Ben Jonson - Volpone, or the Fox

THE ARGUMENT
V olpone, childless, rich, feigns sick, despairs,
O ffers his state to hopes of several heirs,
L ies languishing; his Parasite receives
P resents of all, assures, deludes; then weaves
O ther cross-plots, which ope themselves, are told.
N ew tricks for safety are sought; they thrive; when, bold,
E ach tempts th’ other again, and all are sold.

*************************************************
ACT ONE
(Volpone’s house.)

(Volpone in a large bed. Enter Mosca. Volpone awakes.)

VOLPONE: Good morning to the day; and next, my gold!
Open the shrine, that I may see my saint.
(Mosca draws a curtain, revealing piles of gold.)

*************************************************
MOSCA: ’Tis Signior Voltore, the advocate;
I know him by his knock.

VOLPONE: Fetch me my gown,
My furs, and night-caps; say my couch is changing,*
And let him entertain himself awhile
Without i’ th’ gallery.
(Exit Mosca.)
Now, now, my clients
Begin their visitation! Vulture, kite,
Raven, and gorcrow, all my birds of prey,
That think me turning carcass, now they come.
I am not for ’em yet.
(Enter Mosca with the gown, furs, etc.)
How now? the news?

MOSCA: A piece of plate, sir.

VOLPONE: Of what bigness?

MOSCA: Huge,
Massy, and antique, with your name inscribed,
And arms engraven. […]

VOLPONE: My caps, my caps, good Mosca. Fetch him in.

MOSCA: Stay, sir; your ointment for your eyes.

VOLPONE: That’s true;
Dispatch, dispatch> I long to have possession
Of my new present.

MOSCA: That, and thousands more,
I hope to see you lord of.

VOLPONE: Thanks, kind Mosca.

MOSCA: And that, when I am lost in blended dust,
And hundreds such as I am, in succession –

VOLPONE: Nay, that were too much, Mosca.

MOSCA: You shall live
Still to delude these harpies.

VOLPONE: Loving Mosca!
’Tis well. My pillow now, and let him enter.
(Exit Mosca.)
Now, my feigned cough, my phthisis**, and my gout,
My apoplexy, palsy, and catarrhs,
Help, with your forced functions, this my posture,***
Wherein, this three year, I have milked their hopes.
He comes, I hear him – uh! uh! uh! uh! O!
(Volpone gets into bed.)

*changing – being made
**phthisis – consumption
***posture – imposture, act

*************************************************
MOSCA: Sir, Signior Voltore is come this morning
To visit you.

VOLPONE: I thank him.

MOSCA: And hath brought
A piece of antique plate, bought of St Mark,
With which he here presents you.

VOLPONE: He is welcome.
Pray him to come more often.

MOSCA: Yes.

VOLPONE: What says he?

MOSCA: He thanks you and desires you see him often.

VOLPONE: Mosca.

MOSCA: My patron?

VOLPONE: Bring him near, where is he?
I long to feel his hand.

MOSCA: The plate is here, sir.

VOLTORE: How fare you, sir?

VOLPONE: I thank you, Signior Voltore.
Where is the plate? mine eyes are bad.

VOLTORE: I’m sorry
To see you still thus weak. […]

MOSCA: You are a happy man, sir; know your good.

VOLPONE: I cannot now last long –

MOSCA: You are his heir, sir.

VOLTORE: Am I?

VOLPONE: I feel me going – uh! uh! uh! uh!
I am sailing to my port – uh! uh! uh! uh!
And I am glad I am so near my haven.

[…]
(Exit Voltore.)

MOSCA: Here is Corbaccio.

VOLPONE: Set the plate away.
The vulture’s gone, and the old raven’s come. […]

(Enter Corbaccio.)
MOSCA: Signior Corbaccio!

You’re very welcome, sir.

CORBACCIO: How does your patron?

MOSCA: Troth, as he did, sir; no amends.

CORBACCIO (deaf): What? mends he?

MOSCA (shouting): No, sir. He is rather worse.

CORBACCIO: That’s well. Where is he?

MOSCA: Upon his couch, sir, newly fall’n asleep.

CORBACCIO: Does he sleep well?

MOSCA: No wink, sir, all this night,
Nor yesterday, but slumbers. […]

His mouth
Is ever gaping, and his eyelids hang.

CORBACCIO: Good. […]

MOSCA: His pulse beats slow and dull.

CORBACCIO: Good symptoms still. […]

Excellent, excellent! sure I shall outlast him!
This makes me young again, a score of years.

[…]
(Exit Corbaccio.)

(Enter Corvino)
MOSCA: Signior Corvino! come most wished 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: Veniece was never owner of the like.

VOLPONE: Signior Corvino!

MOSCA: Hark!

VOLPONE: Signior Corvino!

MOSCA: He calls you; step and give it him. He is here, sir.
And he has brought you a rich pearl. […]

Sir, I am sworn, I may not show the will
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.’ […]


VOCABULARY:
to amend – poprawić, wnieść poprawki
bigness – wielkość
bird of prey – ptak drapieżny
blended – zmieszany, wymieszany
bold – śmiały, bezczelny, zuchwały
carcass – martwe ciało; ścierwo, padlina
catarrh – katar
consumptionold-fashioned gruźlica, suchoty
to delude – [deceive, fool]; oszukać, łudzić, mamić
to dispatch – szybko załatwić, uwinąć się
executor – wykonawca testamentu
to fare – [do]; miewać się, powodzić; fare well/ badly
to feign – [fake, sham, simulate]; udawać, symulować
to fetch – przynieść, podać
to gape – przyglądać się z otwartymi ustami
gout – podagra
to hark – uważnie słuchać
harpy – harpia; jędza,
In mythology, the harpies were creatures with the bodies of birds and the faces of women. They were cruel and greedy.
haven – przystań, port
heir – spadkobierca, dziedzic
imposture – oszustwo
inscribed – wpisany, wyryty
kite – kania
languishing – omdlewający, marniejący
legacy – spadek; spuścizna
to long to do sth – mieć wielką ochotę zrobić coś
to mend – naprawić, poprawić; przychodzić do zdrowia
ointment – maść
to outlast – przeżyć kogoś
palsy – paraliż, bezwład
parasite – [sponger]; dosł. i w przen. pasożyt
phthisisold-fashioned gruźlica, suchoty
raven – kruk
shrine – świątynia
to slumber – przespać się, zdrzemnąć
sworn – zaprzysiężony
tardy – powolny; późny
to tempt – [seduce]; kusić
to thrive – rozwijać się, prosperować
troth – [truth]; old-fashioned prawda, wiara
vantage – przewaga; korzysniejsza pozycja
vulture – sęp
to weave – uknuć spisek, zawiązać intrygę
whereinformal or old-fashioned w czym, w którym
will – wola; testament
to wink – mrugnąć (at sb – na kogoś)

 
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