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friendship, and of just discrimination of genius and character.
and vigorous intellect; great knowledge of life, down to its lowest descents; wit, lofty declamation, and a power of dramatising his knowledge and observation with singular skill and effect. His pedantry is often misplaced and
In 1619, on the death of Daniel, Jonson was appointed poet-laureate, and received a pension of a hundred merks. His literary reputation, his love of conviviality, and his high colloquial | ridiculous: when he wishes to satirise his oppopowers, rendered his society much courted, nents of the drama, he lays the scene in the court and he became the centre of a band of wits of Augustus, and makes himself speak as Horace. and revellers. Sir Walter Raleigh had founded In one of his Roman tragedies, he prescribes for a club, known to all posterity as the Mermaid the composition of a mucus, or wash for the face! Club, at which Jonson, Shakspeare, Beaumont His comic theatre is a gallery of strange, clever, and Fletcher, and other poets, exercised them-original portraits, powerfully drawn, and skilfully selves with 'wit-combats' more bright and genial disposed, but many of them repulsive in expresthan their wine.* One of the favourite haunts of sion, or so exaggerated as to look like caricatures these bright-minded men was the Falcon Tavern, or libels on humanity. We have little deep near the theatre in Bankside, Southwark, of which passion or winning tenderness to link the beings a sketch has been preserved. The latter days of of his drama with those we love or admire, or to Jonson were dark and painful. Attacks of palsy make us sympathise with them as with existing confined him to his house, and his necessities mortals. The charm of reality is generally wantcompelled him to write for the stage when his ing, or, when found, is not a pleasing reality. pen had lost its vigour, and wanted the charm When the great artist escapes entirely from his of novelty. In 1630, he produced his comedy, the elaborate wit and personified humours into the New Inn, which was unsuccessful on the stage. region of fancy-as in the lyrical passages of The king sent him a present of £100, and raised Cynthia, Epicene, and the whole drama of the his laureate pension to the same sum per annum, Sad Shepherd-we are struck with the contrast adding a yearly tierce of Canary wine. Next year, it exhibits to his ordinary manner. He thus prehowever, we find Jonson, in an Epistle Mendicant, sents two natures: one hard, rugged, gross, and soliciting assistance from the lord-treasurer. He sarcastic-'a mountain belly and a rocky face,' as continued writing to the last. Dryden has styled he described his own person; the other, airy, the later works of Jonson his dotages; some are fanciful, and graceful, as if its possessor had certainly unworthy of him, but the Sad Shepherd, never combated with the world and its bad which he left unfinished, exhibits the poetical passions, but nursed his understanding and his fancy of a youthful composition. He died in fancy in poetical seclusion and contemplation. 1637, and was buried in Westminster Abbey, where a square stone, marking the spot where the poet's body was disposed vertically, was long afterwards shewn, inscribed only with the words, 'O RARE BEN JONSON!'
Jonson founded a style of regular English comedy, massive, well compacted, and fitted to endure, yet not very attractive in its materials. His works, altogether, consist of about fifty dramatic pieces, but by far the greater part are masks and interludes. His principal comedies are: Every Man in his Humour, Volpone, the Silent Woman, and the Alchemist. His Roman tragedies may be considered literal impersonations of classic antiquity, 'robust and richly graced, yet stiff and unnatural in style and construction. They seem to bear about the same resemblance to Shakspeare's classic dramas that sculpture does to actual life. The strong delineation of character is the most striking feature in Jonson's comedies. The voluptuous Volpone is drawn with great breadth and freedom; and generally his portraits of eccentric characters-men in whom some peculiarity has grown to an egregious excess-are ludicrous and impressive. His scenes and characters shew the labour of the artist, but still an artist possessing rich resources; an acute
'Many were the wit-combats betwixt Shakspeare and Ben Jonson, which two I behold like a Spanish great galleon and an English man-of-war: Master Jonson, like the former, was built far higher in learning; solid, but slow in his 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.'-Fuller's Worthies.
Besides the Mermaid, Jonson was a great frequenter of a club called the Apollo, at the Old Devil Tavern, Temple Bar, for which he wrote rules-Leges Conviviales-and penned a welcome over the door of the room to all those who approved of the 'true Phoebian liquor.' Ben's rules, it must be said, discountenanced
The Fall of Catiline.
Petreius. The straits and needs of Catiline being such
As he must fight with one of the two armies
His frighted horse, whom still the noise drove
And now had fierce Enyo, like a flame,
Had not the fortune of the commonwealth
Cato. A brave bad death!
Had this been honest now, and for his country,
Love. From the' New Inn.' LOVEL and HOST of the New Inn.
Lovel. There is no life on earth but being in love! There are no studies, no delights, no business, No intercourse, or trade of sense, or soul, But what is love! I was the laziest creature, The most unprofitable sign of nothing, The veriest drone, and slept away my life Beyond the dormouse, till I was in love! And now I can outwake the nightingale, Outwatch an usurer, and outwalk him too, Stalk like a ghost that haunted 'bout a treasure; And all that fancied treasure, it is love!
Host. But is your name Love-ill, sir, or Love-well?
I would know that.
Lov. I do not know't myself
Whether it is. But it is love hath been
Host. How then?
Lov. I have sent her toys, verses, and anagrams,
But, as a man neglected, I came off,
Host. Could you blame her, sir,
Lov. Oh, but I loved the more; and she might read it
Best in my silence, had she been
Host. As melancholic
As you are! Pray you, why would you stand mute,
Lov. O thereon hangs a history, mine host. Did you e'er know or hear of the Lord Beaufort, Who served so bravely in France? I was his page, And, ere he died, his friend: I followed him
First in the wars, and in the times of peace
On all my powers, as Time shall not dissolve,
The New Inn, Act I. sc. 1.
Mat. Faith, some half hour to seven. Now, trust me, you have an exceeding fine lodging here, very neat and private !
Bob. Ay, sir. Sit down, I pray you. Master Matthew, in any case, possess no gentleman of our acquaintance with notice of my lodging.
Mat. Who! I, sir?-no.
Bob. Not that I need to care who know it, for the cabin is convenient, but in regard I would not be too popular, and generally visited as some are.
Mat. True, captain; I conceive you.
Bob. For, do you see, sir, by the heart of valour in me (except it be to some peculiar and choice spirits, to whom I am extraordinarily engaged, as yourself, or so), I could not extend thus far.
Mat. O Lord, sir! I resolve so.
Bob. I confess I love a cleanly and quiet privacy,
above all the tumult book ha' you there? Mat. Ay; did you penned?
Bob. By Heaven! no, not I; no skill i' the earth; Bob. Well penned! I would fain see all the poets some small rudiments i' the science, as to know my time, of these times pen such another play as that was!-distance, or so I have profest it more for noblemen they'll prate and swagger, and keep a stir of art and and gentlemen's use than mine own practice, I assure devices, when (as I am a gentleman), read 'em, they are you.-Hostess, accommodate us with another bed-staff the most shallow, pitiful, barren fellows that live upon here quickly: lend us another bed-staff: the woman does the face of the earth again. [While MASTER MATTHEW not understand the words of action.-Look you, sir, reads, BOBADIL makes himself ready. exalt not your point above this state, at any hand, and let your poniard maintain your defence, thus (Give it the gentleman, and leave us); so, sir. Come on. O twine your body more about, that you may fall to a more sweet, comely, gentleman-like guard; so, indifferent: hollow your body more, sir, thus; now, stand fast o' your left leg, note your distance, keep your due proportion of time. Oh, you disorder your point most irregularly! Mat. How is the bearing of it now, sir?
Mat. Indeed; here are a number of fine speeches in this book. "O eyes, no eyes, but fountains fraught with tears!' There's a conceit!-fountains fraught with tears! O life, no life, but lively form of death!' another. 'O world, no world, but mass of public wrongs!' a third. Confused and filled with murder and misdeeds!' a fourth. O the Muses! Is 't not excellent? Is 't not simply the best that ever you heard, captain? Ha! how do you like it?
Bob. 'Tis good.
Mat. To thee, the purest object to my sense,
If they prove rough, unpolished, harsh, and rude,
and roar of fortune. What new
Bob. Nay, proceed, proceed. Where's this? Mat. This, sir? a toy o' mine own, in my nonage; the infancy of my Muses. But when will you come and see my study? Good faith, I can shew you some very good things I have done of late. That boot becomes your leg passing well, captain, methinks.
Bob. So, so; it's the fashion gentlemen now use. Mat. Troth, captain, and now you speak o' the fashion, Master Wellbred's elder brother and I are fallen out exceedingly. This other day, I happened to enter into some discourse of a hanger, which, I assure you, both for fashion and workmanship, was most peremptory beautiful and gentleman-like; yet he condemned and cried it down for the most pied and ridiculous that ever he saw.
Bob. Squire Downright, the half-brother, was 't not?
Bob. Hang him, rook! he! why, he has no more judgment than a malt-horse. By St George, I wonder you'd lose a thought upon such an animal; the most peremptory absurd clown of Christendom, this day, he is holden. I protest to you, as I am a gentleman and a soldier, I ne'er changed words with his like. By his discourse, he should eat nothing but hay: he was born for the manger, pannier, or pack-saddle! He has not so much as a good phrase in his belly, but all old iron and rusty proverbs!-a good commodity for some smith to make hobnails of.
Mat. Ay, and he thinks to carry it away with his manhood still, where he comes: he brags he will gi' me the bastinado, as I hear.
Bob. How? he the bastinado? How came he by that word, trow?
Mat. Nay, indeed, he said cudgel me; I termed it so for my more grace.
Bob. That may be, for I was sure it was none of his word. But when? when said he so? Mat. Faith, yesterday, they say; a young gallant, a friend of mine, told me so.
Bob. By the foot of Pharaoh, an 'twere my case now, I should send him a chartel presently. The bastinado! A most proper and sufficient dependence, warranted by the great Caranza. Come hither; you shall chartel him; I'll shew you a trick or two, you shall kill him with at pleasure; the first stoccata, if you will, by this air.
Mat. Indeed; you have absolute knowledge i' the mystery, I have heard, sir. Bob." Of whom?-of whom ha' you heard it, I beseech you?
1 Or Jeronimo, an old play by Kyd.
Mat. Troth, I have heard it spoken of divers, that you have very rare, and un-in-one-breath-utter-able skill, sir.
Bob. Oh, out of measure ill: a well-experienced hand would pass upon you at pleasure.
Mat. How mean you, sir, pass upon me?
Bob. Why, thus, sir (make a thrust at me)—[MASTER MATTHEW pushes at BOBADIL]; come in upon the answer, control your point, and make a full career at the body; the best practised gallants of the time name it the passado; a most desperate thrust, believe it! Mat. Well, come, sir.
Bob. Why, you do not manage your weapon with any facility or grace to invite me! I have no spirit to play with you; your dearth of judgment renders you tedious. Mat. But one venue, sir.
Bob. Venue! fie; most gross denomination as ever I heard. Oh, the stoccata, while you live, sir, note that. Come, put on your cloak, and we'll go to some private place where you are acquainted-some tavern or soand have a bit. I'll send for one of these fencers, and he shall breathe you, by my direction, and then I will teach you your trick; you shall kill him with it at the first, if you please. Why, I will learn you by the true judgment of the eye, hand, and foot, to control any enemy's point i' the world. Should your adversary confront you with a pistol, 'twere nothing, by this hand; you should, by the same rule, control his bullet, in a line, except it were hail-shot, and spread.-What money ha' you about you, Master Matthew?
Mat. Faith, I ha' not past a two shillings, or so. Bob. 'Tis somewhat with the least; but come; we will have a bunch of radish, and salt to taste our wine, and a pipe of tobacco, to close the orifice of the stomach; and then we'll call upon young Wellbred: perhaps we shall meet the Corydon his brother there, and put him to the question.
Every Man in his Humour, Act I. sc. 1.
Bobadil's Plan for Saving the Expense of an Army.
Bobadil. I will tell you, sir, by the way of private, and under seal, I am a gentleman, and live here obscure, and to myself; but were I known to her majesty and the lords (observe me), I would undertake, upon this poor head and life, for the public benefit of the state, not only to spare the entire lives of her subjects in general, but to save the one-half, nay, three parts of her yearly charge in holding war, and against what enemy soever. And how would I do it, think you?
E. Knowell. Nay, I know not, nor can I conceive. Bob. Why, thus, sir. I would select nineteen more, to myself, throughout the land; gentlemen they should be of good spirit, strong and able constitution; I would choose them by an instinct, a character that I have: and I would teach these nineteen the special rules-as your punto, your reverso, your stoccata, your imbroccato, your passado, your montanto-till they could all play very near, or altogether as well as myself. This done, say the enemy were forty thousand strong, we twenty would come into the field the tenth of March, or thereabouts;
and we would challenge twenty of the enemy; they could not in their honour refuse us; well, we would kill them: challenge twenty more, kill them; twenty more, kill them; twenty more, kill them too; and thus would we kill every man his twenty a day, that's twenty score; twenty score, that's two hundred; two hundred a day, five days a thousand; forty thousand; forty times five, five times forty, two hundred days kills them all up by computation. And this will I venture my poor gentleman-like carcass to perform, provided there be no treason practised upon us, by fair and discreet manhood; that is, civilly by the sword.
Ibid. Act IV. sc. 5.
Advice to a Reckless Youth.
What would I have you do? I'll tell you, kinsman :
Ibid. Act I. sc. I.
SIR EPICURE MAMMON.-SURLY, his Friend.
Mammon. Come on, sir. Now you set your foot on
In novo orbe. Here's the rich Peru:
I will pronounce the happy word, Be rich.
This day you shall be spectatissimi.
Or the frail card. No more be at charge of keeping
No more of this. You shall start up young viceroys,
Face (answers from within). Sir, he'll come to you by and by.
Mam. That's his fire-drake,
You are not faithful, sir. This night I'll change
His Lungs, his Zephyrus, he that puffs his coals Till he firk Nature up in her own centre.
Surly. What, and turn that too?
Mam. Yes, and I'll purchase Devonshire and Cornwall,
And make them perfect Indies! You admire now? Sur. No, faith.
Mam. But when you see the effects of the great medicine
Of which one part projected on a hundred
Sur. Yes, when I see 't, I will. . . .
Do you think I fable with you? I assure you,
Restore his years, renew him like an eagle,
By taking, once a week, on a knife's point,
Sur. The decayed vestals of Pickt-hatch would thank you,
That keep the fire alive there.
Of nature naturised 'gainst all infections,
A month's grief in a day; a year's in twelve;
Sur. And I'll
Be bound the players shall sing your praises, then, Without their poets.
Mam. Sir, I'll do 't. Meantime,
I'll give away so much unto my man,
Sur. As he that built the water-work does with water!
Mam. You are incredulous.
Sur. Faith, I have a humour,
I would not willingly be gulled. Your Stone
Mam. Pertinax Surly,
Will you believe antiquity? records?
I'll shew you a book, where Moses, and his sister,
Ay, and a treatise penned by Adam.
Mam. Of the Philosopher's Stone, and in High Dutch.
Which proves it was the primitive tongue. Sur. What paper?
Mam. On cedar-board.
Sur. O that, indeed, they say,
Will last 'gainst worms.
Mam. 'Tis like your Irish wood
'Gainst cobwebs. I have a piece of Jason's fleece too,
Which was no other than a book of Alchemy,
dresses and decorations, and the piquancy of a constant reference from the actors in their assumed, to the actors in their real characters. Usually, besides gods, goddesses, and nymphs from classical antiquity, there were such personages as Night, Day, Beauty, Fortitude, and so forth; but though the persons of the drama were thus removed from common life, the reference of the whole business of the scene to the occasion which had called it forth, was as direct as it could well be, and even ludicrously so, particularly when the object was to pay a compliment to any of the courtly audience. This, however, was partly justified by the private character of the entertainment; and it is easy to conceive that, when a gipsy stepped from the scene, and, taking the king's hand, assigned him all the good-fortune which a loyal subject should wish to a sovereign, there would be such a marked increase of sensation in the audience, as to convince the poet that there lay the happiest stroke of his art.
The courts of Elizabeth and James I. were long enlivened by the peculiar theatrical entertainment called the mask-a combination of scenery, music, and poetry. The origin of the mask is to be Mr Collier, in his Annals of the Stage, has looked for in the 'revels' and 'shows' which, printed a document which gives a very distinct during the fourteenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth cen-account of the court-mask, as it was about the turies, were presented on high festive occasions at time when the drama arose in England-namely, court, in the inns of the lawyers, and at the uni- in the early years of Elizabeth. That princess, versities, and in those mysteries and moralities as is well known, designed an amicable meeting which were the precursors of the legitimate drama. with Mary Queen of Scots, which was to have Henry VIII. in his earlier and better days had taken place at Nottingham Castle, in May 1562, frequent entertainments, consisting of a set of but was given up in consequence, as is believed, masked and gaily dressed characters, or of such of the jealousy of Elizabeth regarding the superior representations as the following: In the hall of beauty of Mary. A mask was devised to celebrate the palace at Greenwich, a castle was reared, with the meeting and entertain the united courts, and numerous towers and gates, and every appearance it is the poet's scheme of this entertainment, of preparation for a long siege, and inscribed, docketed by Lord Burleigh, to which reference is La Forteresse Dangereuse; it was defended by six now made. The mask seems to have been simply richly dressed ladies; the king and five of his an acted allegory, relating to the circumstances of courtiers then entered in the disguise of knights, the two queens; and it throws a curious light not and attacked the castle, which the ladies, after a only upon the taste, but upon the political history gallant resistance, surrendered, the affair conclud- of the period. We give the programme of the ing with a dance of the ladies and knights. Here first night. there was nothing but scenery and pantomime; by and by, poetical dialogue, song, and music, were added; and when the mask had reached its height in the reigns of James and the First Charles, it employed the finest talent of the country in its composition, and, as Bacon remarks, being designed for princes, was by princes played.
Writ in large sheepskin, a good fat ram-vellum.
The manner of our work: the bulls, our furnace,
(Th' alembic), and then sowed in Mars his field,
The Alchemist, Act II. sc. 1.
THE COURT-MASKS OF THE SEVENTEENTH
'First, a prison to be made in the hall, the name whereof is Extreme Oblivion, and the keeper's name thereof Argus, otherwise called Circumspection: then a mask of ladies to come in after this sort :
'First, Pallas, riding upon an unicorn, having in her hand a standard, on which is to be painted two ladies' hands, knit in one fast within the other, and over the hands, written in letters of gold, Fides.
"Then two ladies riding together-the one upon a golden lion, with a crown of gold on his head; the other upon a red lion, with the like crown of gold; signifying two virtues; that is to say, the lady on the golden lion is to be called Prudentia, and the lady on the red lion Temperantia.
Masks were generally prepared for some remarkable occasion, as a coronation, the birth of a young prince or noble, a peer's marriage, or the visit of some royal personage of foreign countries; and they usually took place in the hall of the palace. Many of them were enacted in that banqueting-room at Whitehall through which a prince, who often took part in them, afterwards walked to the scaffold. Allegory and mythology were the taste of the age: we must allow for the novelty of classical imagery and characters at that period, and it may be only a kind of prejudice, or the effect of fashion, which makes us so rigorously banish from our literature allusions to the poetic creations of Grecian antiquity; while we contentedly solace ourselves in contemplating, through what are called historical novels, the much ruder, that those two virtues, Prudentia and Temperand perhaps not more truly represented, person-antia, have made great and long suit unto Jupiter ages of the middle ages. The action of a mask that it would please him to give unto them False was always something short and simple; and it Report and Discord, to be punished as they think is easy to see that, excepting where very high good; and that those ladies have now in their poetical and musical talent was engaged, the prin- presence determined to commit them fast bound cipal charm must have lain in the elegance of the unto the aforesaid prison of Extreme Oblivion,
'After this, to follow six or eight ladies, maskers, bringing in captive Discord and False Report, with ropes of gold about their necks. When these have marched about the hall, then Pallas to declare before the queen's majesty, in verse, that the goddess, understanding the noble meeting of these two queens, hath willed her to declare unto them