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- The Poetaster - 5/49 -
"sealed of the tribe of Ben."
Jonson died, August 6, 1637, and a second folio of his works, which he had been some time gathering, was printed in 1640, bearing in its various parts dates ranging from 1630 to 1642. It included all the plays mentioned in the foregoing paragraphs, excepting "The Case is Altered;" the masques, some fifteen, that date between 1617 and 1630; another collection of lyrics and occasional poetry called "Underwoods, including some further entertainments; a translation of "Horace's Art of Poetry" (also published in a vicesimo quarto in 1640), and certain fragments and ingatherings which the poet would hardly have included himself. These last comprise the fragment (less than seventy lines) of a tragedy called "Mortimer his Fall," and three acts of a pastoral drama of much beauty and poetic spirit, "The Sad Shepherd." There is also the exceedingly interesting 'English Grammar' "made by Ben Jonson for the benefit of all strangers out of his observation of the English language now spoken and in use," in Latin and English; and 'Timber, or discoveries' "made upon men and matter as they have flowed out of his daily reading, or had their reflux to his peculiar notion of the times." The 'Discoveries', as it is usually called, is a commonplace book such as many literary men have kept, in which their reading was chronicled, passages that took their fancy translated or transcribed, and their passing opinions noted. Many passage of Jonson's 'Discoveries' are literal translations from the authors he chanced to be reading, with the reference, noted or not, as the accident of the moment prescribed. At times he follows the line of Macchiavelli's argument as to the nature and conduct of princes; at others he clarifies his own conception of poetry and poets by recourse to Aristotle. He finds a choice paragraph on eloquence in Seneca the elder and applies it to his own recollection of Bacon's power as an orator; and another on facile and ready genius, and translates it, adapting it to his recollection of his fellow-playwright, Shakespeare. To call such passages--which Jonson never intended for publication--plagiarism, is to obscure the significance of words. To disparage his memory by citing them is a preposterous use of scholarship. Jonson's prose, both in his dramas, in the descriptive comments of his masques, and in the 'Discoveries', is characterised by clarity and vigorous directness, nor is it wanting in a fine sense of form or in the subtler graces of diction.
When Jonson died there was a project for a handsome monument to his memory. But the Civil War was at hand, and the project failed. A memorial, not insufficient, was carved on the stone covering his grave in one of the aisles of Westminster Abbey:
"O rare Ben Jonson."
FELIX E. SCHELLING.
THE COLLEGE, PHILADELPHIA, U.S.A.
The following is a complete list of his published works:--
DRAMAS. -- Every Man in his Humour, 4to, 1601; The Case is Altered, 4to, 1609; Every Man out of his Humour, 4to, 1600; Cynthia's Revels, 4to, 1601; Poetaster, 4to, 1602; Sejanus, 4to, 1605; Eastward Ho (with Chapman and Marston), 4to, 1605; Volpone, 4to, 1607; Epicoene, or the Silent Woman, 4to, 1609 (?), fol., 1616; The Alchemist, 4to, 1612; Catiline, his Conspiracy, 4to, 1611; Bartholomew Fayre, 4to, 1614 (?), fol., 1631; The Divell is an Asse, fol., 1631; The Staple of Newes, fol., 1631; The New Sun, 8vo, 1631, fol., 1692; The Magnetic Lady, or Humours Reconcild, fol., 1640; A Tale of a Tub, fol., 1640; The Sad Shepherd, or a Tale of Robin Hood, fol., 1641; Mortimer his Fall (fragment), fol., 1640.
To Jonson have also been attributed additions to Kyd's Jeronymo, and collaboration in The Widow with Fletcher and Middleton, and in the Bloody Brother with Fletcher.
POEMS. -- Epigrams, The Forrest, Underwoods, published in fols., 1616, 1640; Selections: Execration against Vulcan, and Epigrams, 1640; G. Hor. Flaccus his art of Poetry, Englished by Ben Jonson, 1640; Leges Convivialis, fol., 1692. Other minor poems first appeared in Gifford's edition of Works.
PROSE. -- Timber, or Discoveries made upon Men and Matter, fol., 1641; The English Grammar, made by Ben Jonson for the benefit of Strangers, fol., 1640.
Masques and Entertainments were published in the early folios.
WORKS. -- Fol., 1616, vol. 2, 1640 (1631-41); fol., 1692, 1716-19, 1729; edited by P. Whalley, 7 vols., 1756; by Gifford (with Memoir), 9 vols., 1816, 1846; re-edited by F. Cunningham, 3 vols., 1871; in 9 vols., 1875; by Barry Cornwall (with Memoir), 1838; by B. Nicholson (Mermaid Series), with Introduction by C. H. Herford, 1893, etc.; Nine Plays, 1904; ed. H. C. Hart (Standard Library), 1906, etc; Plays and Poems, with Introduction by H. Morley (Universal Library), 1885; Plays (7) and Poems (Newnes), 1905; Poems, with Memoir by H. Bennett (Carlton Classics), 1907; Masques and Entertainments, ed. by H. Morley, 1890. SELECTIONS. -- J. A. Symonds, with Biographical and Critical Essay, (Canterbury Poets), 1886; Grosart, Brave Translunary Things, 1895; Arber, Jonson Anthology, 1901; Underwoods, Cambridge University Press, 1905; Lyrics (Jonson, Beaumont and Fletcher), the Chap Books, No. 4, 1906; Songs (from Plays, Masques, etc.), with earliest known setting, Eragny Press, 1906.
LIFE. -- See Memoirs affixed to Works; J. A. Symonds (English Worthies), 1886; Notes of Ben Jonson Conversations with Drummond of Hawthornden; Shakespeare Society, 1842; ed. with Introduction and Notes by P. Sidney, 1906; Swinburne, A Study of Ben Jonson, 1889.
THE POETASTER: OR, HIS ARRAIGNMENT
TO THE VIRTUOUS, AND MY WORTHY FRIEND MR. RICHARD MARTIN
SIR,--A thankful man owes a courtesy ever; the unthankful but when he needs it. To make mine own mark appear, and shew by which of these seals I am known, I send you this piece of what may live of mine; for whose innocence, as for the author's, you were once a noble and timely undertaker, to the greatest justice of this kingdom. Enjoy now the delight of your goodness, which is, to see that prosper you preserved, and posterity to owe the reading of that, without offence, to your name, which so much ignorance and malice of the times then conspired to have supprest. Your true lover, BEN JONSON.
DRAMATIS PERSONAE AUGUSTUS CAESAR. HERMOGENES TIGELLIUS. MACAENUES. DEMETRIUS FANNIUS. MARC. OVID. ALBIUS. COR. GALLUS. MINOS. SEX. PROPERTIUS. HISTRIO. FUS. ARISTIUS. AESOP. PUB. OVID. PYRGI. VIRGIL. Lictors, Equitis, etc. Horace. TREBATIUS. JULIA. ASINIUS LUPUS. CYTHERIS. PANTILIUS TUCCA. PLAUTIA. LUSCUS. CHLOE. RUF. LAB. CRISPINUS. Maids.
After the second sounding. ENVY arises in the midst of the stage.
Light, I salute thee, but with wounded nerves, Wishing the golden splendor pitchy darkness. What's here? THE ARRAIGNMENT! ay; this, this is it, That our sunk eyes have waked for all this while: Here will be subject for my snakes and me. Cling to my neck and wrists, my loving worms, And cast you round in soft and amorous folds, Till I do bid uncurl; then, break your knots, Shoot out yourselves at length, as your forced stings Would hide themselves within his maliced sides, To whom I shall apply you. Stay! the shine Of this assembly here offends my sight; I'll darken that first, and outface their grace. Wonder not, if I stare: these fifteen weeks, So long as since the plot was but an embrion, Have I, with burning lights mixt vigilant thoughts, In expectation of this hated play, To which at last I am arrived as Prologue. Nor would I you should look for other looks, Gesture, or compliment from me, than what The infected bulk of Envy can afford:
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