Ben Jonson









Prologue to Every Man in His Humour


Though need make many Poets, and some such

As art, and nature have not bettered much;

Yet ours, for want, hath not so loved the stage,

As he dare serve th¹ill customs of the age;

Or purchase your delight at such a rate,

As, for it, he himself must justly hate.

To make a child, now swaddled, to proceed

Man, and then shoot up, in one beard, and weed,

Past threescore years; or, with three rusty swords,

And help of some few foot-and half-foot words,

Fight over York, and Lancaster¹s long jars:

And in the tiring-house bring wounds, to scars.

He rather prays, you will be pleased to see

One such, to-day, as other plays should be.

Where neither Chorus wafts you o¹er the seas;

Nor creaking throne comes down, the boys to please;

Nor nimble squib is seen, to make afeared

The gentlewomen; nor rolled bullet heard

To say, it thunders; nor tempestuous drum

Rumbles, to tell you when the storm doth come;

But deeds, and language, such as men do use:
And person, such as Comedy would choose,

When she would show an Image of the times,

And sport with human follies, not with crimes.

Except, we make¹hem such by loving still

Our popular errors, when we know they¹re ill.

I mean such errors, as you¹ll all confess

By laughing at them, they deserve no less:

Which when you heartily do, there¹s hope left, then,

You, that have so graced monsters, may like men.