Ben: Jonson Page

Commendatory Verse

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V.   CL.

 E N.   I O N S O N I U M,

Carmen protrepticon.

Aptam Threicii lyram Neanthus
Pulset; carmina circulis Palæmon
Scribat; qui manibus facit Deabus
Illotis, metuat Probum. Placere
Te doctis juvat auribus, placere
Te raris juvat auribus. Camænas
Cum totus legerem tuas (Camænæ
Nam totum rogitant tuæ, nec ullam
Qui pigre trabat oscitationem,
Lectorem) & Numeros, Acumen, Artem,
Mirum Judicium, quod ipse censor,

Jonsoni, nimium licet malignus,
Si doctus simul, exigat, viderem,
Sermonem & nitidum, Facetiasque
Dignas Mercurio, novasque Gnomas
Morum sed veterum, tuique juris
Quicquid Dramaticum tui legebam,
Tam semper fore, tamque te loquutum,
Ut nec Lemma notior sigillo
Tellus, nec macula sacrandus Apis,
Non cesto
Venus, aut comis Apollo,
Quam Musa fueris sciente notus,
Quam Musa fueris tua notatus,
Illa, quæ unica, sydus ut refulgens,
Stricturas, superat comis, Minorum:
In mentem subiit Stolonis illud,
Lingua Pieridas fuisse Plauti
Usuras, Ciceronis atque dictum,
Saturno genitum phrasi Platonis,
Musæ si Latio, Jovisque Athenis
Dixissent. Fore jam sed hunc & illas
IonsonI numeros puto loquutos,
Anglis si fuerint utrique fati.
Tam, mi, tu sophiam doces amæne
Sparsim tamque sophos amæna sternis!
Sed, tot delicias, minus placebat
Cerdoi caculæ. Volumen unum,
Quod seri Britonum terant nepotes,
Optabam, & thyasus chorusque amantum
Musas hoc cupiunt, tui laborum
Et quicquid reliquum est, adhuc tuisque
Servatum pluteis. Tibi at videmur
Non tam quærere quam parare nobis
Laudem, dum volumus palam merentis
Tot laurus cupidi reposta scripta;
Dum secernere te tuasque Musas
Audemus numero ungulæ liquorem
Gustante, ut veteres novem sorores
Et sirenibus & solent cicadis;
Dum & secernere posse te videmur,
Efflictm petimus novumque librum,
Qui nullo sacer haut petatur ævo,
Qui nullo sacer exolescat ævo,
Qui curis niteat tuis secundis;
Ut nos scire aliquid simul putetur.
Atqui hoc macte sies, velutque calpar,
Quod diis inferium, tibi sacremus,
Ut nobis bene sit; tuamque frontem
Perfundant ederæ recentiores
Et splendor novus. Invident coronam

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Hanc tantam patriæ tibique (quanta
Æternum a merito tuo superbum
Anglorum genus esse possit olim)
Tantum qui penitus volunt amænas
Sublatas literas, timentve lucem
IonsonI nimiam tenebriones.

J. Selden I. C.


on his Works.

Ay I subscribe a Name? dares my bold Quill
   Write that or good or ill,
Whose Frame is of that height, that, to mine Eye,
   Its Head is in the Sky?
Yes. Since the most censures, believes, and saith
   By an implicit Faith:
Lest their misfortune make them chance amiss,
   I'll waft them right by this.
Of all I know thou art the Man
   That dares but what he can:
Yet by Performance shows he can do more
   Than hath been done before,
Or will be after; (such assurance gives
   Perfection where it lives.)
Words speak thy Matter; Matter fills thy Words;
   And choice that grace affords.
That both are best: and both most fitly plac't,
   Are with new Venus grac't
From artful method; all in this Point meet,
   With good to mingle sweet.
These are thy lower Parts. What stands above
   Who sees not yet must love,
When on the Base he reads Ben Johnson's Name,
   And hears the rest from Fame.
This from my love of Truth: which pays this due
   To your just worth, not you.

Ed. Heyward.

On the

A  U  T  H  O  R,

The Poet Laureat, Ben. Johnson.

Ere is a Poet! whose unmudled Strains
Show that he held all Helicon in's Brains.
What here is writ, is Sterling; every Line
Was well allow'd of by the Muses Nine.
When for the Stage a Drama he did lay,
Tragick or Comick, he still bore away
The Sock and Buskin; clearer Notes than his
No Swan e'er sung upon our Thamesis;
For Lyrick sweetness in Ode, or Sonnet
To Ben the best of Wits might vail their Bonnet.
His Genius justly in an Entheat Rage,
Oft lasht the dull-sworn Factors for the Stage;
For Alchymy though't make a glorious Gloss,
Compar'd with Gold is Bullion and base Dross.

Wil. Hodgson.


On his elaborated Art-contrived

 P I G R A M.

Ach like an Indian Ship or Hull appears
That took a Voyage for some certain years
To plow the Sea, and furrow up the Main,
And brought rich Ingot, from his loaden Brain.
His Art the Sun; his Labours were the Lines,
His solid stuff the Treasure of his Lines.

Wil. Hodgson.

Upon   S E J A N U S.

O brings the Wealth-contracting Jeweller
   Pearls and dear Stones, from richest Shores and Streams,
As thy accomplisht travail doth confer
   From skill-inriched Souls, their wealthier Gems;
So doth his Hand enchase in ammel'd Gold,
   Cut, and adorn'd beyond their native Merits,
His solid Flames, as thine hath here inroold
   In more than golden Verse, those better'd Spirits;
So he entreasures Princes Cabinets,
   As thy Wealth will their wished Libraries;
So, on the Throat of the rude Sea, he sets
   His ventrous Foot, for his illustrious Prise;
And through wild Desarts, arm'd with wilder Beasts;
   As thou adventur'st on the Multitude,
Upon the boggy, and engulfed Breasts
   Of Hyrelings, sworn to find most right, most rude:
And he, in Storms at Sea, doth not endure,
   Nor in vast Desarts, amongst Wolves, more danger;
Than we, that would with Vertue live secure,
   Sustain for her in every Vices anger.
Nor is this Allegory unjustly rackt,
   To this strange length: Only, that Jewels are,
In estimation merely, so exact:
   And thy work, in it self, is dear and rare;
Wherein Minerva had been vanquished,
   Had she, by it, her sacred Looms advanc'd,
And through thy Subject woven her graphick Thred,
   Contending therein, to be more entranc'd;
For, though thy Hand was scarce addrest to draw
   The Semi-circle of Sejanus Life,
Thy Muse yet makes it the whole Sphear, and Law
   To all State-lives: and bounds Ambition's strife.
And as a little Brook creeps from his Spring,
   With shallow tremblings, through the lowest Vales,
As if he fear'd his Stream abroad to bring,
   Lest prophane Feet should wrong it, and rude Gales;
But finding happy Channels, and Supplies
   Of other Fords mixt with his modest Course,
He grows a goodly River, and discrys
   The strength that mann'd him, since he left his source;
Then takes he in delightsom Meads and Groves,
   And, with his Two-edg'd Waters, flourishes
Before great Palaces, and all Mens loves
   Build by his Shores, to greet his Passages:

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So thy chaste Muse, by vertuous self-mistrust,
   Which is a true Mark of the truest Merit;
In Virgin fear of Mens illiterate Lust,
   Shut her soft Wings, and durst not shew her Spirit;
Till, nobly cherisht, now thou lett'st her fly,
   Singing the sable Orgies of the Muses,
And in the highest pitch Tragedy,
   Mak'st her command, all things thy Ground produces.
Besides, thy Poem hath this due respect,
   That it lets pass nothing, without observing,
Worthy Instruction; or that might correct
   Rude Manners, and renown the well deserving:
Performing such a lively Evidence
   In thy Narrations, that thy hearers still
Thou turn'st to thy Spectators; and the sense
   That thy Spectators have of good or ill,
Thou inject'st jointly to thy Readers Souls.
   So dear is held, so deckt thy numerous Task,
As thou putt'st Handles to the Thespian Bowls,
   Or struck'st rich Plumes in the Palladian Cask.
All thy worth, yet, thy self must Patronise,
   By quaffing more of the Castalian Head;
In expiscation of whose Mysteries,
   Our Nets must still be clogg'd, with heavy Lead,
To make them sink, and catch: For chearful Gold
   Was never found in the Pireian Streams,
But wants, and scorns, and shames for Silver sold.
   What? what shall we elect in these extreams?
No by the Shafts of the great Cyrrhan Poet,
   That bear all Light, that is, about the World;
I would all dull Poet-haters know it,
   They shall be soul bound, and in darkness hurld,
A Thousand years (as Satan was, their Sire)
   Ere any, worthy the Poetick Name,
(Might I, that warm but at the Muses Fire,
   Presume to guard it) should let deathless Fame
Light half a Beam of all her hundred Eyes,
   At his dim Taper, in their Memories.
Fly, fly, you are too near; so, odorous Flowers
   Being held too near the Sensor of our Sense,
Render not pure, nor so sincere their Powers,
   As being held a little distance thence.
O could the World but feel how sweet a touch
   The Knowledge hath, which is in love with Goodness,
(If Poesie were not ravished so much,
   And her compos'd Rage, held the simplest woodness,
Though of all Heats, that temper human Brains,
   Hers ever was most subtil, high, and holy,
First binding savage Lives in civil Chains:
   Solely Religious, and adored Folly;
If Men felt this) they would not think a love,
   That gives it self, in her, did Vanities give;
Who is (in Earth, though low) in worth above,
   Most able t' honour Life, though least to live.
      And so good Friend, safe Passage to thy Freight,
         To thee a long peace, through a vertuous strife,
      In which, let's both contend to Vertues height,
         Not making Fame our Object, but good Life.

Geor. Chapman.


To his worthy Friend, BEN. JOHNSON.
Upon his SEJANUS.

N that, this Book doth deign Sejanus name,
Him unto more, than Cæsar's love, it brings:
     For, where he could not with Ambition's Wings,
     One Quill doth heave him to the height of Fame.
Ye great ones though (whose ends may be the same)
     Know, that, how ever we do flatter Kings,
     Their favours (like themselves) are fading things,
     With no less envy had, than lost with shame.
Nor make your selves less honest than you are,
     To make our Author wiser than he is:
     Ne of such Crimes accuse him, which I dare
By all his Muses swear, be none of his.
     The Men are not, some faults may be these times:
     He acts those Men, and they did act these Crimes.


Amicissimo, & meritissimo BEN. IONSON.
In Vulponem.

Uod arte ausus es hic tua, Poeta,
Si auderent hominum Deique juris
Consulti, veteres sequi æmularierque,
O omnes saperemus ad salutem.
His sed sunt veteres araneosi;
Tam nemo veterum est sequutor, ut tu
Illos quod sequeris novator audis.
Fac tamen quod agis; tuique prima
Libri canitie induantur hora:
Nam chartis pueritia est neganda,
Nascunturque senes, oportet, illi
Libri, queis dare vis perennitatem.
Priscis, ingenium facit, laborque
Te parem; hos superes, ut & futuros,
Ex nostra vitiositate sumas,
Qua priscos superamus, & futuros.

J. D.                

To my Friend, Mr. BEN. JOHNSON,

 Master, read in flatteries great skill,
 Could not pass truth, though he would force his will,
By praising this too much, to get more praise
In his Art, than you out of yours do raise.
Nor can full truth be utter'd of your worth,
Unless you your own praises do set forth:
None else can write so skilfully, to shew
Your praise: Ages shall pay, yet still must owe.
All I dare say, is, you have written well;
In what exceeding height, I dare not tell.


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Ad utramque Academiam,
In Vulponem

Ic ille est primus, qui doctum drama Britannis,
Graiorum antiqua, & Latti monimenta Theatri,
Tanquam explorator versans, fœlicibus ausis
Præbebit: Magnis cœptis
Gemina astra favete.
Alterutra veteres contenti laude:
Cothurnum hic,
Atque pari
soccum tractat Sol scenicus arte;
Volpone jocos, fletus Sejane dedisti.
At si
Jonsonias mulctatas limite Musas
Angusto plangent quiquam: Vos, dicite, contra,
O nimium miseros quibus
Anglis Anglica lingua
Aut non sat nota est; aut queis (seu trans mare natis)
Haud nota omnino: Vegetet cum tempore Vates,
Mutabit patriam, fietque ipse
Anglus Apollo.


To my dear Friend,
Upon his FOX.

F it might stand with Justice, to allow
the swift conversion of all follies; now,
Such is my Mercy, that I could admit
All sorts should equally approve the wit
Of this thy even work: whose growing fame
Shall raise thee high, and thou it, with thy name.
And did not manners, and my love command
Me to forbear to make those understand,
Whom thou, perhaps, hast in thy wiser doom
Long since, firmly resolv'd, shall never come
To know more than they do; I would have shown
To all the World, the Art, which thou alone
Hast taught our Tongue, the rules of time, of place,
And other rites, deliver'd, with the grace
Of Comick stile, which only, is far more,
than any English Stage hath known before.
But, since our subtile Gallants think it good
To like of nought, that may be understood,
Lest they should be disprov'd; or have, at best,
Stomachs so raw, that nothing can digest
But what's obscene, or barks: Let us desire
They may continue, simply, to admire
Fine Cloths, and strange Words; and may live, in Age,
To see themselves ill brought upon the Stage,
And like it. Whilst thy bold, and knowing Muse
Contemns all praise, but such as thou wouldst chuse.



S I L E N T   W O M A N.

Ear you bad Writers, and though you not see,
I will inform you where you happy be:
Provide the most malicious Thoughts you can,
And bend them all against some private Man,
To bring him, not his Vices, on the Stage;
Your Envy shall be clad in some poor Rage,
And your expressing of him shall be such,
That he himself shall think he hath no touch.
Where he that strongly writes, although he mean
To scourge but Vices in a labour'd Scene,
Yet private Faults shall be so well exprest
As Men do act 'em, that each private Breast,
That finds these Errors in it self, shall say,
He meant me, not my Vices, in the Play.


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To my Friend,
C  A  T  I  L  I  N  E.

F thou hadst itch'd after the wild Applause
Of Common People, and hadst made thy Laws
In Writing such as catch'd at present Voice,
I should commend the Thing, but not thy Choice.
But thou hast squar'd thy Rules by what is good,
And art three Ages, yet, from understood:
And (I dare say) in it there lies much Wit
Lost, till the Readers can grow up to it.
Which they can ne'er out-grow, to find it ill,
But must fall back again, or like it still.



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