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Scarce the hill again doth flourish,
Phoebus to his crown again:
Vulgar languages that want
Tyrant rhyme hath so abused,
He that first invented thee,
Still may syllabes1 jar with time,
May his sense when it would meet
And his title be long fool,
ON WILLIAM, LORD BURLEIGH, LORD HIGH TREASURER OF ENGLAND.2
If thou wouldst know the virtues of mankind,
Read here in one what thou in all canst find,
And go no further: let this circle be
What is there more that can ennoble blood? The orphan's pillar, the true subject's shield,
The poor's full store-house, and just servant's field.
The only faithful watchman for the realm, That in all tempests never quit the helm,
1 Still may syllabes.] Whalley reads syllables here and in the preceding page, but injuriously in both places. Jonson uses syllabe almost invariably; for which he is commended by Horne Tooke.
2 An epigram, &c.] "Presented (the fol. says) upon a plate of gold to his son Robert, Earl of Salisbury, when he was also Treasurer." Lord Burleigh died in August, 1598. There are no means of ascertaining the date of this epigram: if it was written on the same occasion as that noble one, p. 237 a, it was produced in 1608. But whatever might be the period of its appearance, it was equally worthy of the poet
and the patron, who must have been highly gratified with the judicious and characteristic applause bestowed on the great statesman to whose honours he succeeded.
3 For this excellent person see p. 239. He held the seals, in compliance with the reiterated intreaties of James, till the 3rd of March, 1617, when, as Camden tells us, the king received them from him with tears of gratitude.
This Epigram (Jonson says) was written for a poor man, who had a suit depending before Lord Elsmere. Its date may be referred to Michaelmas Term, 1616.
For the same poor man.
But when I read or hear the names so rife, Of hirelings, wranglers, stitchers-to of strife,
Hook-handed harpies, gowned vultures, put
Upon the reverend pleaders; do now shut All mouths that dare entitle them, from hence,
To the wolves' study, or dogs' eloquence; Thou art my Cause: whose manners since I knew,
Have made me to conceive a lawyer new. So dost thou study matter, men, and times, Mak'st it religion to grow rich by crimes; Dar'st not abuse thy wisdom in the laws, Or skill to carry out an evil cause:
But first dost vex and search it! if not sound,
Thou prov'st the gentler ways to cleanse the wound,
And make the scar fair; if that will not be,
1 A more than civil war.]
Plusquam civilia bella.-LUCAN.
Who 'gainst the law weave calumnies, my] This blank, I imagine, was to have been filled with the name of the counsellor who pleaded in the cause; it must be a word of one syllable, and answer in rhyme to men, the close
Thou hast the brave scorn to put back the fee !
But in a business that will bide the touch, What use, what strength of reason, and how much
Of books, of precedents hast thou at hand! As if the general store thou didst command Of argument, still drawing forth the best, And not being borrowed by thee, but possest.
So com'st thou like a chief into the court Armed at all pieces, as to keep a fort Against a multitude; and, with thy style So brightly brandished, wound'st, defend'st! the while
Thy adversaries fall, as not a word
They had, but were a reed unto thy sword. Then com'st thou off with victory and palm, Thy hearers' nectar and thy clients' balm, The court's just honour and thy judge's love.
And (which doth all achievements get above) Thy sincere practice breeds not thee a fame Alone, but all thy rank a reverend name.
TO THE SMALL-POX.
Envious and foul disease, could there not be One beauty in an age, and free from thee? What did she worth thy spite? were there
Of those that set by their false faces more Than this did by her true? she never sought Quarrel with nature, or in balance brought Art her false servant; nor, for Sir Hugh Plat, 3
Was drawn to practise other hue than that Her own blood gave her: she ne'er had, nor hath
Any belief in Madam Bawdbee's bath,
Of beauty, so to nullify a face,
Make all hereafter, hadst thou ruined this?
of the preceding verse. From these particulars, it is probable the person here meant was Anthony Benn, who succeeded the solicitor Coventry in the recordership of London.-WHAL.
3 Sir Hugh Plat.] He was a compiler of recipes for making cosmetics, oils, ointments, &c. &c. ; one of his books is entitled, "Delights for ladies to adorne their persons, &c. 1628.*
Or there to starve it. Help, O you that may
Alone lend succours, and this fury stay.
And fills my powers with persuading joy,
In will and power, only to defeat.
God and the good know to forgive and
The ignorant and fools no pity have.
Your honour now than your disgrace before.
Think it was frailty, mistress, think me
Think that yourself, like heaven, forgive
Where weakness doth offend, and virtue grieve,
There greatness takes a glory to relieve. Think that I once was yours, or may be
Nothing is vile that is a part of you.
I am regenerate now, become the child
There is no father that for one demerit,
An ill-affected limb, whate'er it ail,
Would live his glory that could keep it on. Do not despair my mending; to distrust Before you prove a medicine, is unjust: You may so place me, and in such an air,
As not alone the cure, but scar be fair.
Why was't? did e'er the clouds ask back their rain?
The sun his heat and light? the air his dew?
Or winds the spirit by which the flower so grew?
That were to wither all, and make a grave Of that wise nature would a cradle have. Her order is to cherish and preserve; Consumption's, nature to destroy and
But to exact again what once is given,
In man, because man hath the flesh abused.
O may your wisdom take example hence, God lightens not at man's each frail offence: He pardons slips, goes by a world of ills, And then his thunder frights more than it kills.
He cannot angry be but all must quake; It shakes e'en him that all things else doth shake,
And how more fair and lovely looks the world
In a calm sky, than when the heaven is hurled
About in clouds and wrapt in raging weather,
As all with storm and tempest ran together!
In dark and sullen morns do we not say,
Be not affected with these marks too much
As I the penitent's here emulate."
The contrite soul who hath no thought to win
Upon the hope to have another sin Forgiven him and in that line stand I, Rather than once displease you more, to
To suffer tortures, scorn, and infamy,
What fools, and all their parasites can apply;
The wit of ale, and genius of the malt
On every wall, and sung where-e'er I walk.
Then, mistress, here, here let your rigour end, And let your mercy make me ashamed t' offend ;
I will no more abuse my vows to you,
O that you could but by dissection see How much you are the better part of me ; How all my fibres by your spirit do move, And that there is no life in me but love! You would be then most confident, that though
Public affairs command me now to go
To make the doubt clear, that no woman's true,
Was it my fate to prove it full in you?1
To make the doubt clear, that, &c.] There is a collection of Dr. Donne's poems in 8vo, 1669, amongst which is this elegy: how it came there I know not, for there is no doubt but it is Jonson's.-WHAL.
Whalley appears not to have known that the elegy was printed in a 4to edition of Donne's Poems, which came out in 1633- I have already observed that there was a mutual communication of MSS. between the two poets, and the verses before us might be found among the doctor's papers (for he was now dead), and published by his son, or by those who collected them, as his own.
The preceding poem, in which the poet so ingenuously confessed his fault, and so earnestly sued for pardon, appears to have had its effect, and reconciled the lovers. They were still, however, imprudent: the lady in her turn
Thought I but one had breathed the purer air,
And must she needs be false because she's fair?
Is it your beauty's mark, or of your youth,
Or those it hath wink at your perjuries? Are vows so cheap with women? or the matter
Whereof they are made, that they are writ in water,
And blown away with wind? or doth their breath,
Both hot and cold at once, threat life and death?
Who could have thought so many accents
trusted a false friend, who abused her confidence, and traduced the parties to each other, till he had stirred up a mutual jealousy, and finally separated them. On the discovery of this treachery, Jonson writes the second elegy, which, like the first, led to a reconciliation.
I have no knowledge of the person to whom these Elegies were addressed. I once thought them to be scholastic exercises like the desperate love verses of Donne and Cowley; but they now strike me as too earnest for anything but a real intrigue.
The text of the folio (the blunders of which I am weary of noticing) has been much improved by a collation with the copy in Donne's works. [In Donne's Works this line stands,
This kind of beast, my thoughts shall except thee.-F. C.]