Inviting a Friend to Supper
by Ben Jonson

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
Ushring 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-cock, 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.

The Oxford Book of Seventeenth Century Verse.
H. J. C. Grierson and G. Bullough, eds.
Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1934. 155-156.

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