This day you shall be Spectatissimi.
You shall no more deal with the hollow dye,
Or the frail card.


You shall start up young viceroys,
And have you your punks and punketees, my Surly;
And unto thee, I speak it first, BE RICH.

Where is my Subtle, there? Within, oh!

Face. [within] Sir, he'll come to you by and by.
Mam. That is his Firedrake,

His Lungs, his Zephyrus, he that puffs his coals,
Till he firk nature up in her own centre.

You are not faithful, Sir. This night I'll change
All that is metal my house to gold;

And early in the morning will I send

To all the plumbers and the pewterers,

And buy their tin and lead up; and to Lothbury,
For all the copper.

Surly. What, and turn that too?

Mam. Yes, and I'll purchase Devonshire and Cornwall, And make them perfect Indies! You admire now?

Surly. No, faith.

Mam. But when you see th' effects of the great medicine, Of which one part projected on a hundred

Of Mercury, or Venus, or the Moon,
Shall turn it to as many of the Sun;
Nay, to a thousand, so ad infinitum ;
You will believe me.

Surly. Yes, when I see't, I will.-
Mam. Ha! why?

Do you think I fable with you? I assure you,
He that has once the flower of the Sun,
The perfect ruby, which we call Elixir,
Not only can do that, but, by its virtue,
Can confer honour, love, respect, long life;
Give safety, valour, yea, and victory,
To whom he will. In eight and twenty days

I'll make an old man of fourscore a child.

Surly. No doubt; he's that already.
Mam. Nay, I mean,

Restore his years, renew him, like an eagle,

To the fifth age; make him get sons and daughters,
Young giants: as our philosophers have done,
The ancient patriarchs, afore the flood,

But taking, once a week, on a knife's point,
The quantity of a grain of mustard of it;

Become stout Marses, and beget young Cupids.



You are incredulous.

Surly. Faith, I have a humour.

I would not willingly be gulled. Your stone
Cannot transmute me.

Mam. Pertinax, my Surly,

Will you believe antiquity? records?

I'll show you a book where Moses and his sister,

And Solomon, have written of the art;

Ay, and a treatise penn'd by Adam

Surly. How!

Mam. Of the philosophers' stone, and in High Dutch.
Surly. Did Adam write, Sir, in High Dutch?
Mam. He did;

Which proves it was the primitive tongue.

[Enter Face, as a servant. How now!

Do we succeed? Is our day come, and holds it?
Face. The evening will set red upon you, Sir;
You have colour for it, crimson; the red ferment
Has done his office: three hours hence prepare you
To see projection.

Mam. Pertinax, my Surly,

Again I say to thee aloud, Be rich.

This day thou shalt have ingots, and to-morrow
Give lords the affront.
Where's thy master?

Face. At his prayers, Sir, he;

Good man, he's doing his devotions
For the success.

Mam. Lungs, I will set a period

To all thy labours; thou shalt be the master

Of my seraglio

For I do mean

To have a list of wives and concubines
Equal with Solomon:

I will have all my beds blown up, not stuft:
Down is too hard; and then, mine oval room
Fill'd with such pictures as Tiberius took
From Elephantis, and dull Aretine
But coldly imitated. Then my glasses
Cut in more subtle angles, to disperse
And multiply the figures as I walk
I'll have of perfumes, vapoured about the room


My mists

To lose ourselves in; and my baths like pits
To fall into; from whence we will come forth
And roll us dry in gossamer and roses.
Is it arriv'd at ruby? Where I spy
A wealthy citizen, or a rich lawyer,
Have a sublimed pure wife, unto that fellow
I'll send a thousand pound to be my cuckold.
Face. And I shall carry it?

Mam. No. I'll have no bawds.

But fathers and mothers. They will do it best,
Best of all others. And my flatterers

Shall be the pure and gravest of divines

That I can get for money.

We will be brave, Puffe, now we have the medicine.
My meat shall all come in, in Indian shells,
Dishes of agate set in gold, and studded

With emeralds, sapphire, hyacinths, and rubies.
The tongues of carps, dormice, and camel's heels
Boil'd in the spirit of Sol, and dissolv'd pearl,
Apicius' diet, 'gainst the epilepsy;

And I will eat these broths with spoons of amber,
Headed with diamond and carbuncle.

My footboys shall eat pheasants, calver'd salmons,
Knots, godwits, lampreys; I myself will have
The beards of barbels serv'd instead of salads;
Oil'd mushrooms; and the swelling unctuous paps
Of a fat pregnant sow, newly cut off,
Dressed with an exquisite and poignant sauce;
For which I'll say unto my cook, There's gold,
Go forth and be a knight.

Face. Sir, I'll go look

A little how it heightens.
Mam. Do. My shirts

I'll have of taffeta-sarsnet, soft and light
As cobwebs; and for all my other raiment,
It shall be such as might provoke the Persian,
Were he to teach the world riot anew.

My gloves of fishes and birds' skins, perfum'd
With gums of Paradise and eastern air.

Surly. And do you think to have the stone with this?
Mam. No, I do think t' have all this with the stone.

Surly. Why, I have heard he must be homo frugi,

A pious, holy, and religious man,

One free from mortal sin, a very virgin,

Mam. That makes it, Sir, he is so;-but I buy it.

My venture brings it me. He, honest wretch,

A notable, superstitious, good soul,

Has worn his knees bare, and his slippers bald,
With prayer and fasting for it, and, Sir, let him
Do it alone, for me, still; here he comes;

Not a profane word afore him: 'tis poison."

Act ii, scene 1.

I have only to add a few words on Beaumont and Fletcher. 'Rule a Wife and Have a Wife,''The Chances,' and 'The Wild Goose Chase,' the original of the 'Inconstant,' are superior in style and execution to anything of Ben Jonson's. They are, indeed, some of the best comedies on the stage; and one proof that they are so is, that they still hold possession of it. They show the utmost alacrity of invention in contriving ludicrous distresses, and the utmost spirit in bearing up against, or impatience and irritation under them. Don John, in 'The Chances,' is the heroic in comedy. Leon, in 'Rule a Wife and Have a Wife,' is a fine exhibition of the born gentleman and natural fool: the Copper Captain is sterling to this hour: his mistress, Estifania, only died the other day with Mrs. Jordan: and the two grotesque females in the same play, act better than the Witches in 'Macbeth.'


On Cowley, Butler, Suckling, Etherege, &c.

THE metaphysical poets or wits of the age of James and Charles I., whose style was adopted and carried to a more dazzling and fantastic excess by Cowley in the following reign, after which it declined, and gave place almost entirely to the poetry of observation and reasoning, are thus happily characterised by Dr. Johnson.

"The metaphysical poets were men of learning, and to show their learning was their whole endeavour: but unluckily resolving to show it in rhyme, instead of writing poetry, they only wrote verses, and very often such verses as stood the trial of the finger better than of the ear; for the modulation was so imperfect, that they were only found to be verses by counting the syllables.

"If the father of criticism has rightly denominated poetry Texvn pipatikǹ, an imitative art, these writers will, without great wrong, lose their right to the name of poets, for they cannot be said to have imitated anything; they neither copied nature nor life; neither painted the forms of matter, nor represented the operations of intellect."

The whole of the account is well worth reading; it was a subject for which Dr. Johnson's powers both of thought and expression were better fitted than any other man's. If he had had the same capacity for following the flights of a truly poetic imagination, or for feeling the finer touches of nature, that he had felicity and force in detecting and exposing the aberrations from the broad and beaten path of propriety and common sense, he would have amply deserved the reputation he has acquired as a philosophical critic.

The writers here referred to (such as Donne, Davies, Cra

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