Page images



But, singing in the morning's ear, she weeps,
Being deep in love, at lovers' broken sleeps :
But say, a golden slumber chance to tie,
With silken strings, the cover of love's eye,
Then dreams, magician-like, mocking present
Pleasures, whose fading, leaves more discontent.




Of all deeds yet this strikes the deepest wound
Into my apprehension,
Reverend and honourable matrimony,
Mother of lawful sweets, unshamed mornings,
Both pleasant and legitimately fruitful, without thee
All whole world were soiled bastardy ;
Thou art the only and the greatest form
That put'st a difference betwixt our desires
And the disorder'd appetites of beasts.

But, if chaste and honest,
There is another devil that haunts marriage,
(None fondly loves but knows it), jealousy,
That wedlock's yellow sickness,
That whispering separation every minute,
And thus the curse takes his effect or progress.
The most of inen, in their first sudden furies,
Rail at the narrow bounds of marriage,
And call't a prison ; then it is most just
That the disease of the prison, jealousy,
Should thus affect 'em-but, oh! here I'm fix'd
To make sale of a wife! monstrous and foul !
An act abhorr'd in nature, cold in soul !

Thou angel sent amongst us, sober Law,
Made with meek eyes, persuading action ;
No loud immodest tongue-voiced like a virgin,
And as chaste from sale,
Save only to be heard, but not to rail —
How has abuse deform'd thee to all eyes !
Yet why so rashly for one villain's fault
Do I arraign whole man? Admired Law!
Thy upper parts must needs be wholly pure
And incorruptible—th’are grave and wise ;
'Tis but the dross beneath them, and the clouds
That get between thy glory and their praise,
That make the visible and foul eclipse;
For those that are near to thee are upright,
As noble in their conscience as their birth ;
Know that damnation is in every bribe,
And rarely put it from them-rate the presenters,
And scourge 'em with five years' imprisonment
For offering but to tempt 'em:
This is true justice, exercised and used ;
Woe to the giver, when the bribe's refused.
'Tis not their will to have law worse than war,
Where still the poorest die first,
To send a man without a sheet to his grave,
Or bury him in his papers ;
'Tis not their mind it should be, nor to have
A suit hang longer than a man in chains,
Let him be ne'er so fasten'd.


(Born, 1584.)

The plan of the Mirror for Magistrates, begun | in imitation of Drayton’s ‘Owl,' and several poems by Ferrers and Sackville, was followed up by ' of temporary popularity, and of a drama, entitled Churchyard, Phayer, Higgins, Drayton, and The Twynne's Tragedy. He was a Londoner, many others. The last contributor of any note and having studied (says Wood) at Oxford, was Niccols, in 1610, in his Winter Night's Vision. obtained some employment worthy of his faculties; Niccols was the author of the Cuckow,' written but of what kind, we are left to conjecture.

[ocr errors]


Robert, Duke of Normandy, eldest son of William the Conqueror, on his return from the crusades was imprisoned

by Honry I. in Cardiff Castle. He thus describes a walk with his keeper, previous to his eyes being put out. As bird in cage debarr’d the use of wings, Where as a prisoner though I did remain ; Her captived life as nature's chiefest wrong, Yet did my brother grant this liberty, In doleful ditty sadly sits and sings,

To quell the common speech, which did complain And mourns her thralled liberty so long,

On my distress, and on his tyranny,
Till breath be spent in many a sithful song: That in his parks and forests joining by,
So here captived I many days did spend

When I did please I to and fro might go, In sorrow's plaint, till death my days did end. Which in the end was cause of all my woe.

[blocks in formation]


[Died, 1630.)

Charles FITZGEFFREY was rector of the parish of St. Dominic, in Cornwall.


Doth leave his honey-limed delicious bowers,

More richly wrought than prince's stately
DAUGHTER of Time, sincere Posterity,


Waving his silken wings amid the air,
Always new-born, yet no man knows thy birth,
The arbitress of pure sincerity,

And to the verdant gardens makes repair.
Yet changeable (like Proteus) on the earth,

First falls he on a branch of sugar'd thyme,
Sometime in plenty, sometime join'd with dearth :

Then from the marygold he sucks the sweet,
Always to come, yet always present here,
Whom all run after, none come after near.

And then the mint, and then the rose doth

climb, Unpartial judge of all, save present state,

Then on the budding rosemary doth light, Truth's idioma of the things are past,

Till with sweet treasure having charged his feet, But still pursuing present things with hate,

Late in the evening home he turns again,
And more injurious at the first than last,

Thus profit is the guerdon of his pain.
Preserving others, while thine own do waste :
True treasurer of all antiquity,

So in the May-tide of his summer age
Whom all desire, yet never one could see.

Valour enmoved the mind of vent'rous Drake
To lay his life with winds and waves in gage,

And bold and hard adventures t' undertake,
FROM FITZGEFFREY'S LIFE OF SIR FRANCIS Leaving his country for his country's sake;
DRAKE. 1596.

Loathing the life that cowardice doth stain,

Preferring death, if death might honour Look how the industrious bee in fragrant May,

gain. When Flora gilds the earth with golden flowers, Inveloped in her sweet perfumed array,

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

Till Mr. Gilchrist and Mr. Gifford stood sneer at him in the passages that have been taken forward in defence of this poet's memory, it had to prove his ingratitude; and instead of envying become an established article of literary faith that that great poet, he gave him his noblest praise ; his personal character was a compound of spleen, nor did he trample on his contemporaries, but surliness, and ingratitude. The proofs of this liberally commended them*. With regard to have been weighed and found wanting. It is Inigo Jones, with whom he quarrelled, it appears true that he had lofty notions of himself, was to have been Jonson's intention to have conproud even arrogance in his defiance of censure, signed his satires on that eminent man to oblivion; and in the warmth of his own praises of himself but their enmity, as his editor has shown, began was scarcely surpassed by his most zealous ad

upon the part of the architect, who, when the mirers ; but many fine traits of honour and poet was poor and bed-ridden, meanly resented affection are likewise observable in the portrait of the fancied affront of Jonson's name being put character, and the charges of malice and jealousy before his own to a masque, which they had his that have been heaped on his name for an jointly prepared, and used his influence to do hundred years, turn out to be without foundation.

* The names of Shakspeare, Drayton, Donne, ChapIn the quarrel with Marston and Dekker his man, Fletcher, Beaumont, May, and Browne, which culpability is by no means evident. He did not

almost exhaust the poetical catalogue of the time, are receive benefits from Shakspeare, and did not

the separate and distinct subjects of his praise. His un-
kindness to Daniel seems to be the only exception.

him an injury at court*. As to Jonson's

England, and betook himself to the stage for envying Shakspeare, men, otherwise candid

support ; at first, probably, as an actor, though and laborious in the search of truth, seem to undoubtedly very early as a writer. At this have had the curse of the Philistines imposed on period he was engaged in a second single combat their understandings and charities the moment which threatened to terminate more disastrously they approached the subject. The fame of than the former ; for having been challenged by Shakspeare himself became an heir-loom of

some player to fight a duel with the sword, he traditionary calumnies against the memory of killed his adversary indeed, but was severely Jonson; the fancied relics of his envy were wounded in the encounter, and thrown into regarded as so many pious donations at the shrine prison for murder. There the assiduities of a of the greater poet, whose admirers thought they catholic priest made him a convert to popery, could not dig too deeply for trophies of his glory and the miseries of a gaol were increased to him among the ruins of his imaginary rival's reputa- by the visitation of spies ; sent, no doubt in contion. If such inquirers as Reed and Malone

sequence of his change to a faith of which the went wrong upon this subject, it is too severe to bare name was at that time nearly synonymous blame the herd of literary labourers for plodding with the suspicion of treason. He was liberated in their footsteps ; but it must excite regret as however, after a short imprisonment, without a well as wonder that a man of pre-eminent living trial. At the distance of twelve years, he was geniust should have been one of those

restored to the bosom of his mother church. quos de tramite recto

Soon after his release, he thought proper to Impia sacrilega flexit contagio turba,

marry, although his circumstances were far from

promising, and he was only in his twentieth and should have gravely drawn down Jonson to

year. In his two-and-twentieth year he rose to a parallel with Shadwell, for their common traits considerable popularity, by the comedy of Every of low society, vulgar dialect, and intemperance. Man in his Humour, which, two years after, Jonson's low society comprehended such men as became a still higher favourite with the public, Selden, Camden, and Cary. Shadwell (if we

when the scene and names were shifted from may trust to Rochester's account of him) was Italy to England, in order to suit the manners of probably rather profligate than vulgar; while

the piece, which had all along been native. It is either of Jonson's vulgarity or indecency in his at this renovated appearance of his play (1598) recorded conversations there is not a trace. But

that his fancied obligations to Shakspeare for they both wore great-coats – Jonson drank

drawing him out of obscurity have been dated ; i canary, and Shadwell swallowed opium. There but it is at this time that he is pointed out by

is a river in Macedon, and there is, moreover, a Meres as one of the most distinguished writers of river at Monmouth."

The grandfather of Ben Jonson was originally The fame of his Every Man out of his Humour of Annandale, in Scotland, from whence he re drew Queen Elizabeth to its representation, moved to Carlisle, and was subsequently in the whose early encouragement of his genius is comservice of Henry VIII. The poet's father, who memorated by Lord Falkland. It was a fame, lost his estate under the persecution of Queen however, which, according to his own account, Mary, and was afterwards a preacher, died a had already exposed him to envy-Marston and month before Benjamin's birth, and his widow Dekker did him this homage. He lashed them married a master bricklayer of the name of in his Cynthia's Revels, and anticipated their Fowler. Benjamin, through the kindness of a revenge in the Poetaster. Jonson's superiority friend, was educated at Westminster, and ob- in the contest can scarcely be questioned ; but tained an exhibition to Cambridge ; but it proved the Poetaster drew down other enemies on its insufficient for his support. He therefore author than those with wliom he was at war. returned from the university to his father-in His satire alluded to the follies of soldiers, and law's house and humble occupation ; but dis the faults of lawyers. The former were easily líking the latter, as may be well conceived, he pacified, but the lawyers adhered to him with repaired as a volunteer to the army in Flanders, their wonted tenacity ; and it became necessary and in the campaign which he served there dis- for the poet to clear hiroself before the lord chief tinguished himself, though yet a stripling, by justice. In our own days, the fretfulness of killing an enemy in single combat, in the presence resenting professional derision has been deemed of both armies. From thence he came back to unbecoming even the magnanimity of tailors. (Their enmity began in the very early part of their

Another proof of the slavish subjection of the connexion ; for in the complete copy of Drummond's stage in those times is to be found soon after the Notes there are several allusions to this hostility. Inigo accession of King James, when the authors of

had the best retaliation in life-but Jonson has it now, Eastward Hoe were committed to prison for some 1: and for ever.)

satirical reflections on the Scotch nation, which (+ Sir Walter Scott. See Gifford's Ben Jonson, vol. , i p. clxxxi, and Scott's replies in Misc. Prose Works,

that comedy contained. Only Marston and vol. 1. p. 227, and vol, vii. p. 37+382.]

Chapman, who had framed the offensive passages,

the age.

were seized; but Jonson, who had taken a share Reader, as remarkable for the strength of its style, in some other part of the composition, conceived as for the contempt of popular judgments which himself bound in honour to participate their fate, it breathes. Such an appeal from ordinary to and voluntarily accompanied them to prison. It extraordinary readers ought at least to have was on this occasion that his mother, deceived by been made without insolence; as the difference the rumour of a barbarous punishment being between the few and the many, in matters of intended for her son, prepared a lusty poison, criticism, lies more in the power of explainwhich she meant to have given him, and to have ing their sources of pleasure than in enjoying drunk along with him. This was maintaining them. Catiline, it is true, from its classical in earnest the consanguinity of heroism and genius. sources, was chiefly to be judged of by classical

The imagined insult to the sovereign being readers ; but its author should have still rememappeased, James's accession proved, altogether, bered, that popular feeling is the great basis of a fortunate epoch in Jonson's history. A peace- dramatic fame. Jonson lived to alter his tone to able reign gave encouragement to the arts and the public, and the lateness of his humility must festivities of peace; and in those festivities, not have made it more mortifying. The haughty yet degraded to mere sound and show, poetry preface, however, disappeared from later editions still maintained the honours of her primogeniture of the play, while its better apology remained in among the arts. Jonson was therefore conge the high delineation of Cicero's character, and in nially employed, and liberally rewarded, in the passages of Roman eloquence which it contains ; preparation of those masques for the court, above all, in the concluding speech of Petreius. which filled up the intervals of his more properly It is said, on Lord Dorset's authority, to have dramatic labours, and which allowed him room been Jonson's favourite production. for classical impersonations, and lyrical trances In 1613 he made a short trip to the Continent, of fancy, that would not have suited the business and, being in Paris, was introduced to the Cardiof the ordinary stage. The reception of his nal du Perron, who, in compliment to his learnSejanus, in 1603, was at first unfavourable ; but ing, showed him his translation of Virgil. Ben, it was remodelled, and again presented with according to Drummond's anecdotes, told the better success, and kept possession of the theatre cardinal that it was nought : a criticism, by all for a considerable time. Whatever this tragedy accounts, as just as it was brief. may want in the agitating power of poetry, it has Of his two next pieces, Bartholomew Fair (in a strength and dramatic skill that might have 1614), and the Devil is an Ass (in 1616), the secured it, at least, from the petulant contempt former was scarcely a decline from the zenith of with which it has been too often spoken of. his comic excellence, the latter certainly was : if Though collected from the dead languages, it is it was meant to ridicule superstition, it effected not a lifeless mass of antiquity, but the work of a its object by a singular process of introducing a severe and strong imagination, compelling shapes devil upon the stage. After this he made a long of truth and consistency to rise in dramatic order secession of nine years from the theatre, during from the fragments of Roman eloquence and his which he composed some of his finest masques for tory; and an air not only of life but of grandeur the court, and some of those works which were is given to those curiously adjusted materials. irrecoverably lost in the fire that consumed his The arraignment of Caius Silius before Tiberius, study. Meanwhile he received from his soveis a great and poetical cartoon of Roman cha- reign a pension of 100 marks, which, in courtesy, racters; and if Jonson has translated from

has been called making him poet laureat. The Tacitus, who would not thank him for embodying title, till then gratuitously assumed, has been the pathos of history in such lines as these, since appropriated to his successors in the pendescriptive of Germanicus ?


The poet's journey to Scotland (1619), awakens If there were seeds of the old virtue left,

many pleasing recollections, when we conceive They lived in him.

him anticipating his welcome among a people who

might be proud of a share in his ancestry, and What his funerals lack'd In images and pomp, they had supplied

setting out, with manly strength, on a journey of With honourable sorrow. Soldiers' sadness,

400 miles, on foot. We are assured, by one who A kind of silent mourning such as men

saw him in Scotland, that he was treated with Who know no tears, but from their captives, use To show in so great losses.

respect and affection among the nobility and

gentry; nor was the romantic scenery of Scotland By his three succeeding plays, Volpone (in lost upon his fancy. From the poem which he 1605), the Silent Woman in 1609), and the meditated on Lochlomond, it is seen that he Alchemist (in 1610), Jonson’s reputation in the looked on it with a poet's eye. But, unhappily, comic drama rose to a pitch which neither his the meagre anecdotes of Drummond have made own nor any other pen could well be expected to this event of his life too prominent by the oversurpass. The tragedy of Catiline appeared in importance which have been attached to them. 1611, prefaced by an address to the Ordinary Drummond, a smooth and sober gentleman, seems

O that man!


[ocr errors]


« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »