Every Man In His Humour Monologue
|Every Man In His Humour Monologue by Ben Jonson|
- KNOWELL: When I was young, he lived not in the stews,
- Durst have conceived a scorn, and uttered it
- On a gray head; age was authority
- Against a buffoon; and a man had then
- A certain reverence paid unto his years,
- That had none due unto his life. So much
- The sanctity of some prevailed for others.
- But now, we all are fall'n: youth, from their fear;
- And age from that which bred it, good example.
- Nay, would ourselves were not the first, even parents,
- That did destroy the hopes in our own children;
- Or they not learned our vices in their cradles,
- And sucked in our ill customs with their milk.
- Ere all their teeth be born, or they can speak,
- We make their palates cunning! The first words
- We form their tongues with are licentious jests!
- Can it call whore, cry bastard? O, then kiss it!
- A witty child! Can't swear? The father's darling!
- Give it two plums. Nay, rather than't shall learn
- No bawdy song, the mother herself will teach it!
- But this in the infancy, the days
- Of the long coat; when it puts on the breeches,
- It will put off all this. Ay, it is like,
- When it is gone into the bone already!
- No, no, this dye goes deeper than the coat,
- Or shirt, or skin. It stains unto the liver
- And heart, in some; and, rather than it should not,
- Note what we fathers do! Look how we live!
- What mistresses we keep at what expense!
- In our sons' eyes, where they may handle our gifts,
- Hear our lascivious courtships, see our dalliance,
- Taste of the same provoking meats with us,
- To ruin of our states! Nay, when our own
- Portion is fled, to prey on their remainder,
- We call them into fellowship of vice!
- Bait 'em with the young chambermaid, to seal!
- And teach 'em all bad ways to buy affliction.
- This is one path, but there are millions more,
- In which we spoil our own with leading them.
- Well, I thank Heaven, I never yet was he
- That travelled with my son, before sixteen,
- To show him the Venetian courtesans;
- Nor read the grammar of cheating I had made,
- To my sharp boy, at twelve, repeating still
- The rule, "Get money," still, "Get money, boy,
- No matter by what means; money will do
- More, boy, than my lord's letter." Neither have I
- Dressed snails or mushrooms curiously before him,
- Perfumed my sauces, and taught him to make 'em;
- Preceding still, with my gray gluttony,
- At all the ordinaries, and only feared
- His palate should degenerate, not his manners.
- These are the trade of fathers, now; however,
- My son, I hope, hath met within my threshold
- None of these household precedents, which are strong,
- And swift to rape youth to their precipice.
- But let the house at home be ne'er so clean-
- Swept, or kept sweet from filth, nay, dust and cobwebs,
- If he will live abroad with his companions,
- In dung and leystals, it is worth a fear;
- Nor is the danger of converting less
- Than all that I have mentioned of example.
Credits: Reprinted from Every Man in His Humour (1598).