Volpone, the Fox by Michael Denison from Ben Jonson
Signior Corvino! Come most wish'd for!
O, How happy were you, if you knew it, now!
Why? What? Wherein?
The tardy hour is come, Sir.
He is not dead?
Not dead, Sir, but as good. He knows no man.
How shall I do then?
I have brought him here a pearl.
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?
Venice was never owner of the like.
(faintly) Signior Corvino.
He calls you; step and give it him. He's here, Sir,
And he has brought you a rich pearl.
How do you, Sir?
Tell him, it doubles the twelfth carat.
Sir, He cannot understand, his hearing's gone,
And yet it comforts him to see you
Say, I have a diamond for him, too.
Best show it, Sir.
Put it into his hand; 'tis only there
He apprehends: he has his feeling, yet.
See how he grasps it!
'Las, good gentleman! How pitiful the sight is!
Tut! Forget, Sir. The weeping of an heir
Should still be laughter under a visor.
Why, am I his heir?
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,
“Signior Corvino, Signior 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 too,
I still interpreted the nods he made,
Through weakness, for consent: and sent home th' others,
Nothing bequeath'd them, but to cry and curse.
O, my dear Mosca! (They embrace)
Does he not perceive us?
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.
Has he children?
None, Sir. Knew you not that, Sir?
That's well, that's well. Art sure he does not hear us?
Sure, Sir! Why, look you, credit your own sense.
(Shouts in VOLPONE'S ear)
The pox approach, and add to your diseases,
If it would send you hence the sooner, Sir,
For your incontinence, it hath deserv'd it
Thoroughly, and thoroughly, 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,
Cover'd with hide, instead of skin. Nay help, Sir,
That look like frozen dish-clouts, set on end!
(Aloud) Or like an old smoked wall, on which the rain
Ran down in streaks!
Excellent! Sir, speak out:
You may be louder yet: A cannon
Discharged in his ear would hardly bore it.
His nose is like a common sewer, still running.
'Tis good! And what his mouth?
A very cesspool.
Oh, stop it up
By no means.
'Pray you, let me.
Faith I could stifle him, rarely with a pillow,
As well as any woman that should keep him.
Do as you will: but I'll begone.
Be so: It is your presence makes him last so long.
I pray you, use no violence.
No, Sir! Why? Why should you be thus scrupulous, pray you, Sir?
Nay, at your discretion.
Well, good Sir, begone.
I will not trouble him now, to take my pearl.
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?
Grateful Mosca! Thou art my friend, my fellow, my companion,
My partner, and shalt share in all my fortunes.
Your gallant daughter, Sir.
Now is he gone: we had no other means
To shoot him hence, but this.
My divine Mosca!
Thou hast today outdone thyself.
Let me see. A pearl! A diamond! Plate!
Good morning's purchase,
Why, this is better than rob churches.
Sir, as we speak of sensual pleasures,
Have you looked upon
Signior Corvino's daughter's face?
Has she so rare a face?
O, Sir, the wonder,
The blazing star of Italy! A wench
Of 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!
Why had not I known this before?
Alas, Sir, Myself but yesterday discover'd it.
I must see her.
Sir, There is a guard of spies ten 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.
I will go see her, though but at her window.
In some disguise, then.
That is true; I must maintain mine own shape still the same: we'll
(EXEUNT)[end of extract]