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mitted into Saint John's College in Cambridge, where he continued but few weeks for want of further maintenance, being fain to return to the trade of his father-in-law. And let not them blush that have, but those that have not, a lawful calling. He help'd in the building of the new structure of Lincoln's-Inn, when having a trowell in his hand, he had a book in his pocket. Some gentlemen pitying that his parts should be buried under the rubbish of so mean a calling, did by their bounty manumise him freely to follow his own ingenuous inclinations. Indeed his parts were not so ready to run of themselves as able to answer the spur, so that it may be truly said of him, that he had an elaborate wit wrought out by his own industry. He would sit silent in learned company, and suck in (besides wine) their several huniours into his observation. What was ore in others, he was able to refine to himself.-He was paramount in the dramatique part of poetry, and taught the stage an exact conformity to the laws of comedians. His comedies were above the dolge, (which are only tickled with downright obscenity) and took not so well at the first stroke as at the rebound, when beheld the second time; yea they will endure reading, and that with due commendation, so long as either ingenuity or learning are fashionable in our nation. If his later be not so spriteful and vigorous as his first pieces, all that are old will, and all that desire to be old should, excuse him therein.”—To his article of Shakspeare, Fuller subjoins—“Many were the wit-combates betwixt (Shakspeare) and Ben Johnson, which two I behold like a Spanish great gallion and an English man of war : master Johnson (like the former) was built far higher in learning: solid, but slow in bis performances. Shakspeare, with the English man of war, lesser in bulk, but lighter in sailing, could turn with all tides, tack about and take advantage of all winds, by the quickness of his wit and invention."

The following particulars are transcribed from Oldys' MS. additions to Langbaine. Oldys, like Spence, picked up the traditions of his day, and left them to be examined and authenticated by his readers. Such contributions to biography are no doubt useful, but not to be received with implicit credit.

“ Mr. Camden recommended (Jonson) to sir Walter Raleigh, who trusted him with the care and instruction of his eldest son Walter, a gay spark, who could not brook Ben's rigorous treatment, but, perceiving one foible in his disposition, made use of that to throw off the yoke of his government. And this vas an unlucky habit Ben had contracted, through his love of jovial company, of being overtaken with liquor, which sir Walter did of all vices most abominate, and hath most exclaimed against. One day, when Ben bad taken a plentiful dose, and was fallen into a sound sleep, young Raleigh got a great basket, and a couple of men, who laid Ben in it, and then with a pole carried him between their shoulders to sir Walter, telling him their young master had sent home his tutor.— This I had from a MS. memorandum book written in the time of the civil wars by Mr. Oldisworth, who was secretary, I think, to Philip earl of Pembroke. Yet in the year 1014, when sir Walter published his History of the World, there was a good understanding between him and Ben Jonson; for the verses, which explain the grave frontispiece before that History, were written by Jonson, and are reprinted in his Underwoods, where the poem is called The Mind of the Frontispiece to a Book, but be names not this book."

“ About the year 1622 some lewd, perjured woman deceived and jilted him; and he writes a sharp poem on the occasion. And in another poem, called his Picture, left in Scotland, he seems to think she slighted him for his mountain belly and his rocky face." We have already seen, by bishop Morley's account, that he lived with a woman in his latter days who assisted him in spending his money.

“ Ben Jonson” says Oldys, “ was charged in his Poetastes, 1601, with having libelled or ridiculed the lawyers, soldiers, and players; so he afterwards joined an apologetical dialogue at the end of it, wherein he says he had been provoked for three years on every stage by slanderers, as to his self.conceit, arrogance, insolence, railing, and plagiarism by translations. As to law, he says he only brought in Ovid chid by his father for preferring poetry to it. As to the soldiers, be swears by his Muse they are friends; he loved the profession, and once proved or exercised it, as I take it, and did not shame it more then with his actions, than he dare now with his writings. And as to the players, he had taxed some sparingly, but they thought each man's vice belonged to the whole tribe. That he was. not moved with what they had done against him, but was sorry for some better natures, who were drawn in by the rest to concur in the exposure or derision of him. And concludes, that since his comic Muse had been so ominous to him, he will try if tragedy has a kinder aspect.

A full show of those he has exposed in this play is not now easily discernible. Besides Decker, and some touches on some play that has a Moor in it (perhaps Titus An-. dronicus; I should hope he did not dare to mean Othello) some speeches of such a character being recited in act; iii. scene iv. though not reflected on, he makes Tucca call Histrio the player, “a lousy slave, proud rascal, you grow rich, do you ? and purchase your twopenny tear-mouth : and copper-laced scoundrels,' &c. which language should not come very natural from him, if he ever had been a player himself ; and such it seems he was before or after."

Howel in one of his letters delineates what the late Mr. Seward considered as the leading feature of Jonson's character ?.

“ I was invited yesterday to a solemn supper by B. J. where you were deeply remembered. There was good company, excellent cheer, choice wines, and jovial welcome. One thing intervened which almost spoiled the relish of the rest, that B. began to engross all the discourse : to vapour extremely of himself; and by vilifying others to magnify his own Muse. T. Ca. buzzed me in the ear, that though Ben had barrelled up a great deal of knowledge, yet it seems he had not read the ethics, which, amongst other precepts of morality, forbid self-commendation, declaring it to be an ill-favoured solecism in good manners."

As the account Jonson gave of himself to Drummond contains also his opinions of the poets of his age, no apology is necessary for introducing it. It was first published in the folio edition of Drummond's Works, 1711.

“ He” Ben Jonson, " said, that his grandfather came from Carlisle, to which he had come from Annandale in Scotland; that he served king Henry VIII. and was a gentle

His father lost his estate under queen Mary, having been cast in prison and forfeited: and at last he turned minister. He was posthumous, being born a month after his father's death, and was put to school by a friend. His master was Camden. Afterwards he was taken from it, and put to another craft, viz. to be a bricklayer, which he could not endure, but went into the Low Countries, and returning home he again betook himself to his wonted studies. In his service in the Low Countries he had, in the view of both the armies, killed an enemy and taken the opima spolia from him; and since coming to England, being appealed to in a duel, he had killed his adversary, who had hurt him in the arm, and whose sword was ten inches longer than his. For this crime he was im


Seward's Biographiana, p. 411. C.

prisoned, and almost at the gallows. Then he took his religion on trust of a priest, who visited him in prison. He was twelve years a papist; but after this he was reconciled to the church of England, and left off to be a recusant. At his first communion, in token of his true reconciliation, he drank out the full cup of wine. He was master of arts in both universities. In the time of his close imprisonment under queen Elizabeth there were spies to catch him, but he was advertised of them by the keeper. He had an epigram on the spies. He married a wife, who was a shrew, yet honest to him. When the king came to England, about the time that the plague was in London, he (Ben Jonson) being in the country at sir Robert Cotton's house, with old Camden, saw in a vision his eldest son, then a young child and at London, appear unto him with the mark of a bloody cross on his forehead, as if it had been cut with a sword; at which, amazed, he prayed unto God, and in the morning he came to Mr. Camden's chamber to tell him, who persuaded him it was but an apprehension, at which he should not be dejected. In the mean time come letters from his wife of the death of that boy in the plague. He appeared to him, he said, of a manly shape, and of that growth he thinks he shall be at the resurrection.

“ He was accused by sir James Murray to the king, for writing something against the Scots in a play called Eastward Hoe, and voluntarily imprisoned himself with Chapman and Marston, who had written it amongst them, and it was reported should have their ears and noses cut. After their delivery he entertained all his friends ; there were present Camden, Selden, and others. In the middle of the feast his old mother drank to him, and showed him a paper which she designed (if the sentence had past) to have mixed among bis drink, and it was strong and lusty poison ; and to show that she was no churl, she told that she designed first to have drank of it herself.

“ He said he had spent a whole night in lying looking to his great toe, about which he . had seen Tartars and Turks, Romans and Carthaginians fight, in his imagination.

“ He wrote all his verses first in prose, as his master Camden taught him; and said that verses stood by sense, without either colours or accent.

“ He used to say, that many epigrams were ill because they expressed in the end what should have been understood by what was said before, as that of sir John Davies ; that he had a pastoral entitled The May-lord : his own name is Alkin ; Ethra, the countess of Bedford ; Mogbel Overberry; the old countess of Suffolk,; an enchantress ; other names are given to Somerset, his lady, Pembroke, the countess of Rutland, lady Worth. In his first scene Alkin comes in mending his broken pipe. He bringeth in, says our author, clowns making mirth and foolish sports, contrary to all other pastorals. He had also a design to write a fisher or pastoral play, and make the stage of it in the Lomond Lake; and also to write his foot-pilgrimage thither, and to call it a discovery. In a poem he calleth Edinburgh,

The heart of Scotland, Britain's other eye.

“ That he had an intention to have made a play like Plautus's Amphytrio, but left it off: for that he could never find two so like one to the other that he could persuade the spectators that they were onc.

“ That he had a design to write an epick poem, and was to call it Chorologia, of the worthies of his country raised by fame, and was to dedicate it to his country. It is all in couplets, for he detested all other rhimes. He said he had written a discourse of

poetry both against Camipion and Daniel, especially the last, where he proves couplets to be the best sort of verses, especially when they are broke like hexameters, and that cross rhimes and stanzas, because the purpose would lead beyond eight lines, were all forced.

“ His censure of the English poets was this: That Sidney did not keep a decorum in making every one speak as well as himself. Spenser's stanzas pleased him not, nor his matter ; the meaning of the allegory of his Fairy Queen, he had delivered in writing to sir Walter Raleigh, which was, that by the bleating beast he understood the Puritans, and by the false Duessa the queen of Scots. He told, that Spenser's goods were robbed by the Irish, and his house and a little child burnt; he and his wife escaped, and after died for want of bread in King Street. He refused twenty pieces sent him by my lord Essex, and said he had no time to spend them. Samuel Daniel was a good honest man, had no children, and was no poet; that he had wrote the Civil Wars, and yet hath not one battle in all his book. That Michael Drayton's Polyolbion, if he had performed what he promised, to write the deeds of all the worthies, had been excellent. That he was challenged for entituling a book, Mortimariadles. That sir John Davis played on Drayton in an epigram ; who, in his sonnet, concluded his mistress might have been the ninth worthy, and said he used a phrase like Dametas in Arcadia, who said, his mistress, for wit, might

be a giant. That Silvester's Translation of Du Bartas was not well done, and that he wrote t: his verses before he understood to confer: and those of Fairfax were not good. That

the translations of Homer and Virgil in long Alexandrines were but prose. That sir John Harrington's Ariosto, under all translators, was the worst. That when sir John Harring ton desired him to tell the truth of his Epigrams, he answered him, that he loved not the truth, for they were narrations, not epigrams. He said, Donne was originally a poet : his grandfather on the mother's side was Heywood, the epigrammatist; that Donne, for not being understood, would perish. He esteemed him the first poet in the world for some things : his verses of the lost Ochadine he had by heart; and that passage of the Calm,

that dust and feathers did not stir all was so quiet.' He affirmed that Donne wrote all his best pieces before he was twenty-five years of age. The conceit of Donne's Transformation; or Melepetuxwols, was, that he sought the soul of that apple which Eve pulled, and thereafter made it the soul of a bitch, then of a sea-wolf, and so of a woman. His general purpose was to have brought it into all the bodies of the hereticks from the soul of Cain, and at last left it in the body of Calvin. He only wrote one sheet of this, and since he was made doctor, repented hugely, and resolved to destroy all his poems. He told Donne, that his Anniversary was prophane and full of blasphemies: that if it had been written on the Virgin Mary, it had been tolerable. To which Donne answered, • That he described the idea of a woman, and not as she was.' He said, Shakspeare wanted art, and sometimes sense ; for in one of his plays he brought in a number of men, saying they had suffered shipwreck in Bohemia, wbere is no sea near by one hundred miles. That sir Walter Raleigh esteemed more fame than conscience. The best wits in England were employed in making his History. Ben himself had written a piece to him of the Punick war, which he altered, and set in his book. He said there was no such ground for an heroick poem, as King Arthur's Fiction; and that sir Philip Sidney had an intention to have transformed all his Arcadia to tlre stories of king Arthur. He said Owen was a poor pedantic schoolmaster, sweeping his living from the posteriors of little children, and had nothing good in him, his epigrams being bare narrations. Francis Beaumont died before he was thirty years of age, who he said was a good poet, as were Fletcher and Chapman, whom he loved. That sir William Alexander was not half kind to him, and neglected him, because a friend to Drayton. . That sir R. Ayton loved him dearly. He fought several times with Marston, and says, that Marston wrote his father-in-law's preachings, and his father-in-law his comedies. His judgment of stranger poets was, that he thought not Bartas a poet, but a verser, because he wrote not fiction. He cursed Petrarch for redacting verses into sonnets, which he said was like the tyrants' bed, where some who were too short were racked, others too long cut short. That Guarini, in his Pastor Fido, kept no decorum in making shepherds speak as well as himself. That he told cardinal du Peron (when he was in France, anno 1613) who showed him his translation of Virgil, that it was nought; that the best pieces of Ronsard were bis Odes; but all this was to no purpose, (says our author) for he never understood the French or Italian languages. He said Petronius, Plinius Secundus, and Plautus, spoke best Latin, and that Tacitus wrote the secrets of the council and senate, as Suetonius did those of the cabinet aud court. That Lucan, taken in parts, was excellent, but altogether nought. That Quintilian's six, seven, and eight books were not only to be read, but altogether digested. That Juvenal, Horace, and Martial, were to be read for delight, and so was Pindar; but Hippocrates for health. Of the English nation, he said, that Hooker's Ecclesiastical Polity was best for church matters, and Selden’s Titles of Honour for antiquities. Here our author relates, that the censure of his verses was, that they were all good, especially his Epitaph on Prince Henry, save that they smelled too much of the schools, and were not after the fancy of the times; for a child (says he) may write after the fashion of the Greek and Latin verses in running; yet that he wished to please the king, that Piece of Forth Feasting had been bis own.”

Ben Jonson, continues Drummond, “was a great lover and praiser of himself, a contemner and scorner of others, given rather to lose a friend than a jest ; jealous of every word and action of those about him, especially after drink, which is one of the elements in which he lived; a dissembler of the parts which reign in him; a bragger of some good that he wanted, thinking nothing well done, but what either he himself or some of his friends have said or done. He is passionately kind and angry, careless either to gain or keep; vindictive, but if he be well answered at himself, interprets best sayings and deeds often to the worst. He was for any religion, as being versed in both; oppressed witb fancy, which hath overmastered his reason, a general disease in many poets. His inventions are smooth and easy, but above all be excelleth in a translation. When his play of The Silent Woman was first acted, there were found verses after on the stage against him, concluding, that that play was well named The Silent Woman, because there was never one man to say plaudite to it.” Drummond adds, “ In short, he was in his personal character the very reverse of Shakspeare, as surly, ill-natured, proud, and disagreeable, as Shakspeare, with ten times his merit, was gentle, good-natured, easy, and amiable."

Lord Clarendon's character of our author is more favourable, and from so accurate a judge of human nature, perhaps more valuable.“ His name," lord Clarendon says, “ can never be forgotten, having by his very good learning, and the severity of his nature and manners, very much reformed the stage; and indeed the English poetry itself. His natural advantages were, judgment to order and govern fancy, rather than excess of fancy, his productions being slow and upon deliberation, yet then abounding with great wit and fancy, and will live accordingly; and surely as he did exceedingly exalt the English language in eloquence, propriety, and masculine expressions, so he was the best

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