies and novels of a recipe or stone or elixir by which other manners; but they are not the traditional substances could be transformed into gold. types, as in other plays under classical in- Such a possibility was not discountenanced
by medieval scientific conceptions, according to which gold was not an element wholly unrelated to others, but all metals were combined out of simpler elements; a view in fact not so inconsistent with the chemical theory of to-day as with that of a few years ago. Gold might come into existence out of something else, just as animal life, to one unaware of the ubiquity of minute germs and eggs, seems to do out of putrefaction or stagnant water (cf. II. i.). A large amount of gold might grow from a small; therefore a goldmine was sometimes sealed up with the expectation that in time the gold would increase. The methods of the alchemists were largely based on the prevalent mystical conception of the universe, and on false analo
gies. Sex, likes and dislikes, goodness and badness, and other human traits, were attributed to physical matter. Besides this there was much traditional hocus-pocus. By no means all the votaries of alchemy were mere cranks or rogues; even those who extorted money by duping the foolish and dealing in other dubious and occult arts often did so in order to carry on experiments which the next day, they believed, might lay the world at their feet. Finally, though the subject and its terminology are too intricate and baffling to be fully explained here or in the notes, the reader may be assured that Jonson was not airily fluttering things he did not understand, but had read the masters of the subject and understood it thoroughly.
BY BEN JONSON
NAMES OF THE CHARACTERS
SUBTLE, the ALCHEMIST.
TRIBULATION WHOLESOME, a Pastor of Ims
TO THE READER
great deal of violence, are receiv'd for the
braver fellows; when many times their own If thou beest more, thou art an under- rudeness is the cause of their disgrace, and stander, and then I trust thee. If thou a little touch of their adversary gives all art one that tak'st up, and but a pretender, that boisterous force the foil. I deny not beware at what hands thou receiv'st thy but that these men who always seek to do commodity; for thou wert never more fair more than enough may some time happen in the way to be coz’ned than in this age in on some thing that is good and great; but poetry, especially in plays: wherein now very seldom: and when it comes, it doth not the concupiscence of jigs and dances so recompense the rest of their ill. It sticks reigneth, as to run away from nature and out, perhaps, and is more eminent, because be afraid of her is the only point of art that all is sordid and vile about it; as lights are tickles the spectators. But how out of pur- more discern'd in a thick darkness than a pose and place do I name art, when the faint shadow. I speak not this out of a professors are grown so obstinate con- hope to do good on any man against his temners of it, and presumers on their own will; for I know, if it were put to the quesnaturals, as they are deriders of all dili- tion of theirs and mine, the worse would gence that way, and, by simple mocking at find more suffrages, because the most favor the terms when they understand not the common errors. But I give thee this warnthings, think to get off wittily with their ing, that there is a great difference between ignorance! Nay, they are esteem'd the those that (to gain the opinion of copie 4) more learned and sufficient for this by the utter all they can, however unfitly, and multitude, through their excellent vice 2 of those that use election and a mean.5 For it judgment. For they commend writers as is only the disease of the unskillful to think they do fencers or wrastlers; who, if they rude things greater than polish’d, or scatcome in robustiously and put for it with a ter'd more numerous than compos’d. i natural endow. 2 surpassing
4 copiousness; Lat. copia. 5 moderation. ments.
Out at my
He hopes to find no spirit so much diseas'd,
But will with such fair correctives be T he sickness 6 hot, a master quit, for fear,
pleas'd. H is house in town, and left one servant
For here he doth not fear who can apply. there. E ase him corrupted, and gave means to
If there be any that will sit so nigh know
Unto the stream, to look what it doth run,
They shall find things, they'd think, or A Cheater and his punk;? who now brought low,
wish, were done; L eaving their narrow practice, were be
They are so natural follies, but so shown,
own. C oz'ners 8 at large; and only wanting
ACT I. House to set up, with him they here contract,
SCENE 1. A room in Lovewit's house.14 E ach for a share, and all begin to act. Much company they draw, and much
Enter Face, in a captain's uniform, and abuse,
Subtle with a vial, quarreling, and folI n casting figures, telling fortunes, news,
lowed by Dol Common. Selling of flies, 10 flat bawdry, with the Face. Believe 't, I will. stone, 11
Thy worst. I fart at thee. Till it, and they, and all, in fume 12 are Dol. Ha’ you your wits? Why, gentlegone.
men! for love
Face. Sirrah, I'll strip you-
What to do? Lick fgs Fortune, that favors fools, these two short hours
Face. Rogue, rogue!-out of all your We wish away, both for your sakes and
sleights. 16 ours,
Dol. Nay, look ye, sovereign, general, are Judging spectators; and desire in place,
you madmen? To th' author justice, to ourselves but
Sub. O, let the wild sheep loose. I'll grace.
gum your silks Our scene is London, 'cause we would make
With good strong water, an
you come. known,
Will you have No country's mirth is better than our
The neighbors hear you? Will you be
tray all ? No clime breeds better matter for your
Hark! I hear somebody. whore,
SirrahBawd, squire,13 impostor, many persons
I shall mar more,
All that the tailor has made, if you apWhose manners, now call'd humors, feed proach. the stage;
Face. You most notorious whelp, you inAnd which have still been subject for the
solent slave, rage
Dare you do this? Or spleen of comic writers. Though this
Yes, faith; yes, faith. pen
Why, who Did never aim to grieve, but better men; Am I, my mongrel, who am I? Howe'er the age he lives in doth endure Sub. The vices that she breeds, above their Since you know not yourself. cure.
Speak lower, rogue. But when the wholesome remedies are Sub. Yes. You were once (time's not .sweet,
long past) the good, And, in their working gain and profit Honest, plain, livery-three-poundmeet,
thrum,18 that kept 6 the plague.
11 philosophers' erly that practi- sequently changes an insulting con7 mistress.
the of scene are rare. notation. 8 swindlers. 12 smoke.
scenes can be con. ly indicated in 16 drop your tricks. 9 horoscopes. 13 pimp. ceived of as tak.
stage direc- 17 if. 10 dealing in famil- 14 Jonson
ing place in
18 underpaid iar spirits.
I'll tell you,
his action so clev. single room ; con. 15 The phrase has ant in livery.