Ben Jonson – “Volpone” Act I scene 4

Mosca lets it slip that Voltore has brought this precious plate. Corbaccio, not wishing to be outdone, produces a bag of golden coins. Mosca exclaims they are the best medicine and are sure to bring Volpone round, but on second thoughts he’s afraid the shock may be too great for him. Instead he advises Corbaccio to leave the gold with him and he promises that when Volpone regains consciousness, he is going to tell him about it and urge him to make Corbaccio his heir. Then he comes up with one more point in Corbaccio’s favour – he also should write a will, making Volpone his heir. Corbaccio at first demurs, since it means disinheriting his own son for no good reason, but Mosca convinces him it’s just for show. When Volpone sees how much Corbaccio loves him, he will have no choice but to reciprocate. Corbaccio lets himself be convinced and even starts to believe it was his idea all along. He gets ready to leave, while Mosca throws at him witty asides which he can’t hear. Finally he leaves and Volpone jumps out of bed, so delighted with what he’s heard that he is almost ready to burst laughing. He delivers a speech about the foolishness of old men like Corbaccio, oppressed by infirmity and numerous diseases, and still ready to believe that they are not so old. But another would-be heir is at the door – Corvino the merchant. So Volpone gets back into his bed, Mosca reapplies ointment on his eyes and opens the door.


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