A Recipe for Restoration Jonson penned “Ode. To Himself” expressing his disgust for the poor taste of the theatergoers:
Say, that thou pour'st them wheat,
And they will acornes eat :
'Twere simple fury, still, thy selfe to waste
On such as have no taste !
To offer them a surfeit of pure bread,
Whose appetites are dead !
No, give them graines their fill,
Huskes, draff to drink and swill.
If they love lees, and leave the lusty wine,
Envy them not, their palate's with the swine.
No doubt some mouldy tale,
Like Pericles ; and stale
As the Shrieve's crusts, and nasty as his fish—
Scraps out of every dish
Throwne forth, and rak't into the common tub,
May keepe up the Play-club :
There, sweepings doe as well
As the best order'd meale.
For, who the relish of these guests will fit,
Needs set them but the almes-basket of wit. (11-30) The first lines of the prologue of Volpone state:
“Now, luck yet sends us, and a little wit
Will serve to make our play hit;
(According to the palates of the season).” Similarly, the prologue of Epicoene claims:
“Our wishes, like to those make public feasts,
Are not to please the cook’s taste, but the guests’.” A Fridayes Pye, without eyther Flesh
Wash greene Beetes cleane,
picke out the middle string,
and chop them small with two or three well relisht ripe Apples.
Season it with Pepper, Salt, and Ginger: then take a good handfull of Razins of the Sunne, and put all in a Coffin of fine Paste,
with a piece of sweet Butter,
and so bake it: but before you serue it
in, cut it vp, and wring in the iuyce of
an Orenge, and Sugar. The prologue to Volpone begs:
“Yet thus much I can give you as a token
Of his play’s worth, no eggs are broken,
Nor quaking custards with fierce teeth affrighted,
. . .
All gall and copperas from his ink he draineth,
Only a little salt remaineth,
Wherewith he’ll rub your cheeks, till red, with laughter,
They shall look fresh a week after.” Similarly, the prologue to Epicoene ends with the lines:
“Nor is it, only, while you keep your seat
Here, that his feast will last; but you shall eat
A week at ord’naries, on his broken meat:
If his muse be true,
Who commends her to you.” Mosca:
“No, sir, nor devour
Soft prodigals. You shall ha’ some will swallow
A melting heir as glibly as your Dutch
Will pills of butter, and ne’er purge for’t;
Tear forth the fathers of poor families
Out of their beds and coffin then, alive”
(I.i.40-45). Works Cited
Dryden, John. “An Essay of Dramatick Poesie.” Ed. Jack Lynch.
Jonson, Ben. Epicoene. Project Gutenberg. Dec. 2009. Web.
Jonson, Ben. Volpone. Project Gutenberg. May 2003. Web.
Stern, Tiffany. "A small-beer health to his second day ":Playwrights, Prologues,and First
Performances in the Early Modern Theater." Studies in Philology 101.2 (2004): 172-199.
Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Web. 27 Oct. 2010.
Zucker, Adam. "The Social Logic of Ben Jonson's Epicoene," Renaissance Drama 33 (2004),See the full transcript