Ben Jonson

T  H  E     F  O  R  E  S  T .  


Why, DISEASE, dost thou molest
Ladies, and of them the best?
Do not men enow of rights
To thy altars, by their nights
Spent in surfeits ; and their days,
And nights too, in worser ways ?
    Take heed, Sickness, what you do,
I shall fear you'll surfeit too.
Live not we, as all thy stalls,
Spittles, pest-house, hospitals,
Scarce will take our present store ?
And this age will build no more.
    'Pray thee, feed contented then,
    Sickness, only on us men ;
    Or if it needs thy lust will taste
    Woman-kind ; devour the waste
    Livers, round about the town.
But, forgive me, — with thy crown
They maintain the truest trade,

And have more diseases made.
    What should yet thy palate please ?
    Daintiness, and softer ease,
    Sleeked limbs, and finest blood ?
    If thy leanness love such food,
    There are those, that for thy sake,
    Do enough ; and who would take
    Any pains : yea, think it price,
    To become thy sacrifice.
    That distill, their husbands' land
    In decoctions ; and are mann'd
    With ten emp'rics, in their chamber,
    Lying for the spirit of amber.
    That for the oil of talc dare spend
    More than citizens dare lend
    Them, and all their officers.
    That to make all pleasure theirs,
    Will by coach, and water go,
    Every stew in town to know ;
    Dare entail their loves on any,
    Bald or blind, or ne'er so many :
    And for thee at common game,
    Play away health, wealth, and fame.
These, Disease, will thee deserve ;
And will long, ere thou should'st starve,
On their beds, most prostitute,
Move it, as their humblest suit,
In thy justice to molest
None but them, and leave the rest.


Jonson, Ben.  The Works of Ben Jonson.
Boston: Phillips, Sampson, and Co., 1853. 807.

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