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clusion of the Apologetic Dialogue be omitted. Jonson told Drummond which accompanies “The Poetaster," that the Earl of Northampton had a he had hinted his purpose in these mortal enmity to him “for beating, on energetic lines :

a St. George's day, one of his attend“Once I 'll say, –

ers”; and he adds, that Northampton To strike the ears of Time in these fresh strains,

had him “ called before the Councell As shall, beside the cunning of their ground, for his Sejanus," and accused him Give cause to some of wonder, some despite,

there both of “Poperie and treason.” And more despair to imitate their sound. I that spend half my nights and all my days

Jonson's relations with Shakespeare Here in a cell, to get a dark, pale face,

seem always to have been friendly; To come forth with the ivy and the bays,

and about this time we hear of them And in this age can hope no better grace, Leave me ! There's something come into my thought,

as associate members of the greatest That must and shall be sung high and aloof, of literary and the greatest of conSafe from the wolf's black jaw, and the dull ass's

vivial clubs, - the club instituted by hoof!"

Sir Walter Raleigh, and known to all Accordingly, in 1603, he produced times as the “Mermaid," so called his weighty tragedy of “Sejanus,” at from the tavern in which the meetShakespeare's theatre, The Globe, - ings were held. Various, however, as Shakespeare himself acting one of the . were the genius and accomplishments inferior parts. Think of Shakespeare it included, it lacked one phase of laboriously committing to memory the ability which has deprived us of all blank verse of Jonson !

participation in its wit and wisdom. Though “Sejanus” failed of theat. It could boast of Shakespeare, and rical success, its wealth of classic Jonson, and Raleigh, and Camden, and knowledge and solid thought made it Beaumont, and Selden, but, alas ! it the best of all answers to his oppo- had no Boswell to record its words, nents. It was as if they had ques

“So nimble, and so full of subtile flame." tioned his capacity to build a ship, and he had confuted them with a There are traditions of “ wit-comman-of-war. To be sure, they might bats " between Shakespearė and Jonreiterate their old charge of “ filching son; and doubtless there was many by translation,” for the text of "Se-a discussion between them touching janus” is a mosaic ; but it was one the different principles on which their of Jonson's maxims that he deserved dramas were composed; and then as much honor for what he made his Ben, astride his high horse of the own by Jonsonizing the classics as for classics, probably blustered and hawhat he originated. Indeed, in his rangued, and graciously informed the dealings with the great poets and his- world's greatest poet that he sometorians of Rome, whose language and times wanted art and sometimes sense, whose spirit he had patiently mas- and candidly advised him to check tered, he acted the part, not of the the fatal rapidity and perilous combipickpocket, but of the conqueror. Her nations of his imagination, — while did not meanly crib and pilfer in the Shakespeare smilingly listened, and territories of the ancients : he rather occasionally put in an ironic word, pillaged, or, in our American phrase, deprecating such austere criticism of “annexed” them. “ He has done a playwright like himself, who accomhis robberies so openly,” says Dry- modated bis art to the humors of the den, “ that one sees he fears not tov mob that crowded the “round O" of be taxed by any law. He invades The Globe. There can be no quesauthors like a monarch, and what tion that Shakespeare saw Ben through would be theft in any other poet is and through, but he was not a man to only victory in him.”

be intolerant of foibles, and probably One incident connected with the enjoyed the hectoring egotism of his bringing out of “Sejanus” should not friend as much as he appreciated his

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real merits. As for Ben, the transcen- tended to have mixed in his drink, in dent genius of his brother dramatist case the threat of such a shameful punpierced through even the thick hide of ishment had been officially announced. his self-sufficiency. “I did honor him," The phrase "his drink” is very charhe finely says, “this side of idolatry, acteristic ; and, whatever liquid was l'as much as any other man."

meant, we may be sure that it was not On the accession of James of Scot- water, and that the good lady would land to the English throne, Jonson was have daily had numerous opportunities employed by the court and city to de- lto mix the poison with it. sign a splendid pageant for the mon- The five years which succeeded his arch's reception; and, with that ab- imprisonment carried Jonson to the sence of vindictiveness which somewhat height of his prosperity and glory. Duratoned for his arrogance, he gave his ing this period he produced the three recent enemy, Dekkar, three fifths of great comedies on which his fame as a the job.. About the same time he was dramatist rests, “ The Fox,” “ The reconciled to Marston; and in 1605 Silent Woman,” and “The Alchymist,” assisted him and Chapman in a come- — and also many of the most beautiful dy called “Eastward Hoe!” One pas- of those Masques, performed at court, sage in this, reflecting on the Scotch, , in which the ingenuity, delicacy, richgave mortal offence to James's greedy ness, and elevation of his fancy found countrymen, who invaded England in fittest expression. His social position his train, and were ravenous and clam- was probably superior to Shakespeare's. orous for the spoils of office. Captain He was really the Court Poet long beSeagul, in the play, praises what was fore 1616, when he received the office, then the new settlement of Virginia, as with a pension of a hundred marks. "a place without sergeants, or courtiers, We have Clarendon's testimony to the or lawyers, or intelligencers, only a few fact that “his conversation was very industrious Scots perhaps, who indeed good, and with men of the best note.” are dispersed over the whole earth. Among his friends occurs the great But as for them, there are no greater name of Bacon. friends to Englishmen and England, In 1618, when “Ben Jonson” had when they are out on 't, in the world, come to be familiar words on the lips than they are ; and, for my own part, I of all educated men in the island, he would a hundred thousand of them were made his celebrated journey on foot there, for we are all one countrymen to Scotland, and was hospitably ennow, ye know, and we should find ten tertained by the nobility and gentry times more comfort of them there than around Edinburgh. Taylor, the water we do here." This bitter taunt, which poet, in his " Pennylesse Pilgrimage probably made the theatre roar with to Scotland, has this amiable reference applause, was so represented to the to bim. At Leith,” he says, “ I found king, that Marston and Chapnian were my long approved and assured good arrested and imprisoned. Jonson nobly friend, Master Benjamin Jonson, at one insisted on sharing their fate ; and as Master John Stuart's house. I thank he had powerful friends at court, and him for his great kindness; for, at my was esteemed by James himself, his taking leave of him, he gave me a piece course may have saved his friends from of gold of two-and-twenty shillings' valdisgraceful mutilations. A report was ue, to drink his health in England.” circulated that the noses and ears of One object of Jonson's journey was to all three were to be slit and Jonson visit Drummond of Hawthornden. He tells us, that, in an entertainment he passed three or four weeks with Drumgave to Camden, Selden, and other mond at Hawthornden, and poured out friends after his liberation, his old his mind to him without reserve or mother exhibited a paper full of " lustie stint. The finical and fastidious poet strong poison,” which she said she in- was somewhat startled at this irruption


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of his burly guest into his dainty soli- befall him; for he would not flatter tude ; took notes of his free conver- though he saw Death.” Queen Elizasation, especially when he decried his beth is the mark of a most scandalous contemporaries; and further carried out imputation, and the mildest of Ben's the rites of hospitality by adding a remarks respecting her is that she caustic, though keen, summary of his “never saw herself

, after she became qualities of character. Thus, accord- old, in a true glass; they painted her, ing to his dear friend's charitable analy- and sometymes would vermilion her sis, Ben “was a great lover and praiser nose." “Of all styles,” he said, “he of himself; a contemner and scorner most loved to be named Honest, and of others; given rather to losse a friend hath of that one hundreth letters so than a jest; jealous of every word and naming him.” His judgments on action of those about him (especiallie other poets were insolently magisterial. after drink, which is one of the ele- Spenser's stanzas pleased him not, ments in which he liveth); a dissem- nor his matter” ; Samuel Daniel was a bler of ill parts which raigne in him, a good honest man, but no poet; Donne, bragger of some good that he wanteth ; though “ the first poet in the world in thinketh nothing well bot what either some things,” for “not keeping of he himself or some of his friends and accent, deserved hanging”; Abram countrymen have said or done; he is Fraunce, “in his English hexameters, passionately kynde and angry; careless was a foole ”; Sharpham, Day, and either to gaine or keep; vindictive, but, Dekkar were all rogues; Francis Beauif he be well answered, at himself.” It mont “loved too much himself and his is not much to the credit of Jonson's in- own verses.” Some biographical items sight, that, after flooding his pensively in the record of these conversations are taciturn host with his boisterous and of interest. It seems that the first day dogmatic talk, he parted with him un- of every new year the Earl of Pemder the impression that he was leaving broke sent him twenty pounds “to buy an assured friend. Ah! your demure bookes." By all his plays he never listeners to your unguarded conversa- gained two hundred pounds. “Suntion, – they are the ones that give the dry tymes he hath devoured his bookes,” fatal stabs!

that is, sold them to supply himself A literal transcript of Drummond's with necessaries. When he was imoriginal notes of Jonson's conversa- prisoned for killing his brother actor tions, made by Sir Robert Sibbald in a duel, in the Queen's time, “his about the year 1710, has been published judges could get nothing of him to all in the collections of the Shakespeare their demands but I and No. They Society. This is a more extended re- placed two damn'd villains, to catch adport than that included in Drummond's vantage of him, with him, but he was works, though still not so full as the advertised by his keeper"; and he reader might desire. The stoutness of added, as if the revenge was as terrible Ben's character is felt in every utter- as the offence, “ of the spies he hath ance. Thus he tells Drummond that ane epigrame.” He told a few per"he never esteemed of a man for the sonal stories to Drummond, calculated name of a lord,” -- a sentiment which a

to moderate our wonder that Mrs. Jonhe had expressed more impressively in son was a shrew; and, as they were his published epigram on Burleigh :- boastingly told, we must suppose that

his manners were not so austere as his "Cecil, the grave, the wise, the great, the good,

verse. What is there more that can ennoble blood ?"

But perhaps the most charac

teristic image he has left of himself, He had, it seems, “a minde to be a through these conversations, is this : churchman, and, so he might have fa- "He hath consumed a whole night in vour to make one sermon to the King, lying looking to his great toe, about he careth not what thereafter sould which he hath seen Tartars and Turks,

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Romans and Carthaginians, feight in As his life declined, it does not aphis imagination.”

pear that his disposition was essenJonson's fortunes seem to have suf- tially modified. There are two charfered little abatement until the death acteristic references to him in his old of King James, in 1625. Then de- age, which prove that Ben, attacked clining popularity and declining health by palsy and dropsy, with a reputacombined their malice to break the tion perceptibly waning, was Ben still. veteran down; and the remaining One is from Sir John Suckling's twelve years of his life were passed pleasantly malicious “ Session of the in doing battle with those relentless Poets":enemies of poets, — want and disease. “The first that broke silence was good old Ben, The orange

or rather the lemon- Prepared before with Canary wine, was squeezed, and both court and

And he told them plainly he deserved the bays,

For his were called works where others were but public seemed disposed to throw away

plays. the peel. In the epilogue to his play of “The New Inn,” brought out in

Apollo stopped him there, and bade him not go on;

'T was merit, he said, and not presumption, 1630, the old tone of defiance is

Must carry't; at which Ben turned about, gone. He touchingly appeals to the And in great choler offered to go out." audience as one who is “sick and

That is a saucy touch, — that of Ben's sad”; but, with a noble humility, he rage when he is told that presumption begs they will refer none of the de

is not, before Apollo, to take the place fects of the work to mental decay. of merit, or even to back it! “All that his weak and faltering tongue doth crave

The other notice is taken from a Is that you not refer it to his brain ;

letter from Howel to Sir Thomas That's yet unhurt, although set round with pain.”

Hawk, written the year before JonThe audience were insensible to this

son's death: appeal. They found the play dull, and “I was invited yesternight to a solhooted it from the stage. Perhaps, after emn supper by B. J., where you were having been bullied so long, they took deeply remembered. There was good delight in having Ben “on the hip.” company, excellent cheer, choice wines, Charles the First, however, who up to

and jovial welcome. One thing interthis time seems to have neglected his vened which almost spoiled the relish father's favorite, now generously sent

of the rest, – that B. began to engross him a hundred pounds to cheer him all the discourse, to vapor extremely in his misfortunes ; and shortly after by himself, and, by vilifying others, to he raised his salary, as Court Poet,

magnify his own Muse. For my part, from a hundred marks to a hundred I am content to dispense with the Ra pounds, adding, in compliment to Jon- man infirmity of Ben, now that time son's known tastes, a tierce of Cana- has snowed upon his pericranium.” ry, - a wine of which he was so fond But this snow of time, however it as to be nicknamed, in ironical refer- may have begun to cover up the solence to a corpulence which rather ider qualities of his mind, seems to assimilated him to the ox, “a Canary

have left untouched his strictly poetic bird.” It is to this period, we sup- faculty. That shone out in his last pose, we must refer his testimony to hours, with more than usual splendor, his own obesity in his “ Epistle to in the beautiful pastoral drama of my Lady Coventry."

“ The Sad Shepherd ”; and it may The world may find the Spring by following her :

be doubted if, in his whole works, “So you have gained a Servant and a Muse : The first of which I fear you will refuse,

any other passage can be found so And you may justly ; being a tardy, cold, exquisite in sentiment, fancy, and exUnprofitable chattel, fat and old,

pression as the opening lines of this Laden with belly, and doth hardly approach

charming product of his old age :His friends, but to break chairs or crack a coach. His weight is twenty stone, within two pound : “Here she was wont to go ! and here ! and here ! And that's made up, as doth the purse abound." Just where those daisies, pinks, and violets grow :

greatest in imagination,

his poetic For other print her airy steps ne'er left: Her treading would not bend a blade of grass,

power being Or shake the downy blow-ball from his stalk !

“ Like to the fabled Cytherea's zone, But like the soft west-wind she shot along,

Binding all things with beauty." And where she went the flowers took thickest root,

His mind is “one entire and perfect As she had sowed them with her odorous foot!"

chrysolite,” while Jonson's rather sugBefore he completed “The Sad gests the pudding-stone. The poet in Shepherd,” he was struck with mor- Ben, being thus but a comparatively tal illness; and the brave old man small portion of Ben, works by effort, prepared to meet his last enemy, and,

rather than efficiency, and leaves the if possible, convert him into a friend. impression of ingenuity rather than inAs early as 1606 he had returned to

ventiveness. But in his tragedies of the English Church, after having been “Sejanus” and “Catiline," and espefor twelve years a Romanist; and his cially in his three great comedies of penitent death-bed was attended by the “ The Fox,” “ The Alchymist,” and Bishop of Winchester. He died in “The Silent Woman,” the whole man August, 1637, in his sixty-fourth year, is thrust forward, with his towering inand was buried in Westminster Abbey. dividuality, his massive understanding, The inscription on the common pave- his wide knowledge of the baser side ment stone which was laid over his

of life, his relentless scorn of weakgrave still expresses, after a lapse of ness and wickedness, his vivid memory two hundred years, the feelings of all

of facts and ideas derived from books. readers of the English race, –

They seem written with his fist. But,

though they convey a powerful impres“O RARE BEN JONSON !” sion of his collective ability, they do not

convey a poetic impression, and hardly It must be admitted, however, that an agreeable one. His greatest charthis epithet is sufficiently indefinite to acters, as might be expected, are not admit widely differing estimates of the heroes or martyrs, but cheats or dupes. value of his works. In a critical view, His most magnificent cheat is Volpone, the most obvious characteristic of his in “The Fox”; his most magnificent mind is its bulk; but its creativeness dupe is Sir Epicure Mammon, in “The bears no proportion to its massiveness. Alchymist"; but in their most gorgeous His faculties, ranged according to their mental rioting in imaginary objects of relative strength, would fall into this sense, the effect is produced by a dogrank: — first, Ben; next, understand- ged accumulation of successive images, ing; next, memory; next, humor; next, which are linked by no train of strictly fancy; and last and least, imagination. imaginative association, and are not Thus, in the strictly poetic action of his fused into unity of purpose by the fire mind, his fancy and imagination being of passion-penetrated imagination. subordinated to his other faculties, and Indeed, it is a curious psychological not co-ordinated with them, his whole study to watch the laborious process by nature is not kindled, and his best which Jonson drags his thoughts and masques and sweetest lyrics give no fancies from the reluctant and resisting idea of the general largeness of the soil of his mind, and then lays them,

In them the burly giant becomes one after the other, with a deep-drawn gracefully petite; it is Fletcher's Om- breath, on his page.

Each is forced phale "smiling the club” out of the into form by main strength, as we somehand of Hercules, and making him, for times see a pillar of granite wearily the time, “spin her smocks.” Now the drawn through the street by a score of greatest poetical creations of Shake- straining oxen. Take, for example, Sir speare are those in which he is great. Epicure Mammon's detail of the luxuest in reason, and greatest in passion, ries he will revel in when his possession and greatest in knowledge, as well as of the philosopher's stone shall have


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