THE SCRUTINEO, OR SENATE-HOUSE.
ENTER VOLTORE, CORBACCIO, CORVINO, AND MOSCA.
Well, now you know the carriage of the business,
Your constancy is all that is required
Unto the safety of it.
Is the lie
Safely convey'd amongst us? is that sure?
Knows every man his burden?
Then shrink not.
But knows the advocate the truth?
By no means; I devised a formal tale,
That salv'd your reputation. But be valiant, sir.
I fear no one but him, that this his pleading
Should make him stand for a co-heir—
Hang him; we will but use his tongue, his noise,
As we do croakers here.
Ay, what shall he do?
When we have done, you mean?
Why, we'll think:
Sell him for mummia; he's half dust already.
Do not you smile, to see this buffalo,
How he does sport it with his head?
If all were well and past.
—Sir, only you
Are he that shall enjoy the crop of all,
And these not know for whom they toil.
[TURNING TO CORVINO.]: But you shall eat it.
Mercury sit upon your thundering tongue,
Or the French Hercules, and make your language
As conquering as his club, to beat along,
As with a tempest, flat, our adversaries;
But much more yours, sir.
Here they come, have done.
I have another witness, if you need, sir,
I can produce.
Who is it?
Sir, I have her.
[ENTER AVOCATORI AND TAKE THEIR SEATS,
BONARIO, CELIA, NOTARIO, COMMANDADORI, SAFFI,
AND OTHER OFFICERS OF JUSTICE.]
The like of this the senate never heard of.
'Twill come most strange to them when we report it.
The gentlewoman has been ever held
Of unreproved name.
So has the youth.
The more unnatural part that of his father.
More of the husband.
I not know to give
His act a name, it is so monstrous!
But the impostor, he's a thing created
To exceed example!
And all after-times!
I never heard a true voluptuary
Discribed, but him.
Appear yet those were cited?
All, but the old magnifico, Volpone.
Why is not he here?
Please your fatherhoods,
Here is his advocate: himself's so weak,
What are you?
His knave, his pandar—I beseech the court,
He may be forced to come, that your grave eyes
May bear strong witness of his strange impostures.
Upon my faith and credit with your virtues,
He is not able to endure the air.
Bring him, however.
We will see him.
Your fatherhoods fit pleasures be obey'd;
But sure, the sight will rather move your pities,
Than indignation. May it please the court,
In the mean time, he may be heard in me;
I know this place most void of prejudice,
And therefore crave it, since we have no reason
To fear our truth should hurt our cause.
Then know, most honour'd fathers, I must now
Discover to your strangely abused ears,
The most prodigious and most frontless piece
Of solid impudence, and treachery,
That ever vicious nature yet brought forth
To shame the state of Venice. This lewd woman,
That wants no artificial looks or tears
To help the vizor she has now put on,
Hath long been known a close adulteress,
To that lascivious youth there; not suspected,
I say, but known, and taken in the act
With him; and by this man, the easy husband,
Pardon'd: whose timeless bounty makes him now
Stand here, the most unhappy, innocent person,
That ever man's own goodness made accused.
For these not knowing how to owe a gift
Of that dear grace, but with their shame; being placed
So above all powers of their gratitude,
Began to hate the benefit; and, in place
Of thanks, devise to extirpe the memory
Of such an act: wherein I pray your fatherhoods
To observe the malice, yea, the rage of creatures
Discover'd in their evils; and what heart
Such take, even from their crimes:—but that anon
Will more appear.—This gentleman, the father,
Hearing of this foul fact, with many others,
Which daily struck at his too tender ears,
And grieved in nothing more than that he could not
Preserve himself a parent, (his son's ills
Growing to that strange flood,) at last decreed
To disinherit him.
These be strange turns!
The young man's fame was ever fair and honest.
So much more full of danger is his vice,
That can beguile so under shade of virtue.
But, as I said, my honour'd sires, his father
Having this settled purpose, by what means
To him betray'd, we know not, and this day
Appointed for the deed; that parricide,
I cannot style him better, by confederacy
Preparing this his paramour to be there,
Enter'd Volpone's house, (who was the man,
Your fatherhoods must understand, design'd
For the inheritance,) there sought his father:—
But with what purpose sought he him, my lords?
I tremble to pronounce it, that a son
Unto a father, and to such a father,
Should have so foul, felonious intent!
It was to murder him: when being prevented
By his more happy absence, what then did he?
Not check his wicked thoughts; no, now new deeds,
(Mischief doth ever end where it begins)
An act of horror, fathers! he dragg'd forth
The aged gentleman that had there lain bed-rid
Three years and more, out of his innocent couch,
Naked upon the floor, there left him; wounded
His servant in the face: and, with this strumpet
The stale to his forged practice, who was glad
To be so active,—(I shall here desire
Your fatherhoods to note but my collections,
As most remarkable,—) thought at once to stop
His father's ends; discredit his free choice
In the old gentleman, redeem themselves,
By laying infamy upon this man,
To whom, with blushing, they should owe their lives.
What proofs have you of this?
Most honoured fathers,
I humbly crave there be no credit given
To this man's mercenary tongue.
His soul moves in his fee.
For six sols more, would plead against his Maker.
You do forget yourself.
VOLT: Nay, nay, grave fathers,
Let him have scope: can any man imagine
That he will spare his accuser, that would not
Have spared his parent?
Well, produce your proofs.
I would I could forget I were a creature.
[CORBACCIO COMES FORWARD.]
What is he?
Has he had an oath?
What must I do now?
Your testimony's craved.
Speak to the knave?
I'll have my mouth first stopt with earth; my heart
Abhors his knowledge: I disclaim in him.
But for what cause?
The mere portent of nature!
He is an utter stranger to my loins.
Have they made you to this?
I will not hear thee,
Monster of men, swine, goat, wolf, parricide!
Speak not, thou viper.
Sir, I will sit down,
And rather wish my innocence should suffer,
Then I resist the authority of a father.
[CORVINO COMES FORWARD.]
This is strange.
Is he sworn?
This woman, please your fatherhoods, is a whore,
Of most hot exercise, more than a partrich,
Neighs like a jennet.
Preserve the honour of the court.
And modesty of your most reverend ears.
And yet I hope that I may say, these eyes
Have seen her glued unto that piece of cedar,
That fine well-timber'd gallant; and that here
The letters may be read, through the horn,
That make the story perfect.
[ASIDE TO MOSCA.]: There's no shame in this now, is there?
Or if I said, I hoped that she were onward
To her damnation, if there be a hell
Greater than whore and woman; a good catholic
May make the doubt.
His grief hath made him frantic.
Remove him hence.
Look to the woman.
Prettily feign'd, again!
Stand from about her.
Give her the air.
[TO MOSCA.]: What can you say?
May it please your wisdoms, speaks for me, received
In aid of my good patron, when he mist
His sought-for father, when that well-taught dame
Had her cue given her, to cry out, A rape!
O most laid impudence! Fathers—
Sir, be silent;
You had your hearing free, so must they theirs.
I do begin to doubt the imposture here.
This woman has too many moods.
She is a creature of a most profest
And prostituted lewdness.
Unsatisfied, grave fathers!
May her feignings
Not take your wisdoms: but this day she baited
A stranger, a grave knight, with her loose eyes,
And more lascivious kisses. This man saw them
Together on the water in a gondola.
Here is the lady herself, that saw them too;
Without; who then had in the open streets
Pursued them, but for saving her knight's honour.
Produce that lady.
Let her come.
They strike with wonder!
I am turn'd a stone.
[RE-ENTER MOSCA WITH LADY WOULD-BE.]
Be resolute, madam.
Ay, this same is she.
[POINTING TO CELIA.]
Out, thou chameleon harlot! now thine eyes
Vie tears with the hyaena. Dar'st thou look
Upon my wronged face?—I cry your pardons,
I fear I have forgettingly transgrest
Against the dignity of the court—
And been exorbitant—
You have not, lady.
These proofs are strong.
Surely, I had no purpose
To scandalise your honours, or my sex's.
We do believe it.
Surely, you may believe it.
Madam, we do.
Indeed, you may; my breeding
Is not so coarse—
We know it.
Such a presence!
We well think it.
You may think it.
Let her o'ercome. What witnesses have you
To make good your report?
And heaven, that never fails the innocent.
These are no testimonies.
Not in your courts,
Where multitude, and clamour overcomes.
Nay, then you do wax insolent.
[RE-ENTER OFFICERS, BEARING VOLPONE ON A COUCH.]
The testimony comes, that will convince,
And put to utter dumbness their bold tongues:
See here, grave fathers, here's the ravisher,
The rider on men's wives, the great impostor,
The grand voluptuary! Do you not think
These limbs should affect venery? or these eyes
Covet a concubine? pray you mark these hands;
Are they not fit to stroke a lady's breasts?—
Perhaps he doth dissemble!
So he does.
Would you have him tortured?
I would have him proved.
Best try him then with goads, or burning irons;
Put him to the strappado: I have heard
The rack hath cured the gout; 'faith, give it him,
And help him of a malady; be courteous.
I'll undertake, before these honour'd fathers,
He shall have yet as many left diseases,
As she has known adulterers, or thou strumpets.—
O, my most equal hearers, if these deeds,
Acts of this bold and most exorbitant strain,
May pass with sufferance; what one citizen
But owes the forfeit of his life, yea, fame,
To him that dares traduce him? which of you
Are safe, my honour'd fathers? I would ask,
With leave of your grave fatherhoods, if their plot
Have any face or colour like to truth?
Or if, unto the dullest nostril here,
It smell not rank, and most abhorred slander?
I crave your care of this good gentleman,
Whose life is much endanger'd by their fable;
And as for them, I will conclude with this,
That vicious persons, when they're hot and flesh'd
In impious acts, their constancy abounds:
Damn'd deeds are done with greatest confidence.
Take them to custody, and sever them.
'Tis pity two such prodigies should live.
Let the old gentleman be return'd with care;
[EXEUNT OFFICERS WITH VOLPONE.]
I'm sorry our credulity hath wrong'd him.
These are two creatures!
I've an earthquake in me.
Their shame, even in their cradles, fled their faces.
[TO VOLT.]: You have done a worthy service to the state, sir,
In their discovery.
You shall hear, ere night,
What punishment the court decrees upon them.
[EXEUNT AVOCAT., NOT., AND OFFICERS WITH BONARIO AND CELIA.]
We thank your fatherhoods.—How like you it?
I'd have your tongue, sir, tipt with gold for this;
I'd have you be the heir to the whole city;
The earth I'd have want men, ere you want living:
They're bound to erect your statue in St. Mark's.
Signior Corvino, I would have you go
And shew yourself, that you have conquer'd.
It was much better that you should profess
Yourself a cuckold thus, than that the other
Should have been prov'd.
Nay, I consider'd that:
Now it is her fault:
Then it had been yours.
True; I do doubt this advocate still.
You need not, I dare ease you of that care.
I trust thee, Mosca.
As your own soul, sir.
Now for your business, sir.
How! have you business?
Yes, your's, sir.
O, none else?
None else, not I.
Be careful, then.
Rest you with both your eyes, sir.
And look that all,
Whatever, be put in, jewels, plate, moneys,
Household stuff, bedding, curtains.
Only the advocate's fee must be deducted.
I'll pay him now; you'll be too prodigal.
Sir, I must tender it.
Two chequines is well?
No, six, sir.
'Tis too much.
He talk'd a great while;
You must consider that, sir.
Well, there's three—
I'll give it him.
Do so, and there's for thee.
[ASIDE.]: Bountiful bones! What horrid strange offence
Did he commit 'gainst nature, in his youth,
Worthy this age?
[TO VOLT.]—You see, sir, how I work
Unto your ends; take you no notice.
I'll leave you.
All is yours, the devil and all:
Good advocate!—Madam, I'll bring you home.
No, I'll go see your patron.
That you shall not:
I'll tell you why. My purpose is to urge
My patron to reform his Will; and for
The zeal you have shewn to-day, whereas before
You were but third or fourth, you shall be now
Put in the first; which would appear as begg'd,
If you were present. Therefore—
You shall sway me.