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That was raked up in the Winchestrian
Bred on the Bank in time of Popery,
Nay, sighed a sister, Venus' nun, Kate
Kindled the fire!--but then, did one return,
If that were so, thou rather wouldst advance
much regretted: but the destruction of the History of Henry V., which was so nearly completed, must ever be considered as a serious misfortune. The vigour and masculine elegance of Jonson's style, the clearness of his judgment, the precision of his intelligence, aided by the intimate knowledge of domestic and general history possessed by Carew (George, Lord Carew), Cotton, and Selden, three of the most learned men of that or any other age, could not have been exerted without producing a work of which, if spared to us, we might be justly proud.
About what time? The only notice which we have of this poem is found in a letter by Howell to his father, Master Ben Jonson," dated 27th June, 1629. Desiring you to look better hereafter to your charcoal fire and chimney, which I am glad to be one that preserved from burning, this being the second time that Vulcan hath threatened you;-it may be because you have spoken ill of his wife, and been too busy with his horns; I rest your son, &c." Here the allusion is evidently to the first ten lines of the Of the value of the philological collections of "Execration:" but this decides nothing with twenty-four years, some idea may be formed respect to the period of its first appearance. from what remains of the Discoveries or notes The date of the fire at the Globe can be dis-on the Poetics of Aristotle and Horace; and the tinctly ascertained from a letter of Mr. Chamberlaine to Sir Ralph Winwood, among the State papers.
The burning of the Globe, or Playhouse on the Bankside, on St. Peter's day, cannot escape you; which fell out by a peale of chambers, that I know not upon what occasion were to be used in the play-the tompin or stopple of one of them lighting in the thatch that covered the house, burned it down to the ground in less than two hours, with a dwelling-house adjoining; and it was a great marvaile and fair grace of God that the people had so little harm, having but two narrow doors to get out." July 8th, 1613. It is useless to inquire why Jonson, whose memory, though less retentive than formerly; was yet perhaps sufficiently strong, remained inactive; but with the exception of the two fragments just mentioned, he apparently made no effort to repair his loss.
The Journey into Scotland was the ever memorable visit to Drummond, "that false friend," as Chetwood calls him, "who treats the memory of Ben as if he were an idle madman." Drummond could not appear more base than he now does but, such was the honest warmth and affection of Jonson-had this poem survived, his admirers would not have dared to insult the common sense and feeling of mankind by terming the splenetic hypocrite the friend of Jonson.
The Rape of Proserpine may not perhaps be
gleanings in Divinity, if they had not answered a nobler and better purpose, would at least serve to bring additional shame on those who, in defiance of so many proofs to the contrary, spitefully persist in accusing the poet of a marked indifference to religion, or, yet worse, of a restless tendency to ridicule and profane it.
2 I saw with two poor chambers taken in.] i.e. destroyed with two small pieces of ordnance. 3 And this a sparkle of that fire let loose, That was raked up in the Winchestrian goose, Bred on the Bank in time of Popery,
Anciently the Bank-side was a continued row of When Venus there maintained the mystery.] in the time of Henry VIII. As this place was brothels, which were put down by proclamation within the limits of the Bishop of Winchester's jurisdiction, a person who had suffered in venereal combats, was opprobriously called a Winchester goose.-WHAL.
[Venus' nun, Kate Arden. This is taken from Marlowe
"So lovely fair was Hero, Venus' nun,
As Nature wept, thinking she was outdone." Kate Arden is mentioned before, in the Epigram cxxxiii. p. 261 a.-F. C.]
He burnt that idol of the Revels too.
There was a judgment shewn too in an hour.
Fool, wilt thou let that in example come? Did not she save from thence to build a Rome?
And what hast thou done in these petty spites,
More than advanced the houses and their rites?
I will not argue thee, from those, of guilt, For they were burnt but to be better built: 'Tis true that in thy wish they were destroyed,
Which thou hast only vented, not enjoyed. So wouldst thou've run upon the Rolls by stealth,'
And didst invade part of the commonwealth,
In those records, which, were all chronicles gone,
Would be remembered by Six Clerks to one.
To live in sea-coal, and go forth in smoke;
Foot (out in Sussex), to an iron mill;
Or in the Bellman's lanthorn, like a spy,
And there made swords, bills, glaves, and arms your fill:
Maintained the trade at Bilboa, or elsewhere,
Strook in at Milan with the cutlers there; Or stayed but where the friar and you first met,
Who from the devil's arse did guns beget; Or fixt in the Low Countries, where you might
On both sides do your mischiefs with delight: Blow up and ruin, mine and countermine, Make your petards and granades, all your
fur-Engines of murder, and enjoy the praise Of massacring mankind so many ways!
play-house, which likewise suffered by fire about this time.-WHAL.
Again! about this time. This is a very convenient mode of fixing events. But the Fortune was not burnt down till more than eight years after the Globe, that is, not till 1621.
It appears from Heywood's English Travellers, that this theatre took its name from a figure of Fortune :
"Old Lio. Sirrah, come down.
Like a statue, in the full front of your house
In the preface to this comedy, Heywood says, "that modesty prevents him from exposing his plays to the public view in numerous sheets, and a large volume, under the title of works, as others." Here, says the Biographia Dramatica, a stroke was probably aimed at Ben Jonson, who gave his plays the pompous title of "Works." This stupid falsehood has been repeated a thousand times. Jonson no more
gave his plays the title of Works, than Shakspeare, Fletcher, Shirley, or any other writer; nor is there a single instance of such a fact in existence. The whole matter is, that, when he collected his various pieces, consisting of Comedies, Tragedies, Masques, Entertainments, Epigrams, and a selection of Poetry, under the name of Forest, with equal taste and judgment, and with a classical contempt of the mountebank titles of his time, he called the multifarious assemblage simply "The works of Ben Jonson." For this proof of his good sense, he was slandered even in his own time; and the charge of arrogance and vanity is, in ours, still repeated from fool to fool.
This alludes to a fire which took place in the Six 1 So wouldst thou've run upon the rolls, &c.] Clerks' Office; but I cannot specify the date of it: nor of that at Whitehall [Jan. 12, 1619—see ante, p. 212 a], mentioned in the preceding page.
2 'Bove all your fireworks had at Ephesus
And Alexandria.] The burning of the temple of Diana at Ephesus, and the library at Alexandria.-WHÂL.
We ask your absence here, we all love peace,
So doth the King, and most of the King's
That have good places: therefore once
Pox on thee, Vulcan! thy Pandora's pox,
Thy wife's pox on thee, and Bess Brough-
A SPEECH, ACCORDING TO HORACE.
Why yet, my noble hearts, they cannot say
T' have waked, if sleeping, Spain's ambas-
Old Æsop Gundomar : the French can tell,
Lances and men, and some a breaking force.
If they stay here but till St. George's day.
Lent by the London dames to the Lords'
With all the dirty pains those citizens take, To see the pride at Court, their wives do make ;
And the return those thankful courtiers yield,
To have their husbands drawn forth to the field,
And coming home to tell what acts were done
Under the auspice of young Swinnerton.2
What a strong fort old Pimblicae had been! How it held out! how, last, 'twas taken in !
Well, I say, thrive, thrive, brave Artilleryyard,
| Thou seed-plot of the war! that hast not
Powder or paper to bring up the youth
But on thy practice and the posture book.
Would think no more of Flushing or the
But give them over to the common ear,
Supplant bold Panton, and brought there
Translated Ælian's tactics to be read,
So in that ground, as soon it grew to be
O happy art! and wise epitome
The battles of thy Aldermanity;
Go on, increased in virtue and in fame,
Insert thy Hodges, and those newer men,
From the tempestuous grandlings, who'll
Us, in our bearing, that are thus and thus,
Why are we rich or great, except to show
The hawking language? or our day to
With citizens? let clowns and tradesmen breed
Their sons to study arts, the laws, the
We will believe like men of our own rank,
His lordship; that is for his band, his hair
The fate of things; whilst tottered virtue
Her broken arms up to their empty moulds!
AN EPISTLE TO MASTER Arthur
What I am not, and what I fain would be,
I neither am, nor art thou one of those
Nor ever trusted to that friendship yet,
That could but claim a kindred from the purse,
Those are poor ties depend on those false ends,
"Tis virtue alone, or nothing, that knits friends.
Inquiry of the worth; so must we do,
For there are many slips and counterfeits.?
And as within your office1 you do take Our ancestors imposed on prince and state. No piece of money, but you know, or make Let poor nobility be virtuous: we, Descended in a rope of titles, be From Guy, or Bevis, Arthur, or from whom The herald will: our blood is now become Past any need of virtue. Let them care, That in the cradle of their gentrie are, To serve the state by councils and by arms: We neither love the troubles nor the harms. What love you then? your whore; what study? gait,
Carriage, and dressing. There is up of late
All that they do at Plays. O but first here
But why are all these irons in the fire,
1 And as within your office, &c.] It appears that this gentleman was one of the principal clerks in the Exchequer. I find several of his
But these with wearing will themselves unfold,
They cannot last. No lie grew ever old. Turn him, and see his threads; look if he be
Friend to himself that would be friend to thee.
For that is first required, a man be his
But he that's too much that, is friend of
Then rest, and a friend's value understand,
name, in succession, in the books of that office. 2 For there are many slips and counterfeits.] For these terms, see vol. ii. p. 420 m.
And that thy strong and manly eloquence Stood up thy nation's fame, her crown's defence;
And now such is thy stand, while thou
Like Solon's self, explat'st the knotty laws
No less of praise, than readers, in all kinds
None Fortune aided less, or virtue more.
AN EPISTLE, ANSWERING TO ONE THAT
Men that are safe and sure in all they do,
lowed himself of coining an expressive word, I am tempted to think this proceeded from the same poetic mint.-WHAL.
1 An Epigram on Sir Edward Coke.] Addressed to him probably when he was created Lord Chief Justice, in the year 1606.-WHAL. Whalley assigns too early a date to this Epi- Whalley is wrong. Jonson sometimes uses a gram; Coke was, as he says, created Lord Chief Latin word, but then he prints it in a different Justice in 1606; but it was of the Common Pleas : character: his latinisms are those of his contemhe did not take the style of Lord Chief Justice poraries. All our old writers use pleat, plight, of England, till he was advanced to the King's for wreath, curl, fold, &c. from plico: expleat is Bench in 1613, when he was in his sixty-fifth as correctly formed from explico, to open, year. Jonson follows the style of Sir Edward smooth, display, &c. Explation, a kindred in giving him this title, which he appears to have word, is in Cole, and displeat and unpleat are affected, and which James objected to his as-sufficiently common in our old poets. Explica suming "He calls himself in his books," the king says, "Lord Chief Justice of England, whereas he can challenge no more but Lord Chief Justice of the King's Bench."
This great lawyer did not bear his faculties meekly. His proud and overbearing spirit involved him in various prosecutions; his office was taken from him in 1616, and the residue of his life was spent in a strange and rapid alternation of favour and disgrace, of turbulence and submisssion. He died in 1634 at the eighty-six: had it been his good fortune to follow his royal mistress to the grave, he would have come down to us not only as one of the most eminent lawyers this country ever produced, but as one of the most dignified and respectable characters of his age.
As a composition, this Epigram boasts considerable merit. It is vigorous and manly; has truth for its basis, and characterizes both the author and his works with discrimination and judgment. I suppose it to be written in 1613.
Like Solon's self, explat'st the knotty laws With endless labour, &c.] I never yet met with the word explat'st, but do not take upon me to pronounce it a corruption. When I consider the licence which Jonson sometimes al
frontem is rendered by Jo. Davies, in his eclogue, 1620, "Unpleat thy brow."
[The adjective explete is in the Manipulus Vocabulorum of Peter Levins, a curious old Rhyming Dictionary of 1570, which has been reprinted and most carefully edited by Mr. H. B. Wheatley.-F. C.]
evidence to have been written not long before An Epistle, &c.] This appears from internal the death of James. It was the practice of the of talents in whose reputation, or success in life, older poets, upon request, to adopt young men by a species of patronage or filiation, they sons of this kind, and to an aspirant for the became warmly interested. Jonson had many honour of becoming such (probably to Randolph The number of his adopted progeny is alluded to or Cleveland) he addresses the above Epistle. in the foolish expression of one "that asked," &c. which do the poet great credit. The sentiments There is a spirit and vigour in this Epistle higher philosophy. It wants the smoothness and are manly, and some of them drawn from the the artificial rhythm of these times; but what poem of equal length, of these times, possesses such depth of thought and force of expression?