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  • Title: Galathea (Modern)
  • Editor: David Bevington

  • Copyright David Bevington. This text may be freely used for educational, non-profit purposes; for all other uses contact the Editor.
    Author: John Lyly
    Editor: David Bevington
    Peer Reviewed

    Galathea (Modern)

    [Enter the] Alchemist [and] Rafe.
    Rafe, my boy is run away. I trust thou wilt not run after.
    [Aside] I would I had a pair of wings that I might fly after!
    My boy was the veriest thief, the arrantest liar, and the vilest swearer 555in the world -- otherwise the best boy in the world. He hath stolen my apparel, all my money, and forgot nothing but to bid me farewell.
    That will not I forget. Farewell, master!
    [He turns to go.]
    Why, thou hast not yet seen the end of my art.
    I would I had not known the beginning. Did not you promise me 560of my silver thimble to make a whole cupboard of plate, and that of a Spanish needle you would build a silver steeple?
    Ay, Rafe. The fortune of this art consisteth in the measure of the fire, for if there be a coal too much or a spark too little, if it be a little too hot or a thought too soft, all our labor is in vain. Besides, they 565that blow must beat time with their breaths, as musicians do with their breasts, so as there must be of the metals, the fire, and workers a very harmony.
    Nay, if you must weigh your fire by ounces, and take measure of a man's blast, you may then make of a dram of wind a wedge of gold, and of the shadow of one shilling make another, so as you have an organist to tune your temperatures.
    So is it, and often doth it happen, that the just proportion of the fire and all things concur.
    Con-cur? Con-dog! I will away.
    Then away!
    Exit Alchemist.
    [Enter Astronomer, gazing up at the sky, with an almanac in his hands. He and Rafe do not notice each other at first.]
    An art, quoth you, that one multiplieth so much all day that he 575wanteth money to buy meat at night?[Seeing the Astronomer] But what have we yonder? What devout man? He will never speak till he be urged. I will salute him. -- Sir, there lieth a purse under your feet. If I thought it were not yours, I would take it up.
    Dost thou not know that I was calculating the nativity of Alexander's great horse?
    Why, what are you?
    An astronomer .
    What, one of those that makes almanacs?
    Ipsissimus. I can tell the minute of thy birth, the moment of thy death, and the manner. I can tell thee what weather shall be between this and octgessimus octavus mirabilis annus. When I list I can set a trap for the sun, catch the moon with lime-twigs, and go a-batfowling for stars. I can tell thee things past and things to come, and with my cunning measure how many yards of clouds are beneath the sky. Nothing can happen which I foresee not; nothing shall.
    I hope, sir, you are no more than a god.
    I can bring the twelve signs out of their zodiacs and hang 590them up at taverns.
    I pray you, sir, tell me what you cannot do? For I perceive there is nothing so easy for you to compass as impossibilities. But what be those signs?
    As a man should say, signs which govern the body. The ram governeth the head.
    That is the worst sign for the head.
    Because it is a sign of an ill ewe.
    Tush, that sign must be there. Then the Bull for the throat, Capricornus for the knees.
    I will hear no more signs, if they be all such desperate signs. 600But seeing you are -- I know not who to term you -- shall I serve you? I would fain serve.
    I accept thee.
    Happy am I! For now shall I reach thoughts, and tell how many drops of water goes to the greatest shower of rain. You shall see me catch the moon 605in the 'clips like a coney in a purse-net.
    I will teach thee the golden number, the epact, and the prime.
    I will meddle no more with numbering of gold, for multiplication is a miserable action. I pray, sir, what weather shall we have this hour threescore year?
    That I must cast by our judicials astronomical. Therefore come in with me, 610and thou shall see every wrinkle in my astrological wisdom, and I will make the heavens as plain to thee as the highway. Thy cunning shall sit cheek by jowl with the sun's chariot. Then shalt thou see what a base thing it is to have others' thoughts creep on the ground, whenas thine shall be stitched to the stars.
    Then I shall be translated from this mortality.
    Thy thoughts shall be metamorphosed and made hail-fellows with the gods.
    O fortune! I feel my very brains moralized, and as it were a certain contempt of earthly actions is crept into my mind by an ethereal contemplation. Come, let us in.