A monologue from Act II, Scene v

by: Ben Jonson

NOTE: Volpone, "fully penned" in five weeks early in 1606, was presented shortly after by the King's Men at the Globe and in the summer and autumn of the same year at both universities, and was published in 1607/8. It is now a public domain work and may be performed without royalties.

CORVINO: Death of mine honor, with the city's fool?
A juggling, tooth-drawing, prating mountebank?
And at a public windore? Where, whilst he,
With his strained action and his dole of faces [1],
To his drug-lecture draws your itching ears,
A crew of old, unmarried, noted lechers
Stood leering up like satyrs; and you smile
Most graciously, and fan your favors forth,
To give your hot spectators satisfaction!
What, was your mountebank their call? Their whistle?
Or were you enamored on his copper rings,
His saffron jewel, with the toadstone [2] in 't,
Or his embroidered suit, with the cope stitch,
Made of a hearse cloth? Or his old tilt [3] feather?
Or his starched beard? Well, you shall have him, yes!
He shall come home, and minister unto you
The fricace for the mother [4]. Or, let me see,
I think you had rather mount; would you not mount?
Why, if you'll mount, you may; yes, truly, you may!
And so you may be seen, down to th' foot.
Get you a cittern, Lady Vanity,
And be a dealer with the virtuous man;
Make one. I'll but protest myself a cuckold,
And save your dowry. I'm a Dutchman, I!
For, if you thought me an Italian,
You would be damned ere you did this, you whore!
Thou'ldst tremble to imagine that the murder
Of father, mother, brother, all thy race,
Should follow as the subject of my justice.

1 Grimaces.

2 A fossil or semi-precious stone, popularly supposed to have come from the head of a toad.

3 Tilted.

4 Hysteria.

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