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Drayton feared him; and he esteemed not of him.'
That Francis Beaumont loved too much himself and his own verses. 2
That Sir John Roe loved him; and when they two were ushered by my Lord Suffolk from a Mask, Roe wrott a moral Epistle to him, which began, That next to playes, the Court and the State were the best. God threateneth Kings, Kings Lords, [as] Lords
He beat Marston, and took his pistoll from him.4
Sir W. Alexander was not half kinde unto him, and neglected him, because a friend to Drayton.5
That Sir R. Aiton loved him dearly.
Nid Field was his schollar, and he had read to him the Satyres of Horace, and some Epigrames of Martiall.7
That Markam (who added his English Arcadia) was not of the number of the Faithfull, i. [e. Poets, and but a base fellow.8
1 This remark seems to justify the doubt which many men had as to Jonson's real feeling towards Drayton. Jonson himself records the fact in the opening lines of his Vision on the muses of his friend, Michael Drayton, prefixed to the second volume of that poet's works in 1627:
"It hath been questioned, Michael, if I be
A friend at all; or, if at all, to thee."
See the Underwoods, ante, pp. 291, 293.
2 This appears altogether to dispose of the assertion of Dryden, that "Beaumont was so accurate a judge of plays that Ben Jonson, while he lived, submitted all his writings to his censure; and 'tis thought used his judgment in correcting, if not contriving, all his plots.'
3 These verses are printed as Donne's at p. 197 of the 1669 edition of his works. out" is a mild phrase for what appears actually to have taken place, as Roe urges him to
The lines are dated 6th January, 1603, that is, Twelfth Night of 1604, the first Christmas which James and his queen had passed in England. The Masque for the occasion was provided by Samuel Daniel, and was called The Vision of the Twelve Goddesses. Is it not just possible that Daniel may have suggested, or at least not interfered to prevent, the summary removal of the author of The Poetaster, and have thus given cause to Jonson's repeated assertion as to the envious feelings with which his brother poet regarded him? The interesting circumstance of Jonson being "thrust out" from the palace, and threatened" by the Lord Chamberlain, has hitherto, as far as I know, passed unnoticed by the Shakspearian critics. Lord Suffolk, if he was in any way to blame in the matter, must have been quite forgiven before Jonson wrote him the Epigram No. lxvii., ante, p. 238 a.
There must in those days have been a good deal of rough horse-play among the hot-headed, high-spirited young writers of all work, and Jonson's strength and training would give him a great advantage over most of his companions. It is not easy to fix the date of this scuffle, but it was certainly before 1604, when Marston dedicated his Malcontent to BENJ. JONSONIO, AMICO SUO CANDIDO ET CORDATO. See vol. i. p. xxiv., xxix.
5 Sir William Alexander was the author of Darius, Cræsus, The Alexandraan, and Fulius Casar-or, as he called them collectively, The Monarchicke Tragedies. He is better known as Earl of Stirling, a title which he received from Charles I. Here is further confirmation of the general belief as to Jonson's dislike of Drayton.
6 "Apart from the other poets, under the tomb of Henry V. is Sir Robert Ayton, secretary to Queen Henrietta Maria [? Anne of Denmark], and ancestor of his modern namesake, the author of The Lays of the Cavaliers. He is the first Scottish poet buried here, and claims a place from his being the first in whose verses appears the Auld Lang Syne. His bust is by Farelli, from a portrait by Vandyck."-Dean Stanley's Westminster Abbey, p. 300.
7 Nathan Field, a distinguished player, second perhaps only to Burbage," was born in 1587 in the parish of St. Giles Without, Cripplegate. Jonson pays him a high compliment in Bartho lomew Fair, see vol. ii. p. 199 a. He did full justice to the poet's tuition, and became well known as a dramatic author.
8 The work referred to by Jonson is "The English Arcadia. Alluding his beginning from Sir Philip Sydnes' ending, 1607." The title-page of a second edition, or of the completion of this continuation, announces it to be "full of various deceptions, and much interchangeable matter of wit." Gervase Markham, however, is only now remembered by his "Maister-Peece, containing all Knowledge belonging to the Smith, Farrier, or Horse-leech." From the extraordinary and ludicrous nature of the remedies, and the pretentiousness of the anatomical cuts, it is one of the most amusing books with which am acquainted.
That such were Day and Midleton.1
That Chapman and Fletcher were loved of him.2
Overbury was first his friend, then turn'd his mortall enimie."
PARTICULARS OF THE ACTIONS OF OTHER POETS; AND APOTHEGMES.
That the Irish having rob'd Spenser's goods, and burnt his house and a litle child new born, he and his wyfe escaped; and after, he died for lake of bread in King Street,+ and refused 20 pieces sent to him by my Lord of Essex, and said, He was sorrie he had no time to spend them. That in that paper S. W. Raughly had of the Allegories of his Fayrie Queen, by the Blating Beast the Puritans were understood, by the false Duessa the Q. of Scots.
That Southwell was hanged; yet so he had written that piece of his, the Burning Babe, he would have been content to destroy many of his.5
The Works of Thomas Middleton were collected by Mr. Dyce and published in five volumes. It is a disputed point whether his Witches preceded or followed Macbeth; Malone ended by being of the latter opinion, but Gifford was strenuous the other way. Middleton held the office of Chronologer of the City," and on his death in 1627 was succeeded by Ben Jonson. See note, vol. i. p. lvi.
Jonson was eighteen years younger than Chapman, and three years older than Fletcher. He survived them both.
3 In Manningham's "Diary" (Cam. Soc. 1868), under date 12th February, 1602-3, is the following entry :-"Ben Johnson, the poet, nowe lives upon one Townesend and scornes the world (Tho. Overbury." Overbury was not more than twenty-two or three at the date of this entry; and although it has an unfriendly air about it, I cannot agree with Mr. Laing that he could have been Jonson's "mortall enimie" at this early date. See Jonson's Epigram upon him (ante, p. 252), which in all probability was not written before 1610. See also post, p. 478.
• All Spenser's biographers have said that he died on the 16th January, 1599; but it is evident, from Chamberlain's letter to Carleton of the 17th of that month, that Saturday the 13th was really the day. Prefixed to the Faerie Queen is a "Letter of the Author's to the most noble and valorous Sir Walter Raleigh, Knight, expounding his whole intention in the course of the work;" but although Spenser writes it in order that his friend "may as in a handfull gripe at the discourse," it conveys only a portion of the information which must have been conveyed in the longer paper to which Jonson refers.
5 Robert Southwell was born in 1560, and after being ten times tortured was executed at Tyburn 21st February, 1695. The following copy of the poem which Jonson so much admired is taken from Mr. David Laing's notes to these Conversations:—
Francis Beaumont died ere he was 30 years of age.1
Sir John Roe was ane infinit spender, and used to say, when he had no more to spende he could die. He died in his armes of the pest, and he [Jonson] furnished his charges 20 lb.; which was given him back."
That Drayton was chalenged for intitling one book Mortimeriados.3
That S. J. Davies played in ane Epigrame on Draton's, who, in a sonnet, concluded his Mistriss might been the Ninth Worthy; and said, he used a phrase like Dametas in Arcadia, who said, For wit his Mistresse might be a gyant.
Done's grandfather, on the mother side, was Heywood the Epigramatist. That Done himself, for not being understood, would perish.5
For which as now on fire I am
To work them to their good,
To wash them in my blood.
1 Francis Beaumont was born 1586 (thirteen years after Jonson), and died 1616.
2 It is much to be regretted that we are not better acquainted with the history of the Roe family. See ante, pp. 229, 231, 246, 256. Jonson appears to have been most warmly attached to Sir John, whom he calls amicus probatissimus; another, William, he held in the highest esteem; and Sir Thomas Roe, the ambassador to the Court of the Great Mogul, was as worthy to represent England in the East, and played his part as wisely and nobly, as Hastings or Wellesley. The detailed information which he collected on that embassy may still exist in the State Paper Office or the Bodleian Library, and, if discovered, should certainly be printed.
3 That is, he was found fault with by the pedants of 1596 for styling a poem in " one book" Mortimeriados. The Lamentable civell warres of Edward the Second and the Barrons. "Grammaticasters," says Drayton, in a subsequent improved edition, "have quarrel'd at the title of Mortimeriados, as if it had been a sin against Syntaxis to have inscribed it in the second case. But not their idle reproof hath made me now abstain from fronting it by the name of Mortimer at all, but the same better advice which hath caused me to alter the whole." He complied with their murmurs and changed his stanza as well as his title. P.C. 1842.
The Epigram, and the Sonnet that provoked it, are here subjoined. The latter may be much altered from its original form :
"TO THE CELESTIAL NUMBERS.
"To this our world, to learning and to Heaven,
Nine worthy women to the world were given:
With one more Order these Nine Orders gladdeth:
Audacious painters have Nine Worthies made,
Making his mistress march with men of war,
See the previous note, p. 474, as to Donne's not being "understood." Campbell calls him the "best good-natured man with the worst-natured Muse;" but adds, "Yet there is a beauty of thought which at intervals rises from his chaotic imagination like the form of Venus smiling on the waters." Warburton, with characteristic arrogance, has described Donne's Sermons as full of "jingles and play on words;" on which Coleridge remarks, "I have, and that most carefully, read Dr. Donne's sermons, and find none of these jingles. The great art of an orator-to make
That Sir W. Raughley esteemed more of fame than conscience. The best wits of England were employed for making his Historie. Ben himself had written a piece to him of the Punick warre, which he altered and set in his booke.1
S. W. heth written the lyfe of Queen Elizabeth, of which ther is [are] copies extant. Sir P. Sidney had translated some of the Psalmes, which went abroad under the name of the Countesse of Pembrock.2
Marston wrott his Father-in-lawes preachings, and his Father-in-law his Commedies. Sheakspear, in a play, brought in a number of men saying they had suffered shipwrack in Bohemia, wher ther is no sea neer by some 100 miles.
Daniel wrott Civill Warres, and yett hath not one batle in all his book."
The Countess of Rutland was nothing inferior to her Father Sir P. Sidney in poesie." Sir Th: Overburie was in love with her, and caused Ben to read his Wyffe to her, which he, with ane excellent grace, did, and praised the author. That the morne thereafter he discorded with Overburie, who would have him to intend a sute that was unlawful. The lines my Lady keep'd in remembrance, He comes to[o] near who comes to be
whatever he talks of appear of importance-this, indeed, Donne has effected with consummate skill." With regard to his descent, Walton says that he was born of "good and virtuous parents,' and that "by his mother he was descended of the family of the famous and learned Sir Thomas More, sometime lord chancellor of England; as also from that worthy and laborious judge Rastall, who left posterity the vast statutes of the law of this nation most exactly bridged."
It appears from a MS. in the British Museum, quoted by Mr. Tytler, that Raleigh had himself given much attention to "the dominion of the Tyrians and Carthaginians by sea;" and the " seafights of the Grecians and Carthaginians." Mr. Tytler considered that the vast collections made by Raleigh for his work might yet be recovered. Making every allowance for the receipt of such literary assistance as Jonson refers to, there can be no doubt that the "History of the World" has justly added to Raleigh's renown. Oliver Cromwell told his son Richard to "" recreate" himself with it: "It is a Body of History, and will add much more to your understanding than fragments of story" (2nd April, 1650). And Dugald Stewart speaks with admiration of certain passages in which the illustrious prisoner had anticipated some of "the soundest logical conclusions of the eighteenth century."
The only form in which these Psalms "went abroad" must have been in MS. copies, as they were certainly not printed till 1823. Walpole only speaks of them as being "said" to be preserved at Wilton. Of the Arcadia, even, the first edition was not issued till some years after Sidney's death.
3 See vol. i. p. xliv., where Gifford has satisfactorily identified William Wilkes, Rector of Barford St. Martin, in Wiltshire, and chaplain to King James, as the father-in-law of Marston.
* See vol. i. p. xliii., for Gifford's note on this passage. Shakspeare copied the blunder from the novel from which he borrowed the story. It is worth while to note that the Winter's Tale was not in print when Jonson made this natural and harmless remark.
5" The Civil Warres between the Houses of Lancaster and Yorke, corrected and continued by Samuel Daniel, one of the Groomes of his Majesties most honorable Privie Chamber. London, 1609." This was the first complete edition of the work to which Jonson alludes.
6 Elizabeth, Countess of Rutland, had been dead six or seven years when this conversation took place; and Jonson had already published his opinion of her extraordinary poetical talents. See ante, p. 240 and p. 271. The mysterious winding up of Drummond's note is too well explained by the following passage in Beaumont's "Elegy:"
"As soon as thou couldst apprehend a grief,
For whom thou hadst, if we may trust to fame,
ĎYCE'S Beaumont and Fletcher, vol. xi. p. 508.
That shrewd critic and antiquary, C. Kirkpatrick Sharpe, pointed out that the line which Lady Rutland kept in remembrance was afterwards appropriated by Lady Mary Wortley Montagu. It occurs in The Lady's Resolve, written on a window soon after her marriage, 1713:
"Let this great maxim be my Virtue's guide;
denied. Beaumont wrot that Elegie on the death of the Countess of Rutland; and in effect her husband wanted the half of his. [sic in MS.] in his travells.
Owen is a pure pedantique schoolmaster, sweeping his living from the posteriors of litle children; and hath no thinge good in him, his Epigrames being bare narrations.1 Chapman hath translated Musaeus, in his verses, like his Homer.2
Flesher and Beaumont, ten yeers since, hath written the Faithfull Shipheardesse, a Tragicomedie, well done.
Dyer died unmarried.+
Sir P. Sidney was no pleasant man in countenance, his face being spoilled with pimples, and of high blood, and long: that my Lord Lisle, now Earle of Worster, his eldest son, resembleth him.5
OF HIS OWNE LYFE, EDUCATION, BIRTH, ACTIONS.
His Grandfather came from Carlisle, and, he thought, from Anandale to it: he served King Henry 8, and was a gentleman.6 His Father losed all his estate under Queen Marie, having been cast in prisson and forfaitted; at last turn'd Minister: so he was a minister's son. He himself was posthumous born, a moneth after his father's decease; brought up poorly, putt to school by a friend (his master Cambden); after taken
1 Hallam says, "Owen's Epigrams, a well-known collection, were published in 1607; unequal enough, they are sometimes neat, and more often witty; but they scarcely aspire to the name of poetry.
This must refer to the Hero and Leander commenced by Marlowe, and finished by Chapman. Marlowe's share was the First and Second Book, or Sestiad, and, as I believe, a portion of the Fifth, including the episode of Tirza. "In their time it was supposed that the Museus who wrote the Greek poem on which these Sestiads were founded was in very deed the ancient Athenian bard whom modern criticism has dismissed from his position as the flesh and blood predecessor of Hesiod and Homer, and fixed in nubibus along with Orpheus and other semi-mythological personages. The work of Marlowe and Chapman cannot be called even a paraphrase, and as a translation must have excited Jonson's indignation more than the Homer. He quotes the Hero and Leander in Every Man in his Humour. See vol. i. p. 39 a.
8 Beaumont had no share in The Faithful Shepherdess. It was first produced about 1610, see vol. ii. p. 510, and utterly condemned by
See ante, p. 290 b.
"The wise and many-headed beast that sits
4 Sir Edward Dyer was generally coupled with Sidney in contemporary estimation. He is celebrated by Taylor, the water poet, in a couplet quoted by Mr. Dyce (Greene's Life, p. 26):
Spenser and Shakspeare did in art excell,
The reader must be careful to observe that there is a comma after excell.
5 Mr. Laing remarks on this passage, "As Jonson was only thirteen at the time of Sidney's death in 1586, and then moved in a very different sphere of life, it is very unlikely that he could have known anything of his personal appearance." But Jonson was born at Charing Cross and educated at Westminster School, and must have known the faces of the principal courtiers who thronged daily to Whitehall, as well as those of his schoolfellows and relations. How, above all, would such a boy as Jonson take note of such a man as the poetical and heroic Philip Sidney; while the circumstances of his death would brand the features for ever on his recollection.
The following note by the late Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe, himself a member of a most distinguished border family, close neighhours to Annandale, furnishes the best comment on what Jonson says of his ancestors. See also vol. i. p. viii., note:
"If Ben's grandfather went, as Jonson supposed, from Annandale to Carlisle, which lies very near it, he must have pronounced and written, if he could write, his name Johnstone. I believe there never was a Johnson heard of in Annandale or its vicinity; but it was the nest of the Johnstones; the lairds of the Lochwood, ancestors of the Marquises of Annandale, were the chiefs of the clan, and this consisted of many considerable clans of the name of Johnstone, the lairds of Wamphray, Sowdean, Lockerby, Gretna, &c. I have examined as many of their pedigrees as I possess, in order to ascertain if Benjamin were ever a family name among them, but have not found it in Annandale."
After the Reformation there was a great run upon the Scriptures for Christian names. VOL. III.