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BEN JONSON
English poet and dramatist
(1573? - 1637)
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Let them call it mischief:
  When it is past and prospered 'twill be virtue.
      - Catiline (act III, sc. 3) [Mischief]

The gods
  Grow angry with your patience. 'Tis their care,
    And must be yours, that guilty men escape not:
      As crimes do grow, justice should rouse itself.
      - Catiline (act III, sc. 5) [Guilt]

Great honours are great burdens, but on whom
  They are cast with envy, he doth bear two loads.
    His cares must still be double to his joys,
      In any dignity.
      - Catiline--His Conspiracy
         (act III, sc. 1, l. 1) [Honor]

True happiness
  Consists not in the multitude of friends,
    But in the worth and choice. Nor would I have
      Virtue a popular regard pursue:
        Let them be good that love me, though but few.
      - Cynthia's Revels (act III, sc. 2)
        [Friends]

All concord's born of contraries.
      - Cynthia's Revels (act V, sc. 2) [Variety]

Princes that would their people should do well
  Must at themselves begin, as at the head;
    For men, by their example, pattern out
      Their limitations, and regard of laws:
        A virtuous court a world to virtue draws.
      - Cynthia's Revels (act V, sc. 3) [Royalty]

Our whole life is like a play.
      - Discoveries de Vita Humana [Life]

I remember, the players have often mentioned it as an honour to Shakespeare, that in his writing (whatsoever he penned) he never plotted out a line. My answer hath been, would he had blotted a thousand.
      - Discoveries--De Shakespeare nostrat
        [Shakespeare]

A prince without letters is a Pilot without eyes. All his government is groping.
      - Discoveries--Illiteratus Princeps
        [Royalty]

They say Princes learn no art truly, but the art of horsemanship. The reason is, the brave beast is no flatterer. He will throw a Prince as soon as his groom.
      - Discoveries--Illiteratus Princeps
        [Royalty]

Yet the best pilots have need of mariners, besides sails, anchor and other tackle.
      - Discoveries--Illiteratus Princeps
        [Navigation]

Laugh, and be fat, sir, your penance is known.
  They that love mirth, let them heartily drink,
    'Tis the only receipt to make sorrow sink.
      - Entertainments--The Penates [Laughter]

Still to be neat, still to be drest,
  As you were going to a feast,
    Still to be powder'd, all perfum'd.
      Lady, it is to be presumed,
        Though art's hid causes are not found,
          All is not sweet, all is not sound.
      - Epicaene; or, The Silent Woman
         (act I, sc. 1, song) [Apparel]

Pray thee, take care, that tak'st my book in hand,
  To read it well; that is to understand.
      - Epigram (1) [Books]

When I would know thee . . . my thought looks
  Upon thy well-made choice of friends and books;
    Then do I love thee, and behold thy ends
      In making thy friends books, and thy books friends.
      - Epigram (86) [Books]

Underneath this stone doth lie
  As much beauty as could die;
    Which in life did harbor give
      To more virtue that doth live.
        If at all she had a fault,
          Leave it buried in this vault.
      - Epigram (CXXIV, to Lady Elizabeth L.H.)
        [Epitaphs]

But that which most doth take my muse and me,
  Is a pure cup of rich Canary wine,
    Which is the mermaid's now, but shall be mine.
      - Epigram CI [Wine and Spirits]

Digestive cheese, and fruit there sure will be.
      - Epigram CI [Eating]

No simple word
  That shall be uttered at our mirthful board,
    Shall make us sad next morning; or affright
      The liberty that we'll enjoy to-night.
      - Epigram CI [Regret]

Nor shall our cups make any guilty men;
  But at our parting, we will be, as when
    We innocently met.
      - Epigram CI [Drinking]

Yet shall you have to rectify your palate,
  An olive, capers, or some better salad
    Ushering the mutton; with a short-legged hen,
      If we can get her, full of eggs, and then,
        Limons, and wine for sauce: to these a coney
          Is not to be despaired of for our money;
            And though fowl now be scarce, yet there are clerks,
              The sky not falling, think we may have larks.
      - Epigram CI [Eating]

He that departs with his own honesty
  For vulgar praise, doth it too dearly buy.
      - Epigram II [Honesty]

Whilst that for which all virtue now is sold,
  And almost every vice, almighty gold.
      - Epistle to Elizabeth, Countess of Rutland
        [Money]

Thou art but gone before,
  Whither the world must follow.
      - Epitaph on Sir John Roe (p. 190),
        in Dodd's "Epigrammatists" [Death]

See and to be seen.
      - Epithalamion (st. 3, l. 4) [Sight]


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