Lapas attēli

To run in that vile line.3

Pol. And is this all!

Will you not answer then the libels?

Aut. No.

Pol. Nor the Untrussers?

Aut. Neither.

Pol. Y'are undone then.

Aut. With whom?

Pol. The world.

Aut. The bawd!

Pol. It will be taken

To be stupidity or tameness in you.


I am sorry for

Some better natures, by the rest so drawn,

To run in that vile line.] It has been thought that Shakspeare was here alluded to, under the expression of better natures. But I see no reason to confine the phrase to so particular a restriction. It makes good sense to take it in the most obvious meaning: nor does it appear there was any difference now subsisting between Shakspeare and our author. WHAL.

Thus far Whalley is right. He might have added, to the confusion of the thinkers, that if their ingenious supposition were true, it would go near to prove-not that Jonson was hostile to Shakspeare, but that Shakspeare was captiously disinclined to Jonson. But, in fact, there is no allusion whatever to Shakspeare, or to the company with which he was connected. The commentators are absolutely mad: they will allow Jonson neither to compliment, nor criticise any one but our great poet; and this merely for the pleasure of taxing him with hypocrisy in the one case, and envy in the other. I have already observed that the actors ridiculed belonged to the Fortune play-house; and the critics must have discovered, if their judgment had been half as active as their enmity, a very frequent recurrence throughout the Poetaster, and the Apology, to the poverty and low-estimation of this unfortunate company.

"if it gave them meat,

"Or got them clothes, 'tis well; that was their end." Could this be said of Allen and Shakspeare, of Burbage, Lowin, and Taylor? Without question, the Fortune possessed more actors than the "lean Poluphagus" and the "politic Esop," and to some of those the poet might allude: "the better na

Aut. But they that have incensed me, can in soul
Acquit me of that guilt. They know I dare
To spurn or baffle them, or squirt their eyes
With ink or urine; or I could do worse,
Arm'd with Archilochus' fury, write lambics,
Should make the desperate lashers hang themselves;
Rhime them to death, as they do Irish rats*
In drumming tunes. Or, living, I could stamp
Their foreheads with those deep and public brands,
That the whole company of barber-surgeons

Should not take off, with all their art and plasters.
And these my prints should last, still to be read
In their pale fronts; when, what they write 'gainst


Shall, like a figure drawn in water, fleet,

And the poor wretched papers be employ'd

tures" were not confined, I trust, in Jonson's days, any more than in our own, to a single person, or even a single theatre.

4 Rhime them to death, as they do Irish rats, &c.] The fatal effects of poetry on these Opici, these Hibernian vermin, are noticed by many of our old dramatists. Thus Shakspeare," I was never so be-rhimed since Pythagoras' time, that I was an Irish rat." As you like it. And Randolph:

66 my poets

"Shall with a satire, steep'd in vinegar,

"Rhime them to death, as they do rats in Ireland."

5 That the whole company of barber-surgeons

Should not take off, &c.] This sentiment, which Jonson repeats in his dedication of the Fox, is from Martial:

"At si quid nostræ tibi bilis inusserit ardor,

"Vivet, et hærebit, totoque legetur in urbe;

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Stigmata nec vafra delebit Cinnamus arte." Lib. vi. 6.

What follows is from Juvenal:


"diri conscia facti

"Mens habet attonitos, et surdo verbere cœdit,

"Occultum quatiente animo tortore flagellum." Sat. 14.

" continuò sic collige, quod vindicta "Nemo magis gaudet quam fœmina." Ibid.

To clothe tobacco, or some cheaper drug :
This I could do, and make them infamous.

But, to what end? when their own deeds have mark’d

'em ;

And that I know, within his guilty breast

Each slanderer bears a whip that shall torment him
Worse than a million of these temporal plagues :
Which to pursue, were but a feminine humour,
And far beneath the dignity of man.

Nas. 'Tis true; for to revenge their injuries,
Were to confess you felt them. Let them go,
And use the treasure of the fool, their tongues,
Who makes his gain, by speaking worst of best.
Pol. O, but they lay particular imputations-
Aut. As what?

Pol. That all your writing is mere railing.
Aut. Ha?

If all the salt in the old comedy

Should be so censured, or the sharper wit
Of the bold satire termed scolding rage,
What age could then compare with those for buffoons?
What should be said of Aristophanes,

Persius, or Juvenal, whose names we now
So glorify in schools, at least pretend it ?—
Have they no other?

Pol. Yes; they say you are slow,

And scarce bring forth a play a year.
Aut. 'Tis true.

I would they could not say that I did that!
There's all the joy that I take in their trade,
Unless such scribes as these might be proscribed
Th' abused theatres. They would think it strange,


A man should take but colts-foot for one day,
And, between whiles, spit out a better poem
Than e'er the master of art, or giver of wit,

• Than e'er the master of art, &c.] Our industrious bee is ever

Their belly, made. Yet, this is possible,
If a free mind had but the patience,
To think so much together, and so vile.
But that these base and beggarly conceits
Should carry it, by the multitude of voices,
Against the most abstracted work, opposed
To the stuff'd nostrils of the drunken rout !
O, this would make a learn'd and liberal soul
To rive his stained quill up to the back,
And damn his long-watch'd labours to the fire;
Things that were born when none but the still night
And his dumb candle, saw his pinching throes;
Were not his own free merit a more crown
Unto his travails than their reeling claps.
This 'tis that strikes me silent, seals my lips,
And apts me rather to sleep out my time,
Than I would waste it in contemned strifes
With these vile Ibides, these unclean birds,
That make their mouths their clysters, and still purge
From their hot entrails. But I leave the monsters
To their own fate. And, since the Comic Muse
Hath proved so ominous to me, I will try
If TRAGEDY have a more kind aspéct ;
Her favours in my next I will pursue,
Where, if I prove the pleasure but of one,
So he judicious be, he shall be alone

A theatre unto me;' Once I'll say

on the search after stores: Just above he alighted on Horace; here he visits Persius,

"Magister artis, ingenique largitor

"Venter." Prol. v. 10.

and finally he settles on Juvenal. See his seventh Satire. 7 Where, if I prove the pleasure but of onc,

So he judicious be, he shall be alone

A theatre unto me ;] This passage, says Mr. Malone, Jonson imitated from Shakspeare,-the censure of " which one (judicious) must, in your allowance, o'erweigh a whole theatre of

To strike the ear of time in those fresh strains,
As shall, beside the cunning of their ground,
Give cause to some of wonder, some despite,
And more despair, to imitate their sound.
I, that spend half my nights, and all my days,
Here in a cell, to get a dark pale face,
To come forth worth the ivy or the bays,

And in this age can hope no other graceLeave me! There's something come into my thought, That must and shall be sung high and aloof,

Safe from the wolf's black jaw, and the dull ass's hoof.

others." Hamlet. The thought is not so deep but that it might have occurred to less inventive faculties than either of those great poets possessed. If, however, one of them must borrow from the other, I should incline to set down Shakspeare as the obliged person; for though we do not know the exact date of the Apologetical Dialogue, yet we are sure that it cannot be later than 1602, since it alludes to the design of composing a tragedy on the fall of Sejanus, which was effected in that year, or in the beginning of the next. After all, Jonson's words are little more than a translation from Cicero, to whom he was much more likely to be indebted than to any contemporary writer whatever: "Hæc ego non multis, sed tibi satis magnum alter alteri theatrum sumus." Cicero himself alludes to a story told of Plato.

Once I'll say.] i. e. try. Once is used here in a sense in which it frequently occurs with our old writers—that is, emphatically, Once for all.

I, that spend, &c.] These are truly noble lines, and cannot be read without exciting feelings of respect and tenderness for the author. Let it never be forgotten that in every condition of life, in poverty and neglect, in competence and ease, in sickness and in sorrow, in youth and in age, Jonson steadily maintained the high character of the poet. If he failed to exemplify it in himself, it must be attributed to natural deficiencies; for he was fully sensible of what was required, and declined no toil which promised to facilitate its attainment. There is a lofty moral tone which constantly accompanies all his definitions and descriptions of true poetry, and which may be sought in vain in any other writer in the English language, except, perhaps, Milton, who sanctified what he borrowed from Jonson, by inspiration from a source not to be named here without irreverence VOL. II.

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