Ben Jonson

June 11, 1572 - August 6, 1637


Rules For The Tavern Academy

by Ben Jonson

From the Latin of Ben Jonson, engraven in Marble over the Chimney, in the Apollo of the Old Devil Tavern, at Temple Bar; that being his Club-Room.

Non Verbum Reddere Verbo


As the fund of our pleasure, let each pay his shot,
Except some chance friend, whom a member brings in.
Far hence be the sad, the lewd fop, and the sot:
For such have the plagues of good company been.


Let the learned and witty, the jovial and gay,
The generous and honest, compose our free state;
And the more to exalt our delight whilst we stay,
Let none be debarred from his choice female mate.


Let no scent offensive the chamber infest.
Let fancy, not cost, prepare all our dishes.
Let the caterer mind the taste of each guest;
And the cook, in his dressing, comply with their wishes.


Let's have no disturbance about taking places,
To shew your nice breeding, or out of vain pride.
Let the drawers be ready with wine and fresh glasses,
Let the waiters have eyes, though their tongues must be ty'd.


Let our wines without mixture or stum, be all fine,
Or call up the master, and break his dull noddle.
Let no sober bigot here think it a sin,
To push on the chirping and moderate bottle.


Let the contests be rather of books than of wine.
Let the company be neither noisy nor mute.
Let none of things serious, much less of divine,
When belly and head's full, profanely dispute.


Let no saucy fiddler presume to intrude,
Unless he is sent for to vary our bliss.
With mirth, wit, and dancing, and singing conclude.
To regale every sense, with delight in excess.


Let raillery be without malice or heat.
Dull poems to read let none privilege take.
Let no poetaster command or intreat
Another extempore verses to make.


Let argument bear no unmusical sound,
Nor jars interpose, sacred friendship to grieve.
For generous lovers let a corner be found,
Where they in soft sighs may their passions relieve,


Like the old Lapithites, with the goblets to fight,
Our own 'mongst offences unpardoned will rank,
Or breaking of windows, or glasses, for spight,
And spoiling the goods for a rakehelly prank.


Whoever shall publish what's said, or what's done,
Be he banished for ever our assembly divine.
Let the freedom we take be perverted by none,
To make any guilty by drinking good wine.


Plays And Poems, 2nd Edition
Copyright 1886
George Routledge And Son, Broadway, Ludgate Hill, New York: 9 Lafayette Place