Lapas attēli

The easy flexure of his supple hams.
Tut, these are so innate and popular,
That drunken custom would not shame to laugh,
In scorn, at him, that should but dare to tax 'em:
And yet, not one of these, but knows his works,
Knows what damnation is, the devil, and hell;
Yet hourly they persist, (grow rank in sin
Puffing their souls away in perjurous air,
To cherish their extortion, pride, or lusts.

Mit. Forbear, good Asper; be not like your name.
Asp. O, but to such whose faces are all zeal,
And, with the words of Hercules, invades
Such crimes as these! that will not smell of sin,
But seem as they were made of sanctity!
Religion in their garments, and their hair
Cut shorter than their eye-brows! when the conscience
Is vaster than the ocean, and devours
More wretches than the counters.


Mit. Gentle Asper,

5 And with the words of Hercules, invade, &c.] Among the ancients, everything bold and undaunted was termed Herculean : thus Justin, in the preface to his Epitome, ascribes the intrepidity of Hercules to Trogus Pompeius: Nonne nobis, Pompeius Herculea audacia orbem terrarum adgressus videri debet? WHAL.

Jonson, however, has taken the expression immediately from Juvenal:

sed pejores, qui talia verbis Herculis invadunt.


and their hair

Cut shorter than their eyebrows!] This too is from Juvenal, whose admirable description of the feigned Stoicks, Jonson evidently had in view in many parts of this dialogue. But the immediate objects of his satire, as Whalley justly observes, were the Puritans, who, among other singularities, affected to cut their hair short, and close to their heads; whence they had afterwards the appellation of Roundheads. This practice is alluded to in Eastward Hoe, where Wolf describing the penitence of Quicksilver in the Counter, says, "He has cut his hair too; he is so well given, and has such good gifts." A. v.

Contain your spirit in more stricter bounds,"
And be not thus transported with the violence
Of your strong thoughts.

Cor. Unless your breath had power
To melt the world, and mould it new again,
It is in vain to spend it in these moods.

Asp. (turning to the stage). I not observed this
thronged round till now!

Gracious and kind spectators, you are welcome;
Apollo and the Muses feast your eyes
With graceful objects, and may our Minerva
Answer your hopes, unto their largest strain!
Yet here mistake me not, judicious friends;
I do not this, to beg your patience,
Or servilely to fawn on your applause,
Like some dry brain, (despairing in his merit.)
Let me be censured by the austerest brow,
Where I want art or judgment, tax me freely:
Let envious censors, with their broadest eyes,
Look through and through me, I pursue no favour;
Only vouchsafe me your attentions,
And I will give you music worth your ears.

7 Contain your spirit in more stricter bounds.] This expression is blamed by Dryden, who thinks that few writers of his time would be guilty of it. This may be true; but in Jonson's and, indeed, every preceding age, nothing was more common than to join the signs of the comparative and superlative degrees to the degrees themselves. That it did not originate either in negligence or ignorance may be learned from the poet, who thus speaks of it in his Grammar, a work of great skill, and profundity of research.

"Furthermore, these adverbs more and most are added to the comparative and superlative degrees themselves, which should be before the positive. Thus Sir Thomas More, "She saw the cardinal more readier to depart than the remnant; for not only the high dignity of the civil magistrate, but the most basest handicraft are holy, when they are directed to the honour of God." And this is a certain kind of English atticism, or eloquent phrase of speech, imitating the manner of the most ancientest and finest Grecians, who for more emphasis and vehemency's sake, used so to speak."

O, how I hate the monstrousness of time,
Where every servile imitating spirit,
Plagued with an itching leprosy of wit,
In a mere halting fury, strives to fling
His ulcerous body in the Thespian spring,
And straight leaps forth a poet! but as lame
As Vulcan, or the founder of Cripplegate.
Mit. In faith this humour will come ill to some,
You will be thought to be too peremptory.


Asp. This humour? good! and why this humour, Mitis?

Nay, do not turn, but answer.
Mit. Answer, what?

Asp. I will not stir your patience, pardon me, I urged it for some reasons, and the rather To give these ignorant well-spoken days Some taste of their abuse of this word humour. Cor. O, do not let your purpose fall, good Asper; It cannot but arrive most acceptable,

Chiefly to such as have the happiness
Daily to see how the poor innocent word
Is rack'd and tortured.

Mit. Ay, I pray you proceed.
Asp. Ha, what? what is't?
Cor. For the abuse of humour.

Asp. O, I crave pardon, I had lost my thoughts.

8 How I hate, &c.] Jonson began already to take a high tone : --but whatever may be thought of his confidence, it is impossible not to be pleased with the spirit of this nervous speech. It is altogether in the best manner of antiquity; and, if it was spoken by Jonson, as is not very improbable, he might have informed the audience that they were unsuspectingly listening to the manly language of the Grecian stage.

Or the founder of Cripplegate.] That the founder of Cripplegate was lame, must, if taken at all, be taken on the poet's word. Stow, somewhat better authority in a case of this nature, says that it was so called from the number of lame persons, who usually took their station there for the purpose of begging. The name (Porta Contractorum) is very ancient.

Why, humour, as 'tis ens, we thus define it, To be a quality of air, or water, And in itself holds these two properties, Moisture and fluxure: as, for demonstration, Pour water on this floor, 'twill wet and run: Likewise the air, forced through a horn or trumpet, Flows instantly away, and leaves behind A kind of dew; and hence we do conclude, That whatsoe' er hath fluxure and humidity, As wanting power to contain itself, Is humour. So in every human body, The choler, melancholy, phlegm, and blood, By reason that they flow continually In some one part, and are not continent, Receive the name of humours. Now thus far It may, by metaphor, apply itself Unto the general disposition: As when some one peculiar quality Doth so possess a man, that it doth draw All his affects, his spirits, and his powers, In their confluctions, all to run one way, This may be truly said to be a humour.?

1 As 'tis ens, we thus define it.] Ens is a term of the schools, and signifies a substance, or existence. WHAL.

2 This may be truly said to be a humour.] What was usually called the manners in a play or poem, began now to be called the humours. The word was new; the use, or rather abuse of it was excessive. It was applied upon all occasions, with as little judgment as wit. Every coxcomb had it always in his mouth; and every particularity he affected was denominated by the name of humour. To redress this extravagance, Jonson is exact in describing the true meaning, and proper application of the term. It hath been observed that the word, in the sense which he assigns it, is peculiar to our English language; but the quality intended by it is not peculiar to the people. Our poet's great excellence was the lively copying of these humorous characters. WHAL.

The abuse of this word is well ridiculed by Shakspeare, in that amusing creature of whimsey, Nym. Merry Wives of Windsor. Steevens quotes a long epigram by way of illustrating the subject, without remarking that it is a mere copy, and, indeed, a very feeble

But that a rook, by wearing a pyed feather,
The cable hatband, or the three-piled ruff,
A yard of shoe-tye, or the Switzer's knot
On his French garters, should affect a humour!
O, it is more than most ridiculous.

Cor. He speaks pure truth; now if an ideot Have but an apish or fantastic strain,

It is his humour.

Asp. Well, I will scourge those apes, satire
And to these courteous eyes oppose a mirror,
As large as is the stage whereon we act;
Where they shall see the time's deformity
Anatomized in every nerve, and sinew,
With constant courage, and contempt of fear.

Mit. Asper, (I urge it as your friend,) take heed,
The days are dangerous, full of exception,
And men are grown impatient of reproof.

Asp. Ha, ha!

You might as well have told me, yond' is heaven,
This earth, these men, and all had moved alike.-
Do not I know the time's condition ?3
Yes, Mitis, and their souls; and who they be
That either will or can except against me.
None but a sort of fools, so sick in taste,
That they contemn all physic of the mind,
And, like gall'd camels, kick at every touch.
Good men, and virtuous spirits, that loath their vices,
Will cherish my free labours, love my lines,
And with the fervor of their shining grace
Make my brain fruitful, to bring forth more objects,
Worthy their serious and intentive eyes.
But why enforce I this? as fainting? no.

one, of this acute and pertinent disquisition. But Steevens knew little of Jonson.

3 Do I not know the time's condition,] i. e. the temper, quality, or disposition of the times. In this sense the word is used by Shakspeare and all our old writers.

« iepriekšējāTurpināt »