The Devil Is an Ass

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Satan. For what? The laming a poor cow or two?
Entering a sow to make her cast her farrow?
Or crossing of a market-woman’s mare
’Twixt this and Tottenham? (1.1.8–11)
Satan. [...] You have some plot now
Upon a tunning of ale, to stale the yeast,
Or keep the churn so that the butter come not
Spite o’ the housewife’s cord or her hot spit?
Or some good ribibeabout Kentish Town,
Or Hoxton, you would hang now for a witch,
Because she will not let you play round Robin? (1.1.12b-18)
Iniquity. Child of hell, this is nothing! I will fetch thee a leap
From the top of Paul’s steeple to the Standard in Cheap:
And lead thee a dance through the streets without fail,
Like a needle of Spain, with a thread at my tail.
We will survey the suburbs, and make forth our sallies
Down Petticoat Lane, and up the Smock Alleys,
To Shoreditch, Whitechapel, and so to Saint Katharine’s,
To drink with the Dutch there, and take forth their patterns.
From thence we will put in at Custom House Quay there,
And see how the factors and prentices play there
False with their masters; and geld many a full pack,
To spend it in pies at the Dagger, and the Woolsack.
Pug. Brave, brave, Iniquity! Will not this do, chief?
Iniquity. Nay, boy, I will bring thee to the bawds and the roisters,
At Billingsgate, feasting with claret wine, and oysters,
From thence shoot the bridge, child, to the Cranes i’ the Vintry,
And see there the gimlets, how they make their entry!
Or if thou hadst rather, to the Strand down to fall
’Gainst the lawyers come dabbled from Westminster Hall,
And mark how they cling with their clients together,
Like ivy to oak, so velvet to leather--
Ha, boy, I would show thee! (1.1.55–76a)
Satan. [...] So this morning
There is a handsome cutpurse hanged at Tyburn,
Whose spirit departed, you may enter his body[.] (1.2.139b-41)
Fitzdottrel. [...] Today I go to the Blackfriars Playhouse,
Sit i’ the view, salute all my acquaintance,
Rise up between the acts, let fall my cloak,
Publish a handsome man, and a rich suit,
As that’s a sepcial end why we go thither,
All that pretend to stand for’t o’the stage (1.6.31–36)
Wittipol. [...] The devil-given elfin squire, your husband,
Doth leave you, quitting here his proper circle
For a much worse i’the walks of Lincoln’s Inn,
Under the elms, to’expect the fiend in vain, there,
Will confess for you (1.6.95–99a).
Fitzdottrel. [...] I’ll go bespeak me straight a gilt caroche
For her and you to take the air in. Yes
Into Hyde Park, and thence into Blackfriars,
Visit the painters, where you may see pictures,
And note the properest limbs, and how to make ’em (1.6.214–18).
Merecraft. Tell Master Woodcock, I’ll not fail to meet him
Upon th’Exchange at night (2.1.20–21a).
Merecraft. Engine, when did you see
My cousin Everill? Keeps he still your quarter?
Mistress Fitzdottrel. [...] And wish him to forbear his acting to me
At the gentleman’s chamber-window in Lincoln’s Inn there,
That opens ot my gallery: else, I swear,
T’ acquaint my husband with his folly, and leave him
To the just rage of his offended jealousy (2.2.52–56).
Gilthead. [...] Our shop-books are our pastures, our corn-grounds,
We lay ’em op’n, for them to come into:
And when we have ’em there, we drive ’em up
In to’one of our two pounds, the Counters, straight,
And this is to make you a gentleman! (3.1.17–20).
Merecraft. [...] Buy him a captain’s place, for shame; and let him
Into the world early, and with his plume
And scarfs, march through Cheapside, or along Cornhill,
And by the virtue’of those, draw down a wife
There from a window, worth ten thousand pound!
Get him the posture book, and’s leaden men
To set upon a table, ’gainst his mistress
Chance ot come by, that he may draw her in
And show her Finsbury battles (3.2.33–41).
Merecraft. [...] This comes of wearing
Scarlet, gold lace, and cut-works! Your fine gartering!
With your blown roses, cousin! And your eating
Pheasant, and godwit, here in London! Haunting
The Globes and Mermaids! (3.3.22b-26a)
Merecraft. [...] There’s an old debt of forty, I ga’ my word
For one is run away to the Bermudas,
And he will hook in that, or he will’not do (3.3.148–50)
Merecraft. I knew thou must take after somebody!
Thou couldst not be else. This was no shop-look!
I’ll ha’ thee Captain Gilthead, and march up,
And take in Pimlico, and kill the bush
At every tavern! (3.3.167–71a)
Fitzdottrel. Yes, here’s the ring: I ha’ sealed.
But there’s not so much gold in all the row, he says--
Till ’t come fro’ the Mint (3.5.1b-3a).
Wittipol. [...] Coach it to Pimlico; dance the saraband;
Hear and talk bawdy; laugh as loud, as a larum;
Squeak, spring, do anything (4.4.164–66a).
Wittipol. We’ll see her, sir, at home, and leave you here
To be made Duke o’ Shoreditch with a project (4.7.64–65).
Merecraft. Well, and you went to a whore?
Ambler. No, sir. I durst not--
For fear it might arrive at somebody’s ear
It should not--trust myself to a common house,
(AMBLER tells this with extraordinary speed.)
But got the gentlewoman to go with me,
And carry her bedding to a conduit-head,
Hard by the place toward Tyburn, which they call
My Lord Mayor’s Banqueting House (5.1.23–29).
Ambler. [...] But that which grived me was
The gentlewoman’s shoes, with a pair of roses
And garters I had given her for the business,
So as that made us stay till it was dark;
For I was fain to lend her mine, and walk
In a rug by her, barefoot to Saint Giles’s (5.1.42–47).
Pug. [...] To Newgate brought? How is the name of Devil
Discredited in me! What a lost fiend
Shall I be on return! (5.6.3–5a)
Iniquity. [...] And in the mena time, to be greasy and bouzy,
And nasty and filthy, and ragged and lousy,
With damn me, renounce me, and all the fine phrases,
That bring unto Tyburn the plentiful gazes (5.6.25–28).
Satan. [...] But that I would not such a damned dishonour
Stick on our state, as that the Devil were hanged,
And could not save a body, that he took
From Tyburn, but it must come hither again,
You should e’en ride (5.6.69–73a).
Shackles. O! Such an accident fallen out at Newgate, sir:
A great piece of the prison is rent down! (5.8.123–24)
Shackles. He’s gone, sir, now,
And left us the dead body. But withal, sir,
Such an infernal stink and steam behind
You cannot see St Pulchre’s steeple yet;
They smell’t as far as Ware as the wind lies
By this time, sure (5.8.130b-35a).


Last modification: 2016-05-27 14:37:29 -0700 (Fri, 27 May 2016) (tlandels)
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MLA citation:

Jonson, Ben. “The Devil Is an Ass.” The Map of Early Modern London. Ed. Janelle Jenstad. Victoria: University of Victoria. Web. 15 December 2017. <>.

Chicago citation:

Jonson, Ben. n.d. “The Devil Is an Ass.” The Map of Early Modern London. Ed. Janelle Jenstad. Victoria: University of Victoria. Accessed December 15, 2017.

APA citation:

Jonson B. (n.d.). The Devil Is an Ass. In J. Jenstad (Ed.), The Map of Early Modern London. Retrieved December 15, 2017, from

TEI citation:

<bibl> <author><persName><surname>Jonson</surname>, <forename>Ben</forename></persName></author> (<date>n.d.</date>). <title level="a">The Devil Is an Ass</title>. In <editor><persName><forename>J.</forename> <surname>Jenstad</surname></persName></editor> (Ed.), <title level="m">The Map of Early Modern London</title>. Retrieved <date when="2017-12-15">December 15, 2017</date>, from <ref target=""></ref> </bibl>