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" These extracts, while they are irresistible proofs of the generality of Jonson's satire in the present case, may suggest to the calumniators of Ben the probability of other passages being equally so; and his taxing may like a wildgoose fly, unclaimed of any man.'
With similar force and success Mr. Gilchrist combats and defeats the position, that in the Induction to Bartholomew Fair, Ben Jonson intended by the following passage to ridicule the Ten pest and Winter's Tale of Shakspeare:" If there be never a servant-monster in the fair, who can help it, he says, nor a nest of antiques ? He is Joth to make nature afraid in his plays, like those that beget Tales, Tempests, and such like drolleries.” The satire was general, and levelled, not at Shakspeare, but at the extravagant masks and other stage exhibitions which prevailed in those days.
But, adınitting that all these passages do apply to Shakspeare, is the proof complete that Jonson was guilty of envy, malignity, and ingratitude towards the great poet? It can only amount to this: that Jonson disap- . proved of these instances of false taste in the writings of Shakspeare, which the authority of his great example would tend to multiply, to the exclusion or injury of the higher qualities of the drama.
Mr. Gilchrist further maintains and proves, that Jonson's fifty-sixth epigram on “ Poet-Ape,” was not intended, as Mr. Chalmers will have it, as a lampoon on Shak. speare, but a satire on Dekker, who acknowledged the allusion in the following lines in the Satiromastix, evidently addressed to Ben Jonson :
« That fearful wreath, this honour is your due,
All poets shall be Poet-Apes but you." Such are the principal arguments in support of the heavy accusation, that Ben Jonson was at enmity with Shakspeare, and envious of his reputation; and thus ably and satisfactorily has Mr. Gilchrist refuted them.
We have only adverted to the leading points; but Mr: G, has entered fully into the whole question, and stripped the accusers of old Ben quite bare. He has also, incidentally, detected some false criticisms of the commentators on the works of Shakspeare.
He thus sums up the whole, “ Jonson has been ace cused of heavy crimes upon tictitious and imaginary foundations. How hard it is to prove a negative need not be shown: but the testimony in his favour does not rest here:
we have incontrovertible evidences of their friendly ata tachment; to which should be added the uncommon zeal, with which Jonson cherished the literary reliques of his friend.--We have seen that he composed an elegy on his death; that he inscribed his resemblance with his praise; and Mr. Malone thinks that he wrote the preface to the first collection of his works. Nor did time diminish Jond son's regard, or efface the remembrance of his companion from his mind. Many years after Shakspeare's death, Ben with warmth exclained, • I loved the man, and do honour his memory on this side idolatry as much as any. He was indeed honest, and of an open and free nature ; had an excellent phantasie, brave notions, and gentle expressions; wherein he flowed with that facility, that sometimes it was necessary he should be stopped : sufflaminandus erat, as Augustus said of Harterius.'
“ I have now little to add. If the memory of men, honourable in their generation, deserve our respect and reverence; if the writings of poets, who'have bequeathed their works as legacies to posterity, have any claim upon our regar; if truth, whoever and whatever the subject, be worth attaining; the present pages may be endured. For these purposes they are written; and it is hoped, with diffidence, that by them truth will be elicited. No example can be instanced in literary history of a poet of Jonson's extraordinary merit so unworthily and una gratefully treated. An invidious position is asserted, without the slightest proof from historical testimony, and his writings are tortured and perverted to support the fallacious theory. Years have passed in this disgraceful warfare, and no lover of literature has hitherto stepped in, to refute the charges, and check the progress of malicious dulness. If I have undertaken the cause of the poet, it has not been without a perfect conviction of my inability to do full justice to the task; nor should I have engaged in it, but from the most decided confidence in the justice of the cause. My motive has been, to rescue a venerable bard, who has many substantial claims upon our gratitude, from charges founded on errer, and fostered by misrepresentation. If Jonson is unfortunate in his advocate, I shall have my reward if this imperfect essay shall excite some abler pen to undertake the office. That there are ample means of defence, I am fully persuaded from the examples adduced, the result of a few days casual and interrupted study. It is not necessary for
Jonson to perish, that Shakspeare may flourish; his fame is fixed on a foundation • as broad and general as the casing air;' and the commentator or critic, injures the fame of the gentle Shakspeare,' who would raise him a phænix from the ashes of another,”
A Father's Advice to his Son at School. 12mo. 18.
Mathews and Leigh. The most salutary advice conveyed in simple but correct language, and in a very persuasive and affectionate manner. The original was sent to the author's son at school, and we learn from the preface, that the admonitions have proved beneficial. Indeed he must be a boy of little sensibility, on whoin the concluding address would make no impression.
“ These hints which I have thus thrown together, as they arise in my mind, without any orderly or methodical arrangement, you will consider as dictated by the purest affection and most unfeigned regard; for which reason, I doubt'not, you will read, learn and inwardly digest them, always bearing in mind that your improveinent is the sole object your father had in view, whose happiness and comfort in this life will depend very much upon the part which you perform in it: if you grow in wisdom, as you grow in stature, and walk in the paths of religion and yirtue, you will pour upon my mind a sunshine of satiso, faction which this world can neither give nor take away : You will make what remains of my life pass on in serenity and comfort: You will pluck up many a thorn which would otherwise grow in my way, and smooth and enlighten my passage to the gates of the grave.
" But if, unmindful of my admonitions and your own duty, you unhappily become a vicious and immoral chasacter, following the multitude to do evil, and treading the high road to ruin and disgrace; you know not the agony with which you will pierce my soul, you will shorten and embitter my days, and send me to the tomb, before my time, miserable and disapopinted.”
The Siller Gun. A Poem, in four cantos : with notes, and a glossary. By John Mayne, author of the Poem of “ Glasgow," ģc. 12.no. pp. 154. Richardson, 1808.
This Poem is founded on an ancient custom in Dumfries, called Shooting for the Siller Gun.
· The Gun is a small silver tube, like the barrel of a pistol, but derives great importance from its being the gift of James VI. that monarch having ordained it as a prize to the best marksman among the Corporations of Dumfries.
The contest was, by royal authority, licensed to take place every year ; but, in consequence of the trouble and expence attending it, the custoin has not been so frequently observed. Whenever the festival is appointed, the birth-day of the reigning sovereign is invariably chosen for that purpose.
The institution itself may be regarded as a memorial of the Waponshaw-the shooting at butts and bowmarks, and other military sports, introduced by our ancestors, to keep alive the martial ardour and heroic spi. rit of the people..
It was on one of the contests for this royal prize, pamely, that of the 4th of June, 1777, that the first Verses entitled The Siller Gun were coin posed. They were afterwards published by Mr. Ruddiman, in The Edinburgh Weekly Magazine, and thence copied and printed in various forins by different persons.
These Verses, in some respect, constitute the groundwork of the present Poem ; but the additions and alterations are so numerous, that scarcely an original stanza now remains..
To enable our readers to form any idea of the subject of this poem, they must first be told what the Siller Gun is. The Siller Gun (it seems) is about ten inches long; has silver marks stamped on it; and, according to what old people say they heard from their progenitors, was originally mnounted on a carriage, with wheels, all of sil. ver; but of these no vestige remains. Near the touchhole, the letters l•M are engraved on the barrel, sup. posed to be the initials of the Provost of Duinfries at the time when this ceremony was first instituted. This, however, is mere conjecture : such records of the Corporations as were prior to the reign of Charles II. have suffered so much by decay, that they are no longer legible; and, after that period, the only mention in them of the SILLER Gun is an occasional memorandum of its have ing been shot for “ agreeable to the institution,”
The Burgh of Kirkcudbright is also in possession of a Silver tube, or Gun; which, like that of Dumfries, is said to have been given to the Corporations by King James VI. It is about seven inches long; marked T*M.C- 1587. These letters are supposed to be the initials of Sir Thomas M'Clellan, Laird of Bombie, Provost of Kirkcudbright* iu 1587, and ancestor of the Lords of that name. This gun is lodged with the Town Clerk of Kirkcudbright, and has only been shot for twice in the memory of any person living. The last time was in the summer of 1781, when the Corporations applied by petition to have the gun delivered to them, that they might shoot for it at a target. Their petition was granted; but no similar application has been made since 1781.
The Corporations of Dumfries, however, seem to possess privileges which are unknown to their brethren at Kirkcudbright. The Silver Gun of Dumfries is at all times deposited among the archives of the Corporations. They have, moreover, n royal licence or injunction, to assemble in military array, and shoot for it once a-year. Till lately, every Deacon-Convener was allowed, if he pleased, to call out the trades for this purpose once during his administration, which generally lasts for two years; but a regulation has been made ainong the trades themselves, that this ceremony shall not take place of tener than once in five years. When a day is fixed, and a mandate issued for this purpose, all the Freemen of the Corporation are obliged to appear at the time and place appointed by the Convener. If any individual refuse to appear, he is subjected to a fine of 31. 6s. 8d. sterling; and, till payment thereof, interdicted from voting in any of the 'affairs of the corporations.
“Along with the royal license to assemblein military array, the corporations are privileged to shoot for the SILVER Gun at the King-holm, which is part of the cominon land belonging to the town, and laved by the dimpled waters of the Nith. The fields at the Craigs, however, as often as permission can be obtained, (for they are private property,) are always preferred, being better adapted for the purpose."
The author of this poem, which is in the Scottish dialect, pleasingly describes the custom of shooting for this Siller Gun, and enters with appropriate feeling into the manners and amusements which distinguish the Scottish character in the walks of humble life. In the first canto is described the bustle which prevails anong Vol. IV.