At the time I had not read any of his work but a few years ago I read the play Volpone and liked it very much. Now I am reading another of his plays, The Alchemist, and I like it very much as well. All the characters are so base and conniving!
This is how it begins:
FACE: Believe ‘t, I will. SUBTLE: Thy worst. I fart at thee. DOL: Ha’ you your wits? Why, gentlemen! for love— FACE: Sirrah, I’ll strip you— SUBTLE: What to do? Lick figs Out at my— FACE: Rogue, rogue! —out of all your sleights. DOL: Nay, look ye, sovereign, general, are you madmen? SUBTLE: O, let the wild sheep loose. I’ll gum your silks With good strong water, an you come. DOL: Will you have The neighbors hear you? Will you betray all? Hark! I hear somebody. FACE: Sirrah— SUBTLE: I shall mar All the tailor has made, if you approach. FACE: You most notorious whelp, you insolent slave, Dare you do this? SUBTLE: Yes, faith; yes, faith.
I have nothing to add to this except to say that, since Subtle is the alchemist of the title, many critical readers interpret the line "I'll gum your silks/With good strong water" as a threat to throw acid on Face from some vessel he is carrying. To me, it is perfectly clear that Subtle is threatening to piss on him. Just because Ben Jonson was friends with Shakespeare doesn't mean we have to be dainty about him, OK?