Volpone, the Fox by Michael Denison from Ben Jonson


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This Play is the copyright of the Author and must NOT be Performed without the Author's PRIOR consent


(ENTER CORVINO)

MOSCA
Signior Corvino! Come most wish'd 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
(faintly) Signior Corvino.

MOSCA
Hark.

VOLPONE
Signior 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,
“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.
CORVINO
O, my dear Mosca! (They embrace)
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
None, Sir. Knew you not that, Sir?

CORVINO
That's well, that's well. Art sure he does not hear us?

MOSCA
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!

CORVINO
(Aloud) 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 cannon
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 cesspool.

MOSCA
Oh, 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 begone.

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 daughter, Sir.

(EXIT CORVINO)

Now is he gone: we had no other means
To shoot him hence, but this.

VOLPONE
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.

MOSCA
Sir, as we speak of sensual pleasures,
Have you looked upon
Signior Corvino's daughter's face?

VOLPONE
Has she so rare a face?

MOSCA
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!

VOLPONE
Why had not I known this before?

MOSCA
Alas, Sir, Myself but yesterday discover'd it.

VOLPONE
I must see her.

MOSCA
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.

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.

(EXEUNT)

[end of extract]



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