was a real case, of which the audience would've been well aware. This is one of the many examples of Jonson using contemporary references to ground his play in reality, aiding his educative aims (see Jonson's 'Theory of Comedy' below)). Face feigns reluctance on the part of the Doctor in order to make Dapper all the more eager, a trick used in other spots of the play. There then ensues an mock argument between Face and Subtle in which Face attempts to persuade 'the Doctor' to help Dapper. Though the argument is put on for the benefit of trickery it, of course, contains undertones, giving Face an opportunity to insult Subtle and continue the argument of scene 1. Indeed Face insults Subtle with such force that Dapper is lead to comment "I'd ha' you use master Doctor with some more respect" (I.ii.60). Thus it may be seen that by appearing to be on the side of the victim, Face bolsters the veracity of Subtle's claims, whether he be in the guise of alchemist, doctor or astrologer.

Once Dapper has parted with more money to 'persuade' the Doctor, Subtle quickly spins tales of the great riches Dapper is destined to receive. Though Dapper only came to get a little luck "for cups, and horses" he is quickly tempted by talk of gambling greatness and soon talks of leaving law to gamble professionally. His spiralling dreams are directed by Subtle's hints of greatness though fuelled by his own greed. As The Alchemist shows throughout, the greedy are willingly duped.

The double act of Face and Subtle is in full effect here. As Subtle persuades Dapper of his future good fortune, Face reprimands him for his lack of gratitude asking "Will you be trivial?" (I.ii.141), ie why worry about the small sums you are giving the Doctor in the face of your future riches? Dapper, once snared in this way, is told how he is "Ally'd to the Queen of Faery" (I.i.126) and is sent away to prepare for a meeting with her when he will be bestowed with great fortune. In truth of course it is the cozeners who have fortune to look forward to, as the afternoon's meeting is the occasion of his full cozening.

Act 1. Scene 3

It is in this scene that Subtle's specious learning really comes in to its own. He appears to the next victim, Abel Drugger, a tobacconist, as an astrologer and quickly impresses him with his knowledge of metoscopy (character reading and fortune telling by inspection of appearance) and the planets. Drugger seeks astrological advice for his business, asking where he should place his shelves, his pots and boxes for the best results, seeing Subtle as a necromantical practitioner of Feng Shui. Again Face plays the role of go between for the victim, commending his business practices and pushing him to be more generous in his payment.

It is of note that whilst for Dapper, a lawyer's clerk, Subtle appeared as a Doctor, for the lower in rank Drugger he is merely an astrologer and the fooling is less fantastical. Having said this, Subtle does play on Drugger's somewhat humble dreams saying, "This fellow, Captain,/ Will come, in time, to be a great distiller" (I.iii.78). Drugger leaves happy in the knowledge that his business will thrive.

With Drugger gone, Face resumes his quarrel with Subtle, bemoaning the difficulty and expense of seeking out gulls. Though quarrelling, however, his speech has a business like air again revealing the pretensions of the rogues.

Act 1. Scene 4

The argument is interrupted by the entrance of Dol who has found fresh gulls to cozen later. She has also "spied Sir Epicure Mammon" who, it fast becomes clear, is their greatest project. Here the name Mammon is important and distinctive, as it resonates with biblical significance of evil and fallen arch angels. In Milton’s Paradise Lost it is Mammon who is fallen even before the archangels are repulsed, because he continually looks down at the pavements of gold in Heaven - more intent on wealth than God’s glory, his greed superseding his devotion.

The culmination of this project, Subtle reveals, is to take place today, for it is today that he is "to perfect for him/ The magisterium... the stone". The creation of the philosopher's stone, that which would turn base metals into gold, was the ultimate aim of all alchemists and Mammon has commissioned Subtle to

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