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PRINTED FOR THE PROPRIETORS,
By J. Wright, No. 38, St. John's Square, Clerkenwell,
And published by Veruor, Hood, and Sharpe, in the Poultry;
sold, also, by all the Booksellers in
the United Kingdom.
It has been usual, at the commencement of a new volume, to return thanks to the public for their past encouragement. This custom, so becoming at all times, was never so fit and necessary as on the present occasion, when the learning, talents, and research exerted in the New SERIES of the MONTHLY MIRROR, have met with a degree of patronage unexampled in any, the most flattering period, of this longestablished work. The Editor, therefore, in his own name, as well as in that of the Proprietors, acknowledges the debt due to the Public for their animating support; the best acquittance of which will, it is presumed, be to continue to deserve it; and in the presumption that we shall do so, we are strongly upheld by the multiplicity and excellence of our internal and external resources, which fully sanction in us the promise, that our future merit shall even improve its title to their countenance and protection.
The pressure of original matter has again induced us to extend our limits. Eight additional pages are given in the present number.
THE LIFE OF BEN JONSON.
[With a Portrait.] IN producing to our subscribers a curious portrait of this great ornament of the drama, it will naturally be expected of us that it should be accompanied by some account of his life. In endeavouring to gratify this curiosity, we shall frame our narrative from such authenticated materials, and traditional memorials, as appear to us to deserve most regard.
To the unsubstantial glory of rank in birth Ben has no pretension. He was the builder of his own fame. His entrance on the stage of life is said by Aubrey to have been in Warwickshire; but this injudicious gossip delivers the story on the vague representation of Dr. Bathurst, while all other authorities, and every probability, concur in placing his birth in Westminster. He has himself told us he was born on the 11th of June, and, though the precise year has not been altogether satisfactorily ascertained, there is little doubt but it was in 1574. His father, who was grave minister," is said to have come from Annandale, in Scotland, and to have suffered, under Queen Mary, for his adherence to his religion. The latter part of this tradition we are disposed to doubt. Ben, who for some years professed the catholic faith, was not deficient in domestic feeling, and it is very unlikely that he would have adopted religious opinions, for aversion to which his father had been persecuted and punished. His mother, soon after his father's death, married a bricklayer for her second husband, and Ben is said, by Fuller, to have“ helped in the building of the new structure of Lincoln's Inn, having a trowel in his hand, and a book in his pocket.” This book the sagacious Gildon discovered to be Horace! “ Though I cannot,” says the' torve and țetrick’ Fuller, “ with all my industrious enquiry, find him in his cradle, I can fetch him from his long couts. When a little child he lived in Hartshorn Lane, near Charing Cross, where his mother married a bricklayer for her second husband.”
When Jonson, late in life, published the Magnetick Lady, he was attacked by Alex. Gill, then master of St. Paul's school, with he says,
great coarseness and malevolence, on account of the liumility of his birth; but Ben only growled a few lines at him, and passed on. The early part of his education he received in the school of St. Martin's church, whence he was removed to Westminster, to the care of Camden, whose learning and diligence he has acknowledged in an epigram, which his gratitude dictated many years distant, and he dedicated the first frựits of his Muse to his master; being, as
none of those who could suffer the benefits conferred upon his youth to perish with his age.” If he ever used the trowel, he soon threw it aside, and entered a sizar, as Mr. Malone conjectures, at St. John's college, Cambridge. In this classical retirement Ben must have delighted, but it is to be feared that he was driven by poverty from the life he loved ; and, by a transition very natural in those times, he became a cavalier, and served in the low countries. In an epigram “ To true seldiers," written many years after, he refers to his former profession, and speaks with modest complacency of his military services. “ I swear by your true
friend, my Muse, I love Your great profession, which I once did prove : And did not shume it with my actions then,
No more than I dare now do with my pen.” It appears that, by the recommendation of Camden, he was at some period tutor to Sir Walter Raleigh's son, and it is probable it was after his return from the Netherlands. The following anecdote is preserved by Oldys, from a MS. memorandum-book written by a Mr. Oldisworth.
“ Mr. Camden recommended him to Sir Walter Raleigh, who trusted him with the care and education 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 was 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 had taken a plentiful dose, and was fallen into a sound sleep, young Raleigh got a basket, and a couple of men, who layed 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."
If the anecdote thus recorded be true, it excites no wonder that Ben, disgusted with his graceless pupil, quitted the service