Lapas attēli

And as unhurt of envy, as unhit.
[POL. and NAS. discover themselves.
Pol. Ay, but the multitude they think not so, sir;
They think you hit, and hurt: and dare give out,
Your silence argues it, in not rejoining
To this or that late libel.

Aut. 'Las, good rout!

I can afford them leave to err so still;
And, like the barking students of Bears-college,
To swallow up the garbage of the time
With greedy gullets, whilst myself sit by,
Pleased, and yet tortured, with their beastly feeding.
Tis a sweet madness runs along with them,
To think, all that are aim'd at still are struck;
Then, where the shaft still lights, make that the mark:
And so, each fear or fever-shaken fool
May challenge Teucer's hand in archery.
Good troth, if I knew any man so vile,
To act the crimes these Whippers reprehend,
Or what their servile apes gesticulate,

I should not then much muse their shreds were liked;
Since ill men have a lust t' hear others sins,
And good men have a zeal to hear sin shamed.
But when it is all excrement they vent,
Base filth and offal; or thefts, notable
As ocean-piracies, or highway stands;
And not a crime there tax'd, but is their own,
Or what their own foul thoughts suggested to them;
And that, in all their heat of taxing others,

Not one of them but lives himself, if known,
Improbior satiram scribente cinædo,3
What should I say more, than turn stone with wonder!

2 Students of Bears-college.] The dogs at the bear-garden. WHAL. 3 This is from Juvenal, as are several other passages in this bitter satire, which need not be pointed out: the names of the speakers have a reference to a line in Martial. A more contemptuous one than Polyposus he could not easily have found.

Nas. I never saw this play bred all this tumult : What was there in it could so deeply offend, And stir so many hornets? Aut. Shall I tell you? Nas. Yes, and ingenuously. Aut. Then, by the hope What I prefer unto all other objects, I can profess, I never writ that piece More innocent or empty of offence. Some salt it had, but neither tooth nor gall, Nor was there in it any circumstance Which, in the setting down, I could suspect Might be perverted by an enemy's tongue; Only it had the fault to be call'd mine; That was the crime.

Pol. No! why, they say you tax'd
The law and lawyers, captains and the players,
By their particular names.

Aut. It is not so.

I used no name. My books have still been taught
To spare the persons, and to speak the vices.*
These are mere slanders, and enforced by such
As have no safer ways to men's disgraces,
But their own lies and loss of honesty:
Fellows of practised and most laxative tongues,
Whose empty and eager bellies, in the year,
Compel their brains to many desperate shifts,
(I spare to name them, for their wretchedness
Fury itself would pardon.) These, or such,
Whether of malice, or of ignorance,
Or itch t' have me their adversary, I know not,
Or all these mixt; but sure I am, three years
They did provoke me with their petulant styles
On every stage: and I at last, unwilling,
But weary, I confess, of so much trouble,
Thought I would try if shame could win upon 'em ;

4 Parcere personis, dicere de vitiis. Mart. WHal.

And therefore chose Augustus Cæsar's times,
When wit and arts were at their height in Rome,
To shew that Virgil, Horace, and the rest
Of those great master-spirits, did not want
Detractors then, or practicers against them:
And by this line, although no parallel,
I hoped at last they would sit down and blush;
But nothing I could find more contrary.
And though the impudence of flies be great,
Yet this hath so provok'd the angry wasps,
Or, as you said, of the next nest, the hornets,
That they fly buzzing, mad, about my nostrils,
And, like so many screaming grasshoppers
Held by the wings, fill every ear with noise.
And what? those former calumnies you mention'd.
First, of the law: indeed I brought in Ovid
Chid by his angry father for neglecting
The study of their laws for poetry:
And I am warranted by his own words:
Sæpe pater dixit, studium quid inutile tentas?
Mæonides nullas ipse reliquit opes.

And in far harsher terms elsewhere, as these:
Non me verbosas leges ediscere, non me
Ingrato voces prostituisse foro."

But how this should relate unto our laws,
Or the just ministers, with least abuse,
I reverence both too much to understand!

Then, for the captain, I will only speak An epigram I here have made: it is UNTO TRUE SOLDIERS. That's the lemma:8 mark it.

And like so many screaming grasshoppers, &c.] See the Fox. • Renounce this thriftless trade, my father cried:

Mæonides himself—a beggar died. Trist. Lib. 4. Eleg. 10. 7 To learn the wrangling law was ne'er my choice,

Nor, at the hateful bar, to sell my voice.

Amor. Lib. 1. Eleg. xv. 8 That's the lemma.] The subject proposed, or title of the epigram. WHAL.

Strength of my country, whilst I bring to view
Such as are miscall'd captains, and wrong you,
And your high names; I do desire, that thence,
Be nor put on you, nor you take, offence:
I swear by your true friend, my muse, I love
Your great profession which I once did prove;"
And did not shame it with my actions then,
No more than I dare now do with my pen.
He that not trusts me, having vow'd thus much,
But's angry for the captain, still is such.'

Now for the players, it is true, I tax'd them,
And yet but some; and those so sparingly,
As all the rest might have sat still unquestion'd,
Had they but had the wit or conscience
To think well of themselves. But, impotent, they
Thought each man's vice belong'd to their whole tribe;2
And much good do't them! What they have done

'gainst me,

I am not moved with: if it gave them meat,
Or got them clothes, 'tis well; that was their end.
Only amongst them, I am sorry for

Some better natures, by the rest so drawn,
To run in that vile line.3

I love

Your great profession; which I once did prove.] Jonson bore arms in Flanders, where he acquitted himself with reputation. WHAL.


1 Is such,] i. e. such as are miscalled captains. WHAL.

This little piece Jonson afterwards reprinted among his Epigrams. 2 But impotent they, &c.] One might almost suspect that Gay had this passage in his thoughts when he wrote the Beggar's Opera:

"If you mention gift or bribe,
'Tis so pat to all the tribe,

Each cries-that was levelled at me!"
I am sorry for
Some better natures, by the rest so drawn,

To run in that vile line.] It has been thought that Shakspeare was here alluded to, under the expression of better natures. But I


Pol. And is this all!
Will you not answer then the libels?

Aut. No.

Pol. Nor the Untrussers?

Aut. Neither.

Pol. Y'are undone then.

Aut. With whom?

Pol. The world.

Aut. The bawd!

Pol. It will be taken

To be stupidity or tameness in you.

Aut. But they that have incensed me, can in soul
Acquit me of that guilt. They know I dare
To spurn or baffle them, or squirt their


see no reason to confine the phrase to so particular a restriction. It makes good sense to take it in the most obvious meaning: nor does it appear there was any difference now subsisting between Shakspeare and our author.


Thus far Whalley is right. He might have added, to the confusion of the thinkers, that if their ingenious supposition were true, it would go near to prove-not that Jonson was hostile to Shakspeare, but that Shakspeare was captiously disinclined to Jonson. But, in fact, there is no allusion whatever to Shakspeare, or to the company with which he was connected. The commentators are absolutely mad: they will allow Jonson neither to compliment, nor criticise any one but our great poet; and this merely for the pleasure of taxing him with hypocrisy in the one case, and envy in the other. I have already observed that the actors ridiculed belonged to the Fortune play-house; and the critics must have discovered, if their judgment had been half as active as their enmity, a very frequent recurrence throughout the Poetaster, and the Apology, to the poverty and low estimation of this unfortunate


"if it gave them meat,

Or got them clothes, 'tis well; that was their end."

Could this be said of Allen and Shakspeare, of Burbage, Lowin, and Taylor? Without question, the Fortune possessed more actors than the "lean Poluphagus" and the "politic Æsop," and to some of those the poet might allude: "the better natures" were not confined, I trust, in Jonson's days, any more than in our own, to a single person, or even a single theatre.

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