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That fearful wreath, this honour is your due,
All poets shall be poet-apes but you, As in all his other charges against Ben, Mr. Chalmers is inerely an echo of preceding commentators, and as he evidently made a strenuous effort at originality on the present occasion, it is not without emotions of pity that I rescue the old hard from the well-intended blow of “ the leaden mace."
Wben Dekker published his “ Satiromastix,” Jonson was new to the stage, and had few claims to the applause of the theatre: when he had produced his " Volpone.” “ The Silent Woman,” and above all, “ The Alchemist," perhaps Dekker would not ha.e thought bim an object for scorn to point his finger at. These, with his beautia ful masques, some of his smaller poems, and even the scintillations sparkling through • Cynthia's Revels," .66 Every Man in his Humour,” and “ Every Man out of his Humour,” might have demanded a smile of favour, or at least conciliated the repulsive disposition of the apologist : but Mr. Chalmers has no sympathy with “ humorous, poets”-TO ÚTER nuas, odev orgos suceso
My task draws to a close; and the casue is before a competent tribunal. Jonson has been accused of heavy crimes upon fictitious 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 attachment; to which should be added the uncommon real, 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 Jonson's regard, or efface the remembrance of his companion froin his mind. Many years after Shakspeare's death, Ben with warmth exclaimed," I loved the man, and do honour his memory on this side idolatry as - much as any. He was indeed honest, and of au open and free nature; had an excellent phantasie, brave notions, and gentle expressions; wherein he flowed with that facility, that soinetimes it was necessary he should be stopped ; sufflaminandus erat, as Augustus said of Harterius.”
One circumstance in the history of Jonson's life is too illustrative of his friendly ardour to be omitted here. When in his fifty-seventh year, he undertook a journey on foot into Scotland, for the express purpose of visiting the poet of Hawthornden. Ben appears to have dwelt with fond remembrance on the occurrences of this excursion, and had formed them into a narrative, which unfortunately perished by fire; I say unfortunately; for, had it been preserved, we could then have contrasted the rough and manly generosity of Ben towards Drummond with the posthumous libel with which that testy sonneteer has disgraced himself and traduced the memory of his friend. In their couversations Drummond drew from the blunt and unreserved mind of Ben bis censure of the poets his contemporaries; which he gave with candour, and which are for the most part just; not suspecting that Druinmond (as the acute and amiable Drummond,” as Mr. Chalmers calls him, who was any thing but acute, and here any thing but amiable*), was treasuring these overflowings of the poet's mind for the unworthy purpose of slandering the memory of Ben when he was numbered with the dead :-to his own eternal shame, and the reproach of hospitality,
These conversations are found in a worthless edition of Drummond's works, printed at Edinburgh, in folio, in 1711; and if the relation is genuine, it will leave an indelible stamp of disgrace on the reputation of the recorder. Those who remember the remarks of Dr. Johnson on the publication of the posthumous works of the demagogue Lord Bolingbroke, by Mallet, will not fail to apply them on the present occasion.
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
* A contemporary, who knew Drummond a little better than Mr. Chalmers, calls him “ Testy Drummond ;” in a defense of poesie, appended to “ The niost pleasante Historie of Albino and Bellama," 8vo. 1639.
Mr. Chalmers seems frequently to speak of Jonson, Drummond, and oihers, to persuade us that he “ knows something of them ;" as he published his“ Apology” to convince the late George Steeyeps that he « knew soinething about Shakspeare.”
upon our regard; 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 eulicidat. ed. No example can be instanced in literary history of a poet of Jonson's extraordinary merit so unworthily and ungratefully 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 dullness. 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 error 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 phenix from the ashes of another.
O'KEEFE'S PLAYS. WHATEVER may be the defects of O'Keefe's pieces, they cannot be charged with either immorality, or indecency -no man has succeeded in the broad laugh more inoffensively-he might at times be trivial, but he is seldom or never coarse ; and though many of his plays have not the seeds of longevity in them, his “ Wild Oats,” “ Son-inLaw,” “ Poor Soldier,” &c. possess that simplicity of humour, and moral impression, that it must be more the neglect of the times than their demerit, if they are not long found in the course of representation,
STANZAS. ON THE MARRIAGE OF WARWICK CALMADY RICHARDSON, ESQ.
TO MARIANNE, ONLY DAUGHTER OF JAMES WALKER, OF
LO! where the lark on fluttring wings,
Dispens’d by the Supreme on high!-.
SONNET TO HORATIO ***** **** ! though the arm of Malice was upreard,
To hurl destruction on thy guiltless head;
And though thou hast beneath oppression bled !
Begot by Folly and by Ignorance fed.
Still thou hast brav'd the storm, devoid of dread, . And art from Scylla and Charybdis cleard !
Like Atlas firm thou scorn’d'st each ruffian blast,
And stood'st immoveable amidst a sea,
And swore eternal misery to Thee !
True to herself, immutable and strong !
And kindly whisper that thy passion's true;
Thy dubious heart, and every care subdue !
Spreading its radiance on my hapļess state;
And bless the star, for my auspicious fate!
Like thee, pale moon! I'm doom'd alas ! to wane ;
So fly my hopes before remorseless pain !
Thy genuine smiles wou'd all my woes adorn !
M. P. A.Z.
TO MISS SARAH MORGAN,
How sweetly all its folds expand !
It courts thy kind relieving band !
And, ah ! I view the struggling tear,
As radiant and as crystal clear !
Adorn'd with every winning charm;
And lingers, void of Friendship’s arm!