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And makes the colour of his flesh like lead.
C. 'Tis good.
Good symptoms still.
I conceive you; good.
C. Is't possible? Yet I am better, ha!
M. O, sir, 'tis past the scotomy; he now
C. Excellent, excellent ! sure I shall outlast him :
This makes me young again, a score of years.” 1 If you would be his heir, says Mosca, the moment is favorable; but you must not let yourself be forestalled. Voltore has been here, and presented him with this piece of plate:
See, Mosca, look,
M. Now, would I counsel you, make home with speed; *
M. And you so certain to survive him-
'Tis true. And the old man hobbles away, not hearing the insults and ridicule thrown at him, he is so deaf.
When he is gone the merchant Corvino arrives, bringing an orient pearl and a splendid diamond:
“Corvino. Am I his heir ?
Mosca. Sir, I am sworn, I may not show the will
Whom he would have his heir ? Corvino. Who
Cor. O my dear Mosca! ... Has he children ?
be louder yet.
C. Do as you will; but I'll begone.'
Corvino presently departs; for the passions of the time have all the beauty of frankness. And Volponc, casting aside his sick man's garb, cries :
“My divine Mosca !
Than will Volpone.” 2 On this invitation, Mosca draws a most voluptuous portrait of Corvino's wife, Celia. Smitten with a sudden desire Volpone dresses himself as a mountebank, and goes singing under her windows with all the sprightliness of a quack; for he is naturally a comedian, like a true Italian, of the same family as Scaramouch, as good an actor in the public square as in his house. Having once seen Celia, he resolves to obtain her at any price:
“Mosca, take my keys,
So thou, in this, but crown my longings, Mosca." 3 Mosca then tells Corvino that some quack's oil has cured his master, and that they are looking for a "young woman, lusty and full of juice;" to complete the cure:
“Have you no kinswoman? Odso—Think, think, think, think, think, think, think, sir. One o' the doctors offer'd there his daughter.
Corvino. How !
1 Volpone, i. 5. VOL. I.
3 Ibid. ii. 2.
Mosca. Yes, signior Lupo, the physician.
And a virgin, sir.
Though unreasonably jealous, Corvino is gradually induced to offer his wife. He has given too much already, and would not lose his advantage. He is like a half-ruined gamester, who with a shaking hand throws on the green cloth the remainder of his fortune. He brings the poor sweet woman, weeping and resisting: Excited by his own hidden pangs, he becomes furious :
Celia. Sir, what you please, you may, I am your martyr.
Corvino. Be not thus obstinate, I have not deserv'd it:
Mosca turned a moment before, to Volpone:
Thanks, sweet Mosca.
i Volpone, ii. 2. ? Volpone, iii. 5. We pray the reader to pardon us for Ben Jonson's broadness. If I omit it, I cannot depict the sixteenth century.
Grant the same indulgence to the historian as to the anatomist.
Mosca. As the true fervent instance of his love,
'Tis well urg'd.” 1 Where can we see such blows launched and driven hard, full in face, by the violent hand of satire ? Celia is alone with Volpone, who, throwing off his feigned sickness, comes upon her,
as fresh, as hot, as high, and in as jovial plight,” as on the galadays of the Republic, when he acted the part of the lovely Antinous. In his transport he sings a love song; his voluptuousness culminates in poetry; for poetry was then in Italy the blossom of vice. He spreads before her pearls, diamonds, carbuncles. He is in raptures at the sight of the treasures, which he displays and sparkles before her eyes:
Conscience? 'Tis the beggar's virtue.
and of violets,
And wearied all the fables of the gods.” 2 We recognize Venice in this splendor of debauchery–Venice, the throne of Aretinus, the country of Tintoretto and Giorgione. Volpone seizes Celia: “Yield, or I'll force thee!” But suddenly Bonario, disinherited son of Corbaccio, whom Mosca had concealed there with another design, enters violently, delivers her, wounds Mosca, and accuses Volpone before the tribunal, of imposture and rape.
The three rascals who aim at being his heirs, work together to save Volpone. Corbaccio disavows his son, and accuses him of parricide. Corvino declares his wife an adulteress, the shameless mistress of Bonario. Never on the stage was seen such energy of lying, such open villainy. The husband, who knows his wife to be innocent, is the most eager :
“This woman (please your fatherhoods) is a whore,
Ist Advocate. No more.
3d Adv. His grief hath made him frantic. (Celia swoons.)
They have Volpone brought in, like a dying man; manufacture false“ testimony,” to which Voltore gives weight with his advocate's tongue, with words worth a sequin apiece. They throw Celia and Bonario into prison, and Volpone is saved.
This public imposture is for him only another comedy, a pleasant pastime, and a masterpiece.
“Mosca. To gull the court.
Volpone. And quite divert the torrent
V. 0, more than if I had enjoy'd the wench ? " % To conclude, he writes a will in Mosca’s favor, has his death reported, hides behind a curtain, and enjoys the looks of the wouldbe heirs. They had just saved him from being thrown into prison, which makes the fun all the better; the wickedness will be all the greater and more exquisite. “Torture 'em rarely," Volpone says to Mosca. The latter spreads the will on the table, and reads the inventory aloud. “Turkey carpets nine. Two cabinets, one of ebony, the other mother-of-pearl
. A perfum'd box, made of