‘Tis I, Would-Be, unicorn with panther’s breath. Are you aware, Bob, that Black Panthers are generally the melanistic color variant of either a leopard or jaguar? This may seem a petty inconsequential factoid but think of the poor leopards and jaguars always being called panther—and having no voice to dispute the inaccurate label.
I think you of all people can appreciate the pain of careless branding. Before your delightful essay, which I only recently received, I’d been rotting in this sick dungeon filled with literary clowns…for centuries! Think of it: this jerk, this selfish entitled narcissist Volpone, called a brilliant mastermind—a schemer of the first order. And I, a mere comedic foil. Sir Pol is a failure, he lacks substance, they say. Substance? You want to know about substance—I heard from a reliable source, I won’t say who (it was Mosca), that Volpone wakes up in the morning, and after staring at himself in the mirror for an entire hour, kisses and caresses his gold coins. These are his idols, all he cares about is money—how is that substantive? He’s still unmarried and alone—he has a dwarf, a eunuch, and a fool, all in his employ. He uses them for entertainment because he’s so bored. Volpone is the black hole of humanity, he is a void and he is the one bereft of substance.
As you so brilliantly point out, Bob, I am a married man. I travel with license. I travel to make my wife happy—if I look into a mirror I’m asking myself ‘how can I better the world today’? My politic plots are designed for the betterment of all society—this is what drives me, not gold or lust. Mr. Jonson even told me once, now don’t tell anyone this, but he even said I was his favorite. You allude to this, and rightfully so, in your essay. Your words made me feel as though anything were possible, oh how I thank you! When that vile citizen Sir Epicure Mammon passed me the new issue of The Ben Jonson Journal, and I saw your title there…All That Would-Be Could Be, I nearly cried—tears of joy, dear Bob. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking a serious look into the quality of my character. I promise to remain grounded, ‘tis the easiest thing of a hundred.
Sir Politic Would-Be
Bobby Williams is a graduate student at the City University of New York Brooklyn. Bobby Williams’ first novel “Two is for You” was published by Open Books in April. It is now available wherever books are sold (on the Internet). Read his article: ‘Blowing Bellows: And All That Would-Be Could Be in Jonson’s Volpone‘ published in the Ben Jonson Journal Volume 21:1.