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That bred them, graves: when they were born they died,
That had no Muse to make their fame abide.
How many equal with the Argive queen, Have beauty known, yet none so famous seen?
Who placed Jason's Argo in the sky,
Achilles was not first that valiant was,
You, and that other star, that purest light,
Ajax, or Idomen,' or all the store
Because they lacked the sacred pen could
Like life unto them. Who heaved Hercules
1 There were brave men before
Than which a nobler heaven itself knows not;
My grateful soul, the subject of her powers,
have experienced some uneasiness when, soon
Ajax or Idomen.] The sentiment is from after the accession of James I., Jonson was Horace, lib. iv. 9:
Vixere fortes ante Agamemnona
Nocte, carent quia vate sacro.—Wial. • You, and that other star, that purest light Of all Lucina's train, Lucy the bright.] This, I presume, was Lucy, Countess of Bedford, to whom our author hath addressed some epigrams, and who was particularly celebrated by Dr. Donne. If what follows in the succeeding lines must be applied to him, one would imagine some little misunderstanding was then subsisting between him and the poet; though from the verses which Donne and Jonson have mutually wrote to each other, it appears there was always a very friendly correspondence between them.-WHAL.
No doubt of it: but Whalley is mistaken in the person here meant, who is not Donne but Daniel. There is no necessity for wantonly stirring up new enmities, since Jonson is already charged with more than he ever felt; and it is certain that he was at this time, and continued to the end of his life, the affectionate friend and admirer of Donne.
That there was no cordiality between our poet and Daniel seems probable, and he here gives the reason of it. Daniel "envied" him. A little retrospect into his history may shew, perhaps, that the assertion (setting aside the undoubted veracity of Jonson) has nothing improbable in it. Daniel was born in 1562. At the age of seventeen he was admitted a commoner of Magdalen Hall, Oxford, where he continued three years. In 1582 he came to London, and was recommended to the Court through the interest of his brother-in-law, "the resolute John Florio." On the death of Spenser, in 1599, he succeeded to the Laureatship; in other words, he became the Court poet, and as such was called on to furnish the complimentary poems, pageants, masques, &c., incidental to the situatinn. He seems therefore, not unnaturally, to
called upon to prepare the Masques of that gay period. This appears to be the very head and front of our poet's offending, unless it be added that though he always thought and called Daniel "a good and honest man," he entertained no very lofty opinion of his style of poetry.
Daniel, however, numbered among his friends and patrons the most distinguished characters of both sexes; and it appears that he was not wanting in remonstrating against the attempt to supersede him, nor in using the interest which his talents and virtues had procured, to be permitted to resume what he probably considered as the duties of his office. In the dedication of The Vision of the Twelve Goddesses, 1604, to the Countess of Bedford, he expresses his thankfulness "for her preferring him to the Queen for this employment. The dedication is in itself sufficiently captious and querulous, and seems pointed in some measure at our poet. He was also called on to assist in the solemnity of creating Henry, Prince of Wales, when he wrote the masque or rather pageant of Tethys' Festival (a).
But Daniel's spirits were wounded, and he could not apparently brook the rising favour of his younger competitor. About a year after the publication of his first Masque he printed his
(a) I take the earliest opportunity of correcting a mistake respecting this "Solemnitie." It is stated, ante, p. 63, that The Masque of Oberon was performed before the prince on the 5th of June, 1610. I have since been enabled to ascertain, by the kindness of Mr. Cohen, that the masque performed on that day was the Tethys of Daniel, to which therefore the description of the Master of the Ceremonies must be referred. The Masque of Oberon was probably presented, as it is printed, after The Barriers, on the sixth day, or Thursday. The machinery of Tethys was furnished by Inigo Jones, and the accompaniments must have been very splendid. The poet's part was the least important, and consisted of little more than some pretty songs.
To her remembrance; which when time
To curious light, to notes I then shall sing,
Then all that have but done my Muse least
Shall thronging come, and boast the happy place
They hold in my strange poems, which, as yet,
Had not their form touched by an English
There, like a rich and golden pyramede,
Or common-places filched, that take these
But high and noble matter, such as flies From brains entranced, and filled with extasies;
Moods which the godlike Sidney oft did prove,
And your brave friend and mine so well did love.
Who, wheresoe'er he be
TO KATHARINE, LADY AUBIGNY.?
So both the praised and praisers suffer; yet,
And, in this name, am given out dangerous
I that have suffered this; and though forsook
I, madam, am become your praiser; where,
Philotas, with a dedication in verse to Prince Henry, of which it is scarcely possible to read without emotion the simple and affecting conclusion:
And I, although among the latter train
And least of those that sung unto this land, Have borne my part, though in an humble strain, And pleased the gentler that did understand. And never had my harmless pen at all
Distained with any loose immodesty,
To virtue and the time: yet nought prevails,
Which I esteem more than what all the age
To make me write too much, and live too long.
(a) Of her spent line.] i.e., of Queen Elizabeth's.
He could not be beyond five-and-forty at this period of despondency: he remained, however, about the court for some time longer, probably till about 1615, in which year Jonson, who was still rising in reputation, obtained a fixed salary for his services, when this amiable man retired the remainder of his days in privacy, piety, and to Somersetshire, commenced farmer, and passed
Daniel was highly esteemed by Queen Anne, and to this Jonson alludes in the text, while his great patron was James. Still, however, there seems no adequate cause for any hostility against Jonson, if he only made a fair advantage of his superior talents for the drama; for which, it must be confessed, his rival wanted both energy and fancy, and which indeed he laments, just above, that he ever attempted.
1 Then all that have but done my Muse least grace,
Shall thronging come.] This intimates a design the poet had of celebrating the ladies of his native country.-WHAL. See ante, p. 59 b.
2 Lady Aubigny.] This lady has been already noticed. She was the daughter and sole heir of Sir Gervase Clifton, and was married to Lord Aubigny in 1607. The connexion with a family so deservedly dear to James I. as the Stewarts procured a peerage for her father, who was created in the following year Baron Clifton, of Leighton Bromswold, in Nottinghamshire.
Your self but told unto your self, and see
Nor that your beauty wanted not a dower,
Are you engaged to your happy fate,
'Tis only that can time and chance defeat:
Contagion in the press is soonest catched. This makes, that wisely you decline your life Far from the maze of custom, error, strife, And keep an even, and unaltered gait ; Not looking by or back, like those that wait Times and occasions, to start forth, and seem,
Which, though the turning world may disesteem,
Because that studies spectacles and shows, And after varied, as fresh objects, goes,
Giddy with change, and therefore cannot see Right, the right way; yet must your comfort be
Your conscience, and not wonder if none asks For truth's complexion, where they all wear masks.
Let who will follow fashions and attires, Maintain their leigers forth for foreign wires, Melt down their husbands' land, to pour away
On the close groom and page, on newyear's day,
And almost all days after, while they live;
Till that no usurer, nor his bawds dare lend
And call it their brave sin : for such there be
Whereon the most of mankind wreck themselves,
And keeping a just course, have early put Into your harbour, and all passage shut 'Gainst storms or pirates, that might charge your peace;
For which you worthy are the glad increase Of your blest womb, made fruitful from above
To pay your lord the pledges of chaste love; And raise a noble stem, to give the fame To Clifton's blood, that is denied their name. Grow, grow, fair tree! and as thy branches shoot,
Hear what the Muses sing about thy root, By me, their priest, if they can aught divine: Before the moons have filled their triple trine,
To crown the burden which you go withal, It shall a ripe and timely issue fall,
To this nobleman Herrick has a poem in which he alludes to the disastrous fate of his family, Hesperides, p. 197:
"Of all those three brave brothers, faln in war (Not without glory), noble sir, you are, Despite of all concussions, left the stem To shoot forth generations like to them."
T'expect the honours of great AUBIGNY;
Other great wives may blush at, when they
What your tried manners are, what theirs should be;
How you love one, and him you should, how still
You are depending on his word and will; Not fashioned for the court, or strangers' eyes;
But to please him, who is the dearer prize Unto himself, by being so dear to you. This makes, that your affections still be new, And that your souls conspire, as they were gone
Each into other, and had now made one. Live that one still! and as long years do pass,
Madam, be bold to use this truest glass; Wherein your form you still the same shall
With dust of ancestors, in graves but dwell.
Now that the hearth is crowned with smiling 'Twill be exacted of your name, whose son, fire,
And some do drink, and some do dance,
And all do strive to advance
The gladness higher;
Wherefore should I,
Stand silent by,
Who not the least,
Both love the cause and authors of the feast?
1 To Sir William Sidney, on his birthday.] He was the eldest son of Sir Robert Sidney, created Earl of Leicester by King James, and a nephew of Sir Philip Sidney. He died unmarried, and was buried in St. Paul's Cathedral.WHAL.
Sir William Sidney appears to have died about the same time with Prince Henry; so that this Ode must be placed among our author's earlier pieces. G. Wither (the Satyromastix) drew up some "Mournful Elegies" on the death of the latter, and addressed them to Sir William's father, in which he tells the noble lord that
His haplesse loss had more apparent been, But darkened by the Other, 'twas unseen !"
Whose nephew, whose grandchild you
Good and great GOD! can I not think of
But it must straight my melancholy be?
That, laden with my sins, I seek for ease?
And there scarce is ground
Scriptures in this place, it might be the followUpon my flesh to inflict another wound.]ing verse of Euripides, which is quoted by LonOpposite to this passage Whalley has written, in ginus, and praised for its nervous conciseness: the margin of the old folio, "Des Barreaux' Sonnet. What resemblance he found between this lowly expression of a broken spirit and the daring familiarity of Des Barreaux' defiance, it is not easy to discover. I have nothing to object to the poetry of the sonnet: its language too is good, but its sentiments are dreadful.
If Jonson had anything in view besides the
Γεμω κακων δη' κ' ουκετ' εσθ' όπη τεθῃ. This is an admirable prayer: solemn, pious, and scriptural. Jonson's religious impressions were deep and awful. He had, like all of us, his moments of forgetfulness; but whenever he returned to himself he was humble, contrite, and believing.