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1 They gave a cock to Esculape.] The last request which Socrates made to his friends was that they would offer this popular sacrifice for him. This has led some to imagine that the poison had begun to take effect, and that he was becoming light-headed. He was quite as rational as his critics; and, in perfect consistency with his creed, viewed his death as a recovery to life.
2 Camden, most reverend head, to whom I owe All that I am in arts, all that I know.] Camden was our poet's master at Westminster School; and gratitude has led him to make a proper acknowledgment for his care and pains in teaching him, both by this epigram, and the dedication of Every Man in his Humour to hin.-WHAL.
These are not the only places in which Camden is mentioned with respect. In the King's
So in short time, th' art in arrearage If thou'dst but use thy faith as thou didst grown
Some hundred quarrels, yet dost thou fight | When thou wert wont t' admire, not cennone;
Nor need'st thou for those few, by oath releast,
Make good what thou dar'st do in all the
Keep thyself there, and think thy valour right;
He that dares damn himself, dares more than fight.
TO THE LEARNED CRITIC.
May others fear, fly, and traduce thy name,
Charge them, for crown, to thy sole cen-
And but a sprig of bays, given by thee, Shall outlive gyrlands stol'n from the chaste tree. 1
TO MY MERE ENGLISH CENSURER. To thee, my way in Epigrams seems new, When both it is the old way, and the true. Thou sayst that cannot be; for thou hast
Davis and Weever, and the best have been,
And mine come nothing like. I hope so: yet,
As theirs did with thee, mine might credit get,
1 Shall outlive gyrlands stol'n from the chaste trec.] i.e., the laurel; Daphne, rather than consent to the desires of Apollo, being changed into that tree.-WHAL.
For thou hast seen
or little purse in which civet and other perfumes were kept in the poet's days.
In the Woman's Prize Livia says to her lover, "Hold this certain
Selling, which is a sin unpardonable,
Davis and Weever.] Davis was the author of a collection of epigrams called The Scourge of Folly: he was by profession a writing-master, and chiefly taught in the University of Oxford. Than that drawn fox Moroso."-Act i. sc. 2. He was a contemporary of Jonson, and has an epigram addressed to him. Weever was the Upon which Mr. Weber observes: "In some author of a work in folio, which is called Fune- MS. notes which have been procured for me, ral Monuments, and is a miscellany of epitaphs the allusion is not so delicate." cod is explained, a pillow, a belly. I am afraid and inscriptions, collected from ancient monu-fears are about as ideal as those of Mr. Steevens, The writer's ments in various parts of the kingdom.-WHAL. from whom this miserable cant is adopted; his 3 He wooes with an ill sprite] A play on the ignorance, however, here, as well as everywhere double meaning of the last word, an evil genius else, is sufficiently real: what did he suppose or spirit, and a stinking breath. To this last Livia to mean? Counterfeit cods are spurious sense of sprite young Knoweli alludes in the in- or adulterate civet-bags, and nothing more. flated panegyric with which he puzzles and plays upon Master Stephen: "A wight that hitherto, his every step hath left the stamp of a great foot behind him, as every word the savour of a strong spirit." The name of the person to whom this epigram is addressed is borrowed from the cod
4 His hair close cut, &c.] These are the characteristic marks of a Puritan, which Gamester was now become. The word was the cant phrase for the Scripture, which was profanely applied to every incident of life. This is an epigram of all times.
ON MY FIRST DAUGHTER.
Here lies, to each her parents ruth,
At six months end she parted hence
In comfort of her mother's tears,
Hath placed amongst her virgin-train :
TO JOHN DONNE."
DONNE, the delight of Phoebus and each Muse,
Who, to thy one, all other brains refuse; Whose every work, of thy most early wit, Came forth example, and remains so yet: Longer a knowing than most wits do live, And which no affection praise enough can give!
To it, thy language, letters, arts, best life, Which might with half mankind maintain a strife;
All which I meant to praise, and yet I would; But leave, because I cannot as I should!
TO THE PARLIAMENT.
There's reason good, that you good laws should make:
Men's manners ne'er were viler, for your sake.
1 Whose soul heaven's Queen, whose name she bears.] i.e., the Virgin Mary; this seems to have been written when our poet was a convert to the church of Rome. WHAL.
There is both pathos and beauty in this little piece: Jonson appears to have been a most kind and affectionate parent; and if, as Fuller says, he did not always meet with an equal return of duty and love, those who denied it to him have the greater sin. It is here the proper place to observe that our poet is by far the best writer of epitaphs that this country ever possessed.
2 John Donne.] The celebrated Dean of St. Paul's. His character is excellently given in this affectionate memorial of his virtues; indeed no one knew him better, or valued him more justly than Jonson. The domestic life of this eminent man is admirably written by Izaac Walton; and a severe, though not unjust esti
mate of his poetical merits will be found in Dr. Johnson's Life of Cowley.
[Jonson told Drummond that he esteemed Donne "the first poet in the world in some things." He had written his best pieces ere he was twenty-five years old.”—F. C.]
3 On Sir John Roe.] Probably the son of Sir Thomas Roe, knt., an eminent merchant of London, who after passing with distinguished credit through every municipal honour, died full of years and good works about 1570. This worthy citizen, whose charity was directed by his piety to the most useful purposes, left four sons, who appear to have trod in the footsteps of their father.
[Jonson said emphatically to Drummond that Sir John Roe loved him." "He died in his arms of the pest."--F. C.]
they cry hem! and bid you play it off." The parallel passage follows:
1 He speaks to men with a rhinocerote's nose,]" i.e., I believe, with a nose elate, or curled up into a kind of sneer, scornfully, contemptuously. This at least is the meaning of the expression in Martial's lively address to his book:
Nescis, heu nescis domina fastidia Roma,
2 That breathes in his dog's way.] "Breathes (Whalley says) is intended to express what Shakspeare means when he describes such as "breathe in their watering." There is no end to this nonsense, since Steevens first set it abroach. I have already relieved Shakspeare from the obloquy of so filthy a meaning (vol. i. p. 73 b,) and to take away every possible plea for its being charged upon him again, I will now add the following decisive passage. The words of Shakspeare are: "They cail drinking deep dying scarlet, and when you breathe in your watering," (stop to take breath in your draught,)
"Fill Will his beaker, he will never flinch
To give a full quart pot the emptie pinch.
S. Rowland, Sat. vi.
Among Whalley's loose papers I find another memorial of our author's regard for him. It is taken from the blank leaf of Casaubon's Commentary on Persius, with which Jonson pre
quis of Bievre on this word. Mad. d'Angivilliers had a favourite serin (a canary-bird), and the Marquis, on coming into her drawing-room, gravely put on his hat, with this notable piece of wit: "I beg your ladyship's pardon-but I I am afraid of the serein!" The Marquis was a great reader of Joe Miller-so were not the French in general: his second-hand wit therefore was in high request.
2 Who wets my grave, &c.] This is a beautiful little valediction; there is a simple grandeur of thought, a high moral dignity in all the addresses of Jonson (for there are more to come) to this distinguished family, which does no less honour to them than to the poet.
3 And since the whole land was preserved for thee.] This epigram was probably written in 1604, as the last allusion is to the plague, which broke out in London soon after the death of Elizabeth. The "treasons" spoken of just above are probably those of the Gowrie and Sir Walter Raleigh.
4 GUILTY, because I bade you late be wise.] See Epig. XXX. This is an excellent epigram; replete with strong sense and keen observation of mankind.