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A little further, to make thee a room ::
* This and the next lines have reference to the following epi-
“ Renowned Spenser, lie a thought more nigh
And though thou hadit small Latin, and less Greek, From thence to honour thee, I would not feek For names; but call forth thundring Æschylus, Euripides, and Sophocles, to us, Pacuvius, Accius, him of Cordova dead; To live again, to hear thv burkin tread And shake a stage: or, when thy socks were on, Leave thee alone; for the comparison Of all, that infolent Greece, or haughty Rome, Sent forth, or fince did from their athes come. Triumph, my Britain! thou hast one to show, To whom all scenes of Europe homage owe. He was not of an age, but for all time; And all the muses still were in their prime, When like Apollo he came forth to warm Our ears, or like a Mercury to charm. Nature herself was proud of his defigns, And joy'd to wear the dressing of his lines; Which were so richly spun, and woven fo fit, As, înce, ne will vouchsafe no other wit: The merry Greek, tart Ariitophanes, Neat Terence, witty Plautus, now not please; Dut antiquated and deferted lie, As they were not of Nature's family. Yet muft I not give nature all; thy art, My gentle Shakefpeare, must enjoy a part:For, though the poet's matter nature be, His art doth give the fashion : and that he, Who cafts to write a living line, must sweat, (Such as thine are) and Atrike a second heat Upon the Muses' anvil; turn the fame, (And himself with it) that he thinks to frame; Or, for the laurel, he may gain a fcorn,For a good poet's made, as well as born: reigns of Charles IX. Henry III. and Henry IV. and died at Mans in 1602, in the 50th year of his
STEEVENS. § or Marlow's mighty line.] Marlow was a performer as well as an author. His contemporary Heya'ood calls him the bell of poets. He wrote fix tragedies, viz. Dr. Fauftus's Tragical History; K. Edward II; Jew of Malta; Luft's Dominion; diafacre of Paris; and Tamburlaine the Great, in two parts. He likewise joined with Nath in writing Dido Queen of Carthage, and had begun a tranflation of Mufæus's Hero and Leander, which was finished by Chapman, and published in 1606. STEEVENS.
And such wert thou: Look, how the father's face
Ben JONSON *
Upon extinctus amabitur idem. This observation of Horace was never more completely verified than by the posthumous applause which Ben Jonson has bestowed on Shakespeare:
the gracious Duncan Was pitied of Macbeth ;-marry, he was dead. Let us now compare the present elogium of old Ben with such of his other sentiments as have reached posterity.
In April 1748, when the Lover's Melancholy by Ford, (a friend and contemporary of Shakespeare) was revived for a benefit, the following letter appeared in the General, now the Public, Advertiser.
. It is hoped that the following gleaning of theatrical hiftory will readily obtain a place in your paper. It is taken from a pamphlet writien in the reign of Charles I. with this quaint title, * oid Ben's Light Heart made heavy by Young John's Melancholy Lover;" and as it contains some historical anecdotes and alterçations concerning Ben Jonson, Ford, Shakespeare, and the Lover's Melancholy, it is imagined that a few extračts from it at this juncture, will not be unentertaining to the public.'
· Those who have any knowledge of the theatre in the reigns of James and Charles the First, muit know, that Ben Jonsor, from great critical language, which cưas then the portion but of very few, his merit as a poet, and his constant affociation with men of letters, did, for a considerable time, give laws to the stage.'
Ben was by nature splenetic and four; with a share of envy, (for every anxious genius has some) more than was warrantable in fociety. By cducation rather critically than politely learned; which
Upon the Lines, and Life, of the famous Scenick Poct, Mafter WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE.
Those hands, which you fo clapt, go now and wring, You Britains brave; for done are Shakespeare's days; His days are done, that made the dainty plays, Which made the globe of heaven and earth to ring:
Dry'd fwell’d his mind into an oftentatious pride of his orun works, and an overbearing inexorable judgment of his contemporaries.'
• This raised him many enemies, who towards the close of his lite endeavoured to dethrone this tyrant, as the pamphlet ftiles hiin, out of the dominion of the theatre. And what greitly contributed to their dehign, was the Nights and malignances which the rigid Ben too frequently threw out against the lourly Shakespeari, whole fame since his death, as appears by the pamphlei, was grown too great for Ben's enzyy either to bear with or wound.'
• It would greatly exceed the limits of your paper to let down all the contempts and invettives which were uttered and written by Ben, and are collected and produced in this pamphlet, as unan. fwerable and Maming evidences to prove his ill-nature and ingratitude to Shakespeare, who first introduced him to the theatre and fame.
• But though the whole of these invectives cannot be set down at present, fome few of the heads may not be dilagreeable, which are as follow.'
“ That the man had imagination and wit nore could deny, but that they were ever guided by true judgment in the rules and condud of a piece, none could with justice ailert, both being ever servile to raise the laughter of fools and the wonder of the ignorant. That he was a good poet only in part--being ignorant of all dramatic laws, - had little Latin-lefs Greek - and 1peaking of plays, &c,
• To make a child new swaddled, to proceed
Man, and then shoot up, in one beard and weed,
He rather prays you will be pleas'd to see
• Where neither chorus watis you o'er the seas, &c." • This, and such like behaviour, brought Ben at last from being the laturiver of the theatre to be the ridicule of it, being personally introduced there in several pieces, to the fatisfaction of the public,
Dry'd is that vein, dry'd is the Thespian spring,
Which crown'd him poet first, then poets? king. If who are ever fond of encouraging personal ridicule, when the follies and vices of the object are suppoled to deserve it.'
• But what wounded his.pride and fame most sensibly, was the preference which the public and most of his contemporary wits, gave to Ford's Lover's MELANCHOLY; before his New INNOR Light HEART. They were both brought on in the same week and on the fame stages where Ben's was damn’d, and Ford's received with uncommon applause: and what made this circumstance still more galling, was, that Ford was at the head of the partisans who supported Shake peare's fame against Ben Fonfon's invectives.'
" This so incensed old Ben, that as an everlasting stigma upon his audience, he prefi.ted this title to his play" The New Inn or Light Heart. A comedy, as it was never acted, but most negligently play'd by fome, the King's idle servants; and more fqueamishly beheld and centur'd by others, the King's foolisa suba jects.” This title is followed by an abusive preface upon the audience and reader.'
• Immediately upon this, he wrote his memorable ode against the public, beginning " Come leave the loa
“ Playwright, by chance, hearing toys. I had writ,
" Five of my jests, then tolo, pats'd him a play."
• The next charge against Ford was, that the Lover's Melancholy was not his own, but purloined from Shakespeare's papers, by the connivance of Heming's and Condel, who in conjunction with Ford, had the revisal of thein.'
• The malice of this charge is gravely refuted, and afterwards laughed at in many verses and epigrams, the beft of which are those that follow, with which I Thall ciose this theatrical extract.'
" To my worthy friend, John Ford.