The Case is Altered, by Ben Jonson

Act III.

Scene I.

Enter Angelo, solus.

MY young and simple friend, Paulo Ferneze,
Bound me with mighty solemn conjurations
To be true to him, in his love to Rachel,
And to solicit his remembrance still
In his enforced absence. Much, i' faith!1
True to my friend in cases of affection!
In women's cases! what a jest it is?
How silly he is that imagines it!
He is an ass that will keep promise strictly
In any thing that checks his private pleasure,
Chiefly in love. 'Sblood am not I a man?
Have I not eyes that are as free to look,
And blood to be enflam'd as well as his?
And when it is so, shall I not pursue
Mine own love's longings, but prefer my friend's?
I, 'tis a good fool, do so; hang me then.
Because I swore? alas, who does not know
That lover's perjuries are ridiculous?
Have at thee, Rachel; I'll go court her sure,
For now I know her father is abroad.
[Enter Jaques.
'Sblood see, he's here. O what damn'd luck is this?
This labour's lost, I must by no means see him.
Tau, dery, dery.


1 In his enforced absence much i' faith.] It should be printed thus:

In his enforced absence. Much, i' faith! This ironical use of the word much, as a term of disdain, hath been remarked before.

Scene II.

Jaques, Christophero.

Jaq. Mischief and hell, what is this man a spirit?
Haunts he, my house's ghost? still at my door?
He has been at my door, he has been in,
In my dear door: pray god my gold be safe.
Enter Christophero.
God's pity, here's another. Rachel! ho,

Chr. God save you, honest father.

Jaq. Rachel! God's light come to me; Rachel! Rachel!


Chr. Now in god's name what ails he? this is strange!
He loves his daughter so, I'll lay my life
That he's afraid, having been now abroad,
I come to seek her love unlawfully.

Enter Jaques.

Jaq. 'Tis safe, 'tis safe, they have not robb'd my treasure.

Chr. Let it not seem offensive to you, sir.

Jaq. Sir! God's my life, sir! sir! call me sir!2

Chr. Good father hear me.

Jaq. You are most welcome, sir;
I meant almost: and would your worship speak?
Would you abase yourself to speak to me?

Chr. 'Tis no abasing, father: my intent
Is to do further honour to you, sir,
Than only speak; which is to be your son.

Jaq. My gold is in his nostrils, he has smelt it;
Break breast, break heart, fall on the earth my entrails,
With this same bursting admiration!
He knows my gold, he knows of all my treasure.
How do you know, sir? whereby do you guess?

Chr. At what, sir? what is't you mean?

Jaq. I ask, an't please your gentle worship, how you know?
I mean, how I should make your worship know
That I have nothing ————
To give with my poor daughter? I have nothing:
The very air, bounteous to every man,
Is scant to me, sir.

Chr. I do think, good father, you are but poor.

Jaq. He thinks so; harke! but thinks so:
He thinks not so, he knows of all my treasure.


Chr. Poor man, he is so overjoy'd to hear
His daughter may be past his hopes bestow'd,
That betwixt fear and hope, (if I mean simply)
He is thus passionate.

Enter Jaques.

Jaq. Yet all is safe within, is none without?
Nobody break my walls?

Chr. What say you, father, shall I have your daughter?

Jaq. I have no dowry to bestow upon her.

Chr. I do expect none, father.

Jaq. That is well.
Then I beseech your worship make no question
Of that you wish: 'tis too much favour to me.

Chr. I'll leave him now to give his passions breath,
Which being settled I will fetch his daughter;
I shall but move too much, to speak now to him.

[Exit Christopher.

Jaq. So, he is gone; would all were dead and gone,
That I might live with my dear gold alone.

1 Jaq. Sir! God's my life, sir! sir! call me sir!] The character of Jaques is formed upon that of Euclio in the Aulularia of Plautus: and is drawn with that masterly expression which distinguisheth the works of Jonson. The scene here between Christophero and Jaques, and what follows between the count and him, is copied from what passes between Euclio and Megadorus; but with so high an improvement, as determines the palm of applause in favour of our author. The original here is,
Non temerarium est, ubi dives blandè appellat pauperem.

Scene III.

Jaques, Count.

Count. Here is the poor old man.

Jaq. Out of my soul, another! comes he hither?

Count. Be not dismay'd, old man, I come to chear you.

Jaq. To me, by heaven.
Turn ribs to brass, turn voice into a trumpet,
To rattle out the battles of my thoughts;
One comes to hold me talk, while t'other robs me.


Count. He has forgot me sure; what should this mean?
He fears authority, and my want of wife
Will take his daughter from him to defame her:
He that hath nought on earth but one poor daughter,
May take this extasy of care to keep her.

Enter Jaques.

Jaq. And yet 'tis safe: they mean not to use force,
But fawning coming. I shall easily know,
By his next question, if he think me rich.
Whom see I? my good lord?

Count. Stand up, good father,
I call thee not good father for thy age,
But that I gladly wish to be thy son,
In honour'd marriage with thy beauteous daughter.

Jaq. O, so, so, so, so, so this is for gold.
Now it is sure this is my daughter's neatness
Makes them believe me rich. No, my good lord,
I'll tell you all, how my poor hapless daughter
Got that attire she wears from top to toe.

Count. Why, father, this is nothing.

Jaq. O yes, good my lord.

Count. Indeed it is not.

Jaq. Nay, sweet lord, pardon me, do not dissemble;
Hear your poor beadsman speak: 'tis requisite
That I (so huge a beggar) make account
Of things that pass my calling. She was born
To enjoy nothing underneath the sun;
But that, if she had more than other beggars,
She should be envied: I will tell you then
How she had all she wears. Her warm shoes (God wot)
A kind maid gave her, seeing her go barefoot
In a cold frosty morning; God requite her.
Her homely stockings ——

Count. Father, I'll hear no more, thou mov'st too much
With thy too curious answer for thy daughter,
That doth deserve a thousand times as much.
I'll be thy son-in-law, and she shall wear
Th' attire of countesses.

Jaq. O, good my lord,
Mock not the poor; remembers not your lordship
That poverty is the precious gift of God,
As well as riches? tread upon me, rather
Than mock my poorness.

Count. Rise, I say;
When I mock poorness, then heaven make me poor.

Scene IV.

Nuntius, Count.

Nun. See, here's the count Ferneze, I will tell him

The hapless accident of his brave son,
That he may seek the sooner to redeem him.
[Exit Jaques.
God save your lordship.

Count. You are right welcome, sir.

Nun. I would I brought such news as might deserve it.

Count. What! bring you me ill news?

Nun. 'Tis ill, my lord,
Yet such as usual chance of war affords,
And for which all men are prepar'd that use it,
And those that use it not but in their friends,
Or in their children.

Count. Ill news of my son,
My dear and only son, I'll lay my soul!
Ah me accurs'd! thought of his death doth wound me,
And the report of it will kill me quite.

Nun. 'Tis not so ill, my lord.

Count. How then?

Nun. He's taken prisoner, and that's all.

Count. That's enough, enough;
I set my thoughts on love, on servile love,
Forget my virtuous wife, feel not the dangers,
The bands and wounds of my own flesh and blood,
And therein am a madman; therein plagu'd
With the most just affliction under heaven.
Is Maximilian taken prisoner too?

Nun. No, good my lord; he is return'd with prisoners.

Count. Is't possible! can Maximilian
Return and view my face without my son,
For whom he swore such care as for himself?

Nun. My lord, no care can change the events of war.

Count. O in what tempests do my fortunes sail!
Still wrack'd with winds more foul and contrary
Than any northern gust, or southern flawe,3
That ever yet inforc'd the sea to gape,
And swallow the poor merchant's traffick up.
First in Vicenza lost I my first son,
Next here in Milan my most dear lov'd lady,
And now my Paulo prisoner to the French;
Which last being printed with my other griefs,
Doth make so huge a volume, that my breast
Cannot contain them. But this is my love;
I must make love to Rachel: heaven hath thrown
This vengeance on me most deservedly,
Were it for nought but wronging of my steward.

Nun. My lord, since only money may redress
The worst of this misfortune, be not griev'd;
Prepare his ransom, and your noble son
Shall greet your cheared eyes with the more honour.

Count. I will prepare his ransom; gracious heaven
Grant his imprisonment may be his worst,
Honour'd and soldier-like imprisonment,
And that he be not manacled and made
A drudge to his proud foe. And here I vow,
Never to dream of seemless amorous toys,
Nor aim at other joy on earth,
But the fruition of mine only son.


1 Than any northern GUEST or southern flaw.] Common sense here tells us, that guest is a corruption from gust. The only copy of this play is a very erroneous one, of 1609; and faults of the press, like the preceding one, occur in every page: but as these are easily set right, it would be impertinent to trouble the reader with a note, for every such alteration.

Scene V.

Enter Jaques with his gold, and a scuttle full of horse-dung.

Jaq. He's gone: I knew it; this is our hot lover.
I will believe them, I: they may come in
Like simple wooers, and be arrant thieves,
And I not know them. 'Tis not to be told
What servile villainies men will do for gold.
O it began to have a huge strong smell,
With lying so long together in a place;
I'll give it vent, it shall ha' shift enough;
And if the devil, that envies all goodness,
Have told them of my gold, and where I kept it,
I'll set his burning nose once more a work,
To smell where I remov'd it. Here it is;
I'll hide, and cover it with this horse-dung.
Who will suppose that such a precious nest
Is crown'd with such a dunghill excrement?
In, my dear life, sleep sweetly, my dear child,
"Scarce lawfully begotten, but yet gotten,
"And that's enough." Rot all hands that come near thee,
Except mine own. Burn out all eyes that see thee,
Except mine own. All thoughts of thee be poison
To their enamour'd hearts, except mine own.
I'll take no leave, sweet prince, great emperor,
But see thee every minute: king of kings,
I'll not be rude to thee, and turn my back
In going from thee, but go backward out,
With my face toward thee, with humble courtesies.
None is within, none overlooks my wall;
To have gold, and to have it safe, is all.


Scene VI.

Enter Maximilian with soldiers, Chamont, Camillo, Ferneze, Pacue.

Max. LORD Chamont, and your valiant friend there, I cannot say, welcome to Milan; your thoughts and that word are not musical; but I can say, you are come to Milan.

Pac. Mort dieu.

Cha. Garçon!

Max. Gentlemen (I would call an emperor so) you are now my prisoners; I am sorry, marry this, spit in the face of your fortunes, for your usage shall be honourable.

Cam. We know it, signior Maximilian;
The fame of all your actions sounds nought else
But perfect honour from her swelling cheeks.

Max. It shall do so still, I assure you, and I will give you reason: there is in this last action (you know) a noble gentleman of our party, and a right valiant, semblably prisoner to your general, as your honour'd selves to me, for whose safety this tongue has given warrant to his honourable father, the count Ferneze. You conceive me.

Cam. I, signior.

Max. Well, then I must tell you your ransoms be to redeem him. What think you? your answer.

Cam. Marry, with my lord's leave, here I say, signior,
This free and ample offer you have made
Agrees well with your honour, but not ours;
For I think not but Chamont is as well born
As is Ferneze; then, if I mistake not,
He scorns to have his worth so underprised,
That it should need an adjunct in exchange
Of any equal fortune. Noble signior,
I am a soldier, and I love Chamont;
Ere I would bruise his estimation
With the least ruin of mine own respect
In this vile kind, these legs should rot with irons,
This body pine in prison, till the flesh
Drop from my bones in flakes, like wither'd leaves,
In heart of autumn, from a stubborn oak.

Max. Monsieur Gasper, (I take it so is your name) misprise me not; I will trample on the heart, on the soul of him that shall say I will wrong you: what I purpose you cannot now know, but you shall know, and doubt not to your contentment. Lord Chamont, I will leave you, whilst I go in and present myself to the honourable count; till my regression, so please you, your noble feet may measure this private, pleasant, and most princely walk. Soldiers, regard them and respect them.

Pac. O ver bon! excellenta gull, he tak'a my lord Chamont for monsieur Gaspra, and monsieur Gaspra for my lord Chamont. O dis be brave for make a me laugh'e, ha, ha, ha; O my heart tickla.

Cam. I, but your lordship knows not what hard fate
Might have pursu'd us, therefore howsoe'er
The changing of our names was necessary,
And we must now be careful to maintain
This error strongly, which our own device
Hath thrust into their ignorant conceits;
For should we (on the taste of this good fortune)
Appear ourselves, 'twould both create in them
A kind of jealousy, and perchance invert
Those honourable courses they intend.

Cha. True, my dear Gasper; but this hang-by here
Will (at one time or other) on my soul,
Discover us. A secret in his mouth
Is like a wild bird put into a cage,
Whose door no sooner opens, but 'tis out.
But, sirrah, if I may but know
Thou utter'st it.

Pac. Utteria vat, monsieur?

Cha. That he is Gasper, and I true Chamont.

Pac. O pardonne moy, fore my tongue shall put out de secreta,
Shall breed de cankra in my mouth.

Cam. Speak not so loud, Pacue.

Pac. Foe, you shall hear fool, for all your long ear, reguard monsieur: you be de Chamont, Chamont be Gaspra.

Enter Count Ferneze, Maximilian, Francisco, Aurelia, Phœnixella, Finio.

Cha. Peace, here comes Maximilian.

Cam. O belike that's the count Ferneze, that old man.

Cha. Are those his daughters, trow?

Cam. I sure, I think they are.

Cha. Fore god, the taller is a gallant lady.

Com. So are they both, believe me.

Max. True, my honourable lord, that Chamont was the father of this man.

Count. O that may be, for when I lost my son,
This was but young, it seems.

Fran. Faith, had Camillo liv'd,
He had been much about his years, my lord.

Count. He had indeed. Well, speak no more of him.

Max. Signior, perceive you the error? 'twas no good office in us to stretch the remembrance of so dear a loss. Count Ferneze, let summer sit in your eye; look chearfully, sweet count; will you do me the honour to confine this noble spirit within the circle of your arms?

Count. Honour'd Chamont, reach me your valiant hand;
I could have wish'd some happier accident
Had made the way unto this mutual knowledge
Which either of us now must take of other;
But sure it is the pleasure of our fates,
That we should thus be rack'd on fortune's wheel.
Let us prepare with steeled patience
To tread on torment, and with minds confirm'd,
Welcome the worst of envy.

Max. Noble lord, 'tis thus. I have here (in mine honour) set this gentleman free, without ransom; he is now himself, his valour hath deserved it, in the eye of my judgment. Monsieur Gasper, you are dear to me: fortuna non mutat genus. But to the main, if it may square with your lordship's liking, his love, I could desire that he were now instantly employed to your noble general in the exchange of Ferneze for yourself, it is the business that requires the tender hand of a friend.

Count. I, and it would be with more speed effected, if he would undertake it.

Max. True, my lord. Monsieur Gasper, how stand you affected to this motion?

Cha. My duty must attend his lordship's will.

Max. What says the lord Chamont?

Cam. My will doth then approve what these have urg'd.

Max. Why there is good harmony, good musick in this. Monsieur Gasper, you shall protract no time, only I will give you a bowl of rich wine to the health of your general, another to the success of your journey, and a third to the love of my sword. Pass.

[Exeunt all but Aurelia and Phœnixella.

Aur. Why how now, sister, in a motly muse?
Go to, there's somewhat in the wind, I see.
Faith, this brown study suits not with your black;
Your habit and your thoughts are of two colours.

Phœ. Good faith, methinks that this young lord Chamont Favours my mother, sister, does he not?

Aur. A motherly conceit; O blind excuse,
Blinder than love himself. Well, sister, well;
Cupid has ta'en his stand in both your eyes,
The case is alter'd.

Phœ. And what of that?

Aur. Nay, nothing but a saint.
Another Bridget, one that for a face
Would put down Vesta, in whose looks doth swim

The very sweetest cream of modesty.
You to turn tippet! fie, fie; will you give
A packing penny to virginity.
I thought you'd dwell so long in Cyprus isle,
You'd worship madam Venus at the length:
But come, the strongest fall, and why not you?
Nay, do not frown.


Phœ. Go, go, you fool.

Aur. Well, I may jest, or so; but Cupid knows
My taking is as bad, or worse than hers.
O, monsieur Gasper, if thou be'st a man,
Be not afraid to court me; do but speak,
Challenge thy right, and wear it; for I swear,
Till thou arriv'dst, ne'er came affection here.


Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:56