Ben Jonson

"Epigram CI. Inviting a Friend to Supper"

To-night, grave sir, both my poore house, and I
Doe equally desire your companie :
Not that we thinke us worthy such a guest,
But that your worth will dignifie our feast,
With those that come; whose grace may make that seeme
Something, which, else, could hope for no esteeme.
It is the faire acceptance, Sir, creates
The entertaynment perfect, not the cates.
Yet shall you have, to rectifie your palate,
An olive, capers, or some better sallad
Ush'ring the mutton; with a short-leg'd hen,
If we can get her, full of eggs, and then,
Limons, and wine for sauce: to these, a coney
Is not to be despair'd of, for our money;
And, though fowle, now, be scarce, yet there are clerkes,
The skie not falling, thinke we may have larkes.
I'll tell you of more, and lye, so you will come :
Of partrich, pheasant, wood-c*ck, of which some
May yet be there; and godwit, if we can :
Knat, raile, and ruffe too. How so e'er, my man
Shall reade a piece of VIRGIL, TACITUS,
LIVIE, or of some better booke to us,
Of which wee'll speake our minds, amidst our meate ;
And I'll professe no verses to repeate :
To this, if ought appeare, which I know not of,
That will the pastrie, not my paper, show of.
Digestive cheese, and fruit there sure will bee;
But that, which most doth take my Muse, and mee,
Is a pure cup of rich Canary-wine,
Which is the Mermaids, now, but shall be mine :
Of which had HORACE, or ANACREON tasted,
Their lives, as doe their lines, till now had lasted.
Tabacco, Nectar, or the Thespian spring,
Are all but LUTHERS beere, to this I sing.
Of this we will sup free, but moderately,
And we will have no Pooly, or Parrot by;
Nor shall our cups make any guiltie men:
But, at our parting, we will be, as when
We innocently met. No simple word
That shall be utter'd at our mirthfull board
Shall make us sad next morning: or affright
The libertie, that wee'll enjoy to-night.

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