Imagens das páginas

Repent thee not of thy fair precedent,
Could make such men, and such a place repent:
Nor may any fear to lose of their degree,
Who in such ambition can but follow thee."


In Ben Jonson's “ Conversations with Drummond of Hawthornden," we have the following entry: “Overbury was first his (Jonson's] friend, then turn'd his mortail enimie.” To which passage the learned editor adds, "When the enmity between Ben Jonson and Sir Thomas Overbury began is nowhere stated; probably anterior to February 1602-3, under which date we meet with the following in Manningham's Diary, (Harl. MSS. 5,353):

"Ben Jonson, the poet, now lives upon one Townesend and scornes the world. So Overbury.' The notice in Manningham's Diary in no way relates to the quarrel between Overbury and Jonson, which must have been of a date long subsequent to 1602-3, at which period Overbnry was probably unknown at court. The difference between them was after the date of Jonson's lines, of which Gifford says in a note, “This Epigram was probably written about 1610, when Sir Thomas returned from his travels, and followed the fortunes of Cart with a zeal and integrity worthy of a better fate.”+

Again in the same “Conversations," we read, “ The Countess of Rutland was nothing inferior to her father, Sir P. Sidney, in poesie. Sir Th: Overburie was in love with her, and causeil Ben to


Notes of Ben Jonson's Conversations with William Druminond of Hawthwrnden, January M.DC.XIX. [Edited by David Laing, 3-7.] Shakespeare Society, 1842.

+ Ben Jonson's Works, vol. viii. p. 224.

read his Wyffe to her, which he, with ane excellent
grace, did, and praised the author. That the morne
thereafter he discorded with Overburie, who would
have him to intend a sute that was unlawful. The
lines my Lady keep'd in remembrance, He comes
too near who comes to be denied." Here, in all
probability, we have the cause of quarrel between
Overbury and Jonson. The story, certainly, reflects
more credit


“rare Ben,” than it does upon his courtly cotemporary.

Somerset and Overbury were each advancing in court favour and in mutual confidence. “Such," we are told, was the warmth of their friendship, that they were inseparable. Carr could enter into no scheme, nor pursue any measure without the advice and concurrence of Overbury, nor could Overbury enjoy any felicity but in the company of him he loved; their friendship was the subject of court conversation, and their genius seemed so much alike, that it was reasonable to suppose no breach could ever be produced between them."*

Had Somerset been half as prudent in the choice
of his mistress, as he had been in the selection of a
friend, how different might have been the dénoue-
ment! We must now retrace our steps in order
to introduce two other characters on the scene,

On the 5th of January, 1606, Robert Devereux,
Earl of Essex, † was married to Frances Howard,

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

* Memoir of Overbury in Cibber's Lives of the l'uets, vol. i.


+ Afterwards remarkable for his achievements as the
general of the parliament army. He was the only son of

[blocks in formation]

(laughter of Thoinas, Earl of Suffolk; a bridlegroom of fourteen to a bride of thirteen. In a letter of the period we have a curious account of the nuptial rejoicings on the occasion. " The bridegroom," says the writer, “carried himself as gravely and gracefully as if he were of his father's age. He had greater gifts given him than my Lord of Montgomery hal, his plate being valued at £3000, his jewels, money, and other gifts at £1000 more. But to return to the Mask. Both Inigo (Jones], Ben (Jonson), and the actors, men and women, did their parts with great commentation. The conceit or soul of the mask, was Hymen bringing in a bride, and Juno, Pronuba's priest, a bridegroom, proclaiming that those two should be sacrificed to nuptial union. And liere the poet made an apostrophe to the union of the kingdoms; but before the sacrifice could be performed, Ben Jonson turned the globe of the earth, standing behind the altar, and within the concave sat the eight men-maskers, representing the four Humours and the four Affections, who leaped forth and disturbed the sacrifice to union. But amidst their fury, Reason that sat above them all, crowned with burning tapers, came down and silenced them. These eight, together with Reason, their moderator, mounted above their heads, sat somewhat like the ladies in the scallop-shell, the last year. About the globe of earth hovered a middle region of clouds, in the centre of which stood a grand concert of musicians, and upon the canton, or horns, sat the ladies,

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

the unhappy favourite of Queen Elizabeth, and was born at Essex-house in the Strand, in 1592.

[ocr errors]

four at one corner, and four at another, who descended upon the stage, downright perpendicular fashion, like a bucket into a well, but came gently slipping down. These cight, after the sacrifice was ended, represented the eight nuptial powers of Juno Pronuba, who came down to confirm the union. The men were clad in crimson and the women in white; they had every one a white plume of the richest herns' feathers, and were so rich in jewels upon their heads, as was most glorious. I think they hired and borrowed all the principal jewels and ropes of pearl, hoth in court and city. The Spanish ambassador seemed but poor to the meanest of them. They danced all variety of dances, both severally and promiscue; and then the women took in men, as, namely, the Prince, who danced with as great perfection, and as settled a majesty, as could be devised. The Spanish ambassador, the Archduke's ambassador, the Duke, &c., and the men, gleaned out of the Queen, the bridle and the greatest of the ladies."*

After the ceremony it was thought proper to separate the youthful pair till they had arrived at riper years. The young Earl was sent on his travels, while the bride remained at court with her mother, a lady whose indifferent morals rendered her totally unfit for such a charge. The Countess of Essex was suffered to mix at this carly age in all the vanities and temptations of a profligate court; the danger of which measure was heightened by her acknowledged beauty, which soon constituted her the idol of

Mr. Pory to Sir Robert Cotton, Jan. 1606, in Bishop Goodman's Court of James the First, vol. ii. p. 125.

[ocr errors]

general admiration, and the object of amorous aildresses.

In the mean time, after an absence of three or four years, her husband returned to England, full of natural eagerness to behold the young and beautiful creature whom he was to claim as his wife. But so far was the lady from sharing his anxiety, that she had engaged her affections to another, and regardeil with the utmost horror the prospect of passing her days with the homely Essex. Among her admirers she reckoned the favourite Somerset, and IIenry the heir to the throne.* The Prince had been from the beginning extremely jealous of the favours which his father had heaped upori his pampered minion, and his antipathy was not diminished, when on their becoining candidates for the favours of the same ladly his rival proved successful.t

Essex, discovering that his person and matrimonial claims were treated with disdain, applied to the

* The authors who have asserted the fact of the prince's passion for Lady Essex are Wilson, Sandlerson (the writer of Aulicus Coquinarie) and Sir Simonds D'Ewes. On the other hand Sir Charles Comwallis, who was the prince's treasurer, assures us, that Henry never showed a particular inclination to any of the ladies of the Court. See Birch's Life of Prince Henry, 8vo. 1760, p. 102.

+ A great enmity certainly subsisted between Somerset and the Prince, whatever were the grounds of it. “Some that knew the bickerings between the Prince and the Viscount muttered vut dark sentences that durst not look into the light; especially, Sir Jaines Elphington, who, (observing the Prince one day to be discontented with the Viscount) offereel to kill hinn: but the Prince reproved him with a gallant spirit, saying, 'If there were cause he would do it himself.'"..Wilson's Life and Reign of James I. 1653.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »