Lyrics for Cynthia’s Revels Act 3. Scene 2 by Ben Jonson :


Heart, was there ever so prosperous an invention thus
unluckily perverted and spoiled, by a whoreson book-worm, a

Nay, be not impatient, Hedon.

‘Slight, I would fain know his name.

Hang him, poor grogan rascal! prithee think not of him: I’ll
send for him to my lodging, and have him blanketed when thou wilt,

Ods so, I would thou couldst. Look, here he comes.


Laugh at him, laugh at him; ha, ha, ha.

Fough! he smells all lamp-oil with studying by candle-light.

How confidently he went by us, and carelessly! Never moved,
nor stirred at any thing! Did you observe him?

Ay, a pox on him, let him go, dormouse: he is in a dream
now. He has no other time to sleep, but thus when he walks abroad
to take the air.

‘Sprecious, this afflicts me more than all the rest, that we
should so particularly direct our hate and contempt against him,
and he to carry it thus without wound or passion! ’tis

‘Slid, my dear Envy, if thou but say’st the word now, I’ll
undo him eternally for thee.

How, sweet Anaides?

Marry, half a score of us get him in, one night, and make him
pawn his wit for a supper.

Away, thou hast such unseasonable jests! By this heaven, I
wonder at nothing more than our gentlemen ushers, that will suffer
a piece of serge or perpetuana to come into the presence: methinks they should, out of their experience, better distinguish the silken disposition of courtiers, than to let such terrible coarse
rags mix with us, able to fret any smooth or gentle society to the
threads with their rubbing devices.

Unless ’twere Lent, Ember-weeks, or fasting days, when the
place is most penuriously empty of all other good outsides. Dn
me, if I should adventure on his company once more, without a suit
of buff to defend my wit! he does nothing but stab, the slave!
How mischievously he cross’d thy device of the prophecy, there?
and Moria, she comes without her muff too, and there my invention was lost.

Well, I am resolved what I’ll do.

What, my good spiritous spark?

Marry, speak all the venom I can of him; and poison his
reputation in every place where I come.

‘Fore God, most courtly.

And if I chance to be present where any question is made of
his sufficiencies, or of any thing he hath done private or public,
I’ll censure it slightly, and ridiculously.

At any hand beware of that; so thou may’st draw thine own
judgment in suspect. No, I’ll instruct thee what thou shalt do,
and by a safer means: approve any thing thou hearest of his, to the
received opinion of it; but if it be extraordinary, give it from
him to some other whom thou more particularly affect’st; that’s the way to plague him, and he shall never come to defend himself.
‘Slud, I’ll give out all he does is dictated from other men, and
swear it too, if thou’lt have me, and that I know the time and
place where he stole it, though my soul be guilty of no such thing;
and that I think, out of my heart, he hates such barren shifts: yet
to do thee a pleasure and him a disgrace, I’ll damn myself, or do
any thing.

Gramercy, my dear devil; we’ll put it seriously in practice,

Do, good Detraction, do, and I the while
Shall shake thy spight off with a careless smile.
Poor piteous gallants! what lean idle slights
Their thoughts suggest to flatter their starv’d hopes!
As if I knew not how to entertain
These straw-devices; but, of force must yield
To the weak stroke of their calumnious tongues.
What should I care what every dor doth buz
In credulous ears? It is a crown to me
That the best judgments can report me wrong’d;
Them liars; and their slanders impudent.
Perhaps, upon the rumour of their speeches,
Some grieved friend will whisper to me; Crites,
Men speak ill of thee. So they be ill men,
If they spake worse, ’twere better: for of such
To be dispraised, is the most perfect praise.
What can his censure hurt me, whom the world
Hath censured vile before me! If good Chrestus,
Euthus, or Phronimus, had spoke the words,
They would have moved me, and I should have call’d
My thoughts and actions to a strict account
Upon the hearing: but when I remember,
‘Tis Hedon and Anaides, alas, then
I think but what they are, and am not stirr’d.
The one a light voluptuous reveller,
The other, a strange arrogating puff,
Both impudent, and ignorant enough;
That talk as they are wont, not as I merit;
Traduce by custom, as most dogs do bark,
Do nothing out of judgment, but disease,
Speak ill, because they never could speak well.
And who’d be angry with this race of creatures?
What wise physician have we ever seen
Moved with a frantic man? the same affects
That he doth bear to his sick patient,
Should a right mind carry to such as these;
And I do count it a most rare revenge,
That I can thus, with such a sweet neglect,
Pluck from them all the pleasure of their malice;
For that’s the mark of all their enginous drifts,
To wound my patience, howso’er they seem
To aim at other objects; which if miss’d,
Their envy’s like an arrow shot upright,
That, in the fall, endangers their own heads.


What, Crites! where have you drawn forth the day,
You have not visited your jealous friends?

Where I have seen, most honour’d Arete,
The strangest pageant, fashion’d like a court,
(At least I dreamt I saw it) so diffused,
So painted, pied, and full of rainbow strains;
As never yet, either by time, or place,
Was made the food to my distasted sense;
Nor can my weak imperfect memory
Now render half the forms unto my tongue,
That were convolved within this thrifty room.
Here stalks me by a proud and spangled sir,
That looks three handfuls higher then his foretop;
Savours himself alone, is only kind
And loving to himself; one that will speak
More dark and doubtful than six oracles!
Salutes a friend, as if he had a stitch;
Is his own chronicle, and scarce can eat
For regist’ring himself; is waited on
By mimics, jesters, panders, parasites,
And other such like prodigies of men.
He past, appears some mincing marmoset
Made all of clothes and face; his limbs so set
As if they had some voluntary act
Without man’s motion, and must move just so
In spight of their creation: one that weighs
His breath between his teeth, and dares not smile
Beyond a point, for fear t’unstarch his look;
Hath travell’d to make legs, and seen the cringe
Of several courts, and courtiers; knows the time
Of giving titles, and of taking walls;
Hath read court common-places; made them his:
Studied the grammar of state, and all the rules
Each formal usher in that politic school
Can teach a man. A third comes, giving nods
To his repenting creditors, protests
To weeping suitors, takes the coming gold
Of insolent and base ambition,
That hourly rubs his dry and itchy palms;
Which griped, like burning coals, he hurls away
Into the laps of bawds, and buffoons’ mouths.
With him there meets some subtle Proteus, one
Can change, and vary with all forms he sees;
Be any thing but honest; serves the time;
Hovers betwixt two factions, and explores
The drifts of both; which, with cross face, he bears
To the divided heads, and is received
With mutual grace of either: one that dares
Do deeds worthy the hurdle or the wheel,
To be thought somebody; and is in sooth
Such as the satirist points truly forth,
That only to his crimes owes all his worth.

You tell us wonders, Crites.

This is nothing.
There stands a neophite glazing of his face,
Pruning his clothes, perfuming of his hair,
Against his idol enters; and repeats,
Like an unperfect prologue, at third music,
His part of speeches, and confederate jests,
In passion to himself. Another swears
His scene of courtship over; bids, believe him,
Twenty times ere they will; anon, doth seem
As he would kiss away his hand in kindness;
Then walks off melancholic, and stands wreath’d,
As he were pinn’d up to the arras, thus.
A third is most in action, swims, and frisks,
Plays with his mistress’s paps, salutes her pumps;
Adores her hems, her skirts, her knots, her curls,
Will spend his patrimony for a garter,
Or the least feather in her bounteous fan.
A fourth, he only comes in for a mute;
Divides the act with a dumb show, and exit.
Then must the ladies laugh, straight comes their scene,
A sixth times worse confusion then the rest.
Where you shall hear one talk of this man’s eye,
Another of his lip, a third, his nose,
A fourth commend his leg, a fifth, his foot,
A sixth, his hand, and every one a limb;
That you would think the poor distorted gallant
Must there expire. Then fall they in discourse
Of tires, and fashions, how they must take place,
Where they may kiss, and whom, when to sit down,
And with what grace to rise; if they salute,
What court’sy they must use; such cobweb stuff
As would enforce the common’st sense abhor
Th’ Arachnean workers.

Patience, gentle Crites.
This knot of spiders will be soon dissolved,
And all their webs swept out of Cynthia’s court,
When once her glorious deity appears,
And but presents itself in her full light:
‘Till when, go in, and spend your hours with us,
Your honour’d friends. Time and Phronesis,
In contemplation of our goddess’ name.
Think on some sweet and choice invention now,
Worthy her serious and illustrious eyes,
That from the merit of it we may take
Desired occasion to prefer your worth,
And make your service known to Cynthia.
It is the pride of Arete to grace
Her studious lovers; and, in scorn of time,
Envy, and ignorance, to lift their state
Above a vulgar height. True happiness
Consists not in the multitude of friends,
But in their worth, and choice. Nor would I have
Virtue a popular regard pursue:
Let them be good that love me, though but few.

I kiss thy hands, divinest Arete,
And vow myself to thee, and Cynthia.